This is an excerpt from the first chapter from my new Christian fiction slice-of-life novel. It's still in edits, release date to be determined in the future. But I wanted to give you a quick glimpse.
In the following scene, the main character, Sean, was training with his coworker, Keith, at a Call Center during a severe thunderstorm. Their supervisor is named Jessica. She is mentioned but does not appear in this scene. The training was interrupted when the building lost power. When they heard a tornado unleashing destruction very close to their building, Keith said a prayer at what he thought was a low volume, but Sean heard him and was offended. With tensions understandably high at the Call Center (with everyone stuck where they are until the danger passes), Sean and Keith try to maintain a civil dialogue to pass the time.
This is told from Sean's point of view in first person narrative.
(Beginning of excerpt)
“Yes, I am a Christian,” Keith replies slowly. “What about it? Why does that bother you so much?”
I release the armrest and clench my fist in my lap.
“It bothers me because I don’t see how anyone can believe in a fairy tale like that.”
Keith waits to respond again. In a way, I’m grateful. It gives me a chance to calm down a little. The tornado sounds are gone now. All I can hear is the rain lashing against the sides of the building and occasional thunder. Most of our coworkers are out of sight, probably still under their desks. I can hear some of them whispering now and then. I don’t see Jessica. She must be out of the Call Center. At the same time, someone must have a live feed from a news station, a female meteorologist is telling people how dangerous this storm is and to stay inside or get into a storm shelter. That’s not doing us a lot of good right now, but maybe it’ll help someone else.
Just then, Keith slowly leans forward in his chair. He’s actually pretty calm.
“You’re an atheist then?” he finally says.
“If you don’t believe in God, that’s your choice,” Keith continues. “And I respect that.”
That’s surprising to hear.
“But let me ask you something, Sean: Why does it matter to you if someone else does believe in God?”
What? Did he really just ask that? Is he stupid? This is making me madder.
“It matters to me if I see someone is choosing to be a mean, selfish hypocrite, yeah.”
“So all Christians are mean, selfish hypocrites to you?”
I stare at him, my irritation simmering. I take a few deep breaths.
“There is no evidence of any supreme being ever existing,” I tell Keith. “But there is plenty of evidence to support rational and scientific explanations for what used to be attributed to superstition, gods, and other silly belief systems.”
“Science has helped us understand a lot of things,” Keith acknowledges. He’s serious at first. Then he smiles, amused. “We know the Earth isn’t flat, for example.”
I sigh. “We know a lot more than that.”
“Do we know everything about everything?” he asks.
If the power ever comes back on, I’m asking Jessica to sit me with someone else.
“No, of course not,” I reply. “But we’re learning more all the time.”
“Granted. Will that be enough?”
What is he talking about? “Enough for what?”
“Enough to satisfy human knowledge and curiosity. Will we ever know it all?”
He’s carried this debate further than I thought he would. Maybe this isn’t such a bad way to pass the time.
“No, I doubt we’ll ever know it all,” I suggest. “Humans will always have questions and seek knowledge.”
“I agree,” Keith adds. “But is intellectual knowledge enough to satisfy us humans? Can we live off of knowledge alone? Or do we need more?”
That’s an interesting question, I have to admit.
“I suppose we need emotional satisfaction also,” I answer.
“How do we attain that?” Keith inquires.
I give that some thought.
“By accomplishing goals we set for ourselves.”
“Like what — school, work, marriage, and family? Things like that?”
“I guess. I mean, not everyone wants to get married or have kids. But there are all kinds of goals people can set for themselves.”
He looks as intrigued by this discussion as me. It’s also relieving to hear the rain finally dying down outside.
“And what if a person fails to achieve their goals?” he asks me. “Are they a failure and doomed to be miserable for the rest of their life?”
“Obviously not,” I counter. “If one goal doesn’t work out, a person can always make up new dreams to follow.”
“New dreams,” Keith repeats, nodding. “What’s your dream, Sean?”
(End of excerpt)
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian, happily interracially married since 1995. Father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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