I have gotten one review of this piece so far, and it is much appreciated. Dan was able to tell me some of the things about it that were opaque to him as a reader. I will be editing the story to clarify those things, and reposting it.
Outside of that effort, though, I wanted to trot out a couple of my thoughts behind the piece.
Before I get to the interesting thoughts, I guess I need to explain that the city of Codepoke is the whole inner life of a single person. There are a lot of thoughts and feelings and forces going on inside any person at all times. To live inside my head really is like having a little city trading in goods all day long, so for me to characterize all the thoughts, feelings and forces working in my head as people in a city is really easy. I'm not sure that that was really clear in the initial post. It was not to Dan, but maybe it was to others.
First, is the matter of the Lairds. The Lairds make all the decisions in Codepoke and have the final say on everything. (If you didn't catch it, "Laird" is a Scottish pronunciation of "Lord," and he is the father-figure leader of a Scottish clan. In proper use, the Laird is always singular, but I took liberty and made them plural, because there's always a debate about everything in my heart.) Most people would place the "will" of man in the position of decision-maker. I don't see things that way, and I'm pretty sure the scripture doesn't either.
KB made another penetrating comment a while back, and I threatened to write a post about it. I don't know when I will actually do so, though I have started the research. The core of my post will be simple. When I did a text search for "will" in the bible, I stumbled upon several verses that said it was God's will that decided who would be saved, zero verses that said man's will was decided whether or not he got saved, and a couple verses that explicitly said man's will was not involved.
And yet, a decision is made to be saved.
In The Holy War, the way I resolve this conundrum is to separate the Lairds from the will. The Lairds make the decisions, and the "willpower" enforces them. I think we all basically feel that way about ourselves, and I think we are right. When we need to make a decision, we take in a number of facts (how many depends upon our basic personality) and measure our feelings about those facts. Should I go on a diet? Well, I see whether the facts support the need for a diet and whether I feel good or bad about what the facts seem to say. Some facts make me feel good, so I give them more weight. Eventually, "I" make a decision. Yes, it's more important for me to look good and feel healthy than to eat uncontrolledly, so I start a diet.
After the decision is when the will comes into play. The will keeps me on the diet so I don't have to constantly be re-deciding every hour whether to keep dieting. My feelings fluctuate constantly, and if it were not for willpower, I'd change my mind about the diet every time I gained or lost water. But, the will did not actually make the decision. "I" made the decision. And if you want proof of that little assertion, just remember the way you felt the last time you sinned when you didn't want to. Your will can fail "you." A quick reading of Romans 7 even says the will is closely related to the flesh.
So, in Codepoke all decisions are made by "the Lairds."
The Lairds are "me." They are the heart of man, even the spirit of man. Something in me makes choices that don't necessarily align with my reason, feelings or will, and I think it's that human spirit in me transcending the soul. Again, the scripture seems to support such a notion, given that the Word of God can divide soul from spirit.
A careful observer might have noted that the Lairds never really speak. They make decisions and they give orders, but they don't discuss things - not with the townspeople, not amongst themselves, and not even with Christ. They know what they know, they watch and learn what they don't know, and they do what they do. It's really key to me that the spirit in man is always active, always leading, and almost always silent.
So, that's the Lairds, and that's how decisions are made by humans.
Second, I would not blame you for being pretty underwhelmed by a flaming watermelon that keeps floating in the breeze. I could not help it, though. That's a pretty good picture of what happened inside of me.
What, actually, is the melon?
Most simply put, it's the Word of God. It's a seed from which grows the river that Christ promises will flow out of those who believe in Him. It's the seed of a vine tree called the Tree of Life. It's Christ Himself in spoken form. It's light that needs to be planted in the heart of a man to really begin to shine. That's why it's only smoldering at the start of the story, but blazes after embedding itself in the soil of the heart of the man.
And the Word of God works on every part of the man. It works first on the intellect, since the mind is usually the first to reject anything new. When the mind cannot reject the power of the truth, then the feelings start to weigh in on it. And when the verse speaks something truly terrifying, the feelings react with terror. And finally, the willpower wants to play. The will is trying to enforce the law of inertia. The last thing the will heard was that we were doing fine without the truth of God getting all offensive, so it tried to "stay the course" by getting rid of the offensive word of God. The watermelon was going to cause big changes, so the watermelon had to go.
That's always my first reaction to the truth of God spoken into my soul with power.
And of course, the wind blowing the melon around was the Holy Spirit.
Third, the hill and the tower are the heart of man and the holy place within him. Everything flows from that hill, and it's that tower where everything spiritual happens. A long, long time ago some guys decided to build a tower to reach the heavens. God confounded them with many toungues, but that tower was a picture of how we try to ascend into God's realm. We try to build our towers as high as we can, and to spiritually ascend above God.
When we actually find God, and find the way into The Holy of Holies, it's not at the top of the tower. The doorway into the Throne Room of God is at floor level. We don't have to build a tower; instead we find a door (Jesus is The Door) built by God and we simply enter in.
Hence, the unbeliever can declare himself spiritual. He's telling the truth, because he has a tower within him just like we do. His tower lacks any direct connection to God, but it's spiritual nonetheless. That tower within him is getting taller and taller, and may even be vastly taller and grander than my tower. But if there's no door into the Holy Place on the ground floor of that tower, it's just so much human waste (double entrendre intended.)
I'm more than a little tempted to tell some more stories of Codepoke. I could tell about the nights that I spent shivering and praying that God would save me from hell, the years I almost drove myself to suicide trying to be the perfect Christian, the vast confusion of falling in love and trying to keep some kind of balance between God and woman and confusing myself beyond measure, entering into a church that was almost purely mental, entering into one that was all about contemplative/centering prayer, divorce; there are a dozen stories I would like to tell from the perspective of that tower and the door into heaven. This first story just put the door in the tower. The story of what that door does, how the flaming watermelons change everything, and the relationship of the Lairds to their Lord intrigues me.
Does this seem like a valuable medium to you?