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Second Coming: A Novel
by Jim Wills
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A famous writer must discover the ultimate story to save his career and win the woman he loves.
From the Publisher
Donnee--the "given" from which an entire fiction grows. Second Coming's donnee is a literal interpretation of: "The person who does not gather with me scatters," Matthew 12:30, which the author uses to generate a fictional universe beyond your wildest imagination.
Excerpted from Second Coming by Jim Wills. Copyright © 1997. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved
Scene: The Jordan River near Jericho
I walked from Jericho to the Jordan. When I got there, I thought I was alone. Then I noticed a group of people gathered around a man in a white robe. It was Jesus.
Jesus stooped to draw a hexagram in the dust beneath his feet.
"When I gather to the Father, I will become the center of existence. Each of you has a moment of balance. At that moment, your personal center will coincide with me. When that happens, you will experience me outside of time and space, an d I will invite you to merge with me."
I could not contain myself any longer. I went to him and whispered, "Don't ju st draw the hexagram in the dust. Use it to show them it is impossible to answer your call because everyone scatters but you." Scene: The Dead Sea on the West Bank
Jennifer and her friends had reservations in En Gedi at a spa near the public beach. Behind the spa was Shukamit Falls where David hid from Saul. After dinner, Jennifer and I walked to the waterfall, and I told her what happened after she left Qumran.
"Paul, at the discussion in New York you admitted it is irrational to have a real encounter with someone from another time."
"Not if all events are always happening. This afternoon, I experienced balance. I stood at the center of existence as I did in Saint Matthew's."
"Did Jesus call you again?"
"No. I thought I would learn the Final Story from him, but he didn't know anymore than I do."
"Paul, it just proves it wasn't the same. Maybe you were in the sun too long." Jennifer felt my brow.
"Why did the Guardian reject Jesus? There's something missing, something about this I still don't understand. It must be right under my nose, but I can't see it. Maybe Preacher John was right and the Final Story is beyond me. Even the Guardian said I wasn't as smart as he thought I was." Jennifer said, "Promise me you'll come with us to Masada tomorrow."
"The Guardian's mood changed after Jesus said he answered the call...but all the monks at Qumran would have given the same answer...unless...unless..."
"What is it, Paul? You look ill."
I sat on a rock. "Oh, no. Oh, no. No."
"I know how a dead man can call people to follow him."
"I'm afraid to ask."
"Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you. It's too terrible. But I must tell Jesus, otherwise he may never know."
"You can't change events if, as you say, all events are set by balance."
"If he learns it from me, I won't be changing anything. My telling him is a part of balance."
"Paul, do you have any idea how crazy this sounds?"
"I have to find Jesus."
"You're scaring me. I don't know what's going on, but if you have entered another world twice already, you may not be able to come back the next time."
"Not another world, Jennifer, but the Kingdom of God."
"I want you to promise you will come with us to Masada tomorrow."
"Jesus said he was going to Jericho. I must go there tomorrow." Scene: Saint Matthew's Church
A funeral mass was in progress. The priest was giving the homily from the pulpit. I took a seat on the end of a pew midway down the center aisle.
"How does one gather? Through the narrow gate for 'Wide is the gate that leads to destruction, and many find it. Narrow is the gate that leads to life, and only a few enter through it,' Matthew 7:13. "When are we called to enter through the narrow gate? We do not know the day or the hour when Jesus will issue his invitation to, 'Come, follow me.'"
Something was wrong. I saw the priest's lips form the words, but the sound seemed to come from the back of the church. Stranger still, it was Preacher John's voice I heard say, "Come, follow me."
I turned to look behind me. I had a clear view down the aisle to the vestibule but John wasn't there. No one around me seemed to hear the voice I was certain I heard.
Every muscle in my body wanted to respond. I put my hands on the back of the pew in front of me and began to pull myself up. But somewhere between sitting and standing I froze. I wanted to give up all right to myself but I couldn't give up being me. Scene: Washington Square in New York City
Michael and I watched as John Clay, known in Greenwich Village as Preacher John, exhorted his pickup congregation.
"In the beginning, every creature lived in the Kingdom of God and enjoyed paradise--the vision of all things as one. Then one creature, Adam, broke the symmetry and created a competing world by viewing things separately. At that moment, time began and consciousness appeared. God said, 'I will send my son to privilege forever the vision of all things as one.'"
"Our meeting tonight would not be possible if, ten billion years ago, a single electron had taken a one-quarter spin to the left rather than to the right."
Rob challenged me. "Dad, are you saying that electron caused us to meet?"
"More that that, Rob. Not only did that slight turn cause us to meet, but our meeting caused that electron to take the spin it did."
Rob wasn't buying it. "C'mon, Dad, the present can't cause the past."
Maria said, "It can, Rob, if everything is connected."
Elaine said, "That's right, Rob. In physics, we call that a non-local connection. Think of it this way: the apple falls on Newton head and causes his head to hurt. That's a local effect. A non-local effect would work both ways. The apple would cause Newton's head to hurt, but Newton would cause the apple to fall."
Rob rapped the top of his head with his knuckles. "Ouch! If effects are non-local, you could say Newton hurt his own head. But that's just make believe, right, Dad?"
Elaine said, "No, Rob. We get non-local effects like that in quantum mechanics, the most successful scientific theory ever."
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