A TALE OF TWO TWINS
(Unsuitable for children. Reader discretion advised.)
BY: CHARLES SLAGLE
Once upon a time in the 19th story of a high-rise apartment complex there lived two golden-haired lads. They were age eleven, and they were also identical twins. Josh and Jeff did look nearly identical. However, Josh was the more intelligent, handsome, and robust of the two. From earliest childhood these boys had never known anything except abuse in its cruelest and most bizarre forms. Their natural father, Foster, age forty, exhibited a split personality that was most remarkable. That is probably why the boys’ natural mother, Karen, had disappeared within a few months after her sons were born.
Foster loved little boys. He also loved “Jeeezus” (as His name is commonly pronounced among very religious people). However, Foster’s greatest loves were intimidation, sex of every description, as well as torture – and guzzling booze “to help his back pain.”
Beating and terrifying his wives and concubines into submission was one of the pastimes that “born-again” Foster relished most. (However, most of these unfortunate women, oddly enough, came into his life one by one.) And he especially enjoyed playing with his little boys and punishing them at the same time. That is simply because he felt that asserting his authority “firmly, lovingly and decisively” was the best way of “providing them security.”
So by the time they were toddling and beginning to talk, Foster made sure his sons knew they were secure in his love. For the smallest infractions he would beat them and beat them, and their tender skin often bore the bruises and welt marks from their father’s loving correction for days afterwards. Many were the nights that he sent them to bed without supper.
But often as he tucked them in, their deeply affectionate dad then would “reconcile with them” and “console them.” Born again Foster went about this by caressing his cherished sons – but in ways that are best not put into writing.
These children never knew any other kind of love or discipline. So by the time they were nearing puberty all of the maltreatment, though painful, had become “normal” to them. But their father did not always employ such tactics as I have already described for his purposes of nurture and discipline. At other times when Josh or Jeff got in his way, Foster became very creative.
For example, if the boys did not appear to like something that had been served at the table, he would force them to eat live bugs, spiders and toads. When he was in a kindlier mood, their father would only force them to eat huge amounts of substances they didn’t like, such as peanut butter mixed with hot sauce-or sometimes, lard or mud. In Foster’s more austere moods, however, he burned Josh and Jeff with matches and cigarettes. He did this while he lowered his voice calmly and explained what “Jeeezuz” one day plans to do with bad boys like them…
As the lads grew older, their father began to show favoritism toward Josh, the fairer and more overtly masculine of the two. Jeff being the more slight, weak-eyed, and gentle of the twins began to catch the larger portion of Foster’s fury. Josh received the loving caresses more frequently, while Jeff was more often reminded of what hell would be like.
But Josh loved his weaker brother, so he did all in his power to keep the score even and to divert his dad’s attention away from Jeff. Josh’s efforts often succeeded well enough so that he at least got forty percent of the lashes that were dealt out. Had he not done so, Jeff probably would not have lived to reach the age of eleven. Many were the times when Jeff sobbed and pled for his life as he heard his father thunder, “You little squint-eyed fag! I know what you like, but ___ d___, this is what you’re getting!!!”
By the time the boys had reached school age, Foster, on occasions, also liked to slip into his young sons’ bedroom in the wee hours and “surprise” them with “party time!” This happened especially after he was drunk, and Foster and his current woman needed something different to satisfy them. (Most of the time Foster came and partied on his own. However, there were times when he somehow was able to bring one of his adult female friends into the action.)
As you can imagine, Josh and Jeff became strong allies, and they managed to find ways to hide out in the stair wells and various nooks and crannies of their towering, skyscraper home. Also, they became increasingly clever at diverting their dad’s attention when they found themselves in his presence. And when they did contrive ways to find blessed solitude, like normal boys that are deeply bonded friends, they played together and daydreamed aloud about their futures.
Then it happened. It happened close to midnight. Josh and Jeff were quietly playing with a nerf football in their bedroom. The loud music and grotesque lovemaking going on in their dad’s room had become such a common occurrence that they no longer even heard it.
“Hey Josh!” Jeff piped up with mischief in his eyes as he unscrewed the fastener that held a lamp shade in place.
“Let’s pretend that this lamp shade is Jeeezus and see who can knock it off the stand first with the football. I hate his guts, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I hate him too. Dad says he lives inside of his screwed up heart, and I don’t ever want that crazy dude in mine!” Josh chuckled with a tinge of cynicism.
The football sailed silently across the room and – zap!
“HEY Jeff! That’s awesome, dude! You knocked Jeezus off his throne with the first shot. WOW!!”
The boys hugged each other and hooted uproariously. But their brief moment of playful levity was to be short lived… For at that instant the door burst open, and Foster appeared, grinning and fondling his favorite object.
“Hey! It’s time to party, guys!” he announced. “Tomorrow is your birthday so what do you say we start celebrating?”
Then, at the same moment, the clock struck 12:00, and not only was it Josh’s twelfth birthday – but in a twinkling of an eye – he also reached the “age of accountability.” Jeff, however, had been born a couple of hours later than Josh, so he had at least 120 minutes more before he reached that dreadful moment – if not a few more months, since he was the less astute of the twin boys.
Jeff stood mute as usual, staring in stark terror before his naked abuser.
“Oh crap! Here’s dad and his JEEEZus again!” Josh muttered under his breath.
Foster glared down at him. “What did you say, boy? Are you calling our Lord’s name in vain again?”
“Please, dad!” Josh began sobbing. “Please don’t do this! Please… We’re your sons, dad. Can’t we just be your sons?”
“Why you miserable little creep!” Foster roared. “Who do you think you are, sermonizing to me! You will NOT curse the Lord in my house, you filthy mouthed little blasphemer!”
Then the crazed man snatched up a baseball bat and made a lunge toward his oldest child. But Josh nimbly leapt sideways, and then forward, and thus managed to trip his dad and send him sprawling.
But the boys watched in terror as he quickly regained his footing and staggered toward them bellowing, “And I’ll show you how to respect your father too!”
“Whooosh!” The bat missed Jeff’s head by a mere fraction.
Horror-stricken, both boys rushed to the corner of the room and cringed beside an open window.
Josh screamed, “Stand behind me, Jeff – now!”
The violent bat swung perilously close again.
“Oh, daddy, PLEASE don’t!” the twins screamed tearfully, almost in unison.
On the next swing, the bat impacted with Josh’s pitifully upraised hands. The poor lad whimpered, gasped, and let out a stifled scream. “Ohhhh please daddy!”
Utterly mindless with fear, with only their reflexes in motion, the boys leapt out of the open window – and plunged nineteen stories to their instant death.
We stare into a vast, dismal realm of swirling smoke and blazing fires, fires of the intensity of 10,000,000 suns. Yet somehow… amidst countless screams of human agony piercing our ears… we can discern a familiar, if weak and hollow voice. Can you hear it? Shhh! Listen!
Little Josh is calling: “Oh God! G-o-d, where am I? I’m burning alive! Please help me! Get me out of here! Please! Oh G-O-D, please help me! Oh dear God, where is Jeff? Please help me find him and get him out of here! Where AM I God? ”
“You are in hell, Josh.” sweetly intones a resonance from above. “Jeff is with Me now, and he is safe. But I do love you, Josh. I hope you know that, although I regret to tell you that you will spend eternity in these flames.”
“But WHY God? What did I do to deserve this?” The baffled boy sobs uncontrollably in his anguish.
“Josh, you reached the age of accountability never having acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord of your life. And even worse, just before you died, you expressed hatred for Him! You blasphemed, Josh! I heard you. And you did this, despite the fact that your born again (ahem! albeit imperfect) earthly father told you to honor and submit to Him repeatedly. You don’t remember him telling you of – Jeeezus? All you had to do was trust and love Jesus. Why didn’t you?”
“But… but… I couldn’t trust Jesus!” wails the burning boy. “He lived in my dad’s heart and he did terrible things to Jeff.”
“I deeply regret that, son. That was most unfortunate. But be that as it may, you are still without excuse! You should have consulted your conscience! You should have looked more closely at the birds, rocks, trees and sky, and observed nature in general. You would have CLEARLY seen Him there! Besides, you committed suicide after blaspheming! And that, after talking back disrespectfully to your own father! So even if you had confessed Him as Lord, killing yourself would have been proof that you had never truly done it from your heart sincerely.”
“Ohhhhh… but G-O-D…” Little Josh writhes in the merciless flames and sobs pitifully. “I know! I know you are right, and that is what dad taught me, but… but… can’t you PLEASE forgive me and get me out of this place? I miss Jeff! Are you sure he’s okay? Yes! Yes! Yes, dear heavenly Father! I confess Jesus as my Lord! Yes, God! JESUS is my Lord, and I invite Him into my heart right now! So God, PLEASE help me… Ohhhhh… G-O-D… Can’t you please HELP me!?”
With utmost beauty responds the Higher Voice again: “Ah, My cherished one, don’t you realize it is too late? Yes, it really is too late, Josh. You had your chance! Did you not? I see to it that everybody has at least one chance! Didn’t your Father teach you that also? I do love you with all of my heart and I will always love you, but there’s absolutely nothing I can ever do to help you now. Nothing at all! That’s just the way the old mop flops sometimes, I suppose… But if it is of any comfort to you, in the resurrection you will have one more opportunity to confess Him. For it is then that every knee shall bow and every tongue will – and must – give thanks for His Lordship.”
“Oh please, please, PLEASE, God, will you save me then? I’m hurting so much dearest Father, and I don’t know how I can wait, but I can have something to hope for if I can know you will save me then!”
“Oh My poor, poor Josh. My heart so goes out to you. But alas, I must tell you no, for then it will still be too late to do you any good. But you will have a few moments to cool off a bit and to enter into some songs of worship with all of the damned and redeemed, before you are cast into the lake of fire for eternity. Isn’t that at least a little consolation, my young and tender one?”
The scene before us rapidly fades. But as we depart, we are haunted with unspeakable moans of anguish that again erupt from the mouth of young Josh – mingling with billions of other cries of agony that have echoed throughout hell’s vaults for eons…
And now? An angelic anthem that once sounded 20 centuries ago to herald the birth of the Savior of the world also haunts us with bitter irony…
“Peace on earth and good will toward men.”
Overcome with fear and remorse (and especially fear!) Foster “rededicates” his life to the Lord. He has been faithfully attending a local Independent Charismatic Evangelical Baptist church for the last five years. And everyone speaks so well of him too! In fact, Foster is now teaching the junior boys Sunday school class. Isn’t that marvelous? That is because this deeply repentant man feels that God has given him a “special burden” for boys that are the age of his sons when they departed this life. Foster is happy to explain his cover-up of all the grizzly details of his gruesome background on the basis that in Christ, “old things are passed away, and behold all things have become new.”
He has also convinced the woman he was living with at the time of his sons’ “tragic accident” to become “born again”, for as much as he knew of things he could tell the authorities about her – if she thought it necessary to “drag up the past.” She thought his was a good plan of action, and so she married Foster. This very practical Christian woman now heads up the ladies missionary society in her local fellowship.
So… Foster and Samantha are now on their way to heaven, since they are both once saved always saved. Moreover, they happily testify that God has cast their sins away from them as far as the east is from the west, never to be remembered again!
Poor foolish Josh, of course, is still agonizing in hell wishing (as he had always wished since he could remember) that he had never been born.
And Jeff is in heaven now. And would you believe with absolutely no recall of his brother who had gone to great risks to protect him during their brief sojourn on earth? This amazing memory loss that heaven mercifully has granted Jeff has rendered him a zombie of sorts, since so much of his earthly personality had evolved on the basis of his many shared experiences remembered with his twin brother.
But is he happy? No doubt he is. I have a pet rabbit that I think is just about as happy as Jeff.
So what exactly have you just read? Brace yourself! You have just read the “glad tidings” of Jesus Christ that many Christians say they “believe” and are spreading around the world – and have been believing and spreading for at least fifteen centuries: Never-Failing Love Himself, values all who perform correctly in this lifetime and bestows upon them the “gift of their heavenly reward” – but, He trashes and burns forever those who do not. (And this includes young children, perhaps far younger than Jeff. For in most quarters, popular religiosity reckons that “the age of accountability” begins – simply when – a child knows the difference between right and wrong.)
No, I have not in all details, shared a true story. I have just used a combination of three true ones that I’m aware of as a working basis for my narrative. However, this little tale of two twins is surely representative of multiplied millions of other similar stories buried in the history of human misery. Undoubtedly, most Christians would find themselves in a violent struggle to retain their sanity if they knew of the atrocities that occur (even in “Christian” homes) within 100 square miles of them.
However, through no fault of their own, they simply are unaware of the agony that many children in their own communities experience. Yet in their blissful ignorance, many Christians apparently find it easy to glibly perpetuate unbiblical traditions that dishonor and desecrate the character of the God they sincerely serve.
The very worst of these unbiblical traditions is one of an endless hell that supposedly awaits (and now supposedly contains!) myriad populations of people, both young and old, who reached the mythical “age of accountability” and died without having been converted. This tradition asserts that not merely those who have heard only a perverted message of Christ and rejected it will burn in “hell” forever, but the same fate will befall billions of people who have never heard of Him at all.
If the gospel of Jesus Christ involves even – a trace – of the horrors that many of my fellow Christians currently proclaim as “good news”, I’ll have to say it is the most heartbreaking news ever conceived or announced in the cosmos. The universe we inhabit is a nightmare that defies the power of human words to describe. Would to God that none of us had been born!
Yours sincerely, And prayerfully, For Light Himself to come IN POWER to the body of Christ,
For the readers who believe that Josh and billions of other lost souls will be forced to bow and confess the Lordship of Jesus before they are cast into hell, I have a question: Will Josh and billions of other youngsters like him also be forced to sing praises to the Lord as they agonize in torment? If your answer is yes, then I sadly have to say that Hitler is as the tooth fairy compared with the “God” that you are proclaiming to a hurting world.
Are you sure that your “glad tidings” of a never-ending hell are true? If so, I would ask that you please explain your view of this verse found in Revelation 5:13 –
“Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that is in them, singing, ‘To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!'” (NIV)
Did you notice? “Every creature” is – singing! I do not believe that this verse describes billions of souls being forced to sing praises to Jesus. It is a portrayal of all creation celebrating Him who has brought us all, each and every one, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Rom. 8: 19-22, Eph. 1:9-11, Col. 1:15-20) Our Lord came to our world as a Servant, and therefore He came, not to be served, but to serve. And it is because of His servant mentality that God has highly exalted Him, and for THIS reason every tongue will – joyfully and willingly – acclaim His Lordship. (Phil.2: 6-11)
Struggling reader, do you yearn to please the Lord, but despite all efforts, feel as if you foul up more than you succeed? Have you experienced heartache and despair from all of the christianeze double-talk, “God loves you – but…!” so that you feel that there is no way that you can avoid “hell”?
There is no hell! Certainly not one of the description that many religious churches advertise! The only hell that exists is the painful consequences we inflict on ourselves (and spawn inside of ourselves) when we depart from the path of love. God is not an eternal torturer. He is Holy Unfailing Love Personified.
Yes, He is also a God of judgment, but of sound and merciful judgment! He is not a God of vindictive rage or of uncaring cruelty. No, all of our Heavenly Father’s judgments are corrective and redemptive and are rooted in His infinite love. That is why Jesus could promise us, “If I be lifted up (on the cross) I will draw all people to Myself!” (John 12:32) In other words, all people will eventually be saved – even the worst of screw-ups! Yep. Even screw-ups – like yours truly – for instance. And that is because salvation is not a reward for our good behavior, it is a GIFT that God gives us In Jesus Christ, simply because He loves us.
Hard to believe? I understand where you’re coming from, my friend, but this is what the Bible actually teaches. Most Christians believed in and proclaimed the good news of universal salvation for the first 500 years, believe it or not. But I will provide you some resources so you can check this out for yourself.
Do you yearn for a love that will never fail, no matter how miserably you may fall short? Do you long for far, far more hope in Jesus Christ than today’s hard core religiosity can offer you?
God bless you, searching reader! He loves you far more than you think! And when that realization comes home to your exhausted heart – I can assure you, it will be the happiest day of your life!
Some well-meaning and wonderful people (UR believers included) have suggested that I should not publish this short story, especially in such graphic form as it now appears. This is because, in their view, this story could be overly shocking and therefore counter-productive to accomplishing its intended mission: to jolt the readers into a fresh recognition of the real world we live in and urge them to re-examine the horrific injustices that common religiosity continuously attributes to our Good Father.
Perhaps my sincere critics are right – at least in the case of the angry emotional response of some readers that may crop up. However, this is the most “explicit” bit of writing I have ever done, and I have no intention of producing any further writing of this nature for the public forum. I even wonder myself whether or not it may be more of a catharsis (upchucking) on my part and of little value to many other people.
However, on the flip side of the coin, I also realize that many hurting readers will applaud my (seeming!) boldness to lay bare the pain of those who have endured every variety of abuse, and not least of all, spiritual abuse. And they will rejoice that – someone – will dare to expose the evil God-caricature that much of the church is promoting before the eyes of a desperate and hurting world. Then again, I believe it is quite possible that some readers at last will “see” the grim contradictions that many unthinking, albeit sincere, Christians perpetuate that destroy hope rather than foster it.
The fact is it is with these thoughts in mind that I finally have published this little story with “fear and trembling” and with much prayer. Let us all pray that the body of Christ quickly will become mKCFVFDCVDCXZore sensitized to the suffering in our world and enlightened by God’s Spirit as to its true mission to impart healing hope to suffering humanity. (Luke 4: 18, 19, John 20, 21)
A TALE OF TWO TWINS [Charles Slagle] 1