Monday, April 8, 2013

Introducing: The ReBible Series

For those of you who haven't heard: No, I am not "re-writing" the Bible, any more than the supremely fabulous BBC "Sherlock" series is "re-writing" Doyle's original novels. This is an idea that took shape with prayer and quite literally by the grace of God within the last year.

I got the idea from reading a series of books called "Fairy Tales, Re-Told", by Regina Doman (An absolute must-read for everyone... at least the first 3 books), in which she takes the little-known Grimm Brothers' fairy tale, "Snow White and Rose Red" (we know the two characters as Snow White and Sleeping Beauty; originally, they were two characters in the same story, and had very different adventures), and crafts it into a fantasy-drama series set in modern times, making the titular characters sisters, Blanche and Rose Brier, living in upstate New York.
I was inspired, reading them, because the original elements of the fairy tale were unmistakably present... yet I felt no "shame" in reading fairy tales as an adult, because it really felt like a suspenseful drama, not a fairy tale. I probably would have flipped through the fairy tale in a fit of afternoon boredom, but the "Re-Told" novels were so suspenseful that I would stay up to the wee hours reading them!

It occurred to me when going through a Beth Moore study on the book of Daniel: What if the Bible stories were like that? It's exciting for us as Christians to read those stories, but haven't you ever had the thought, while reading the story of Joseph or the story of David, "If only such things could happen today!" "That would have been so awesome to witness in real life!" Did you catch the emphasis? "If only these things were real life." As if--in spite of our belief--we really can't fathom that they actually could be. And more so than fairy tales.

I had already begun "re-writing" the story of Joseph, on an inspiration from a friend. Now I was inspired to seek out other heroes to "update," not in the sense that I'm taking them out of context, but more like I am turning the timeline ahead--I mean, it's still the same God, right? He is still just as powerful today as He was then, right? So why couldn't those things happen today, in real life?

I am calling it the ReBible series because a) I can't think of a better one just yet (which is okay, I mean, it fits!), and b) It's a lot more concise than "Re-Written Bible Stories", and it sounds less like a  "Jesus Storybook Bible For Teens".... plus, it was getting tedious trying to explain it as "my modernized version of Bible stories."

As far as I can (not being a Bible scholar or anything like that), I am trying to keep the details of the original story. The only thing I'm changing is the time, the setting, and only occasionally the character's name (for example, in the story of Esther, her Hebrew name, Haddassah, is a bit archaic, so I changed it to Vanessa; Joseph is still the same, Daniel is still the same, but for the more archaic names, like Zebulun, Naphtali, and the like, I either came up with an alternate name with the same meaning, or kept the initial and changed the name, like Azariah and Hananiah became Harrison and Aaron). Some details that were significant to the time and culture, I changed only slightly to preserve "cultural relevancy." (For example, Joseph is a military story, and since soldiers don't have much use for interpreting dreams, Joseph's God-given ability that he is able to use in captivity to glorify God before foreign rulers, is that he can decipher codes and comprehend any language and understand cultures)

I have 5 books planned so far, 4 of them in progress (and I'm forcing myself to hold off on writing the 5th idea so as not to spread myself too thin). Here are some brief summaries (of the 5 books; bear in mind that the 5th is still only an idea, not written out at all). Some of the characters whose names I've changed, I put the Bible character's name in parentheses. I'll be posting excerpts (and maybe a Q&A post, if you have any questions about any of them!) in the ensuing weeks, so stay tuned! You most likely won't want to miss these!

Book 1: Brothers At Arms, the story of Joseph 

Summary: Set in the early 2000’s. Joseph Jamison, newly graduated from West Point Military Academy, is given the rank of Lieutenant and along with his close friend, roommate and protege, Benjamin Samson, allowed to join the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Liaison (ISRL), under Colonel James Santiago (Jesse), and finds himself deployed almost immediately alongside the ten existing members: Addison “Yadda” Reubens (Reuben), Semyon “Rusky” Jacobovich (Simeon), Levi “Jake” Jacobsen (Levi), Jayden "Big Dan" Daniels (Dan), Chance "Fave" Faver (Gad), Edward "Bennie" Benedict (Asher), Isaac "Marsh" Marshall (Issachar), Nolan "Mac" McJacobs (Naphtali), Aaron "the Rev" Revere (Zebulun), and lead by the hot-headed, reckless Sergeant Hamid Bin Yakub, codenamed "Yak."

Joseph is given the nickname "Little Joe," and the Liaison resents his presence, particularly when the Colonel seems to prefer the "greenhorn." They are in the process of trying to gather intel about an impending coup of some sort brewing in the Arabian Peninsula, which the initial foray was botched due to misunderstanding of culture. Enter Joseph, who wins over the Colonel’s confidence and gets sent into the field with the rest of the guys.

They end up selling him to a group of nomadic sheep-traders in Iraq, who in turn sell him to the Military Consul in Oman (Potiphar). By the grace of God, Joseph goes from head servant to capitol prison, to the courts of the Sultan of Oman (Pharaoh), who has received a letter that is a threat on his life. What is more—it is one of the codes the Liaison itself used at one time for sensitive data. Will Joseph let his “brothers” hang for war crimes, or will he step in and both avert war in the Peninsula and reconcile with the ones who hated him?

Book 2: Professional Integrity, the story of Daniel 

Summary: Set in 2113. Daniel Princeton is a Director-in-Training at Integra Communications, Inc., in St. Louis, MO, which was founded by Abraham Mandalord, who used to be a Project Manager for the Byblos Corporation, a well-established California company famous nationwide as a symbol of ultimate affluence. That affluence and indulgence, however, came at the cost of individuality and freedom. Following God’s leading, Abraham founded the company, and for almost two centuries it flourished—until the foolish actions of one CEO (King Hezekiah) cost him his entire company, and Byblos reclaimed the workers it had lost.

Now Daniel and his friends Harrison, Aaron, and Michael find themselves in a completely new environment, with its own corporate culture that allows the executives to be completely self-focused. Innovation is punished at every turn, privacy eradicated, faith and worship of anything but The Company and its values ridiculed, and there seems to be no escaping the domination of the company. Daniel is thrown into the “Lion’s Den” of a professional inquest, and even his three friends cannot escape the “Fire Zone,” a dilapidated warehouse at the back of the campus where “undesirable” employees are forced to maintain quota until some “accident” occurs to “remove them from the company.” How can Daniel and his friends maintain their moral foundations when everything around them seeks to bring them down? Will they ever see the place they once called home again?

Book 3: Focal Point, the story of Esther 

Summary: Set not long after the events of Professional Integrity, in the year 2150, Byblos has been taken over by the Peres Corporation from Nevada, and Xavier Parisian (King Xerxes) is the Corporate President. An unfortunate series of circumstances at a celebration results in a vacancy for the position of Personal Assistant to the President. Only the young ladies connected to but not currently employed by the Peres Corporation will do, so Vanessa Decker (Esther) finds herself within the walls of the Great Complex she swore she’d never enter.

Inside those walls she finds herself forced to actually compete in a sort of beauty contest for the position, and the temptation to just give in and go with the flow is pressing on her from every side. There are so many things to distract a girl, beautiful things, colorful things, bright, flashy things—but is this really where God wants her to be? Surely there must be an easier way to fulfill His plan for her life! How can a girl like Vanessa keep her focus on the ultimate goal of following God when everyone around her is pushing her toward a different “prize”?

Book 4: King of the Roses, the story of David 

Summary: Set in current times, David Jordan certainly had it lucky. If he had been born a few years earlier, he might have been homeless like his father once was, or raised by a single mom with no father at all. Instead, David is the son of Jesse Jordan, a respectable founding member of the "It's Real!" Community Project, started by retired pastor Samuel Oldman as a ministry to ex-convicts and reformed gang members, to give them a place to feel welcome and to thrive as they seek to establish themselves as contributing members in society. Their Community Leader, Sullivan "Big Sulley" MacDonald (Saul) seems just what these people need, a fresh young man eager to help them, familiar with their ways, and a shrewd mind capable of bringing them success and a sense of God's blessing over their small city block.

Then Big Sulley loses his mind, and the neighborhood begins to unravel. Old rivals return, nursing near-forgotten grudges, and when David discovers that he is destined to lead the community instead of Big Sulley’s own son, he finds himself in a desperate race for his life through the streets of Portland, Oregon. Will the crazed man kill him? Will the rival gangs succeed in destroying all that the reformed community worked to build? How can one young man survive against the odds to fulfill his destiny to become the leader he was meant to be?

Book 5: Echelon, the story of Noah
Summary: In the near future, when the world became a series of stringent rules and regulations, set and vehemently adhered to by a Supreme World Council, a small, rebellious faction set about investigating other planet to inhabit, to start afresh. They discovered NARCIS: an Earth-like asteroid that would be crossing the Milky Way Galaxy sometime in the next century. The atmosphere was toxic, but they had time to develop the necessary technology to create a habitable environment that could easily be expanded as more and more people joined the Rebellion. They named it the Neo-Anthro Retro-colonial Interstellar Satellite: NARCIS. In reaction to the overabundance of rules on Earth, they decided amongst themselves that everyone in the NARCIS Coalition would be able to decide for themselves what the rules would be.

One hundred years later, NARCIS is a widespread community, and frivolity and all sorts of depravity run rampant. There are Nurseries, where unwanted children are deposited as infants and raised by each other until the age of sixteen, or until they could find an adult who wanted to keep them. Marriage is nonexistent; who would want to waste time pledging commitment when they could be celebrating freedom from this with a different group every day of the week?

Out of this world, one man receives an unexpected Visitor, One Who makes a very strange prediction: NARCIS will be obliterated, much like Earth nearly was. There is only one way Nerom (Noah) can save himself and his family, and receive the opportunity to found a new world, Echelon. But he will invite scorn and perhaps even excommunication for it. Dare he risk putting his family through such an absurd circumstance? Dare he even tell them the news? Everyone on NARCIS believes that they will live forever, that the Free People will never die out; what can Nerom do to make them see the truth?