The Bible, Unplugged, Page 2Quinn Baldwin
Where Ismael was all hard edges, Samson surprises me more everyday with his gentleness. I fight against it, of course and continue my mission of vengeance. He continues to tell me lies about his secret source of strength. It's become our little joke. Yet, I sense the real answer on his lips. It's a burden, he says one quiet afternoon. This strength is a curse rather than a blessing. Why do you do it? I ask. Why do you kill innocents? He pauses before answering. I don't know. It's like I become a different person. His voice takes on an anguished quality. I don't know myself in those terrible moments when that beast inside me is unleashed. I certainly don't like myself.
That night when the soldiers perform their routine of tearing into my room as he's tied up, I actually have a moment of fear for Samson that some harm will come to him, this gentle giant that has bared his soul to me. One day after many weeks, I ask him again about his strength, playing my part in our now-familiar charade and he looks deep into my eyes, his smile gone and tells me. My breath catches. I know this is the truth. He looks down at his hands. I want it to end. Will you help me? I say there must be some other way but even as I hear myself I know this is how things must be. I will have what I want: revenge. Why is my heart filled with anguish then?
After I cut off his hair, we talk one final time. We both know the soldiers will be there any minute. I realize that even though I loved Ismael first, it wasn't true love. Samson is flawed, but he is so sweet and different from other men. If only I had more time, I could help him become the man he's meant to be.
He is arrested and beaten and his beautiful eyes gouged out. I can't help it-I weep. Naturally, this arouses suspicion and soon, I am arrested as well. Who knew she would betray her own people? they all whisper. She's worse than him. I am put on display in chains in the arena along with Samson. He looks so weak and vulnerable without his full head of hair. I yell his name and he turns his head in my direction, pulling his body taut against the chains. Her first! my people scream. The crowd closes in, rocks in their hands. Still, I stare at Samson. I am to die because of him, yet I wouldn't change a thing: he is my sweetest downfall.
The last thing I hear is my name as he calls out to me.
And, then the world collapses.
-Does Delilah's viewpoint change the way you perceive Samson?
-Could Samson's strength have been a curse rather than a blessing?
-Is revenge justified sometimes?
-Reflect on this line: "What god would command such a thing."
-Do you think "bad people" have a good, hidden side?
Eden High: Genesis 3:1-24
CAST: School principal, Johnny Football Hero, Evelyn and Aaron
PRINCIPAL GODFRY: Welcome to our new school, you two! You're really going to like it here. Lunch is delicious, classes are easy and there are no cliques of the haves and have nots.
AARON: Why do you have so many vending machines?
PRINCIPAL GODFRY: We know you guys get hungry! The best part: they're all free! Just punch the button and BOOM! Sugar craving solved!
EVELYN: This is totally crazy!
PRINCIPAL GODFRY: I know! We only have one rule: don't eat the Snickers or the Pringles Sour Cream and Onion.
AARON: Why not?
PRINCIPAL GODFRY: Well, they're not healthy snacks. You should eat fruit instead, like an apple.
EVELYN: But, Snickers helps me go the distance. It satisfies.
PRINCIPAL GODFRY: Well, those two particular snacks will enable you to do know everything and basically live forever and we can't have that. Now, I've got some paperwork to do, so I'll let you two get to know each other before class starts.
JOHNNY FOOTBALL HERO: Psst.
EVELYN: Oh hello.
JOHNNY FOOTBALL HERO: Did Old Man Godfry tell you all about our wonderful school?
EVELYN: Oh yes. My last school had sticky floors, poor lighting and a janitor with this really annoying laugh. This place seems too good to be true.
JOHNNY FOOTBALL HERO: You can't really be free though. We have so many rules.
EVELYN: Just one.
JOHNNY FOOTBALL HERO: It's a big one though. Did he tell you why you can't have that tasty Snickers Bar or the savory Sour Cream and Onion Pringles?
EVELYN: Kind of. But, I'm a Doritos Cool Ranch girl myself anyway.
JOHNNY FOOTBALL HERO: Godfry doesn't want you knowing what he knows. Those two snacks are divine.
EVELYN: Know what?
JOHNNY FOOTBALL HERO: Everything, sweetheart.
JOHNNY FOOTBALL HERO: Everything. Just look at that Snickers Bar, full of nougat and caramel. Mmm-mmm. Just one little bite. Godfry will never know. It'll be our little secret.
EVELYN: Well, okay, just one. (takes a bite) This is, like, so good! Aaron, Aaron! Try this!
AARON: Okay! (takes a bite) Wow! It's like a taste explosion in my mouth!
EVELYN: (gasps) OMG! Everyone at this school is naked!
AARON: We're naked!
AARON: We've got to cover up! Here, you take this Oklahoma flag! I'll use Old Glory.
EVELYN: But, I want the American flag.
AARON: Fine, just don't let it touch the ground.
EVELYN: Here comes Principal Godfry!
AARON: Quick, hide!
PRINCIPAL GODFRY: What are you two doing stuffed in your lockers? Were you bullied?
AARON: No, sir, we were just embarrassed. You know, being naked and all.
PRINCIPAL GODFRY: Who told you you were naked? Did you eat a Snickers?! That was the only thing I told you not to do!
AARON: Well, this girl you put me with told me to eat it. It's not my fault! Talk to her!
PRINCIPAL GODFRY: Is this true, young lady?
EVELYN: Yes, Johnny Football Hero tricked me with his silky-smooth wordplay and bewitching good looks.
PRINCIPAL GODFRY: Johnny Football Hero! Did you do this?! You're suspended! No more football for you! From now on, your kind shall never get along with their kind! Cliques and inequality will rule the halls and classrooms of this school! And you two! I have no choice but to expel you, effective immediately! From this day forward, school will be hard and no fun for all of your descendants!
AARON: But, it's her fault, not-
PRINCIPAL GODFRY: Get out of here! Security! Confiscate their pencils, kick them out and lock the doors behind them!
-Do we ever pay for the mistakes of the past?
-In what situations does the woman take the blame?
-Is God like a principal? What occupation fits your image of him better?
-Are there some mistakes that can never be forgiven?
Jacob VS. Esau: Genesis 27:1-40; 32:9-32
A small office cubicle
Jacob: Hey Rebekah? Do you have those fourth quarterly earnings typed up yet?
Rebekah: No, I gave that to one of the other secretaries to finish. Listen, I've got some news that's going to change your life.
Jacob: We're getting a Target in town?
Rebekah: No! I just overheard Old Man Isaac tell Esau that he's going to retire soon and he wants Esau to lead the company. All Esau has to do is go get some Chinese carry-out to seal the deal.
Jacob: Wow, sweet and sour chicken does sound good. I might have to get that for lunch.
Rebekah: Is that all you have to say about that?
Jacob: What? Esau's a good guy; he'd make a great CEO.
Rebekah: What is wrong with you? Get greedy! Get power hungry! Go get some Chinese take-out!
Jacob: But, I'm not hungry yet.
Rebekah: Not for you! For
Isaac! The old geezer's eyes are so bad, he has to wear contacts just to find his glasses. Take him the food, tell him you're Esau and take over this company!
Jacob: But, Esau wears silk suits and wears that fancy Axe body spray. Plus, he's totally hairy. If Isaac touches me or smells me, he'll know I'm not his favorite manager and fire me.
Rebekah: Just go get the take-out. I'll sneak into Esau's office and grab one of his extra suits and the body spray.
Jacob: What about the goat-like hair all over his hands and the back of his neck? That's really gross by the way.
Rebekah: I'll take care of that. Just go.
Jacob: Why are you helping me lie?
Rebekah: Every secretary has her favorites. Does it need to be any more complicated than that? Now go.
Isaac's corner office, one hour later
Jacob: Isaac! It is I, your favorite manager with your favorite meal, Kung Pao Chicken!
Isaac: So soon? Traffic is a nightmare this time of day!
Jacob: It must have been divine intervention.
Isaac: Come closer. You sound like the kid from the mail room and...it feels like you're covered in the carpet from the board room.
Jacob: I am wearing this disgusting shag carp...I mean...you know me, hairy as a gorilla. The ladies love it. So, let's make this official. Sign the contract turning the company over to me.
Isaac: Are you sure you're Esau?
Jacob: Yeah baby! I mean, yes sir.
Isaac: Come here and kiss me.
Jacob: Um...how about just a handshake?
Isaac: Well, you do smell like Esau. All right, give me a pen. The company's all yours.
Jacob leaves the room. Esau enters.
Esau: Isaac! It is I, your favorite manager with your favorite meal, Kung Pao Chicken!
Isaac: Who are you?
Esau: Esau, sir.
Isaac: I've already eaten the chicken! A little dry but still a taste explosion in my mouth. Who was just here? I just gave him the company!
Isaac: It was the kid from the mail room after all! He came here pretending to be you and took the company. He's your boss now.
Esau: That...that...heel! He tricked me and stole the company! Isaac, isn't there anything you can do? Can't you void the contract? Bring in the lawyers or the Russian Mob to take care of this! There has to be something left for me!
Isaac: You're going to lose that corner office and live your days in the mail room, getting coffee and pastries for Jacob. Your life just went down the toilet. Maybe someday you'll get a better job. Until then, good luck because you're going to need it, pal.
Jacob's mansion, 20 years later
Jacob: (talking into phone) Listen, call Esau up and tell him I've been really busy and meaning to call all these years. I want him to use my private jet and take a trip around the world in first class. My treat. He's what?! Suing me?! I'll be ruined! Move all my assets into the off-shore bank accounts immediately and get my plane ready. What? He's coming here? That's it, I'm leaving the country tonight.
Jacob hangs up the phone
What am I going to do? God, please help me! I don't deserve all the cars and houses and country club memberships. I came to this company with nothing but the shirt on my back and a dream in my back pocket and look at me now! But, you always said you'd treat me well! Please protect me from my angry former mid-level manager! (thinks for a moment) I need to soften him up with stuff so maybe when he gets here he'll be happy to see me. That's it! I'll send my gardener and my cook and my cleaning staff and my driver in my nicest cars out to meet him. They can offer them as gifts! Now, maybe I can finally get some sleep. Let's see what's on TV.
-What did Jacob's mother have to gain from helping him betray Isaac?
-Can material things distract us from wrong-doing? Explain.
-How does the modern setting change the story?
-Would you forgive Jacob? Why or why not?
PILATE IN SUBURBIA: St. John 18:28 – 19:16a
Did you get a chance to look at those pictures I sent you? This situation has to be remedied soon! What these people are doing to OUR neighborhood is such a shame! As our Neighborhood Association President, it's your job to do something about them!
After looking at your attached photos, I can't find anything wrong with our new neighbor's landscaping. The flowers are actually quite pretty. This does not constitute a violation of our neighborhood covenants.
How can THOSE flowers not be a violation?! They're pink! Everyone else's flowers are blue! I wouldn't have emailed you if this wasn't important! I have a dinner party next weekend! Plus, they cook with curry or some such pagan spice. I can smell it a block away. You're the only one with any authority around here so do something! I can't say anything; I'm just their neighbor. I don't even speak their language!
If it will make you happy, I'll email them. And by the way, they're from Michigan.
Dear Mrs. Al Sakini-
Hello! As I'm sure you're aware we have neighborhood standards. I need to ask you if you're in violation of any of these rules?
Pam Pilot, Neighborhood Association President
Dear Mrs. Pilot-
Are you asking or is it one of my neighbors?
Mrs. Al Sakini-
I'll be brutally honest...I don't even live in this neighborhood most of the year. My husband and I have a vacation home, two actually, where we spend our time. So, to answer your question, I could care less. I'm just wondering what you've done down there in the cul-de-sac that's gotten everyone so upset.
I have simply cultivated flowers from my homeland. They're not of this country. I think their brilliant hues and the many bees they attract make my neighbors uncomfortable. These bees would be very upset if the flowers disappeared.
So, Mrs. Al-Sakini, you did plant flowers in direct violation of the neighborhood covenants?
Those are your words, not mine, Mrs. Pilot. The truth is that these flowers have the sweetest nectar ever tasted by bees. So sweet it is not of this world. They care not what color the petals are, instead they taste and their very lives are changed. Even a simple honeybee knows truth.
Truth, Mrs. Al-Sakini? In a neighborhood such as ours, what is truth?
Mrs. Al-Sakini has done nothing wrong. Is there somone else you'd like for the Association to go after instead? The Johnson's boys parked their driver's side tires in their lawn yesterday. They're ripe for a fine.
No, I don't care about them! The Al-Santinis need to learn a lesson. Our law goes around here!
I just had my husband place a stiff fine in their mailbox, but remember, I don't think there's anything wrong with those flowers!
That's not good enough! Tear those ugly flowers up! She told Cindy that they were a gift from God! Can you believe the nerve?
Dear Mrs. Al-Sakini-
Where are you from? Do you have a background in landscape design? How did you grow such beautiful flowers?
/> Mrs. Al-Sakini?
Why won't you email me back? Don't you realize who I am? I have the power to save or destroy your flower beds.
Mrs. Pilot, you have no power over me or my flowers. If you strike them down now, they will become more powerful than you can ever imagine. God kisses them with each raindrop, caresses them with each ray of sunshine. Your power comes from the neighborhood, a loose sprawl of cheaply-built ranch-style houses with ugly doors and narrow minds. Just one of my flowers is more beautiful than all of you.
I'm letting them off the hook with the fine. She has done nothing wrong.
If you don't pull those flowers up this instant, we're finding another president.
Jenny! Look at her flowers! You want to destroy a thing of beauty?
Pam. They're pink. Our flowers are blue. Now.
My husband just left with the spade. I'll be outside, washing my hands with the garden hose.
-How often do prejudices play a role in our lives?
-As with the case of Pontius Pilate and Pam Pilot, does power corrupt?
-How often do so-called trivial issues cloud our perspective?
-Have you ever been in Pam's position?
The Criminal Trial of Cain: Genesis 4:1-16
CAST: Cain, Prosecutor
Prosecutor: Mr. Cain, what do you do for a living?
Cain: I'm a farmer.
Prosecutor: What do you grow?
Cain: Nothing now. I'm cursed if you didn't know. But, I used to grow fruits and such.
Prosecutor: And what does...excuse me, did your brother do?
Cain: He was nothing but a shepherd, chasing sheep all day long.
Prosecutor: Do you have a temper, Mr. Cain?
Cain: Only with certain people.
Cain: People that think they're better than me when they're not. Or somebody that turns their nose up to my fruit even when I give it as a present.
Prosecutor: Do your parents love you?
Cain: Probably not now.
Prosecutor: Why is that?
Cain: I've been banished. You know what it's like to be a hopeless wanderer? Plus, I've got this. People see me coming from a mile away and steer clear. I can't even get anyone to kill me because then they'll be cursed seven times over. My parents are ashamed of me.
Prosecutor: Did your parents love your brother more than you?
Prosecutor: How do you know?
Cain: Everybody loved him more than me.
Prosecutor: Is that why you killed him?
Cain: Let me ask you a question: what if nothing you did was ever good enough?! You worked the land day and night, but someone else got all the praise! How would that make you feel?! Huh?!
Prosecutor: I'd be angry too, Mr. Cain. Maybe even angry enough to kill someone, but this wasn't a hot-blooded crime of blind rage, was it? Let me ask you this: Did you immediately strike your brother when you were reprimanded: "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it."
Prosecutor: That's right. This was premeditated homicide, wasn't it? Take us back to that fateful day. What did you do?
Cain: I told Abel to go out in the field with me.
Cain: To show him my fields, all my labor, the fruits of my harvest. I wanted...no, I needed to prove to him, to myself that what I had done was good. I already had a mark on me back then, yet I never earned that one. It was invisible, but everyone could see it, nonetheless.
Prosecutor: Then what happened? Did your brother acknowledge your hard work? Did he concede that perhaps you were the better man? Or did he say something to finally push you over the edge? (pause) Mr. Cain? Are you all right?
Cain: (pause) He told me he was proud of me.
Prosecutor: Then, why did you kill him?
Cain: When he said those words, I knew he was the better man! We were brothers! We were supposed to fight and claw for our parent's affection in a never-ending battle for superiority! Every parent has a favorite! I always knew he was theirs, I just didn't know why! And, then, when he said those words, I saw him through their eyes: humble, giving, kind. All the things I wasn't.
Prosecutor: So, you hid the body and when confronted about your brother's whereabouts, answered: "Am I my brother's keeper?" Why didn't you admit your crime?
Cain: He was no longer my problem. For the first time, I felt free. No more seeing how we measured up to each other. No more vying for our parent's love. No more living in another man's shadow. No more embodiment of all that was good in the world in the form of my perfect brother. I was free to be Cain, not Abel's brother, for the first time. (pause) Does that make me a horrible person?
Prosecutor: No further questions, Your Honor.
-Do you sympathize with Cain?
-Does the Cain and Abel story set siblings up for a lifetime of rivalry?
-Why do you think God preferred one brother over the other?
-Is taking a life ever justified?
The Judas Test: St. Matthew 27:3-10; St. John 18:1-12
Judas is the Bible's ultimate bad boy, betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Christians are quick to judge his actions for money. But, if put in today's dollars, who or what would you betray for $324.90? Try to think of specific examples using the concepts below in which everyday people might betray someone or something for that amount of money.
Friends and neighbors
School and work
God and the church
Those in need
-Would your answer change if the dollar amount were ten times as much? 100?
-Is it easier to betray strangers than those you know?
-Would the money give you an easy excuse?
-Are some betrayals easier to get away with? Those without consequences?
Mary: a 40-year retrospective
St. Luke 8:1-3; St. John 20:1-18
Interviewer: Mary Magdalene, pillar of the early church and witness to Christ's crucifixion, thank you for this rare interview 40 years after Jesus's death. Do you still spread, "The Good News", as you call it?
Mary: Yes. Every day.
Interviewer: Why, after all these years?
Mary: I spread his story so every man, woman and child will know his love.
Interviewer: Does it bother you that so many people discount your story?
Mary: I am sad for them. The act of inviting Jesus into your heart is so simple and profound.
Interviewer: During this man Jesus's last days, you had experience with those around you losing faith, including some of the apostles. What can explain your steadfastness through his trial, crucifixion and alleged resurrection?
Mary: It is simple: I am a woman.
Interviewer: Should I take offense since I am a man?
Mary: Jesus recognized the power of women in spreading his message.
Interviewer: Do you take offense at being largely ignored by many of the former apostles and their churches because you are a woman, one with former afflictions at that?
Mary: I am but a humble servant. I will serve him until my dying breath.
Interviewer: Where does this conviction come from? Some might even call it delusion.
Mary: I know what I saw that day. But, Jesus said, "Blessed are those that have not seen, yet still believe."
erviewer: Take us back to that day. You must see how it looks 40 years later, a dead man rising from the grave. Help me...I mean, help us...uh...
Mary: I was devastated when he died. But, more so when I saw his body gone. We had nothing left of him.
Interviewer: That part of the story is not in doubt.
Mary: As far as I'm concerned, none of his story is in doubt.
Interviewer: And then two angels appeared-
Mary: Strike that mocking tone from your voice this instant or you will leave me home.
Interviewer: I'm truly sorry. Please continue.
Mary: Two angels of the Lord appeared and asked me why I was crying.
Interviewer: And how did they appear to you?
Mary: Dressed in glowing white, seated where Jesus had lain. I knew they were not of this world. Then, I noticed a man standing nearby. I took him to be the gardener.
Interviewer: Who was in fact...Jesus?
Mary: Yes. I didn't recognize him until he said my name. That one word woke me from my worst nightmare, bringing me back into the light, his light. Imagine finding your sole purpose in living standing right before you. Everything he said before his death was fulfilled; he conquered death! And, he did it for you and for me. He saved us from our sins. Don't you see? His love never dies. It doesn't matter if it was 40 years ago or 4000! (pause) Are you okay, sir?
Interviewer: (wiping eyes) Yes...uh...yes. Must be dust from that open window.
Mary: Why are you ashamed? I used to sit where you sit now. Jesus saved me. His love can save us all. Including you.
Interviewer: I think that concludes the interview. Thank you. (pause) Now, would you mind telling me more about this Jesus?
-Do feelings of conviction and faith cool with time and distance?
-How do you deal with skepticism of Jesus and his message of salvation?
-How do you think the church has changed since Mary's time?
-What challenges do women face in the church?
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Also By Quinn Baldwin