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A Time To Speak

Integrity simply means a willingness not to violate one's identity.

Erich Fromm


Chapter Nineteen

John

I had been on the Victor's page for three years, and in that time I had come to know all the big "players" on the page, more or less. Some I knew more than others, but sooner or later, I had interacted with all of them in some way. Now it seemed like half of them, at least, were acting like the animals in Animal Farm. And you know how that turned out. Or maybe you don't, so I'll tell you: in the end, the animals and humans ended up pretty much the same.

I didn't want to be friends with those kinds of animals any more.

I took a look at my "friends" list, and made the easy cuts first. Regina. Peter. Katrina. They were all a little too shrill for me, besides being completely delusional. I deleted them from my friends list, then thought about blocking them, but that wasn't really necessary. We'd never interacted a whole lot anyway, and I wanted to be able to see what they wrote on the Victor's page.

Next up: Mitch, Stan and Neville. Mitch was okay, but he was following the crowd a little too much for me, mimicking whatever Regina said. He would have to grow a pair before I'd listen to him any more. Stan was a miniature Peter (or maybe an oversized Peter), so that was easy. And Neville-well, he had some good points, but I felt like I was drowning in a sea of rainbows whenever I looked at him. Which was weird, because he didn't have rainbows anywhere on his profile. Just the vibe I was getting, I guess.

Lee, Starr, Faith and Dennis came up next. Lee was harmless, and Starr had some good points sometimes, so I kept them. Faith had never been on my friends list at all, for reasons I'm sure you can guess. Dennis was a good guy and his jokes sometimes made me laugh, so I kept him.

Win was still on the page, though she hadn't posted in a couple of weeks. I kept her too, and wondered how she was doing.

That left just my buddy in crime, Brian. He was the one I'd gotten into trouble with the most often back in college, and it was finding him online that had led me to this page. And now he was a pastor, and we had less in common than we had ever imagined. Still, he seemed like a nice enough guy, even if he'd turned into a FIC. It's funny how the world works.

I clicked on his profile page and looked around a little bit, trying to decide if I wanted to keep seeing his posts in my feed all the time, or if I should just drop him. We hadn't had any real conversations since he joined Victors. I had messaged him once, but he hadn't answered, and I let it go.

His sister—the one I had wanted to ask out—her picture wasn't on his profile page, and her name wasn't listed on his friends list. That was weird. They had been close back when he and I were friends, and he had also had an older brother he hung out with a lot. The brother wasn't there either. Had there been a falling out with his family for some reason?

Then I noticed something really strange. His profile had his "life verse" posted, one of those verses you "discover" in the Bible sometime when you're young and decide to keep as your motto for the rest of your life. His "life verse" was Proverbs chapter three, verses five and six.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.


Most people, I guess, would read that verse and think nothing of it. A verse is a verse, right? But I read it and heard the word, "Blasphemy!" pound in my head. The problem wasn't the verse itself—it was the version. It wasn't in the King James Version.

Now, to some of you, that makes about as much sense as complaining that your computer runs on Windows XP instead of Windows 8, but to other people, including the people in the church where I grew up, it's a really big deal. There are some people who believe, really believe, that the Bible should only be read in the original King James Version of 1611. According to them, that same passage can only be read as:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.


See the difference? There are people willing for God to send you to hell because you don't read the Bible in a William Shakespeare kind of way. Whatever.

It makes no difference to me, of course, what language you want to use for that. Garbage is garbage no matter what language it's in. But it made a difference to my parents and to all their friends in church, and it made a difference in Brian's church while growing up, too. And I thought, when I had read about Brian's new church, the one where he was now a pastor, that it was a King James Version only church. Churches that are KJV only are pretty obnoxious about it; it's hard to miss. So why the hell would my buddy Brian, who was now the pastor of a KJV only church, have his life verse in one of the modern translations?

I had to dig around a little to find the church web site again, and when I did, sure enough, right there on the Introductions page, it read:

Brian KJV

It was the same picture he used for his profile picture on Facebook.

Nobody who was that KJV-only would use a Bible version that said "you" instead of "thee" or "thou." I went back to Brian's page and started looking. Really looking.

Brian didn't have many friends for someone who was a pastor. Even the pastor of a small church would have members of his congregation on his friends list, right? He didn't have any. All his friends were pastors of other churches or people from the FCU world, mostly people active on the Victor's page. And he had a picture of his wife, but nothing about his kids, not even their names, even though, according to the church web page, he had four of them.

By now I was really curious—and pissed. I kept looking around both pages. Something wasn't adding up. Then I thought again about Brian's sister, the one he said had gotten married and had a couple kids now. Marian. A pretty name, and a little unusual. It should be easy to find information on her if I could find out her married name, and since Brian's page had no information on her, I looked up Brian's dad instead. It wasn't hard. Brian was a junior, after all.

Twenty minutes later, I found what I was looking for. Brian had two sisters, Marian and Linda. Linda, whom I had never met, was serving as a single missionary in Taiwan, but Marian—oh, shit. Marian had died of leukemia when she was thirty one.

Why would "Brian" tell me that the sister he would never let me ask out, Marian, was doing fine, was married, and that she had a couple of kids, when she had been dead for a long time? Why was he listing verses in the wrong version of the Bible? And why would he write messages of support for FCU on their Facebook page when, according to a page I had just discovered on his church's site, he considered FCU "apostate" for not being KJV only?

Holy crap. I had been sock-puppeted. Brian wasn't Brian at all; he was a total imposter. And he had been on my friends list for months.