“Okay, class,” Darius began, switching the projector to the next slide, which consisted of a list of textbook titles and chapters. “We’ll leave our discussion there for now. I’d like you all to read these before next week, and we’ll continue our discussion on-”
Darius stopped short as the angry shout from the back of the lecture hall interrupted him and caused every student to turn their heads in surprise and curiosity. Storming down the aisle between the seats was a heavyset man with not a single hair on his head. Darius watched, perplexed, as the man stomped angrily to the front of the lecture hall and stopped just short of running into Darius and jabbed a finger into his chest.
“You’ve got a lot of nerve, pal,” the man growled, poking Darius’ chest a couple more times.
“Dad!” a female student cried out, sounding horrified and humiliated. “What the Hell are you doing?”
The man poked his thick finger into Darius’ chest once more, ignoring his daughter, and said, “Just what’s your game, huh? You get a kick out of brainwashing kids with your fairytales?”
“Sir, please calm down,” Darius frowned, resisting the urge to grab the man’s poking finger and break it. “Let’s step outside and discuss what’s bothering you. Everyone, you can go to your next classes.”
“No way, pal,” the man snapped, shaking his head. “These kids stay right where they are and hear some truth for a change. What gives you the right to fill my daughter’s head with your nonsense? This is supposed to be a school! But here you are, every damn day, telling her and the others about God and Angels and ‘the truth about religion,’ what gives you the right? My daughter is smarter than that, she doesn’t need you confusing her with talk like God is actually real.”
“Sir, if you insist on talking about this in front of the students, fine,” Darius scowled. “I’ve never been so bold as to force the students to believe any particular thing. They each have their own faiths and I wouldn’t dream of belittling them or trying to change their beliefs in any way. But you’re right. This is a school. And I teach facts. This is Religious Education. Not a church. I don’t preach and I don’t proselytize. I teach about the history of religion and we discuss aspects of theology from many faiths. Nothing more. Now, if you have a complaint about my teaching style, you’re more than welcome to take it up with the Dean.”
“I have,” the man snapped. “He shut me down. I guess you got him brainwashed, too. So I’m here to talk to you and make you stop making my kid think that there’s actually a God.”
“Oh, is that what this is about?” Darius asked, suddenly amused. “You don’t believe in God, so no one else should either?”
“That’s not what I said,” the man growled. “Just not my daughter. She’s smarter than that.”
“Oh my God, Dad, just go home!” the apparent daughter shouted.
“Stay out of this, Bella,” the man snapped. Then, turning back to Darius, said, “I’ll be making a formal complaint about you. You’re not being respectful to the beliefs of these students.”
Darius just smirked. Then, leaning slightly to the side so as to see around the large berth of the angry man, said to the class, “Does anyone here think that I have brainwashed them in any way?”
No one said a word. Darius could see heads shaking and others were snickering and smirking at one another.
“No one?” Darius pressed. “Well, does anyone else think that I’ve been disrespectful toward their faith?”
Again, no one responded in the affirmative.
“What about you, Bella?” Darius asked, looking at the angry man’s daughter. “I don’t mean to single you out, but do you agree with your father? Am I a disgrace to teaching?”
Bella looked directly at her father, her face bright red from embarrassment, but her expression one of intense rage. “Absolutely not, sir.”
“You’re filling their heads with garbage!” the man shouted, apparently ignoring his daughter and all of the other students. “You need to stop talking to them like God is real, or I’ll make sure you never teach again.”
“So even after the Global Revelation,” Darius began, “you still don’t believe there’s a God? No Heaven? Nothing after life at all?”
“Of course not, it’s ridiculous! And anyone who thinks otherwise is either stupid or kidding themselves.”
“Dad, what about the Angels?” Bella demanded angrily. “Doesn’t that prove anything?”
“They weren’t Angels, I’ve told you that already,” the man argued. “They were soldiers from some government agency testing new weapons or something. I don’t know for sure, but I do know they weren’t Angels!”
“Okay, let’s say you’re right,” Darius began calmly. “Let’s say they weren’t Angels, despite all the eyewitness accounts. What about all the people who died and were then resurrected? What about how they claim to have seen parts of Heaven?”
“Well, I’ve never seen proof of any of that,” the man huffed. “They’re probably just making it all up for attention. And who says they died at all? They could have just been drugged or something.”
“Oh my God,” Bella moaned, hiding her face behind her hands.
“So even after all of the things that happened only a few years ago, you still don’t believe in God?” Darius asked.
“There is no scientific evidence at all that there is a God!”
“Oh, science?” Darius grinned. “So you’re a man of science?”
“Yes, I am,” the man said defiantly, puffing his broad chest out.
“And why do you think science and God can’t coexist?” Darius asked simply.
“Because science is real and about fact,” the man snapped. “It’s not some imaginary, magical, sky daddy!”
Darius barked a laugh. “Magical sky daddy? I have to remember that one, that’s creative.”
“Laugh all you want, pal, but science proves that there is no God,” the man snapped, jabbing a finger at Darius once more. “Now are you going to stop confusing these kids or what?”
“Okay, sir,” Darius said firmly. “Poke me again and we’ll have something completely different to discuss. But if you want to keep talking about science versus God, let me rebut in terms that, as a man of science, you’ll understand.”
Darius paused for a moment and gathered his thoughts, aware that every student was now going to be late for their next class, but they didn’t seem to care. What they were witnessing was far more interesting.
“Before you judge anyone, or go ahead and claim that everything you say is truth, consider these scientific facts. You can see less than 1 percent of the electromagnetic spectrum, and the acoustic spectrum, meaning that there are things that exist that you can’t see or hear at all times. As I speak, we’re all traveling at 220 kilometers per second across the galaxy, the speed of which we can’t feel. 90 percent of the cells in your body carry their own microbial DNA, making them technically not ‘you.’ The atoms in your body are more than 99 percent empty space, none of them are the ones you were born with, and every single one of them was born inside of a star. Human beings have 46 chromosomes, which is two less than the common potato. And finally, the existence of a rainbow depends entirely on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes. For any animal that doesn’t possess those conical photoreceptors, the rainbow doesn’t exist. So you don’t really look at a rainbow, you create it. Now, that’s pretty amazing, considering the scientific fact that all the colors you can see represent less than 1 percent of the electromagnetic spectrum. Now, ask yourself, just how much are you missing?”
To this, the man didn’t seem to have a response. He merely gawked at Darius for a few seconds longer, completely lost for words. But then the angry expression returned to his face and he began to storm towards the exit without saying a word to Darius at all. However, he did pause just long enough to bark at his daughter, “Come on, Bella, let’s go. You’re not taking this class anymore.”
“I’m staying, Dad,” Bella replied curtly. “I like this class. And I don’t have to agree with everything you believe.”
The man glared at his daughter for a moment, gave Darius one last contemptuous look, then stormed out.
A short while later, Darius was tidying up his papers and getting ready to clear out of the lecture hall. After the students had begun to leave, Bella had rushed over to Darius and apologized roughly a thousand times, each times with Darius responding “It’s okay, don’t worry about it.” Darius had almost entirely put the encounter with the angry man out of his mind when he heard someone speak behind him.
“You handled that quite well.”
Darius turned at the sound of the male voice and came face to face with an unfamiliar man. Although, face to face was probably not the most accurate phrase. The man was so tall, it was more like face to chest. Darius looked up at the man and saw a kind, handsome, and smiling face.
“The man who insisted on poking you continuously,” the stranger smiled. “You dealt with the situation honorably. And addressing the issue in scientific terms to prove your point was nothing short of inspired. I am impressed.”
“Um, thank you,” Darius replied, taken aback and confused. “Can I help you with something?”
The stranger grinned. “Perhaps. I am in need of some rather specific knowledge. I have recently come to the conclusion that the one who would be best suited to aid me in my search for understanding is a man such as yourself. A former Reaper.”
Darius nearly fell over in his shock.
“What?” he blurted. “Reaper? What do you mean?”
“I believe you know perfectly well what I mean, Darius,” the stranger replied softly. “You were a Reaper for over two hundred years before Elohim restored your humanity as a reward for purging the world of the scourge formally known as Abzu, and his sadistic army. Do you deny this?”
Darius didn’t know how to reply. He stared up at the stranger, who stood at roughly seven feet tall, but then Darius noticed something about him. His eyes. They were a brilliant shade of green.
“You’re an Angel,” Darius realized aloud.
“Very observant,” the stranger replied kindly. “Yes, I am an Angel. My name is Sandalphon. I am here to seek your guidance.”