Hope Springs Eternal in California
The mainstream hypothesis is that the availability of guns fosters violence. But guns are just inanimate objects with no power over the mind. Entertainment, or what passes for it these days, can, however, have a very strong impact on the human mind.
I used to be the world’s worst when it came to fear. I didn’t have to watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or Halloween or any other slasher thrillers to ratchet up fear in my mind. I didn’t have to see the visual. All I had to do was read about it. Words on a page could take my mind down so many paths depending on the material ingested.
I was once into Anne Rice’s vampire books. They were the rage. Okay, I made it to the second one. Her vampires didn’t have to find a coffin at night. All they had to do was bury themselves beneath leaves to hide from sunlight. And with those thoughts tumbling around, I was down at my barn around 11 p.m. grooming my horse, Casey, who was cross-tied in the barn stall. The dogs, about two of them, were hanging out with me, the other three—thinking they were off duty—lounged around back up at the house. I’d had a late day of work and close to midnight was the only chance I had to give Casey some attention.
Putting my back into lifting the horse’s leg so I could clean out a hoof, I noticed Ruger, my young Rotweiller, scrambling from the barn in a hurry like he’d heard something outside. In the black velvety night. Though large lights were mounted at either end of the barn outside, it wasn’t enough to light up the surrounding woods. I didn’t think too much about Ruger’s leaving. Until I heard a yelp. Then scrambling toenails on concrete as he ducked back inside. I reached for his muzzle. To pet him. To calm him down. That’s when I saw it. A couple of pine needles stuck between his teeth. How did they get there? Had he heard someone prowling around in the dark outside watching me groom Casey? When he sniffed them out, had they kicked him in the face to get him off of them? Ruger wasn’t afraid of anything. Why was he acting like the cowardly lion?
I felt my skin crawl and fine hair on the back of my neck stand straight up. Creeped out, I picked up a brush and began brushing Casey’s withers. Then I noticed Ruger leave the barn with Tramp, my other hound, trailing. They didn’t come back. Must have high-tailed it to the house, leaving me to fend for myself.
My entire body was strung tight like high tensile fencing wire. Casey could sense my nervousness and bobbed his head up and down a couple of times, not because he wanted a peppermint, but because he could smell fear.
With the flick of my wrist, I got in one more stroke off of Casey’s hindquarters, released him from the cross-ties, and watched him full-gallop-tear out of the barn, horseshoes sparking off concrete.
I wasn’t far behind. Throwing the horse brush and hoof pick on the counter inside the tack room, I flipped off the inside lights, locked up, then began trotting to the house. Normally, I used this time to glance up into inky blackness to see how clear the night sky was and to locate the stars and then the big dipper. Once I found the big dipper, I could find the mini one. In the summer, humidity and clouds made star gazing like looking through a murky bisque. On a cold winter night with no humidity, when the air was chilly and nipped, I could see God’s incredible art work. While the moon was high and full, lighting my way, I enjoyed this time to myself. It was a time to reflect back on my day….
It was coveted alone time to sort things out, between the barn, past the pond, and up the small river stone driveway that lead to the house from the pasture. It was a time to dream dreams. To make plans. Not tonight.
My nostrils inhaled wood smoke from the fireplaces of neighbors down the road. A fall leaf tangy smell from oak, mixed in with the smells of rotting pine cones near the pond’s lower edge, helped create a scented frappe laced with smoke. No critter sounds.
And that usually meant that someone or something was lurking, squelching out any signs of life. I reassured myself the silence was only because it was winter and I couldn’t hear the normal cacophony of cicada and crickets and croaking bullfrogs performing on warm summer nights. Even though I could see my breath in front of me, perspiration trickled down my back. My one desire was to race to the house as quickly as possible. If I made it back alive, I was firing those dogs. Let somebody else foot the feed bill for their cowardly hides.
Custom made riding boots hugged my calves and ran all of the way to my knees. Not the best for running. I looked back over my shoulder to make sure no one was following me. Or no…
I glanced to my left to the other side of the pond and visualized something, a disturbing of the leaves. Was something buried rising up out of the leaf mulch? Not being able to quite make it out, I focused harder on covering the real estate to the house. Porch lights were shining in the distance. If I could only make it through the gate, I panted out. To the porch. If my boots could scraped that porch. Even if I yelled now, no one inside would hear me. Even if my daughters had turned off their radios and gone to bed, they wouldn’t be able to hear my screams through brick and heavy insulation behind sheet rocked bedroom walls. If I made it out of this hot mess, those dogs were getting a tongue lashing. Especially Ruger the Rotweiller who’d left me in my hour of need.
I lengthened my stride. Not bothering with the gate, I scrambled over the four-board fence and made it to the river rock driveway. The running there was even more difficult, boots bogging down in the rolling of smooth stones, too deep for sustainable traction. Knees buckling, I changed tactics, detouring onto backyard grass.
I was running on hope. If I could only…make it…to the porch. Slapping at greedy apple tree branches pulling and tugging at my layered sweatshirts and riding britches, I gulped in frigid air that burned exploding lungs. Leaping over the three foot high Korean boxwood hedge, the sound of my boots ringing out on ice cold concrete jarred my runaway mind. Six more…
I fought the maniacal fingers pulling at my hair. Four more strides. I was almost to the steps that led to the porch. I thought about fighting off the attacker. Two more strides. But the rank, hot bloody breath let me know I was dealing with something not of this earth. I had no physical means to fight off something as horrible as a blood sucking…
And now, I could feel sharp teeth breaking the skin of my neck, piercing veins to better suck.
I remembered I was a child of God and cried out, “If you’ll let me make it to the porch I’ll be safe.
Into the light! If I can just make it to the porch and the light I’ll throw away those vampire novels and never read another one again. So help me Gawd. Help me make it to the light! Sweet Jesus, help get me there!”
Taking steps two at a time, I leaped past the top step and onto the porch, grabbed the door knob, threw open the door, slammed it, locking it from inside. Stepping fully into the room, just in case the lock didn’t hold, I could run no more. Bent over, hands on my knees, I labored to catch my breath when I heard the voice.
Gulping in air, I looked into incredulous eyes.
“Mom, what are you doing with that tree branch wrapped around your neck?”
You mean, I hadn’t been bitten by a vampire? I wiped my neck just to make sure I wasn’t dripping blood. Then untangled the branch from my hair.
“Nothing,” I mumbled. “Hand me that Anne Rice vampire book from off of the chop block.”
“Mom, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“What are you doing now?”
“I’m ripping the cover off of this vampire book so it can never be sold again and I’m throwing it in the trash. I don’t care if during Lestat’s long life he’s plagued by common philosophical questions such as, "Are my actions good or bad?", "Is there a God?", "Am I in His plan?", "What happens after death?", and "What makes a person happy?" He’ll have to figure all of that out by his crazy fictional self. After you’ve downed that glass of milk, get to bed. And remember, there’s no such thing as vampires.” There’s no such thing as vampires. I repeated my mantra over and over.
Okay, now you’re laughing and thinking, boy, oh boy, what an imagination. Of course. I’m a writer. We make up…
After my little vampires-down-at-the-barn incident, however, I read that Anne Rice and her husband had been going through a downward spiraling depression. The character of Lestat, according to Rice, was largely inspired by her husband, Stan Rice—poet and artist—and he shared the same birthday of November 7 along with his blond hair. In 2003, Rice noted in an interview that the character Lestat had also taken on some of her own attributes. "Stan was Lestat; he was the inspiration. Perhaps it is best to say Lestat was Stan and me. He was Stan and what Stan taught me. Lestat was inspired by Stan, and then I became Lestat." She also says, "I think the vampire is a romantic, enthralling image... We long to be one of them and the idea of being sacrificed to them becomes rather romantic."
And so far, I’ve never become one of my characters. Well, maybe, sorta. Okay, one. But she wasn’t creepy. Running from that barn, I was not enthralled, nor did I think being bitten on the neck romantic.
But then later, Rice’s husband passed away, Rice gave up vampire writing, sold her New Orleans mansion, moved to sunny California, and reconnected with Jesus and her long lost faith. Next I heard, “In November 2005, Rice told ‘The Early Show’ co-anchor Hannah Storm she would focus her writing exclusively on the life of Jesus Christ. ‘I went through a conversion,’ Rice said. ‘I went back to the Catholic church after 30 years of being an atheist. And I realized that I wanted to write just about Jesus Christ for the rest of my career, in one way or another.’ (1)
Next, I read in 2010, “Rice will not be taking up vampires again, but she said she is a big fan of the HBO series ‘True Blood,’ enjoyed the first two ‘Twilight’ movies (she has yet to read any of the Stephenie Meyer novels) and is interested in seeing her most famous character, the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt, return to the screen.
"’We're in talks about it,’ she [Rice] said. ‘But then we've always been in talks about it. Hope springs eternal in California.’"
In David Van Biema’s article, “Anne Rice's Spiritual Confession,” he says about Rice’s book: “Called out of Darkness is catnip for devout Christians: Rice's conversion is disorganized enough to sound real, her eagerness to embrace confession and discipleship is inspiring, and her arguments in a passage on ‘Christmas Christianity’ suggest Rice could rival C.S. Lewis as a popular apologist for the faith. For those more interested in learning about what shaped the author of the bestselling vampire sagas and volumes of sadomasochistic pornography (written under a pseudonym), the book is maddening. Rice drops dark hints of severe dyslexia, militant gender ambiguity, alcoholism and bipolarity, but retreats, giving little away. The startling childhood confession very late in the book suggests that had Rice aired her demons more fully, the tale of her defection to the angels would be that much more powerful.” (2)
Then in Newsweek, Rice announced that she would now use her life and talent of writing to glorify her belief in God, but did not renounce her earlier erotic works written under a pen name. And now, Rice has flip-flopped again, saying she is no longer a Christian, however, she is a Christ follower.
I’m dizzy just trying to catch up. And I’m thinking, to be a Christ follower, we must follow Christ—right? Wouldn’t Christ denounce erotic and pornographic works? And I’m reminded of this Bible verse: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
And what’s the will of the Father of Jesus? James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
In Romans 12:1-2, Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Could God and Jesus really want more movies flashed onto the big screen about sensual bisexual vampires? Could they want more Halloween movies being made so that young boys can watch them over and over again before murdering mothers and sisters? Like what we’ve recently seen with seventeen-year-old Jake Evans who writes in his confession that after watching Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake of the horror movie Halloween, he lured his sister out of her room and shot her multiple times, then killed his mother.
“My plan was to kill my sister and my mom at my house and then go over to my grandparents and kill my oldest sister Emily and my two grandparents,” Evans wrote. But he had a change of heart and instead, called 911.
I know firsthand how music can scare young children. I had to stop playing the Phantom of the Opera CD in my car because it frightened my elementary age children. What was I thinking? I knew firsthand how reading about Anne Rice’s ghoulish vampires can frighten when in the dark alone.
When will America wake up and learn it’s not the guns that are inspiring our youth to kill, it’s what’s being imprinted onto the cells in their brains.
Take away the guns, the kids will be cranking up grandpa’s chainsaw and stealing grandma’s butcher knife. America’s children are being transformed by the renewal of their minds—not in a good way, but in an evil way. And if Hollywood would have a transformation of renewal—a change of heart—there would be fewer phone calls to 911. But yet, there is…
“Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:” (KJV)
I do believe that hope springs eternal in California.