Worldbuilding Wednesday blog hop: DEATH!

Death is a part of life. The last part. It’s also today’s topic in the Worldbuilding Wednesday blog hop, which is hosted by Rebekah Loper on her blog Fantasia Hearth

In my WIP series Revenant Nation, which is a near-future political dystopia with zombies, people start out with attitudes on death that are pretty much that of Americans today. They leave death and the handling of bodies to morgues, funeral homes and churches. The Rosa party, the faction which is making it a dystopia, prefers cremation and party-dominated secular funerals. The Settlers, a rural faction, has members who experiment with do-it-yourself burials, cremations, and eagle-burials on their own land. (Eagle-burial is when you tie a corpse in a tree and leave it for the eagles.)

The spread of zombie infection changes burial customs. Corpses have to be handled promptly in case they were infected. In the Rosa party dominated cities they are disorganized and most infected corpses rise as zombies. In the area dominated by the Settlers, smashing in the skull of the dead person with a sledge hammer becomes part of the death rites. In Catholic families, on the order of the current pope who is in exile in Northern Wisconsin, a blessed sledge hammer is used. After a while, this becomes a part of the death rites even for people who are known to be uninfected. (It’s not like TWD where everyone is infected.)

Large numbers of zombie corpses are killed (or should that be re-killed) by shots or blows to the head and are then left somewhere— often a paved area— to dry out during warm days of summer. When they are dried out somewhat the corpses are burned.

Mourning procedures change depending on if a person died of the infection, turned, and killed people as a zombie. Some communities ban the wearing of mourning bands for someone whose corpse killed people as a zombie.  Others use a charcoal gray mourning band for such cases. People in the Judeo-Christian faiths tend to not blame the dead person for what his corpse did as a zombie, but are concerned about the feelings of those who lost family members to zombies.

Spiritual aspects: among religious believers with afterlife beliefs, a person is held to have died and his spirit gone into the afterlife at clinical death. The zombie that may arise from his body is considered its own entity, more animal than human-like. IT is widely believed that a person is not responsible for evil actions performed by his zombified corpse. Anti-religious types like those in the Rosa party often insist that the zombies are not risen from death, that they are the same person they always were only with brain damage. They are wedded to the idea that humans have no soul and that nothing happens after death. Which is why Rosa ruled regions can’t cope with zombie infestations effectively.

This has been a post in the Worldbuilding Wednesdays weekly blog hop. It runs from July 26 to Aug. 1. If you are an author currently doing worldbuilding, it’s a great opportunity to get inspired to do more work. Join us at http://rebekahloper.com/worldbuilding-wednesdays/ and sign up.

 

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The dollar becomes worthless when the zombie apocalypse hits

If you are a fan of The Walking Dead, here is one thing you never saw— a character pulling out a wad of dollars to buy something. And that’s actually a feature of any real zombie apocalypse of TWD severity— the dollar will become worthless. Why? Because the US dollar, like other global currencies, is fiat currency. It’s money because the government says it’s money. But when the government collapses because of the zombie threat, who is going to trade food or survival supplies for your fistful of dollars? No one.

Once the zombie apocalypse is truly upon us, we will have to rely on barter. John has a large supply of bullets, Maisie has a large supply of bags of split peas. They swap. Mike has a spare milk goat, Barry has a crossbow. And so on.

Some people may be able to trade their work for food. Christie the mom goes to Bill the dairy farmer and offers to do hand-milking and other chores in exchange for some of the milk. They work out how much work is required for a gallon of milk and make the deal. A dairy farm will probably attract quite a few laborers who will work for food and a spot in the barn to sleep. And they will need the labor once the fuel and electricity supply is out.

After people get more settled— when they know where their next meal is coming from— people will want the benefits of a cash-based economy. They will want a wage that they can spend on what they want. Most likely, the new money will be gold.

During the survival phase, no one is going to trade you a bag of corn for a bunch of gold coins. You can’t eat gold. But once people either learn the skills to hunt or grow their own food, they will want other things, and a means of exchange is more convenient than barter. In barter, the person who has the thing you need may not be willing to take what you have to offer for it.

Gold IS money, in a lot of ways. Survivalists and independent types often keep a supply of gold coins on hand in case of a crisis. So it’s going to happen that some people are going to start taking a risk on the value of gold coins. Initially perhaps on items for enjoyment, such as an antique table or a piece of jewelry. Only after gold coins start being traded regularly will you be able to buy essentials— like a new gun— with it.

The trading value of gold will fluctuate wildly at first. People who didn’t understand economics probably didn’t even take gold coins when they found them in abandoned shops or homes in the beginning. They were more concerned with finding food and ammo. But once gold coins have value, people will be finding gold coin hordes, and each discovery of large amounts of gold coins to come into circulation will lower the value of other gold in circulation.

This will disconcert those who believe in gold and the gold standard, but similar things have happened before, as when the Spanish brought home the gold treasures of the New World. That lowered the value of the gold already in circulation in Europe. But economies adjust to fluctuations in the gold supply. In time gold will become the currency of choice in the zombie-haunted world.

What about silver? They are always hyping silver on TV as being almost as good as gold. Well, it isn’t. Silver fluctuates wildly as sometimes silver is a popular investment and sometimes it wasn’t. Silver can boom and bust to an extent that gold can’t. After a gold economy is established among survivors, silver may be desirable for small purchases. But it will be difficult to establish how many 1 0unce Silver Eagles it would take to trade for a one-tenth ounce Gold Eagle coin. The exact amount will ultimately be determined by local communities of survivors. And they may not take other silver, such as historic coins, as they would take a common Silver Eagle (minted by the US government, as are Gold Eagles.)

Is there a zombie apocalypse novel in your future? If so, how will your characters deal with the probable economic collapse?


A blog post I read today

GirlZombieAuthors: Dr. Bowen Mystery, AuthorFest! The blogger, C. A. Verstraete, is the author of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter and has a new book out involving Dr. Bowen, Lizzie Borden’s doctor.

Define your blog niche to find more readers

I’m often working on improving my blog and my blog’s traffic. One resource I use is a site called ProBlogger. Today they had a post with the title How to Approach Influencers in Your Niche. OK, the problem with that was I wasn’t sure about the ‘niche’ thing. So I searched their site for a post on ‘niche.’ I found 15 Questions to Ask to Help Identify Your Blogging Niche or Focus.

This post contains a podcast on the topic. There is also another page which lists the 15 questions, called What Should I Blog About?.  Going through the questions I become more aware that I am a multi-topic blogger. There is a focus on writing and blogging, a focus on the genres of SF, fantasy and zombie fiction, a focus on politics, one on Asperger’s Syndrome, and also there is the faith thing.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I won’t ever be the top writing blog, or the top blogging blog, or the top zombie blog, or the top faith-based blog. But maybe I can be a good solid blog for people interested in several of these topics.

One thing I have noticed is that my faith-related posts sometimes get a lot of traffic. My all-time most popular post is the one about The Lutheran Rosary. Every day I get one or more visitors reading that post. Yesterday, when I posted on Churches in Chains, I got 42 page views. Normally I get 14. So I think I’m going to keep up with my Sunday posts on faith topics.

I also use Twitter to get my blog posts out in to the world. I use Buffer in order to post to Twitter several times a day without being on the Internet all day long. I’ve read it is recommended to post each blog post three times— the original posting time, later that same day, and then the next day. Of course I also go on Twitter to retweet other people’s posts and interact. I hope that will bring my blog traffic up.

If you are a blogger, what is your blog’s niche? Please tell us in a comment!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, what topics on this blog do you like the best?

On Twitter? If you leave a link to your Twitter page, I will follow you. (Though if you post naked pictures or other stuff I don’t care for, I may not stay a follower for long.)

 

Churches in chains: ELCA, PCUSA, United Church of Christ

There are churches in the world that are sound, preaching the Apostolic Traditions— at least those found in the Bible— and rejecting demands to ‘change with the times.’ There are churches that are gladly liberal or super-liberal where the congregation joyfully rejects old-fashioned Bible teachings to support rejection of the Trinity, abortion, homosexual behaviors, and same-sex ‘marriage.’ But there are other churches— the churches in chains.

I grew up in the PCUSA Presbyterian church, which was already beginning to go liberal. But we never noticed it in our Sunday School. Our church had a religious education hour before the worship service with Bible classes for all ages. We studied Bible stories and memorized Bible verses every week. My younger brother Mike and I had to bring Bibles to Sunday School class. Our family wasn’t the sort to buy Bibles for young kids, so one of us brought Dad’s old Bible and one brought Mom’s. We were taught how to find Bible verses if we were given verse references.

But by the time I was in college I knew the PCUSA supported abortion, and I didn’t. We had a local PCUSA congregation and the pastor once told us that he, personally, objected to abortion. That was quite daring then. Most conservatives in the PCUSA didn’t talk about conservative things.

Over the years it got worse. But when my dad retired he and mom joined a local PCUSA church, that local congregation seemed like a normal Christian church most of the time. Though at my father’s funeral, the lady pastor pretty much apologized for the Bible readings that were a part of the funeral service. She said they were part of the history of people’s relationships with God— not the inspired Word of God. I was very offended— and I was a Neopagan at the time!

When the Supreme Court exceeded its authority to legalize same-sex ‘marriage,’ a big part of the congregation wanted to leave the PCUSA. But they can’t. The denomination headquarters had contributed money toward the local church building. And so if they left the PCUSA, they would lose their church building. The congregation, mostly elderly and not accustomed to evangelize since the denomination discourages it, could not replace that building— nor do they want to— they are accustomed to the building they have— they and their ancestors supported it.

There are other bad denominations like ELCA and United Church of Christ which have still-Christian, Bible-based congregations which can’t leave because the denomination will take their building. I personally think that God is calling them out of the faithless denominations no matter the cost. But I understand that after going decades without much in the way of Biblical preaching, most won’t dare.

I know some people will scream ‘hater’ at me for not supporting same-sex fake marriage. But guess what: I am gay (and chaste.) So bullying me in the comments section isn’t politically correct.

Pastor Tom Brock, a faithful Lutheran pastor who left the liberal ELCA Lutheran denomination, is also a gay person who lives a life faithful to the Bible. He has a TV show on the Christian channel CTN, which is also available online. He acts as a watchdog, exposing the unBiblical goings-on in the liberal churches, such as the ELCA congregation in California which worships the Goddess— which is OK in the ELCA. Here is an episode of his show that gives 11 reasons to leave a liberal denomination. (Since I’m now a Catholic, I don’t agree with EVERYTHING Pastor Tom says. But I’m inspired by his witness in our troubled times.)

 


You may have noticed I am dealing with faith-related topics on Sunday. I feel this is a part of the mission of this blog. But I could use some support from Christian and/or Catholic readers of the blog. Would you please pray for me, that I can continue this work weekly and find good and useful topics? It would also be kind if you would share this blog post on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. Thank you all.

OJ Simpson interrupts soap operas once again

OJ Simpson’s done it again— not the double-homicide which he got away with in spite of the blood trail that led to his house, but the other awful thing he’s done—- interrupting soap operas.

His trial caused my soaps to be interrupted so regularly that I think they never got their viewership back— which is why 2 of them were cancelled a few years back. And the other day my sole surviving soap, General Hospital, had a massively exciting episode featuring the kidnapping of a kid— only we had to watch OJ Simpson lying at his parole hearing instead.

I AM interested in the OJ case. I feel sad for the fact that Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman had their lives cut short, and that their families never got to see the killer convicted. I feel horrible that Nicole Brown Simpson’s children had to be raised by their mother’s killer.

I even feel compassion for OJ. He’s a sinner like the rest of us. But I can’t help but think he’d be better off if he had told the truth.

Imagine if OJ, the second he got done with the murders, had experienced a moment of clarity. Imagine if he had run into Nicole’s house and called the police, announcing he had just killed his ex-wife and a friend of hers in a moment of madness, and he had kept proclaiming his guilt even when lawyers wanted him to try an insanity plea.

The crime would have been considered a crime of passion. There is a long history of men who catch their wives with a lover getting no jail time for killing the pair of them. Confessing immediately would have played into that. He might have been able to plead to some lesser sort of homicide and done very little jail time.

He would probably have lost custody of his kids, at least during his imprisonment. But that would have been good for the kids. It must be scary to have as your sole parent the dad that murdered your mom.

OJ would have lost a civil wrongful death case, as he did in reality. But with a criminal conviction there would have been little attention paid. And having owned up to his guilt OJ would not have been able to justify holding back his possessions from the Goldman family.

So— at the time of the robbery, OJ’s debt to the families of his victims would have been long paid off. None of OJ’s personal possessions would have been in the hands of memorabilia dealers, so he would not have gone to jail for nine years. His jail time for the crime-of-passion killings would be long over.

And right now, today, OJ would probably been looking back on years of gainful employment after the killing. No one would be yelling ‘murderer’ at him on the streets because he himself had acknowledged his guilt and paid the price. Even Fred and Kim Goldman would be close to being able to forgive by now, though they could never forget.

I kind of think that’s part of what the Bible means about the truth setting you free.

 

I think it would be a good thing for all of us who have followed the OJ case to take a moment to pray for all involved. Even OJ Simpson.

Worldbuilding Wednesdays: Clothing

Author Rebekah Loper has this blog hop called Worldbuilding Wednesdays. In spite of the fact that today’s theme is about clothing, I’m going to participate. Here goes! http://rebekahloper.com/worldbuilding-wednesdays/

My current WIP is for a series I have envisioned called ‘Revenant Nation.’ It’s a near-future political dystopia in a world where zombies are real, but not as dangerous as the pro-totalitarianism Rosa political party.

Some of my characters are a part of the Settlement movement, where people leave the Rosa-party-controlled urban areas and create rural settlements where they live old-fashioned, more self-sufficient lives.

Settlements started out as a way to protect Amish communities. Christian Settler women commonly adopt modest-dress fashions, which are of several types.

Neo-Amish styles use the exact same patterns that Amish women use for their dresses. But brighter colors are allowed. Also, some who use Neo-Amish dress allow themselves some print fabrics for the apron and cape of the standard Amish dress, or print dresses with plain, usually white aprons and capes. These styles are most popular with Amish fiction fans.

Pioneer style dresses honor the women of the pioneering age. They are also called Laura dresses after Laura Ingalls Wilder. These dresses are almost always worn with sunbonnets. The dresses themselves are often more like 1970s versions of the old styles.

Trachten styles are based on the official national and regional styles of dress from Europe, and also on the dirndl style of dress. Many women seek out the trachten style from the homeland of their ancestors. Others pick a long-skirted version of the dirndl dress. Plain versions are made for everyday use, and fancier ones for use going to church, synagogue or mosque. Clothing styles based on national dress of non-European nations are considered to be in the trachten category, and most seamstresses who make dirndls and other trachten styles have patterns for Asian and Middle Eastern costume as well.

Denim jumpers are used by most settler women for outdoor chores. In some families these are the primary style of dress.

Men tend to not follow these styles too closely. Men tend to wear jeans with plaid shirts for work/everyday wear. For more formal occasions Western wear or Amish mens’ clothing are the inspirations.

American Indians, whose reservations provide a legal basis for the Settlements, have adopted an odd style of dress which is a combination of Indian styles and fantasy-world elven costumes.

The style of Rosa party members, by contrast, is unisex and immodest versions of contemporary fashions.


Fantasia Hearth – Worldbuilding Wednesday – Clothing  This is today’s post by Rebekah Loper, founder of the blog hop. It was nice to discover I’m not the only woman on the planet who was taught to sew in childhood. Nor the only one intimidated by today’s fabric prices.

 

Blonde or blond? They’re, there or their?

Words. Writers use them, and so need to know a lot about them. But some writers have difficulty with some word choices. Here are a couple that can be problems.

Blond or blonde?

Neither is a good old Anglo-Saxon word. They come from the French language, and the thing to remember about French is that in French, words have sex. (You may now have a moment in which to picture French words having sex.)

Blond is the masculine form. When the word is used as an adjective (describing word) it will be describing a male person or a group of males. It should also be used for mixed sex groups: “the blond Swedish children eat kimchee on their pizza.”

Blonde is the feminine form. “The blonde serial killer needed to go to the grocery store for milk and to the gun store for more ammo.” Use ‘blonde’ to describe women, girls or groups of them.

Sometimes the words are used as nouns. “The blonde is studying calculus, Latin and philosophy.” “The third blond to the left was the one Mark picked as a dance partner.”

There is a stupid custom in modern times about telling jokes about blondes being stupid. Since blond hair color is restricted to certain ethnicities (unless a dye bottle is involved) this is a racist custom. It’s like saying people with very dark skin are stupid. Not very civilized.

Some educated writers don’t think this distinction belongs in English and they use ‘blond’ universally. Though they avoid using ‘blond’ as a noun to avoid confusion.

They’re, there or their?

This is something very commonly taught in grade school. At least it was when I was in school. Maybe these days they are too busy indoctrinating the kiddies that Republicans are ‘racist’ to get to the basics.

‘They’re’ is a contraction of ‘they are.’ So the best way to check the correction of your usage is to replace ‘they’re’ with ‘they are’ and see if your sentence still makes sense.

‘There’ is about a place— a place that is not here. ‘We went there because they have great crullers.’ Sometimes the place is more abstract. ‘There you are wrong, my friend.’ ‘There’ has a few other uses— check your dictionary.

‘Their’ is about the pronoun ‘they.’ It means there is something that belongs to ‘them’ in the sentence. “Their house is full of eels.”


Some blog posts I’m reading:

By the Book: Summer Reading Lists    This is a list of great books that high school kids might be asked to read over the summer. They sound like the would be worth reading by older people as well. Especially “Strangers on a Train”, I didn’t even know that was a BOOK!

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: Atheist Deconversion Story Series #2: Lorna     This blog is written by my friend Dave Armstrong, a former Protestant who is now a Catholic Apologist. He’s written a number of books and often debates online people with different world-views. In this particular post he examines an atheist woman’s deconversion story— how she journeyed from a ‘fundamentalist’ Christian childhood to her current atheist position. He treats Lorna’s story with kindness and respect, but points out the reasons why he thinks her story is not proof that we should all take up an atheist position.