Oh, God! You Devil. Seven of My Spiritual Symptoms

What’s news for horror writer Paul D. Dail?

On vacation this week in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Now that’s scary.  Ha ha.  Seriously though, not much to report this week.  Just glad to be relaxing a little bit, which actually leads to my next somewhat troubling point…

What does the future hold?

At this point, I have no idea.  And with limited time, I need to get this post up before I can figure out what I’m doing next Friday.  Hopefully you’ll just check back next Friday to see.

But without further ado…

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I was awarded both the Versatile Blogger and the Kreativ Blogger awards.  Fortunately, the rules are basically the same for each one.  So I’m going to do both of them together and then kind of break the rules a little.

[Since when do awards come with rules anyway?  Well, Miss America, I guess…]

1- Acknowledge those who gave you the award.

2- List 7 interesting details about yourself.

3- Nominate 7 other people.

We’ll see about that last one.  But first, much thanks to KG Arndell for picking me for the Versatile Blogger award.  Just met KG recently via Twitter, I think (one of the few good things I’ve found about Twitter).  He has some entertaining things to say.  You can find his blog by clicking here.

Kim Koning awarded me the Kreativ Blogger award.  Kim is awesome.  I’ve known her for awhile, and most recently, she has joined our TESSpecFic writers’ group.  In addition, an anthology that she is part of was just awarded the 2012 Sir Julius Vogel award for Best Collected Works in Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror.  You can find Kim’s blog by clicking here.

For the second requirement, I’m going to start and end these seven details with a nod to my friend and fellow writer, Jonathan Allen.  If I haven’t mentioned it already, Jonathan and I might as well be brothers from another mother.  Our paths have been so similar over the year, it’s surprising we hadn’t met before we did.

Anyway, Jonathan was also awarded the Kreativ Blogger award.  To read his 7 details that inspired my own list (or at least his first detail that got the wheels rolling), click here.

And if you haven’t guessed, these details all deal with some spiritual side of me.

So NOW without further ado…

1- In my mind, I have died already.  It wasn’t a Near-Death-Experience exactly.  Let me explain.  When I was 18, I was driving a car with three of my friends when I was t-boned by a truck doing about 55 miles an hour.  I still remember my girlfriend screaming at me as I pulled out in front of the truck, and to this day, I can still see the grill of the truck just a few feet from my driver’s side window before it hit us.

The car was spun around, and everything went black as we spun across four lanes onto the sidewalk on the other side of the road.  In that very brief moment of darkness, I convinced myself that I had died.  What was interesting was how easily I accepted that fact.  It was a very calming, almost matter-of-fact moment.  My only questions were wondering about the rest of my passengers.

It was actually very liberating.  Ever since that day, I’ve realized that while I certainly don’t want to die (especially in some horrific way), death is nothing to be afraid of.

My last moments?

2- While I don’t believe I actually physically died that day, I’m not convinced I didn’t die the first time I went skydiving.  Kind of a “Vanilla Sky” type of thing (I haven’t seen the original of this movie, but I did enjoy the American version).  Maybe this is the world that I have created in those last moments of my life when the chute didn’t open and I spiraled down to the ground, and it’s a world of familiarity, comfort or dreams.  After all, what are the chances that I’d be back living within 500 yards of my parents and married to a girl I had a crush on in high school?

3- Okay, so if it’s not a dream, if you asked me on most days, I’d say it’s fate and that I believe in fate.  Or fates, rather.  Kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, I believe that we have multiple possible lives to live and just like those pages already written, our various lives are already predetermined.  It just depends on what choices we make as to which pages will be turned.  It works with the idea that time isn’t really linear… that everything has already happened, past, present and future.

4- While I have a theatre background and love to sing, I don’t enjoy many musicals.  However, I love “Jesus Christ Superstar.”  Great music.  And what a fascinating (and controversial) premise, that Judas was a pawn and Jesus was a puppet.  I knew I was in love with my wife the night I met her at some friends’ house and we sat on their deck and sang songs from the Rock Opera together.  I’d love to be in a production of JCS, and much as I’d like to play Jesus, I don’t know that I have the chops.  Probably more cut out for Judas.

5- I’m actually fascinated by most religions and suspect there’s probably a bit of truth in all of them.  When I worked a residential treatment center [read: lockdown facility] for troubled teens, I taught them Life of Pi, one of my top ten books that have inspired me (Conversations with God is also on that list… alongside The Stand).

Life of Pi is about a young Indian boy named Pi Patel, and one section I really enjoyed was when he decided to study Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam concurrently (but unbeknownst to each other).  In a great scene where Pi is confronted in the same place by his pandit, priest and imam, Pi states that he simply wants to love God.  In between reading the book to the kids, I taught them crash courses on the basics of as many world religions and religious figures that I could fit in, from Allah to Zoroaster.

6- While I didn’t teach this one to the kids, I have also read The Satanic Bible, written in 1969 by Anton LaVey.  I have no idea how I came across this.  I think I found it for research for something.  But I was surprised by it.  Not what I expected.  I would say they seemed more like Naturalists than the “Satanists” we were led to be afraid of by so many horror films and stories.  Probably the biggest surprise was that they actually objected to animal and child sacrifice because those two things represented ultimate innocence, a state that they held in esteem.

7- Finally, in 6th grade, I threw the spelling bee so my girlfriend could win [Little bit of irony?  The word I misspelled on purpose was “quail.”  Anybody remember a certain Vice-President who struggled with his own spelling issues?].

Now again, to come full circle, this last one is a nod to my friend Jonathan, who actually reached the state level in the National Spelling Bee, but just in keeping with theme, if a preoccupation with women was a religion, I would’ve been either ordained or crucified years ago.

[A bonus detail just for Jonathan.  I was also the editor of my school newspaper.  In fact, I got in a little bit of trouble over an editorial I wrote criticizing the school district in our small southern Utah town for taking a day off for the deer hunt instead of recognizing Martin Luther King.  I actually had a fellow student threaten me, accusing me of wanting to celebrate a day “for some nigger.”  Yeah, my high school years were somewhat tumultuous.]

And the nominations:  Well, I think most people I know have already been awarded these awards… and both awards have the same rules… and I know that others are still following the rules and keeping it going… so I’m just going to pass the Versatile Blogger to All Things Jill-Elizabeth.  She’s outside of my normal horror and speculative fiction circle, but she’s one of the first people I met in the blogosphere, the first to host me as a guest at her blog, and over the past months, she has become a friend as well as a colleague.

What do I want from you?

Comments?  I don’t need to lead you on this one, do I?

If you want, I’ve actually been awarded the Versatile Blogger before.  To read my first post with 7 details about myself, click here.

Finally, check back next Friday to see what I decide to put up.  It will be a surprise for us both.

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23 responses to “Oh, God! You Devil. Seven of My Spiritual Symptoms

  1. Great Post Paul. I too suscribe that religions are so full of great good things and most are very much alike. I respect all and I am registered an Episcopelian but my philosophies are far more Spiritual than religious.
    The Satanic Bible sounds like a creepy dark book I would avoid…ok so respect kids and animals but is there horrid sacrifice of other kinds? Too creepy for me by even if just by the title. Life of Pi is a great book.
    I too had a car accident at 18, it made me explore my inmortality but as you say nothing to fear and I hope it coms very late in life and hopefully as a peaceful slumber….:)

  2. Okay, many comments are bubbling in my brain, but in the interest of brevity the first to surface gets typed. How very like you to be so chivalrous as to let your girlfriend win the spelling bee. Congrats on the awards!

    • Ha ha. Yes, I was nothing if not chivalrous in those days. And now I’m curious about the rest of your comments.

      Hope all is well with you. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. ,,Pablo.. if death was like a second skin.. would you wear like a cape? To fly to hell and back? or to save and warn the lost like an evangelistic superhero?

    • Ahh, Ricardo. It sounds like a graphic novel in the works. Let me know if you don’t use the idea and I’ll run with it.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a good weekend.

      • My food and faithful brother.. uh.. GOOD not food.. but jog, run.. over-extend yourself like an Olympian with this idea.. I just dusted off the words from the warehouse in my brain and put it on your blog.. FLY my brother.. Fly!!.. the NY Times Bestseller list patiently awaits your words…

  4. Carol Collier

    Paul,
    I have some thoughts about this post. Stories in the horror genre can be trashy ventures into death and gore, or they can rise to the level of philosophical discourse. As writers, we have an opportunity to explore some age old conundrums about good and evil. Your own book, The Imaginings, raises many questions about the nature of God and the absence of God.
    A great deal of literature has to do with morality– betrayals, fraud, theft, murder and their effects on the lives of the characters. These incidents set up exciting plots, forcing us to think about right and wrong and retribution. We cheer when the bad guys go down because we want to believe good triumphs over evil (Sadly, this doesn’t always happen in real life).
    American religions seem oriented more toward social interaction than spiritual search, and belonging to a church or temple makes you part of the tribe. When you think about it, the idea of faith makes no sense at all, yet all Christianity is based on it. We sense there is more to the universe than interacting molecules. And I believe that’s why a well written horror story can create such dread. We just don’t know what’s out there. If there is a God, there must be a Satan.
    I just finished my new book called Bokor, and it explores some of the ideas in your blog today. The protagonist teaches comparative religion, so in order to write the novel, I had to spend many hours with books I normally would not have read. This slowed the writing down considerably because I was fascinated (and side-tracked). So today’s blog about spirituality was very interesting to me. As usual, a good column and fun to read. Sorry for the lengthy letter. Have a great vacation. Carol

    • Hey Carol,

      Don’t apologize for a lengthy comment. I always enjoy them, and yours has much food for thought.

      Very interesting comments about religion being oriented more toward social interaction than spiritual search. I never thought about it that way, but I believe you are on to something. I think it started as being about spiritual search and that many people still seek out religion as a source of answers, but I think the majority probably go for the social comfort provided by like-minded individuals when it comes to a topic that we really know nothing about.

      Congrats on Bokor. What’s your next step?

  5. It is so great when you find another that is so much like you they instantly get you.
    As for the Satanic Bicle–of course I was interested in reading that, and I think I actually did, but I am somehow blocking it from my mind. Looking forward to The Life of Pi–good diversion from Anton LaVay–I am always drawn to things I should just LEAVE ALONE.
    I like reading your blog Paul–thanks:)

    • Hi Penelope. Yes, I think we have much in common. I’ve always enjoyed your posts along these lines as well. It’s such a fascinating topic, and so many people get incensed over it, when in reality we’re all just guessing.

      I’ll be curious to hear what you think about Life of Pi whenever you get a chance to get around to it. I enjoyed it on many levels, as a spiritual story, as a survival story, and simply as an animal study.

      Hope you have a good weekend.

  6. Paul, thanks for the kind words. Very interesting seven details. What stuck with me (and what I find quite telling) is that when you got into the car accident, your first concern was for others.

    Have a good weekend.

    • Hey KG, my pleasure. Thanks for the Versatile Blogger nod. I’ve seen that there have been some click-throughs to your site. Hope I can increase traffic a little for you.

      And I guess it was pretty nice of me to be concerned about the others in the car. Of course, I figured I was dead, so there wasn’t much that could’ve been done for me anyway 🙂

      Thanks again, and the same wishes of good weekend to you as well.

  7. Yes! Jesus Christ Superstar fans unite! My dad got me hooked on this, I was able to take him to Fresno, Ca, near where we live, and see both Anderson and Neeley for an anniversary performance. I’ve since seen the show twice. I try and not get caught up in the controversy. I just think it’s cool. I love Carl Anderson’s voice and performance.

    -Jimmy

    • Yeah, for me it’s mostly the music, but I had to mention the controversy given the theme of my post.

      I’m more than a little jealous you’ve seen those two doing the performance. Although, apparently I have been to JCS once. My parents went when my mom was pregnant with me. I think that probably had some influence on me.

      Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’re having a good weekend.

  8. Very interesting post, my friend. I never cease to be amazed by my friends.

    I won’t delve in to my religious beliefs-it would take volumes-but let me just say that when I was taking courses in various religious beliefs in college, I discovered that no one religion seemed to me to address all the issues. Something was lacking in all of them, and for me to even conceive of combining bits and pieces of each to form a religion perfect for me, I would in effect be doing what I accuse some of my rather vocal friends of doing: accepting only the parts of scripture(if they profess to be Christian)that they feel apply to them and disregarding the rest. Hmmn. Why bother, then? On the other hand, being a writer of horror, I find my most beneficial source of research to be the King James version of the Bible. I’m not saying the Bible is an evil book; I’m merely stating that not much is spared in its words.

    No matter how you look at it, fascinating to think about. As is your post this week. Thank you once more, Paul.

    Blaze

    • Some very interesting points, and I agree that it would take much longer to give all my beliefs. But I gave some ideas here.

      As someone who has done exactly what you said–to take bits and pieces of whatever religions seems to ring true to me–I can also agree to some extent with you that it’s hypocritical of us to criticize others for their beliefs when we are creating our own banner of belief. So I try not to be too critical of anyone for whatever they choose to believe. However, with a sense of tolerance that I’ve developed over the years, I do have a hard time not being a little critical when it comes to people’s pigheadedness that they are the only ones who have “The Answer.”

      And yes, the Bible makes great fodder for horror. In regards to my main character, David, in The Imaginings, I spent a good bit of time studying (and talking a little in the book) about the biblical King David.

      Thanks as always for your comments.

  9. I understand what you mean, about realizing that death in and of itself is not something to fear. When I was thirteen, I had an operation to correct a dangerous curvature of my spine (scoliosis that was crushing my internal organs). I remember being at the threshold between life as we live it now and whatever comes after. I felt clearly that I stay here, in this life, by a force of will. That to let go is not a scary thing that it is as you put it, “calming, almost matter-of-fact.” Still, I’m glad we’re both still here to swap near-death stories!

    That is so sweet about how/when you knew you loved your wife! I knew Mr. Aniko was the one for me the first time we held hands. It wasn’t romantic; we were trespassing on the roof of an old building that had a lot of brick risers (firewalls, perhaps?) that we had to climb over to move between sections. He helped me climb over one, and when he held my hand, I felt something I can only call deep yet totally disconcerting recognition. It didn’t make any sense; we both had relationships, I hadn’t even particularly noticed him. Yet he held my hand, and I knew. It was actually sort of scary, but it’s all worked out well. Not easily, mind you, but I wouldn’t change a thing about our Chosen Adventure now.

    I like your view on Fate. The many-avenues, with the outcome based on choice, is far preferable to some absolute lock-step where we have not even limited say. You have cool thoughts.

    Ok. I’ve written enough probably. Thanks for this post. Very enjoyable!!

    • Hey Aniko,

      Glad you stopped by. Interesting how many of us have these types of stories. Life is pretty dangerous, I guess 🙂 Also glad you’re still here.

      And I think your story about you and Mr. Aniko is more romantic than holding hands on a date or something. It’s much more real. You can’t make that kind of stuff up. A great, very visual story. I might as well have been up on that roof with you both.

      Glad you like my view of fate. It would be even cooler if after we die, we get to see the whole story… every different avenue as it could’ve played out had we made different decisions. I know I’d be curious.

      Oh, and I want to get the soundtrack for my life too.

      • If we get to see every avenue as it could’ve played out, do you think we’d see it in real time? And, if so, what is to say we’re not doing that right now? Reality is a slippery thing if you look too closely…

        A soundtrack would… rock! 😉

        • Whoa, Aniko. I think you just blew my mind.

          Actually, that kind of ties into an idea I’ve had brewing around for years. Dammit. Now I have one more thing to distract me 🙂

          And yes, it would rock.

  10. Yep, seeing a lot of echoes here, buddy. It’s weird how many things we have in common. Wish I had more time to comment, but wanted to at least acknowledge it. Great post!

  11. Pingback: An Homage to Versatility - and a Thank You | All Things Jill-Elizabeth

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