Another Tom-and-Rachel passage omitted from “Sheer Musical Joy for the Ages”:
Rachel never discussed politics with anyone, because people got upset so easily nowadays; she had never liked causing strife in the world. However, she had always held conservative views about government, the economy, and (of course) morality. In 2000 at age nineteen, she had voted in her first election, choosing George W. Bush for president, as she would do again in her second election four years later. She considered him a decent and honorable man, though she had strong disagreements with him about that whole torture business. Having lived through 9/11 and the two ongoing wars that had followed, she understood the natural desire for revenge against the monsters who had attacked America and continued to attack it, but torturing a terrorist meant you considered him special, worthy of the extra attention, worthy of the extra effort required for beating, kicking, stomping, waterboarding, forced foot-licking, and other harsh interrogation techniques. As for using those techniques to gain information that would prevent an imminent attack, the ticking time-bomb scenario happened only on TV; real-life terrorists didn’t deserve any media-related glamour. The government should remove whatever mystique terrorism had by treating a terrorist as any other criminal, making him do hard time in an ordinary supermax prison, tossing him in solitary forever, driving him crazy with boredom.
On the other hand, Tom probably wanted to coddle the terrorists, having the government pay for luxuries such as cable TV or high-quality legal representation, meaning he probably leaned to the left on the political spectrum; she had never seen him wear Birkenstocks or carry around a National Public Radio totebag, but she did know about his lack of interest in religion—something she’d known about before today, true, but, all right, she had hoped to convert him, because a hunk like him didn’t deserve to get broiled after death. But to no avail—he remained unconverted.
All right, she would get intimate with him in a millisecond if doing so wouldn’t cause her soul to wither. Maybe she should show him just enough physical affection, not going too far, proving she can set boundaries and teaching him how to set them. Maybe just a little touching. Her soul wouldn’t wither too much if they just touched in a careful manner.
Maybe just a little kissing. She’d never been kissed.
No, why would she even consider extreme involvement with him? His questionable morals had had a deleterious effect on her. She needed to back away while she still could. A moment of so-called fun, and she’d foot the bill forever. No, she could never belong on his team or vice-versa.
And she knew the importance of teams. Her father had run track in high school and college. Even today, he still had a lean, muscular physique and still towered over most of the world at six feet, two inches; she’d inherited her tallness and her athleticism from him.
His sophomore year of college, he met his future wife on the campus quad while walking to the dining hall for lunch. “We met on a cloudy day, but it was the sunniest day of my life,” as he would put it on many occasions years later. She had just gotten saved and had started witnessing; he was her first witness (or witnessee?) ever. It was also love at first sight for both of them. They talked, they started going out together, he got saved thanks to her, and they got married two years later after graduating.
Rachel was born a year after that and had a Christian upbringing. Every Sunday, she attended the Church of the Shining Light of Garnetville for Bible school and religious services. Every weekday after public school, she watched King Christian on the PraiseHim channel. Every Easter, she watched the Charlton Heston version of The Ten Commandments during that movie’s annual broadcast on the ABC television network. And at bedtime, her parents would read to her from Doyle’s Christian Media Presents the Big Book of Bible Stories for Good Little Children; as an adult, she still remembered the book’s cartoony, candy-colored illustrations of Adam, Eve, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, et cetera.
Copyright © 2012 by David V. Matthews