|"But this man of no reputation
Loved the weak with relentless affection.
And He loved all those poor in spirit just as they
He was a man of no reputation."
~Rich Mullins, The Man of No Reputation
Firstly, some business. After I send this newsletter
out, I'll be sending a second email to everyone who I've not
heard from in a few months. Recently, I received an
email from JABB's web host that this email address was flagged
for spamming. The "spam" was a JABB newsletter.
So... I don't know if 1. it was a fluke, 2. someone
accidentally reported the newsletter as spam, or 3. someone no
longer wants to receive JABB newsletters and instead of
unsubscribing, reported my email as spam. The problem
with the latter is when that happens, my email address gets
locked. I then have to take the time to get it
unlocked. It wasn't much of an ordeal the first time but
my concern is, if it keeps happening, they'll crack down more
and I'll have to jump through more hoops. So...
I'll be asking everyone (unless I've already heard from you
recently) to reply to that email and let me know if you want
to continue receiving the JABB newsletter. If I don't
hear from you in two weeks, I'll remove you from the
distribution list. If someone happens to have been
offline for two weeks and misses the deadline, I will happily
add them back once I hear from them. I don't do this
because I want to lose members. It actually makes me sad
to see the list of members dwindle each time I do this.
However, not doing anything isn't an option, especially in
light of this latest hiccup. Thanks for your
understanding! Please let me know if you have any
Now... as for this newsletter... This isn't the type of
story I'd usually put in a newsletter because Andrew barely
appears in it. However, this is a very unusual
summer! I decided to go ahead and send this story
as a newsletter because, well, I didn't have anything else to
send. But I also think it deals with some important and
And I think that's about it. I hope everyone is staying
safe and healthy!
"It's such a beautiful day!" JenniAnn exclaimed as she exited
Lily's Loot along with Joshua and Belle. She smiled at the
former. "Good job!"
"Thanks! And I'm very glad I get to spend it with both of
you." He lifted Belle up and kissed her cheek, causing her
to giggle... and claim her opportunity.
"Can we get ice cream?" she asked, her eyes huge and pleading.
"Belle! It's been barely two hours since we had
breakfast!" JenniAnn pointed out.
Belle let out a little, forlorn sigh.
Joshua's eyes were alight with amusement as he smiled at
"There is a new froyo place I've been wanting to try...
Yogurt is an entirely appropriate mid-morning snack."
Realizing she was defeated, JenniAnn rolled her eyes and
"Like I can argue with you! All right... Which way
Joshua gently steered JenniAnn to the north as Belle
cheered. Mindful of the crowded sidewalks, he kept the
five-year-old in his arms.
"If our errands are over, we could take some cartons home for
Andrew and everyone else," Joshua suggested.
"And Avi?" Belle inquired.
JenniAnn looked to Joshua who nodded.
"He can have frozen yogurt."
"That'll be fun! I love the lil faces he makes when he
tries something new." JenniAnn smiled at the memory of
some of her baby's most recent culinary adventures.
"Me too. And I'm glad I've been around to witness so many
of them in person."
JenniAnn smiled at Joshua and hugged his free arm. She was
silent for the rest of the walk, content to listen to Belle's
and Joshua's happy chatter.
After a few minutes, Joshua pointed ahead.
"It's just up there."
"Aww. It's cute!" JenniAnn complimented. She was
about to say more when a voice rose above the din of
"Look! It's coming out of the store!"
Though she had no idea what was going on, something in the voice
made JenniAnn's blood run cold... snideness, cruelty.
A moment later, a black woman stepped out of a clothing store a
few feet in front of Joshua, JenniAnn, and Belle. She
looked around furtively then shrunk back.
JenniAnn followed her gaze to three young men who had been
lounging on a nearby bench. They were approaching; smug,
vicious smiles on their faces.
Joshua tapped JenniAnn's arm to alert her and hurried towards
"Hey! Fancy running into you, Loreena!" Joshua exclaimed.
The woman turned and relief washed over her face.
"We were just getting some frozen yogurt. Come with us?"
Loreena nodded vigorously.
JenniAnn noticed the three men had stalled and were looking at
them in confusion. They continued to stare as the quartet
made their way to the froyo shop. Then one, seemingly the
ringleader, stepped towards them.
"Don't worry. We'll keep waiting for you, tran..."
"Don't say it!" Joshua snapped at the intruder.
Joshua kissed her hair and smiled gently then handed her to
"Don't worry, baby girl," he murmured.
JenniAnn snuggled her daughter then glanced over at Loreena who
had tears streaming down her face.
"You ladies can go inside," Joshua invited. "I'll be right
JenniAnn was torn, worried for Belle but not wanting to leave
"Let's go," Loreena whispered, directing JenniAnn into the
shop. "Josh can handle himself."
JenniAnn nodded mutely, comforted by the fact that she'd be able
to watch through the shop's large glass windows.
Once he saw the three girls enter the shop, Joshua focused all
of his attention on the trio of men.
"What are you doing?" he demanded.
"Man, mind your own business," the ringleader replied. "I
mean... if you are a man... with friends like that, who knows?"
One of his cronies laughed.
"He's too ugly to be any sort of woman."
"I'd rather be ugly on the outside than ugly on the inside,"
"Do you have any idea what your friend in there is?" the third
"Very much so. She's a kind woman who would give her last
penny to someone in need."
"Man, she's not even a woman! She's one of those God
"Are you God?" Joshua interrupted. "Because only God can
say who is damned. And I think He has very different ideas
than you do."
"I don't need to be God to know it's wrong for a man to pretend
to be a woman... tricking other men into doing... gay stuff."
"And you know, for a fact, that she's done that?" Joshua
"Well, I mean... no but..."
"Exodus 23:1: 'You shall not spread a false report. Do not
join the wicked by being a malicious witness,'" Joshua
recited. "You've broken a commandment."
The three men shuffled uncomfortably. The instigator was
the first to recover.
"Still doesn't change the fact that it was born male. God
doesn't make mistakes."
Joshua let out a weary sigh.
"You were born a sweet, loving child who would never refer to
another human being as 'it.'"
The man's face turned red.
Joshua glanced into the shop where Belle, JenniAnn, and Loreena
were all peering at him.
"Listen, boys, I could stand here and give you a biology lesson
on how XX and XY chromosomes aren't the only games in town and
how gender and sex are two different things. But I would
really love to sit down and enjoy some frozen yogurt with my
friends. So I'm going to let you get back to your
day. But I better not hear about you harassing Loreena or
"Like you'd hear about it! Big city, lots of people.
And what would you do about it, anyway, Superman?" one of the
Joshua smiled breezily.
"Oh, trust me. I would hear. Oh... and you asked me
earlier if I knew what my friend is. I do, of
course. And I also know more than a little about each of
The ringleader scoffed.
"Oh, yeah? What do you know?"
Joshua waved him closer and whispered in his ear.
The other two watched, shuffling uneasily, as the color drained
from their friend's face.
Joshua released the man.
"So I would suggest you take that SD card... you know... the one
hidden in your sock drawer... and smash it into the tiniest bits
you can manage. And then do the same with your sneaky,
little camera. And maybe before you falsely accuse someone
else of being a deviant, take a good, long look in the mirror
and remember what you did to those women. Got it?"
Mutely, the man nodded and stumbled backwards.
"Wonderful! Now you all have..."
Before Joshua could finish speaking, the three turned and
high-tailed it into an alley.
"A wonderful day!" Joshua chirped loudly. He smiled at the
few people who were gathered around then stepped into the froyo
"Joshua!" JenniAnn rushed forward and hugged him.
"Hey there." He kissed her hair. "I'm just
fine. No worries."
Once JenniAnn had stepped away, Loreena took her place and
"Thank you... for whatever you did. And such perfect
timing... I was so relieved to see you, Josh."
Joshua kissed her hair, too, then waved to the counter.
"I'm glad I was there, too. Now, let's get some froyo, my
treat, and then sit down, make some proper introductions, and,
if you want, you can tell us about... that."
"Thank you, Josh."
"Thank you, Joshua!" Belle echoed as she anxiously eyed the
JenniAnn hung back for a moment.
"I... I always assumed you'd be supportive but..."
JenniAnn's eyes welled. "Oh, Joshua... I love you."
Joshua hugged her tightly.
"I love you, too, little bird."
"Does... does she know? Who you are, I mean?"
Joshua shook his head.
"I wish she did..."
Joshua smiled in a way that told JenniAnn that door was not yet
"Go get some froyo, JenniAnn," he encouraged.
Returning his smile, she did so.
Given the odd hour, the four were soon served and settled at a
table in a corner of the shop.
"So... proper introductions!" Joshua began. "Loreena,
please meet JenniAnn and Belle. JenniAnn and her partner,
Andrew, are putting me up."
"Joshua lives with us!" Belle piped up.
"Lucky girl! Josh used to live with me... well, I mean...
sort of. Of course not, like... you know."
"Loreena lives in the same apartment building as Mason and
Roger. Just down the hall. So, yeah, we saw each
other pretty frequently while I was there."
"Such good fellows... They've... also helped me out a time
or two," Loreena informed with a sigh.
"They are great guys," JenniAnn agreed. "And I'm so glad
we got to meet. I'm just... sorry for the circumstances."
"I'm glad we met, too." Loreena smiled at JenniAnn then
stirred her yogurt. "The circumstances..."
"You don't have to talk about it if..."
Loreena patted Joshua's hand and shook her head.
"No, it's fine. Really. So... I went out for coffee
this morning... like I usually do. Everyone there is
usually so friendly... and accepting. I've never had a bad
encounter there. But today... Those three were
behind me in line and something must have tipped them off.
Probably my voice... oh, for a time machine and puberty
blockers! Anyway... Timothy... he's one of the
baristas... tried to stick up for me but I just wanted to get
away. So I left. Unfortunately, so did they.
Trailing me. That's when I ran into the ladies clothing
store. I felt safe there. But... I also knew I
couldn't stay in there all day. I thought they'd lost
interest and left but... No. Thankfully, I heard
Josh here only moments after I saw them." Loreena beamed
at Joshua. "Impeccable timing."
JenniAnn bowed her head, realizing Joshua had championed the
froyo trip for reasons beyond Belle's craving.
"I'm very glad we were there. Hopefully they'll think long
and hard before they imagine harassing anyone again. No
one deserves to be frightened and bullied simply for being who
they are," Joshua asserted.
"This guy..." Loreena hugged Joshua's arm then looked to
JenniAnn. "You know, I'll admit my own biases. When
I first saw Josh here... I did NOT have him pegged as
someone who would be particularly understanding... let alone
"He's pretty incredible," JenniAnn agreed, beaming at
Joshua. "I'd love to hear more about the particulars of
how you two met."
"Well..." Loreena looked at Belle who was happily digging
into her froyo sundae. "I might have to spell a bit."
"That's okay!" JenniAnn assured.
Joshua smiled, eager to hear Loreena's account of their first
"Well, we met in the laundry room of the apartment complex...
sort of," Loreena began.
Loreena hummed to herself as she folded a load of laundry,
waiting for her second load to finish drying. She was
grateful no one else was there. It made things easier.
And then she heard footsteps...
Loreena threw the rest of her clothes into a basket in a jumble
then yanked open the dryer door. If the clothes were still
damp, she'd just have to air them out in her apartment.
Loreena looked up to find a Middle-Eastern man smiling down at
"Hi," she replied, trying to pitch her voice as high as possible
so as not to raise his suspicions.
"My name's Josh. I recently moved in with Mason. I
think we're on the same floor," Joshua introduced, holding his
"Same floor. Yeah." Loreena nodded, focusing on
emptying the dryer instead of shaking the offered hand. "I
need to get to work," she blurted out before grabbing her basket
and making a run for it.
Joshua frowned and gazed heavenward then focused on his own
Mason ambled in behind him.
"Oh good. There's a washer and dryer for each of us."
Joshua watched with concern as Mason prepped his laundry load
then plopped onto a bench and resumed drinking as he scrolled
through his phone.
After half an hour of patiently listening to an inebriated Mason
complain about work, the washers buzzed and Joshua prepared to
move his clothes into a dryer. When he opened the dryer
door, he found it wasn't empty. He withdrew a shimmering
bra and some brightly colored leggings.
Mason laughed at the sight of Joshua holding the two garments.
"Not a good look for you, Josh," he teased.
Joshua rolled his eyes and smiled.
"I saw who was here before us. I'll return these as soon
as I get the dryer loaded. Will you watch it for me?"
"Sure. But... it wasn't Loreena, was it?"
"Well, it's just... She's..."
"She's a transwoman," Mason whispered. "You're not going
to be, like... weird or anything, are you?"
Joshua cocked his head.
"Why would I be weird?"
"I just mean... with you being religious and all. She's
had a hard time and I don't..."
Joshua squeezed Mason's shoulder.
"You don't have to worry. I have lots of transgender
"Sure. So... you'll watch my laundry?"
"Yeah. Of course."
"Thank you." Joshua smiled at Mason then took a few
moments to fold the clothes, carefully hiding the bra between
the folds of the leggings so as to not embarrass Loreena.
"Be right back."
Joshua trekked back up the stairs and made his way to Loreena's
apartment. He knocked politely and waited.
After a few moments, the door cracked open but remained chained.
Joshua smiled at Loreena through the crack.
"Hi. Sorry to bother you but I think you forgot a couple
things in the dryer. I didn't want you to miss them.
I, umm, I can just set them down here in the hall or..."
Loreena noted the kindness in the stranger's eyes and
smile. She turned away from the door, closed her eyes
briefly, then turned back around and unchained the door.
"I'll take them. Thank you. That was very kind of
you. Josh, did you say?"
Joshua nodded eagerly as he handed Loreena her clothes.
Once she set down the items, Loreena held her hand out.
"Loreena. Pleased to meet you, Josh. I'm sorry that
I was rude earlier. I just... I get nervous sometimes...
meeting new people."
"No worries at all, Loreena. I understand completely."
And Loreena sensed that he did. Somehow.
"Well, umm, since you took the time to come up here... I was
just going to treat myself to some tea and cookies. Would
you care to join me?" Loreena invited, surprised at herself.
"That would be great!" Joshua accepted, beaming.
Loreena ushered him to a bistro set situated near her
"Lady Grey all right with you?"
"Absolutely, thank you."
Soon the two were seated across from each other with their cups
of tea and a plate of cookies.
"So how did you meet Mason?" Loreena inquired.
"He put an ad out for a roommate and I needed a place to
stay. Our interview went well... and here I am!"
"Is he... okay? I worry about him sometimes."
Joshua stared into his cup of tea.
"He struggles. But I have a lot of hope for him."
"So what do you do for a living, Josh?"
"I'm a carpenter... handyman. And sometimes I help out at
some friends' theatre."
Loreena perked up.
"A theater? Like a movie theater or live?"
"Live. St. Genesius' Community Theatre. They
specialize in musicals."
"I've heard of them! I always mean to go to their Jesus
Christ Superstar but never seem to make it there.
Are you ever in any of the shows?"
"Well... actually... I played Jesus a few years back. My
friend Peter does now and he's fantastic."
"Jesus..." Loreena repeated.
"That's... I would think that would be very difficult."
"You actually... you look like I'd imagine Jesus to look.
Except..." Loreena went silent.
"Not as handsome?" Joshua kidded.
"Well, I only mean... in the movies he's usually so... I'm not
saying you're not..."
Joshua laughed and patted Loreena's arm.
"You don't have to say anything more. I'm very aware that
I don't have movie star good looks. But... I am who I
am." Joshua shrugged.
"Yes..." Loreena studied Joshua as he nibbled on a cookie.
"These are very good."
"I'm glad you like them. Old family recipe. So do
you... sorry if this is too personal but... do you believe in
Him? Jesus, I mean."
Joshua swallowed his cookie.
"I'm not a Christian. I'm Jewish, actually. But,
yes, I believe Jesus is God if that's what you mean."
Loreena nodded, her nerves flaring again.
"You do realize... I... I'm trans? Transgender?"
"Yeah. I knew."
He smiled gently and shrugged.
Loreena returned his smile then shook her head.
"I'm sorry... It's just... I read sometimes about the
awful persecution trans people face in Middle Eastern countries
and... I'm sorry! I just realized I assumed you
were, well, of Middle Eastern descent but I don't even..."
"I am. My family hails from Bethlehem."
"Bethlehem..." Loreena smiled, amused. "How
appropriate! Anyway... I know firsthand some of the
vitriol we face from Christians and so... I assumed that
maybe... maybe you were kind only because you didn't know."
"Nope. I knew. People are people. And God
loves all people. Jesus died for all people," Joshua
asserted. "And don't worry. You were kind to me
despite your reservations. Trust me, I know what real
racism looks and feels like."
"I imagine you do... So we have that in common." She
sipped her tea, recalling so many incidents from her past, then
waved to a nearby family photo. "My family. I was
raised very Christian. Sang in the church choir every
Sunday... envying the girls in their pretty dresses and big bows
and hats. When I was older, I started doing drag. My
family wasn't crazy about it. But they dealt with
it. I mean... Tyler Perry was doing it, in a manner, they
reasoned. And they loved him. And I thought that
would be enough, you know? But it just made it harder to
take all the make-up and the extensions and the dresses off and
just go back to being miserable Lorenzo. I wasn't
Joshua nodded and smiled sympathetically.
"I was either going to be my real self... be Loreena... or I was
going to be dead. Being Loreena seemed like the better
alternative. My family apparently disagrees. So...
no more family, no more church."
"I'm so sorry you had to face that," Joshua apologized. "I
know it's not what Jesus would want."
"I don't think it is, either. Jesus was always with the
marginalized... and you can't get much more marginalized than
transwomen of color."
"No... you can't," Joshua agreed, his eyes welling.
"So I've liked thinking Jesus is with me. Turns out He
is... just down the hall." Loreena winked at Joshua.
Smiling, Joshua patted her hand.
"Well, I'm glad we got to properly meet. And you're right,
you know. Jesus is with you."
"Thank you." Loreena beamed at him. "That means a
"You're welcome. Well... I better head back
downstairs so Mason doesn't think I abandoned him to fold my
clothes. But it really was a pleasure to meet you,
Loreena. Don't be a stranger."
"You either! I'll see you around, Josh."
"I'll see you, Loreena," Joshua vowed
The two rose and parted with a hug at the woman's door.
Once Joshua was gone, Loreena resumed putting away her
clothes. She retrieved the leggings that Joshua had
returned and, as she laid them in her drawer, realized there was
something else. She gaped as she extracted her bra.
Then she put aside her embarrassment and smiled as she imagined
her new friend nonchalantly folding it and tucking it in her
"Bless him," she murmured.
"And so that is how I met Joshua... when he returned my leggings
and B-R-A to me," Loreena finished proudly. "We ran into
each other a few times, grabbed coffee together. And he
was good enough to stay in touch with me even after he moved out
of Mason's place. Then, not terribly long after, my
company sent me to Kansas City to help with training
there. I just got back... five weeks ago, I guess it's
"And how was Kansas City?" Joshua inquired.
"Good, actually! I was a little nervous. I mean...
you never know about the Midwest..."
"Sorry. I'm from Nebraska."
Loreena's eyes went wide.
"Oh, I'm sorry! I don't mean..."
"No, no. I totally get it. It's a really mixed
bag. Lots of lovely, open-minded people. And lots
of... not so much open-minded people. I imagine KC is
"Yeah. Thankfully, I really connected with my teammates
there. And they were a good buffer on the rare occasion
something did come up when we were out. But I was glad to
get back home. This morning was my first... real
incident... since getting back. I mean I occasionally have
some awkwardness in the communal areas of the apartment... hence
the help from Mason and Roger. But never anything like
happened out there."
"I'm glad it's not frequent," JenniAnn replied. "But it
shouldn't happen at all."
"No, it shouldn't," Joshua agreed.
"But at least we're making progress." Loreena smiled at
Belle. "I have a lot of hope when I think of the kids
Belle returned her smile.
"Your dress is pretty," she blurted out.
"Thank you, sweetie. You have a very pretty dress, too!"
Belle took another bite of her froyo then pointedly shifted her
gaze from a claw machine in the opposite corner to Joshua.
"Can we play?" she requested.
Joshua laughed then turned to JenniAnn.
"Fine, fine..." She reached into her purse and handed
Belle a couple dollar bills. "But when Joshua says it's
time to stop, it's time to stop. Got it?"
"Now... if you ladies will excuse me..." Joshua rose,
smiled at JenniAnn and Loreena, then went with Belle to the claw
JenniAnn and Loreena smiled after them. The former's
attention only shifted when she felt a hand on her arm.
She looked over to find Loreena peering at her.
"Since he's stepped away... Can... can we please talk
about April? Mason and Roger gave me updates but... how
bad was it really?"
JenniAnn eyes filled as she remembered the day Joshua had been
"Physically... it was scary for a bit there. But Joshua
healed pretty quickly. Emotionally... It was
rough. Still is sometimes. Joshua cares so much
about everyone... Even people who hurt him."
In the woman's shining eyes, JenniAnn saw immense love.
And she marveled at how Loreena had come to care so deeply about
Joshua, even if she didn't recognize him, despite all the
hateful, divisive things others had said.
"The plus side," JenniAnn continued through the lump in her
throat, "is Joshua is also keenly aware of the depth of love so
many people feel for him. He never loses sight of that...
and he never stops loving us in return."
Loreena's smile grew.
"No... he doesn't," she agreed. "Almost like... God."
"Just like God," she added.
The two smiled at each other than watched, fondly, as Joshua
guided Belle's hands as they played their game.
That evening, Andrew peeked over his Kindle as JenniAnn paced
their room, brushing her hair. She was humming
something... It took him a few moments to recognize it:
"What Wondrous Love."
He smiled. JenniAnn had been in a daze ever since she had
returned from New York City with Joshua and Belle... and a
carton of red velvet frozen yogurt which he had very much
"Laja, you doing okay? Do you need help?"
JenniAnn smiled, made a few more strokes of her brush, then
joined Andrew in bed.
"I'm fine. Really fine. Just..."
"Joshua?" Andrew affectionately teased.
Beaming, JenniAnn nodded.
"I didn't get a chance to tell you earlier but... Belle and I
met another of his friends today."
"An apostle?" Andrew questioned, his eye brows arched in
"No, no. Nothing like that. I mean someone living
here and now. A lady who lives in the same apartment
building as Mason. She met Joshua when he was there."
"Her name is Loreena and... she's a transwoman."
Andrew's expression softened.
"And I dunno... I mean I believed that Joshua would be
compassionate and non-judgmental and loving. But... I
suppose there was a part of me that didn't know. But... I
do now, Andrew. He was... so lovely with her. So
The angel of death smiled. He wasn't surprised at all.
"And we talked about... April... briefly. I could see how
much Loreena cared about Joshua, how much it upset her that
someone would hurt him. She doesn't know who he is... but
it was kinda like she did on some level. And she knows he
loves her. I just... it was beautiful. He was...
is... beautiful," JenniAnn concluded.
Andrew pulled JenniAnn to him and kissed her hair.
"He is," he agreed heartily.
"I wish I could tell everyone... Loreena especially," JenniAnn
"Maybe some day," Andrew offered hopefully.
"Yeah... We exchanged cell numbers and promised to keep in
touch so... yeah... maybe some day," JenniAnn echoed, snuggling
In the room above theirs, Joshua smiled and strummed on his
guitar as he imagined the day.
In New York, Loreena sat at her bistro table and startled, then
stared in wonder, at the beautiful white bird that had landed on
her balcony. She wondered why it brought Joshua to mind...
And since Andrew
didn't get much attention in the story...
Ask a JABB Co-Founder- Questions
Question: You've said before that,
originally, JenniAnn was supposed to end up with
Eliot. That obviously didn't happen and the nature of
Andrew's and JenniAnn's relationship changed. What
prompted you to change your mind?
Answer: Lots of things... Firstly, I just grew more
comfortable with sensuality and sexuality AND
asexuality. Secondly, I really started to see Andrew in
the Dyeland stories as distinct from Andrew in TBAA.
Within the Dyeland stories, the latter is inspired by the
former but they aren't the same. TBAA-Andrew was
informed by the intent of the TBAA writers, the network,
societal norms, etc. Dyeland-Andrew is a unique creation
of God, existing wholly independent of human society although
obviously impacted by it. Thirdly, I became really
interested in the idea of kind of but not exactly subverting
the usual romantic arc. Like what does that look like
when marriage and sex aren't options? Finally, I came to
appreciate that my favorite genre is really family drama a la
This Is Us and I wanted the Dyeland stories to become
more about this family-of-choice that grows around Andrew and
less about his assignments... except wherein his assignments
become family. And if you're going to do a family drama,
it makes sense to have a matriarch and a patriarch at the
But I think the biggest component in this shift was... of all
things... a maturation in my own understanding of sin.
Something I remember being taught was that it wasn't enough to
avoid sin... one should also avoid the *appearance* of
sin. So Andrew and JenniAnn should never act like they
were in a sexual relationship because, even though they
weren't and never would be, someone might *assume* they were
and that would be wrong. But when one reads the
Gospels... Jesus doesn't actually seem to care much about the
appearance of sin in the absence of actual sin. He
wasn't stupid. He knew what people would think about Him
hanging around with prostitutes and tax collectors. But
He still did it. He didn't arrange His life in such a
way as to avoid the appearance of sin. So why would
Andrew and JenniAnn limit their lives just to avoid the
appearance of sin? Why would God want them to? He
wouldn't. He specifically told people not to
judge. If they choose to do so in defiance of that...
that's on them.
Tangent: There is what I view as an unhealthy idea of
protecting others from sin in older Catholic moral
theology. I don't hear much about it any more so
hopefully it died. In my opinion, its zenith is the
virgin martyrs. These saintly women were killed for
refusing marriage and/or the sexual advances of men. In
the most extreme form, the virgin martyr allows herself to be
killed rather than raped to thus save the man from the sin of
rape. (Which begs the question... What does that
matter now that he's committed the sin of murder?) This
is insanity to me. It also runs counter to another (IMO
better) idea in Catholic moral theology that if you intend to
commit a sin and are only prevented from it due to unforeseen
external influence, you have still committed that sin in your
heart and need to repent for it. The example I was
taught is if you plan to kill someone, load up your gun, start
driving to their house, and then get side-swiped and your car
is totaled and you're taken to the hospital, you've still, in
a sense, committed murder because you fully intended to do it
and would have if not for getting in a wreck. Anyway...
So I set aside worries that an openly affectionate Andrew and
JenniAnn would, somehow, inspire scandal and focused on the
ways God might use their relationship for good: providing a
stable home life for their kids, giving Max positive role
models, improving Andrew's ability to relate to his
assignments, giving Violeta the best tools to adjust to life
outside of Heaven, and, simply, making them better, more at
Question: What are some of the hardest parts of writing
Answer: Well, I'll start with the one that's most
recently become an issue. As an angel, Andrew should
pretty much always be on the side of doing what's right...
even if it goes against his personal interests. And
that's a lot of why I've been struggling to get very far with
the story of Andrew and JenniAnn and their family riding out
the pandemic. When I started the story, what seemed
moral to me was for all of them to isolate at Willowveil to
protect themselves and others. Andrew and Andrew alone
would leave to get necessities since, as an angel, he could
neither catch nor spread COVID. This might make some
people miffed at Andrew but he would argue for this plan of
action still because it would keep people safe.
And then George Floyd was killed.
I'm no longer convinced that keeping people without
pre-existing health concerns holed up in Willowveil and the
surrounding area really is the most moral solution.
Because racism is also a public health issue. And they
may want to participate in peaceful demonstrations. So
now that story looks different because what course of action
Andrew advocates for isn't as obvious. So my solution is
to never write a scene past the current day. So, for
example, I can write a scene set on May 21st now... but not
one set one July 7th. Because who knows what might
happen by July 7th that might make Andrew's actions look
This is even more of an issue with Joshua. It's fun to
do the scenes where the Friends ask him questions but
sometimes I have to strike some of those because I don't want
Joshua to provide an answer that might get disproven by
science. Even in the story above, I personally wonder
why people are transgender and it was tempting to have
JenniAnn ask. Does something happen during fetal
development? Is it simply God's plan to teach us
tolerance and respect for the vast variety of His
creation? I dunno. And science hasn't come to one
definitive answer. In preparation for this story, I read
some queer theology and there wasn't consensus there, either,
so I didn't feel right about having Joshua commit to an answer
beyond the obvious: God loves everyone.
But going back to Andrew, it's sometimes difficult to not want
him to just really let loose and scream at some people...
because I want to scream at them. Like I'm not gonna
lie... it would have been very satisfying for me to write
about Andrew verbally mauling Rex Remus and maybe knocking him
around some. But obviously Andrew isn't going to behave
like that! Sometimes I can give those parts to another,
less angelic, character. But sometimes I also just have
to reign myself in. Nobody would be well-served by
beating up Rex.
This newsletter is
dedicated to John Dye for being part of so many projects
that spoke compassionately to people who, too often, face
harassment and other harm. May we seek to bring hope
and compassion to them as he did.
(Photo Credits: The
photographs used on this page are from
Touched by an Angel and owned by
CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and
Moon Water Productions. They are not
being used to seek profit.)