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Randyjoe
June 2nd, 2012, 08:13 PM
John Cockburn was late for work. He wiped the sweat from his forehead as he entered the tall glass building via a revolving door. He approached the large desk and the blonde woman behind it.


“Mr Cockburn, the meeting started thirty minuets ago. It's on the second floor, room Seven B.”


“Thank you Julie” he replied.


Entering the large chrome elevator John Cockburn joined two smartly dressed men, both in their early forties. He stepped out onto the pristine corridor on the seventh floor and walked briskly to the wooden door with '7B' written at eye-level in gold lettering. Hesitating, he opened the door. There was a second of human voice which ended abruptly, silence for an equal duration as heads turned to observe him, then the voice resumed. Finding a seat John Cockburn opened his briefcase and rustled through his papers, taking a pen from his shirt pocket.


“As you can see Johnson's work in Western Asia has been highly successful. Research has shown that clients respond well to branding and iconography. Trey, please explain what your team have been working on”


Rising from his seat, a tall thin man walked to the front of the room.


“Thank you Mr Schmidt. My Team has been studying the appeal of iconography, specifically in the area of accessorising. Necklaces incorporating the Christian Cross have been consistently popular with the American public for decades creating significant opportunities for profit. Accessories are also used as a uniform and to re-enforce the sense of belonging, as with the Sikh turban and Pańj Kakār. For this reason we felt that some kind of accessory was appropriate for the Sons of Malik. Due to the current economic situation people are reminiscing over more prosperous times. We have chosen to use the traditional headwear of the Ottoman Empire, the Fez, as a required accessory.”


“Thank you Trey. John, now that you've joined us could you give us the South American update?”


“Thank you Mr Schmidt. I apologize for my lateness.”


John Cockburn made his way to the front of the room. He was still sweating.


“Good morning everyone. As you know I have been tasked with looking for new religious opportunities in the Southern Hemisphere. The dominant religious group in Latin America is Catholicism, however as the region develops there are increasing numbers of clients who are disillusioned with their faith. Our theologists believe they require a religion with a more naturalistic form of worship and less dogmatic undertones. I believe we can approach this from two directions; we can focus on a nature themed spiritualism with a flexible moral code, or we can form a new denomination with a distinctive Latin American feel.”


“How much will it cost to start a religion from scratch?” Asked Mr Schmidt.


“Well sir, considering our recent acquisition of the Unification Church I estimate that we have at least six billion dollars for investment in Latin America. However I would need to consult with the spiritual arbitrageur to provide you with more specific costs.”


A dark skinned man raised his hand and spoke.


“What about our commitment to the Vodun movement in West Africa? We have political influence through our clients in this area and access to natural resources. Mr Schmidt it is vital that we continue to expand our clientčle.”


After the meeting Mr. Schmidt put his hand on John Cockburn's shoulder.


“Mr Cockburn, we need to talk about your performance lately. It is concerning me.”


Ten minuets later John Cockburn was sitting in a chair opposite Mr Schmidt, separated by his large mahogany desk.


“John, I'll be honest with you. I'm not happy with the way you've been working lately. You've not been conducting research thoroughly and I think that's dangerous. We don't want another Waco on our hands. We've already had to sell our shares in Scientology because of the McPherson incident.”


“Sir, Waco was mismanaged. The global arms trade is worth forty five to sixty billion dollars. The Speculative Jihad Advisor has suggested promoting full scale war in South East Asia.”


“What really concerns me” said Mr Schmidt “Is your lateness. Why are you always running late?”


The sun shone through the large window behind Mr Schmidt giving him a golden radiance. With his grey beard and white double breasted suit he looked like God.

Lawrence
June 3rd, 2012, 04:10 PM
"theologists"

Theologist is a really uncommon word. I hear the word "theologian" a lot, though.


I think it is sort of a silly story, are these guys like the Illuminati or something? A secret hand in the world controlling religions?

But maybe you could develop it more. Even though I didn't enjoy it much, I want to read on. Will he have a conversion experience or something? Was he late because he was at church?

Also, if people are used to a liturgical and orderly faith (Catholicism), why do you think that they would want to go the exact opposite end of the specturm with new age stuff? People like what they are used too, if they leave the Church, they usually move in steps, non-Mass attending, then Lutheran, then Methodist, I think it'd be kind of outlandish to be a Mass-attending Catholic one day and then New Age the next.

Randyjoe
June 4th, 2012, 06:12 PM
I think it is sort of a silly story, are these guys like the Illuminati or something? A secret hand in the world controlling religions?

But maybe you could develop it more. Even though I didn't enjoy it much, I want to read on. Will he have a conversion experience or something? Was he late because he was at church?

Also, if people are used to a liturgical and orderly faith (Catholicism), why do you think that they would want to go the exact opposite end of the specturm with new age stuff? People like what they are used too, if they leave the Church, they usually move in steps, non-Mass attending, then Lutheran, then Methodist, I think it'd be kind of outlandish to be a Mass-attending Catholic one day and then New Age the next.

Hi Lawrence, thanks for the constructive criticism!

I was thinking about how rich religion has made individuals like L. Ron Hubbard and Sun Myung Moon. I was also thinking about how humans appear to have an innate need for religion and how lots of people with emotional problems or drug addictions are comforted by religion (cults target vulnerable people).

I'm sorry you didn't like the story, I'll certainly keep working on it and see if I can give it more depth.

Abdul-fattah
June 8th, 2012, 10:11 PM
If memory serves correctly the term "messiah inc." was already used in the animated version of "Flatland: a romance of many dimensions".

Limburglar
June 9th, 2012, 04:32 AM
I thought your idea was superb: That the Messiah could be artificially manufactured, like he was some sort of buyable good. This story has a lot of potential.

Also, the name Cockburn alludes to STD's. I'm not sure if that was your intent.

patskywriter
June 9th, 2012, 05:12 AM
Yes, you could definitely use more description. The dialogue can't be expected to "carry the load." I have a few comments:


John Cockburn was late for work. He wiped the sweat from his forehead as he entered the tall glass building via a revolving door. He approached the large desk and the blonde woman behind it.

“Mr Cockburn, the meeting started thirty minuets ago. It's on the second floor, room Seven B.”

“Thank you Julie” he replied. You can show how rushed John is by having him thanking her over his shoulder as he sprints to the elevator. Now, if the meeting really is on the 2nd floor, I can imagine him becoming impatient while waiting for the elevator and then turning to run up the stairs. That could further explain the sweaty brow that you mention a few paragraphs later. There's a small problem if the meeting is on the 7th floor, though—he has time to wipe his brow while waiting for the elevator and during the trip up to the 7th floor. (Obviously, you'll have to decide whether you meant the 2nd or 7th floor.)



After the meeting Mr. Schmidt put his hand on John Cockburn's shoulder.

“Mr Cockburn, we need to talk about your performance lately. It is concerning me.” Cockburn doesn't react. You have the opportunity to explore his character here. Should he roll his eyes, look at the boss's hand on his shoulder and then look up with alarm … or should he jump a little?



“Sir, Waco was mismanaged. The global arms trade is worth forty five to sixty billion dollars. The Speculative Jihad Advisor has suggested promoting full scale war in South East Asia.” Again, let's see some emotion: Is John being argumentative, defensive, eager to please … ?


garza
June 18th, 2012, 03:18 AM
The story concept is interesting, but needs to be better focused. Rather than creating and promoting several different non-traditional religions, the company would do better to have a single product.

stellar
June 22nd, 2012, 05:27 AM
This is great. The introduction is smooth, pace-wise. I am sort of floated into what's happening. I'm also very assured as a serious reader by the assertive placement of information. It doesn't feel spoon fed.
As for constructive input, well I only had an issue with the paragraph where John Cockburn greets the meeting room and says “Good morning everyone. As you know ...". That's the only hiccup that cuts my flow. I question where my place is as a participant in that fictional world.

The topic can go so many ways. I'd love to read where it leads!

Randyjoe
June 26th, 2012, 06:43 PM
Thanks so much for the input everyone, especially patskywriter (http://www.writingforums.com/members/patskywriter.html). I have been given much food for thought and hopefully will be able to share a much improved version of this story with you. I must admit I have never worked in an office environment so am lacking in descriptive language to use, all I know about offices/companies is from TV!