The Crusading Chemist website has been updated

Oh yes, another one of my back burner projects that has received a bit more attention as of late. See the amateurish poster I made for my The Crusading Chemistscreenplay The Crusading Chemist several years ago? Perhaps only one face in that collage is familiar to most, but you can learn all about the protagonist at www.TheCrusadingChemist.com, a website which has sat idle ever since college beckoned me. There you will find recent posts about life in Harvey Wiley’s time and news about the latest place my writing about him has been featured. My most devoted readers might enjoy the following excerpt of an essay I wrote for the Indiana Historical Society’s bicentennial book:

 . . . Wiley opposed food adulteration on grounds of honesty, because adulterated products cheat the consumer into spending more than the degraded product is worth and compromise health since corrupting the natural makeup of a food substance can cause gradual damage to consumers’ internal organs.

When speaking to a group of businessmen who were skeptical of making food purity a matter of law, Wiley garnered applause by putting it in capitalist terms: “Is there a man in this audience who would put his hand in his neighbor’s pocket, take a dollar from it and put it in his own pocket?…Is there a man in this audience who would so adulterate, so degrade and so misbrand a package of his goods as to cheat the consumer out of a dollar of his money when he bought that package?…”

No hands went up, and the point was taken. Purity of food would promote prosperity rather than hinder it. . .

You will have to wait until 2016 for Indiana’s bicentennial to read the rest of it. But – although I intended no announcement here – perhaps I might have a book of my own about Harvey Wiley’s crusade published before then.

People always wonder what I’m supposed to do with a degree in history anyway.

The Power of Narrative

Our languishing culture is made up of individuals, not a collective mass audience. Most of them are blasé, complacent individuals. To simply confront them with holier-than-thou accusations or rah-rah chants is fruitless. Moral outrage doesn’t make sense to them anymore, and misplaced skepticism is profuse. How do you cure a patient who refuses to believe they are ill?

This is an age-old problem with an age-old solution. Do not merely inform them. Show them.

Imagine the thoughts that must have gone through the prophet’s mind as he walked to the residence of the King of Israel. Nathan was approaching David, the legendary musician and warrior who was – as God Himself said – a man after God’s own heart.

But David had just committed adultery with Bathsheba, and after learning she was pregnant by him he deliberately had her husband put on the front line of the fiercest battle so that he would be killed. After Bathsheba mourned her husband’s death, David took her as his wife. David had disgraced himself in front of YAHWEH, but he had grown so full of himself that he hadn’t even realized it.

How did the prophet break the news to the complacent king? With a parable.

Despite its subtlety, the story was powerful enough that David empathized with the story’s protagonist who was done wrong. He was so outraged by its heartless antagonist, in fact, that he said, “As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die” (II Samuel 12:5).

Then Nathan exclaimed, “YOU are the man!”

The realization brought David to his knees. He felt conviction because he had witnessed his own actions analogized in a story he had never heard before – a story from which he was otherwise personally detached. He was thus caught vulnerable, with no witty excuse prepared in order to plead his innocence. David was truly guilty.

The American people need to be told stories about themselves that they haven’t heard before – stories that suddenly reveal that the sort of character we despised is what we ourselves have become.

That’s why Matthew Perdie and I (likely to be joined by my siblings and some friends) are planning a venture into narrative film. He’s doing all the groundwork in New York City while I’m doing the screenwriting out here in Ohatchee, Alabama. I experimented with screenwriting a few years ago, and as I have just three classes left before graduating from college, I look forward to trying my hand at it again. Historical drama and epic are my passion, but modern themes will likely be explored first.

Our goal will be to use narrative film to awaken people’s consciences to seek the truth.