Beginnings Part 3 - Confusion in Shinar City

Beginnings Part 3 - Confusion in Shinar City
A Journalistic Journey Through the Book of Genesis
by Glenn W. Fisher
A Note From the Author:
Beginnings is a biblically-based fantasy. The reader is asked to imagine that newspaper reporters were present when Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden and that curious onlookers greeted the Ark when it landed in Armenia. The reporter’s stories reflect the views and values of secular America, but the issues are timeless and universal.

This book is for the religious person, secure in his or her faith, who wants to examine the biblical stories from a different viewpoint. It is also for those, religious or not, who do not recognize that the stories in their daily newspaper are as old as Genesis.

Read Part 1 - The Evil Gene
Read Part 2 - A New Start


Serving the Tigris Euphrates Valley
Vol. 5, No. 5

Economist Predicts Prosperity

Shinar City–“Shinar City’s economic boom is unprecedented,” said the lead-off speaker at the first Shinar Economic Development Conference. Professor Ralph Put, head of the Economics Department at Shinar University, painted a rosy picture of present and future economic conditions in the Valley. After reviewing recent economic history, he expressed confidence that population growth and economic prosperity will continue in the foreseeable future.

He said, “Since the beginning of large scale immigration into this fertile plain, economic and population growth has been astonishing.” Professor Put added that Shinar City’s location on the Euphrates River, its nearness to the Tigris River, and the fertility of the soil gives it an economic advantage. That advantage is leveraged by the intelligence and energy of people who have come here in search of a better life.

Professor Put reported that Shinar City has reached the “takeoff stage,” which he defined as the point at which economies of scale become so great that a city’s natural advantages are compounded. “Size and the accompanying private and public amenities themselves become factors in growth.” He urged city officials to continue to improve the public infrastructure and provide tax and other incentives for local business expansion as well as incentives for new businesses willing to locate or relocate in Shinar City.

Shammu, the well-known motivational speaker, addressed the conferees at lunch time. He pointed out that anything is possible if you believe in yourself. He urged his listeners to begin each day by repeating the mantra, “Today, I believe in myself. Today, I’ll work hard. Today, I’ll accomplish great things for myself, my family, and my city.”

The conference will continue tomorrow when small groups will discuss ways of growing their businesses, and the conference will end after dinner with an announcement that conference organizers say will be the best news Shinar City has ever had.


Serving the Tigris Euphrates Valley
Vol. 5, No. 6

World’s Tallest Building for Shinar City!

Shinar City—At the final session of the Shinar Area Economic Development Conference, it was revealed that the world’s tallest building will be built in Shinar City. It will be designed by the world’s most famous architect, Frank L. Davis. After the announcement, Davis unveiled a breathtaking drawing of the building. It is a circular tower encircled by a narrow stairway that spirals upward toward the heavens. The beauty of the river and the plain beyond is visible, but the splendor of the tower overshadows nature’s beauty.

Davis reminded listeners of the innovative architectural techniques that have made Shinar City the world’s most beautiful city. “I originated the idea of building in stepped stages. The gardens on each terrace are in perfect harmony with the environment. Visitors climb comfortable, people-friendly stairs to reach flower-covered terraces. They enjoy the gardens, view the surrounding countryside, and meditate or pray to whatever god they wish.” He added that previous architects built dark, stone boxes that were more like animal caves than homes for human beings. My buildings have freed man’s soul to soar to the heavens and become part of the universe.”

Davis paused, pointed his cane at the sketch of the tower, and dramatically exclaimed, “Now it is time to move on. This tower will soar to the heavens and open a new phase in the history of architecture and the history of the world.”

He described the new building as a monument to the individualism and the power of creative thinking that has made this city great. It will be a fitting symbol of our society. Those who would climb will find few places to rest. To succeed the climber must focus upon the goal and forsake all else. “Old ways, old friends, old religions, and old superstitions must be left behind.”

When a member of the audience asked if the building would reach Heaven, Davis smiled and said, “I don’t know just how far it is to Heaven, but we’re going to build higher than anyone has ever built before.” Then he added, “If we do get to Heaven, we’ll invite God to come and see our city. Most of his time on earth has been spent on that little farm in Eden. I’d like for him to see what great architects can create.”

Henry Jamin, president of the Shinar Chamber of Commerce, thanked Davis and said that it was a tribute to Shinar City that he chooses to live and work in our city. “We have low taxes. We have skilled workmen and superb contractors. We don’t have bickering political parties. We have common ancestors. We have a great university, the best entrepreneurs, and strong financial institutions. There is no limit to what we can accomplish if we keep faith in ourselves.”


Serving the Tigris Euphrates Valley
Vol. 5, No. 31

Confusion Reigns as Citizens Lose Ability to Communicate


Shinar City–City life, as we knew it, ceased at 7:48 a.m. yesterday when thousands of residents lost their ability to communicate. Health authorities believe that the victims’ central nervous systems have been attacked by a previously unknown virus. Victims appear to lose all ability to use verbal communication and wander about the city making animal-like sounds. They respond to questions by grunting louder, by producing high-pitched singsong sounds, by turning away, or becoming hostile.

The inability to communicate manifests itself in frustration and leads to various kinds of bizarre behavior. One man, jabbering loudly, stands atop a construction site and threatens pedestrians with bricks. Police have cordoned off the area, and they warn pedestrians to stay away.

As afflicted individuals wander about, they sometimes seem to recognize that others are making similar sounds and begin what appears to be a conversation. People rush from group to group, listen briefly, and move to another group. Harvey Horsham, a well known scribe, spent most of the day trying to communicate with members of different groups. He said they seem to be communicating using different “tongues” or “languages.”

Communication difficulty has paralyzed the city and caused numerous personal tragedies. One child became separated from his parents and was taken in by a group of individuals not afflicted by the disorder. Later his parents attempted to retrieve him, but they could not make themselves understood and were driven away. A few minutes later, a group of armed policemen took custody of the child and returned him to his parents. A spokesman for the group of normal individuals said that this was an outrageous act. “The child would have been better off with people who can speak. He will suffer, and the politicians responsible will be held accountable at the next election.”

Mayor Abiden vowed to wage war on those responsible for the disaster. “We don’t know who they are, but they are terrorists who have used a weapon of mass destruction against peaceful people. We will find them and bring them to justice before they can strike again.”

A law enforcement agency spokesman said that hostile tribesmen may have infiltrated into the city and contaminated wells with toxic plants from the desert. “We know that some tribes are hostile to modernization and jealous of the progress we have made. Our intelligence agencies report that some tribes have men skilled in the use of poisons, and large stockpiles of poisonous materials are hidden in the desert.

Chief of Police Nadab said that the department was handicapped by the inability of many officers to communicate, but the department is making all possible efforts to treat the affected officers and to recruit new ones. He pledged that the Shinar Police Department will pursue every possible lead and asked the public to report any suspicious persons. “The evil perpetrators will be brought to justice and future threats eliminated.”

The central market is closed, but a spokesman for the board of directors said it will reopen tomorrow. “It is important that business continue, and reopening the market will signify to the perpetrators of this atrocity that they have not brought this city to its knees.”

Construction has stopped, but contractors say that they will resume work as soon as they develop ways of communicating with the afflicted workers. The Gazette will continue publication, but, because the afflicted cannot read, the press run will be smaller. Ralph Yeager, director of the Gazette Personnel Department, will announce layoff plans as soon as the size of the press run is determined.


Serving the Tigris Euphrates Valley
Vol. 5, No. 50


Shinar City—The Gazette’s team of investigative reporters has established that the disaster that struck Shinar City is God’s punishment on people he judged to be arrogant.

God is not well known in Shinar City, but he is said to have visited the city before deciding to take the drastic step of confusing our speech. Several witnesses say they observed him examining the great piles of burned brick and bitumen near construction sites. He listened as people boasted about this great city. One witness, who asked not to be identified, said that God told him he was considering confounding our speech after he heard a high official said that the God superstition is outdated, and that the Shinar Tower would be an eternal monument to Man’s greatness.

The witness claimed that God muttered aloud, “Maybe they are right. If they all work together, they will be as smart as I am–or at least they will think they are.”

After he was informed of our team’s findings, Mayor Abiden called those of his advisers who had not been affected by the malady into a secret session. This reporter spoke to one participant in the conference who would only say that there was a wide difference of opinion as to how to proceed. Several thought that the city should immediately try to communicate with God, but the others claimed that this newspaper’s investigation was flawed and that no action should be taken until God’s role is confirmed. Our informant pointed out that nobody really knew how to communicate with God. “We’ve been so busy building and making money that nobody has given much thought to God. I don’t think anybody on the council would know how to address him.”


Serving the Tigris Euphrates Valley
Vol. 6, No. 31



Shinar City—On the first anniversary of the tragedy, Elon, leader of the commission appointed to study its effects, handed the mayor a report detailing the profound social and demographic consequences of the disaster.

“There has been a significant loss of community identity. Those who can understand each other (speak the same language) tend to avoid contact with those whom they cannot understand.” The report contains tables and maps showing that many localities are populated by a single language group.

The report says that segregation has been accompanied by social tension that has sometimes escalated into violence as residents find themselves trapped in changing neighborhoods. One resident who testified before the commission tearfully said that her grandfather had built the house when it was a respectable neighborhood. “My whole life and the life of my children are bound up in this home. Now we are surrounded by people we can’t even talk to. Children can’t understand their playmates.” She added that she was not prejudiced against people who had been afflicted by the disorder but couldn’t understand why they didn’t get busy and learn how to speak properly.

According to the report, communication difficulties have greatly impacted economic life. Authorities have canceled construction of several ziggurats. The superintendent of construction of one of the largest told the investigative team that it was necessary to cancel construction, not only because workmen had difficulty communicating, but also because of disputes over the language to be used in the inscriptions.

Because of a newfound interest in God, there are plans to construct several worship temples, but disputes over language are holding up some projects. The superintendent of construction of a worship temple in Precinct Nine canceled all contracts, and said that he will call for bids on two smaller buildings. One will serve Shinar-speaking worshipers, and one will serve those speaking a language called Greek.

Ralph Ludim of the consulting firm of Ludim and Peleg protested that the decision to cancel the project in Precinct Nine had been premature. He suggested that the plans for the large temple could be modified to include inscriptions in both languages, and two sanctuaries could be built on the top level so that the two language groups could worship at the same time.

This reporter interviewed residents of the area and found widespread objection to sharing space with another language group. Richard Jarvan, a resident of the area, voiced a widely held objection. “We would still hear them. I just couldn’t worship knowing that people on the other side of a wall are speaking that ugly language.” Jarvan added that he is not prejudiced against those who speak a different language, but that other languages don’t belong in a worship service. He also pointed out the practical difficulties of sharing a building. “It would be hard to find maintenance people who speak both languages.” Dennis Shallum, a priest, suggested using a language called Latin for the worship service. “Only a few people speak it, but God would understand.”

City Planning Director Talmon explained that two buildings would be more costly and the results far less impressive, but he shrugged and said, “It’s just another cost of allowing people to have a say in their own affairs. Sometimes I think that people are infected with a gene that makes them selfish. Everybody wants his own way.”

Jacob Madai, superintendent of construction for the Madai Construction Group, announced that he had halted all activity at the Shinar Tower construction site. Madai explained that on a project of this magnitude it was just too dangerous to use workmen who don’t communicate well. Frank L. Davis, the tower architect, is bitter. “God was just jealous. He gave us the ability to create things and then interfered when we used that power.”

The government has announced that Ralph Jefferson has been named Minister of Localities. His newly created department will deal with the problems created by language diversity. He told the reporters, “We may have to create a federal government. It is absolutely essential that foreign and military affairs remain centralized, but we should allow the localities to run their own educational and criminal justice systems and permit children to learn the local language. The Shinar language will remain the language of business and government.”

Representatives of several language groups oppose the compulsory teaching of the Shinar language. A common response is, “If we speak their language, they will dominate us.”

The loss of population in the central city has drastically impacted economic life. Data in the report show that construction activity has declined sharply, although some small projects have continued. The business leaders that we interviewed say the picture is mixed. The owner of one construction company, who asked not to be identified, said that his profits have increased sharply. “The price of building materials is down, and we are able to hire cheap labor.” He added, “Of course they can’t speak our language, but if I show them what to do and yell a lot they get it done.” He admitted that the accident rate is up. “We post the safety rules, but many can’t read them.” He refused to comment when asked if he paid taxes on the non-Shinar-speaking workers.

Our research shows that not all occupations have been affected adversely. The Communication Department at the Shinar University has been renamed the Language Department. Professor Raama said, “It’s opened up a whole new field of research. We knew that things could have more than one name, but we didn’t realize there could be different systems of grammar.”

The university is building a number of labs in which language informer’s work with graduate students. The students will write grammar books and dictionaries for each new language. “It’s been very exciting; we expect to award many more PhDs.”

Chamber of Commerce President Jerez gave the economic numbers a cheerful spin. He denied that the decline in population had adversely affected the overall level of business activity. Construction and manufacturing employment are down, but this has been offset by an increase in foreign trade. “All those new localities want to trade, and that has created lots of new jobs. Firms have to hire translators and lots of clerks are needed to fill out all the new customs forms.”

© 2005 Glenn W. Fisher

Read Beginnings, Part 1 - The Evil Gene
Read Beginnings Part 2 - A New Start
This is Beginnings Part 3 - Confusion
Watch for Beginnings Part 4 - Administration

Comment on this story at Aliens Pub.