In 1997 or 1998 I was trying to come up with a chat name in an atheist vs theist chat room. I had been posting on forums with a similar topic of discussion and had gotten tired of the futility of it. On one forum, the now defunct Watchtower Review, owned and operated by a JW turned fundamentalist Christian, the regular posters had discovered html. Back then forums were just a simple Matt Wright script. No security, just enter your email and screen name, the title and body of the message. We were playing with posting images, video, sound, background and text color etc. and I started thinking that it would be a good idea to create a website if for no other reason than to preserve and have more access and control over what I wanted to create.
So, thinking of a chat handle I had been toying around with concepts of spirituality that could be the foundation of an interactive website. Things like zeitgeist (German; spirit of the age) and the Ghost In The Machine, (coined by Gilbert Ryle, popularized by Arthur Koestler) which The Police had turned me onto in my early teens. Anyway I came up with the title Pathway Machine.
I wanted an interactive sort of website with a story behind it and elements of what I call the practical spirituality. The spiritual being not exclusively religious but secular as well. Art, music, entertainment, games, religion, tradition, culture, the Bible, God, and even science and technology.
The story started out with an atheist man being paralyzed in an accident and put into a wheelchair much like Steven Hawking's. With a device used to aid him in communication. One day his software got confused with some Bible software and suddenly he had access to the Bible in a way which he never had and he embarks on a surprising spiritual journey. Sort of silly.
I was researching possible names and wanted a surname for the character to mean "teacher" as he would eventually be a day star in the sense that he would teach his newfound spirituality and I discovered the German surname of Lehrer. German elements kept popping up. Zeitgeist, Lehrer which led my search into the Turnverein a group of German Gymnasts who focused on the importance of exercising the mind as well as the body, and Jacob A. Riis' How The Other Half Lives journalism and photography on the Tenements of New York City in the late 1800's. From there Charles Loring Brace's Children's Aid Society and The Orphan Trains.
I began to realize that it would be cool to incorporate little known elements of the world around us in the fictional account of this atheist's spiritual journey which led me in a different direction. Keeping in mind this story is evolving in my mind over a period of years. By the time Ron Paul's Revolution was getting my attention (I actually registered as a republican and would have voted for him) I had simultaneously developed a sort of social awareness, especially with the unconstitutional income tax and the evil incarnation of the federal reserve (see videos below) and so global revolution was incorporated into the story line as well as some other conspiracies.
The Lehrer family history was considered, going back to the religious tragedies of the Prussian war, the aforementioned Turnverein, Orphan Trains, Tenements Of New York. The Sheen family was introduced, beginning as an adoptive father of Christian "Chris" Lehrer's ancestor. A mercantile who's company would go on to manufacture sewing machines and eventually, in the future, a robot / android manufacturer. Chris would be a chronicler for his grandfather's spiritual journey. The Pathway Machine, which is Chris's grandfather's posthumous human droid. An android embedded with the mental and physical traits as well as the memories - the spirit and soul of the deceased. A sort of monument, tombstone and photographic likeness of someone no longer living.
Elements of the past, present and possible future. The Quiet Zone, Maglev, Hyperloop and the futuristic Ministry Of Science and Technology (MOST) which replaces our old monetary and political system as a vastly improved method of providing every man, woman and child on earth with the resources they need, inspired by The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement.
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