God's Backyard | Teen Ink

God's Backyard MAG

November 8, 2008
By Chandler D., Corte Madera, CA, Corte Madera, CA

It had been a long drive from the airport, and my grandfather and I had already recounted all the new happenings of our lives to each other, so it was natural that we sat down to relax. He stretched out on the sofa watching football and I hunched in the armchair, absorbed in a portable video game. I had practically not put it away since I left the San Francisco airport. Even when I did it was only to talk to Papa in a rather dreamy manner, partly from the nostalgia of being in Arkansas after such a long absence and partly from sheer LCD-induced stupidity. I had been so focused on it that all I could remember seeing on the hour-long drive from the airport to his house was the enormous church off the interstate and the new Walmart, which caught my attention as it stood mere feet from the old one. My trance was not broken until several minutes later, when I noticed Papa taking a pellet gun off the gun rack.

“Blue jays chasin’ off all the birds again,” he said, partly explaining, partly complaining. He maintained the birdhouses and feeders. As a matter of fact, he kept up his whole yard very well – pond, plants, everything. He took a shot.

“Got rid of so many, now only the smart ones are left,” he said, reloading. I turned off the game and stared as he slowly adjusted his aim. I had been under the impression that he was only trying to scare it away with the first shot. I couldn’t see the bird from where I was, but I knew he had hit it when I heard him chuckle.

“Come ’ere ’n’ see this,” said my grandfather. I followed him, curious. “They’d prob’ly arrest me in California,” he said with a belly laugh. “Nope, you won’t see this sorta thing there.” I laughed a bit too, not entirely sure if it was only to humor him.

Beneath the feeder lay the blue jay, its left wing flapping wildly, propelling it in small circles. Scarlet poured from the left side of its head. My grandfather picked it up by its calmer wing and continued toward the pond in the front yard. He tossed the writhing creature into the water. A moment passed silently.

“Will it drown?” I asked.

“Naw. He’s already dead. ’Sides, turtles prob’ly get ’em,” he said, starting back to the house. I didn’t know there were any turtles left in the pond. My grandfather had often sharpened his aim on their heads as they surfaced for air. They had eaten so many of the fish they had damaged the ecosystem, so I couldn’t really blame him. But this was different. The blue jay wasn’t hurting anything. The other birds could easily find another source of food.

“Do you really think that was fair?” I asked. The blue jay had only been protecting its resources from competitors, even though it wasn’t nearly as pretty to look at.

“The Bible tells us that God gave us dominion over all of the creatures of this earth. It is our place to care for them and use them as we see fit,” he replied, still walking. I took a step.

“Well, yeah … but how do you know it didn’t feel any pain?” He stopped, turned.

“How can you feel without a brain?” he asked rather quickly, uncertain. He paused. “Can’t feel without a brain.” He turned toward the house again. I stayed a moment, picturing that single wing flapping madly. But I said nothing.

I slept in the guest bedroom on the second floor that night. I had turned on the TV but wasn’t watching. It was just there to break the silence while I played my game. But even with the white noise, I still couldn’t concentrate. I could see the bird as vividly as if it were lying on the floor at the foot of the bed, staining the carpet as it thrashed. He hadn’t needed to kill it.

I paused the game for a moment as the irony hit me: a man of the church playing God in his yard, every day, in full view. It was nearly blasphemous. I thought about writing to let out some of my confused thoughts. I had packed a notebook and pen. But I was too tired. I unpaused my video game.

My game, “Tactical Advantage,” was a grid-based combat simulation. The objective was to get as much territory under your control as possible by defeating neighboring armies. I was just finishing a battle with an army that had attempted to take over one of my less significant bases. I hadn’t really needed it, strategically speaking, but it was one of my favorites because it had a paint shop. My tanks looked a lot cooler with custom paint. I finally finished off their last squadron, which I had surrounded, then used as a test subject for my experimental weaponry. It wasn’t much of an accomplishment, defeating them – they were doomed from the moment they challenged me.

Then I remembered the bird and turned the game off. I didn’t feel like playing anymore.

The author's comments:
In case anyone was offended by my portrayals of certain areas, certain pastimes, or certain religious beliefs, I would like to note that my primary motivation for writing this piece was simply to point out hypocrisy in order to stimulate growth beyond it, especially within myself. In short, don't take anything too seriously.

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This article has 19 comments.

peachesjk said...
on Jan. 20 2011 at 6:27 pm
peachesjk, Syracuse, New York
0 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You never know what you got 'til its gone, but you never know what you're missing 'til it comes along"

I'm pretty sure that wasn't the point. 

on Nov. 15 2010 at 8:37 pm
Dragonscribe BRONZE, West Lafayette, Indiana
4 articles 0 photos 303 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A Person's a Person no Matter how Small"
"A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet"
"God helps those who help themselves"

Yes! I believe all opinions have the right to be posted on this website - meaning though atheist posts bother me, I respect their right to exist on Teen Ink. I tried to post a very pro-life article on here, and it was denied, yet many pro-choice articles are on here. Unfair, I think.

on Nov. 15 2010 at 3:35 pm
boston418 SILVER, Weymouth, Massachusetts
5 articles 0 photos 48 comments

Favorite Quote:
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." -Jim Eliot


It's funny though... you spoke somewhat critically of God and religion, and teenink supported your expression of that, but when I spoke affirmingly of God, they changed the title of my article and some of the phrases in my article to downplay the praise of God and make it more PC.  Not that I think they should have edited your writing like they did mine; I definitely think this is the right place for expression, but their judgement process intrigues me.

on Oct. 2 2010 at 5:54 pm
passion.fable14 SILVER, Fort Collins, Colorado
8 articles 0 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life is like a cup of coffee. You gotta...dive right in and drink it fast before it cools. Because coffee sucks when its cool. And it tastes like crap. Do you want your life to taste like crap Sam? I don't. That's why i don't drink coffee."

wow. That was fantastic. I loved this. Brilliant!

on Jul. 28 2010 at 10:50 pm
menike_neko BRONZE, Howell, Michigan
4 articles 29 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't take life too seriously, no one gets out alive any way."

I love this. This is something that the world needs to open their eyes and understand how their actions compromise their believes or vise versa. 

on Jun. 14 2010 at 12:08 pm
vikesfan28 GOLD, Genoa, Nevada
14 articles 0 photos 28 comments

Favorite Quote:
I'm still a geek on the inside, that's the important thing.

-Wierd Al Yankovic

This story is really an eye-opener.  The bird dying had important significance, and if it had suddenly came back to life or something the story would be really cheesy.  In other words, the people who say the bird should have lived are wrong.  Wonderful and metaphorical story.

We-R-3 BRONZE said...
on May. 23 2010 at 7:35 pm
We-R-3 BRONZE, Orlando, Florida
1 article 0 photos 344 comments

Favorite Quote:
A picture is worth a thousand words, however it takes a real artist to turn words into pictures.

Have you heard about the new Lebron Iphone, you have to set it on vibrate because it doesn't have any rings

I really lioked this and I really enjoyed your analogy with the game at the end, you were comparing the game to the experiance witnessed earliert that day, correct?

on May. 1 2010 at 9:36 pm
thoughtfulsoul PLATINUM, El Cajon, California
25 articles 0 photos 49 comments
This is wonderful. You are an amazing story teller

on May. 1 2010 at 3:50 pm
Alice_in_Wonderland GOLD, San Clemente, California
16 articles 0 photos 620 comments

Favorite Quote:
“I could give up, I could stay stuck, or I could move on, So I put one foot front of the other, No no no nothing’s gonna break my stride, “ –David Archuleta (The Other Side of Down)

This is a really great story! good job. Too bad the bird had to die. The only part of the story I didn't understand or like was why you had to describe the game you were playing in the last paragraph. Everything else was great though.

jessi GOLD said...
on Apr. 9 2010 at 8:29 pm
jessi GOLD, Nunya, Florida
15 articles 4 photos 115 comments

Favorite Quote:
"When injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty."

that was really good. great writing and imagery! you had a really good way of connecting everything. awesome job :)

on Apr. 9 2010 at 8:09 pm
shelterisland GOLD, Montclair, New Jersey
14 articles 0 photos 175 comments

Favorite Quote:
-Biting's excellent. It's like kissing only there's a winner."-Doctor Who, The Tardis

love this! that's terrible what he did to the bird! :(

on Apr. 9 2010 at 3:16 pm
TheWanderer SILVER, Blue Springs, Missouri
7 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R.R. Tolkien

This is a very good article. I was just wanting to add something on to the argument. It is true the Bible tells us that God gave us dominion over the creatures of the earth. But with that dominion comes responsibility. What he did was irresponsible and God definitely wouldn't be pleased by such actions.

on Mar. 18 2010 at 11:29 am
s.nichole. PLATINUM, Ossian, Indiana
27 articles 4 photos 18 comments
I could kiss you, you're such a good writer. I loved this. a LOT. (:

scoot123 said...
on Mar. 18 2010 at 8:37 am
that is so bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cheli said...
on Aug. 14 2009 at 5:58 pm
This story was well written and really inspiring. I admire how the words in the text really fit together like puzzle pieces and create such an amazing story. Great Job! :)

Thunderfirst said...
on Apr. 24 2009 at 2:46 am
That really makes me think twice about the things I do. Like saying that lying is wrong then "twisting" the truth about something small. It really opened my eyes. Thank you.

Also: great writing! I loved it.

saddddd:( said...
on Apr. 13 2009 at 5:20 pm
That's sad. How could you write about birds being shot? :(

animal lover said...
on Apr. 7 2009 at 11:42 pm
That was a very good story but it was very sad that makes me wat to be a vetenarion even more! I cant stand to see a animal suffer either it makes me keep this freaky image in my head for what seems like forever!

Zero_Kun said...
on Feb. 1 2009 at 10:28 pm
That is really sad. I feel so sorry for the poor little bird. And the turtles, I don't think they would like being shot at. I thought it was a good story, it's things like that poor little blue jay that made me a vegetarian.