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Mysterious Ways
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Mysterious Ways

Book 1 of the Father Joseph Chronicles


Click here for a sample.




The Tribe inhabits a planet many light-years away completely out of contact with the human race.  Unfortunately for The Tribe, that human race is slowly colonising their world and The Church sends two missionaries live among them.


Father Raphael is an innocent who just wants to do some good.  Father Joseph is an experienced priest who has fallen foul of the internal politics of The Church and is questioning his faith.


They have been sentenced to their exile by Prelate Kent who continues to send them new technological developments to test.  These inventions often cause more problems than they solve and it is often left to The Tribe, and their spiritual leader Speaker-to-Ancestors, to deal with the fallout.


The book is really a collection of stand-alone short stories, each between 5,000 and 10,000 words.  These form a continuing narrative underwritten by the story Father Joseph’s banishment and his conflict with Prelate Kent.


Each story starts and ends with the same text with a small variation to show what has been changed by the events in the story.




The outlines were originally written as the pitch for a TV series.

SF is always popular on TV, even the worst received of series develops a fanatical following, thousands of webpages and solid DVD sales.  Comedy SF (Hitch-hikers Guide, Red Dwarf) is especially popular.

The problem with SF is that it is expensive to produce.

Mysterious Ways is an example of artefact SF (e.g. Eureka, Warehouse 13) which is currently popular.   This is because it is cheap to produce.  Also, a single set of a hut interior that could be re-dressed and some huts put in a field (or added by a re-usable CGI) should keep costs down.


Main Characters


Father Joseph

An articulate and thoughtful Priest, a true believer but healthily cynical.  It is his banishment that has brought civilisation to the tribe.


Father Raphael

One of nature’s innocents but only wants to do good.  Provides much of the comic relief



The leader of a tribe without leaders


Prelate Kent

Proud and intolerant, bigoted and   The villain of the piece

Story Summaries


Title:    And some were built on Stony Ground

The priests arrive in the village and are left with hi-tech habitats that are supposed to meet their every need.  The devices do not function properly and the priests are forced to live in the tribal huts which prove far more comfortable.  (Note:  The above version of this story is edited to fit this volume.  The complete story contains more of what happens to Father Raph.)

Themes:  The often petty nature of religion, the good and bad points of progress


Title:    Our secret sins in the light of his presence

Prelate Kent brings a Pihound.  This is a multi-legged dog that can smell how pious a man is.  After identifying most of the characters as sinners, it falls foul of The Tribe’s attempts at animal husbandry and is eaten.

Themes:  Religious intolerance. The nature of sin and the right to decide who sins.


Title:    In the beginning was the word.

Following a gay wedding, the Prelate brings a device which instantly allows all The Tribe to read.  The Tribe then reads The Bible and tries to live by the rules they find within it, especially the madder bits of the Old Testament.  This leads them to demand that the inventor of the device is stoned to death so he reverses the process.

Themes:  Religious intolerance. Homophobia


Title:    Every beast of the earth

The Beast is the King of the Jungle and Prelate Kent decides to hunt the creature with a gun that cannot miss.  The plan backfires – literally – when Father Joseph shoots Prelate Kent

Themes:  Ecology and the environment.  Man’s urge to kill.


Title:      Mysterious ways

Prelate Kent mysteriously appears in Father Joseph’s hut.  It appears that he is testing a teleportation device.  Unfortunately, whenever he uses the device an identical amount of matter is transported to another place as he finds out when a visiting bishop is teleported into space.

Themes:  Progress.  Science without conscience.


Title:    The root of all evil

The sudden demand for chess sets leads Father Joseph to invent money.  Suddenly all the tribe become millionaires.  Fortunately, Father Raphael has a secret that will save the Tribe

Themes: Money.  Communism and Capitalism.


Title:    Suffer little children

The Tribe accepts abortion as acceptable and is challenged by the Church.  Father Raphael and Father Joseph become pregnant and have to deal with horrors and joys of maternity but it is when Prelate Kent becomes pregnant that his views on abortion change.

Themes:  Religious intolerance.  Abortion.  Woman’s right to choose.


Title:    And they shall cover the earth

When a plague of locusts levels the village, Prelate Kent brings a device that creates food out of air.  Unfortunately, the device cannot be switched off and the village is soon swamped.  Fortunately, the locusts return and clear the village.

Themes:  Progress.  Bad science.  Ecology


Title:    Deliver us from temptation

One day, Prelate Kent appears having lost a great deal of weight.  He has taken a miracle slimming drug. Unfortunately, the moment he stops taking the drug, the weight comes back on and the drug causes extreme flatulence.

Themes:  Addiction.  Brain foods


Title:    The eyes of the Lord

Prelate Kent has had access to a device which allows him to see into any space within its range.  He has forgotten that the device could also be used on him.  Father Joseph turns the tables and becomes the new Prelate.

Themes:  The right to privacy.  Big Brother society


Other Books


Although Mysterious Ways and its constituent stories all work as stand alone tales, some thought has been given to what happens to Father Joseph, Father Raphael and the rest of the Tribe.   The overall story arcs of the following books have already been plotted out and some of the content has been has already been written.


Paths of Righteousness

Now that Father Joseph is the new Prelate, he must return to the mission in Bisho.  Speaker-to-Ancestors and some of the tribe decide to join him.  They are an instant hit, becoming celebrities, but this fame puts strain on both the Tribe and the rest of civilisation and it is questionable which, if either will survive.


Vengeful God

The coming of the RoboPope is not popular everywhere, with many believers refusing to follow his accord.  Some believe that the Tribe represent the true word of God and our heroes find themselves in the middle of an intergalactic jihad.  The true origin of Speaker-to-Ancestors is discovered and Father Raphael becomes Pope.


To Everything There is a Season.

Father Joseph and the Tribe are summoned to New Vatican and presented with an intriguing offer.  Would they like to meet Christ?  The invention of time travel will allow the Tribe to visit various great events in the past.  After visiting Christ at his birth, his death and (to the confusion of Pope Raph) his resurrection, they decide to visit other events in Earth’s history.  Slowly they come to realise that someone or something is time travelling with them.  Is it God?