Monday, July 31, 2017

On the Hills and Everywhere

"John, the children have opened their presents, and I want them to have some hot rations inside them before they start in on that store-bought candy you fetched them. So why don't you tell us a Christmas story while Mother's putting dinner on the table?" 

It's Christmastime, and John's been asked to tell a story before dinner.

Mr. Abalsom and Troy Holcomb were the best of friends. But they started fighting over a piece of land between their properties, it went to court, and Mr. Absalom won. The crop planted on this new parcel failed, and the feud grew deeper, until Mr. Absalom called his friend a witch man.

Now Mr. Absalom calls a carpenter to do the unthinkable and set a wall on the property line where only a ditch divided the one-time friends' lands.

While the carpenter works, Mr. Absalom's crippled son Little Anse keeps the man company. An inquisitive lad, Little Anse asks the man questions as he hands over each tool. The Carpenter answers every one until the job is finished.

Mr. Absalom rushes out, ready to complain. He ordered a wall, not a bridge. But at the other end of the bridge is Troy. The two friends reconcile, and the Carpenter walks along his way. But before he leaves, he tells Little Anse that he no longer needs his crutches to walk. The boy flings them away, no longer crippled.

John then leads the children in a resounding hymn before dinner.


I had a fancy that this might be John and Evadare with their family in the future, but I have family in the Ozarks, and there is no way they would allow their children to call their parents by their first name. They sure enough didn't let me.

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2


This was published in 1956 in Fantasy & Science Fiction. Now such tales get banished to the ghettos of Christian publishing, where only a Stephen Lawhead or a Frank Perretti may escape the walls. Not only have expressions of faith been lost from science fiction, we currently live in a culture that does not know how religious people act. (Don't get me started on Donnie Yen's monk in Rogue One. Even aping the monks in The 36th Chamber of Shaolin would have been an improvement.) At one time, not that long ago, mainstream fantasy and science fiction writers would write stories of the faith in the magazines of their time. And the stories varied from the devotional to exploring the weird corners of the Holy Book. Now everything in SFF is ironic, anti-theist, and fluffy-bunny pagan--not even a shadow of that old time religion C. S. Lewis wanted in "Cliche Came Out of its Cage". And much was lost in the process.

But I'll keep an eye out for the Man who is six foot tall. For I've got a bridge needin' building...

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