Sunday, December 24, 2017

405: Transformations

Probably, C.W. thought that he had captured Ebenezer Scrooge perfectly. It’s hard to tell what Dickens had in mind. He asked us to imagine his character’s physical appearance from his demeanor, to wit:

“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.”

As the Alien’s character had interrupted my reading, I leaned back to attend his harangue and found myself as shocked as a spinster in a bawdy house to find him in a humorous attendance.

He sat, rubbed his stubble of beard, and said, “I was thinking of a cartoon I ran across while doing some research on British humor. What? Oh yes. They did years ago. Don’t know what happened. Prince Charles’ girlfriend and all that. Anyway, I think the piece appeared in Punch, a real ‘guffawer’ if I recall correctly. Is that a word? Oh, let’s make it one for today at least.” He chuckled.

Still shocked by his exhibition of an unexpected, and, seemingly uncharacteristic, display of levity, I leaned forward.

“There was this Christian Crusader on a large white horse and a Muslim soldier sprawled on the ground. The Christian held a huge lance to the other’s throat while he held a menacing sword aloft with the other in an unmistakable posture of victory.

"To this instance of impending doom, the Muslim says, 'Tell me more about this Christianity of yours. I’m terribly interested.'” With this, the laughter, which he had been subduing with such diligence, leapt its barriers and expressed itself with such vehemence that his tall hat almost toppled to the floor in total shock.

I sat astounded.
The way to change attitudes? - C.W.

His demeanor changed as rapidly as does the weather in our world. “Tell me more about this Franklin Graham of yours,” he said, “I’m terribly confused.”

The velocity with which he changed created a skidding sensation like when the brakes of a fast-moving automobile are applied on gravel.

“Tell you what?”

“This man,” he said, rubbing his stubble again, “this self-proclaimed oracle, seems unable to extricate himself from the tar-pit of mendacity and false propheteering. I’m only asking why?”

I requested additional insight.

“Recently, he lauded the current president for ameliorating the effects of something he called ‘The War on Christmas.’ Is there such a thing?”

“Are you serious?”


“Do you think that it looks like there is, or recently has been, a war on Christmas?”

“Obviously not. But is it currently illegal to observe, promote, or favor Christmas in any way?”

“The observance is criticized by non-participants, or those troubled by the ubiquitous greed involved, but that by no means implies illegality.”

“So why does this man, Franklin Graham, son of a preacher-man, imply such a falsehood?"

“Politics,” I said. “He’s assigned himself to a certain political segment of the country and, despite what others may infer from his motives, he is a proud and assiduous worker.”

“What’s next,” he said, “a lance to the throat of those who don’t agree?”

“Not now,” I said, “in the early days of the settling of Europeans here yes, but not today.”

“So his aim is to divide your countrymen into opposing segments of the populace for political purposes?”

“Quite so.”

“Fascinating,” he said, once more attending this cheek.

I waited, then, “Is that all you wanted to know on the matter?”

“I’m thinking,” he said. “Were your ancestors who first came here really accustomed to punishment for holding different religious views?”

“If hanging by the neck until dead, or lowering live people onto sharpened stakes, or burning them alive, constitutes punishment, then I am afraid so. Why?”

“One moment,” he said. “I’m thinking.”

I waited

“What I’m wondering,” he said at last, “is whether it might be efficacious to arrange for this Mr. Franklin Graham to witness past effects of such religious and civil discourse?”

Before I could reply, he said, “Then we could show him the present effect of his efforts on the poor, the mourners, and the meek, maybe others as well.”

Again, I had begun to think when he broke the silence.

“Perhaps,” he said, “with some help from the Falloonian Elders, we might even project him into the future to witness the epochal damage of his actions.”

Neither of us spoke. I drifted into sleep and dreamed. The words “Breaking News” flashed through my dream and I was whisked away. When I focused again, I was watching the end of a bio-segment of the very Franklin Graham we were discussing. The announcer turned to the camera and said:

“Afterwards, Franklin became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough.”

Indeed it would be. Then would we all be truly blessed.

See also:
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