Posts Tagged ‘short stories’

Porcupines and Solidarity

September 7, 2014

Porcupines and Solidarity — Paulo Coelho

illustrations — Ken Crane

Synchronicity: I was reading Adultery this afternoon. The story revolves around Laura, a journalist who has lost meaning in her life. She reads Porcupines and Solidarity to her children.

The Illustrated Man

June 18, 2014
The Illustrated Man

The Illustrated Man

The Illustrated Man (1951), a collection of eighteen short stories by Ray Bradbury.

A vagrant rolls into town, his tattoos come to life at night, and show a very dark future.

Dramatised by BBC Radio 4, part of their Dangerous Visions series.

As usual, only kept on-line for seven days, now less than three days left.

The Illustrated Man

The law and the fruits

January 17, 2012
fruits of the earth - Ken Crane

fruits of the earth - Ken Crane

In the desert, fruit was scarce. God called one of his prophets and said:

– Each person may only eat one fruit a day.

The custom was obeyed for many generations, and the ecology of the place was preserved. Since the remaining fruit supplied seeds, other trees appeared. Soon, the entire region was turned into fertile soil, which was the envy of other towns.

But the people continued to eat one fruit a day – they remained faithful to what the ancient prophet of their forefathers had told them. However they never allowed the inhabitants of other villages to take advantage of the abundant harvest with which they were rewarded each year.

The result was that fruit rotted on the ground.

God called a new prophet and said:

– Let them eat as much fruit as they like. And ask them to share the abundance with their neighbors.

The prophet came to the town with the new message. But he was stoned – for by now the custom was ingrained in the hearts and minds of each of the inhabitants.

With time, the younger villagers began to question the barbaric old custom. But, since the tradition of the elders was unbending, they decided to abandon the religion. Thus, they could eat as much fruit as they wished, and give the rest to those in need of food.

The only people who remained faithful to the local church, were those who considered themselves saints. But in truth they were unable to see how the world changes, and recognize how one must change with it.

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Illustration by Ken Crane.

Sadly there are too many churches like this.

Top story in Bird♫is♪the♫Word (Wednesday 18 January 2012).

Today we have the problem of too many fruits of the earth being eaten, sufficient for everyone’s needs, insufficient for everyone’s greed.

“I’d rather be in hell”

December 31, 2011
heaven or hell - Ken Crane

heaven or hell - Ken Crane

As soon as he died, Juan found himself in a gorgeous place, surrounded by all the comfort and beauty he had dreamed of.

A fellow dressed in white approached him and said, “You have the right to have whatever you want; any food, pleasure or amusement.”

Charmed, Juan did everything he dreamed of doing during his life. After many years of pleasures, he sought the fellow in white and asked, “I have already experienced everything I wanted. Now I need to work in order to feel useful.”

“I am sorry,” said the fellow in white, “but that is the only thing I am unable to give you. There is no work here.”

“How terrible,” Juan said annoyed, “I will spend eternity dying of boredom! I’d much rather be in hell!”

The man in white approached him and said in a low voice:

“And where do you think you are?”

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Rob Bell describes something similar in his excellent book Love Wins, a world of boredom for all eternity, for many that would be hell.

Heaven is not some otherworldly place. Is that all life has to offer, we hang around waiting to go some place else?

Heaven is here on earth, it is what we choose of our life here and now. Or we turn it into hell.

We are the ones who have the choice, to turn swords into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks, new wine will drip from the mountains, all nations, that is all colours, all races, all creeds.

But we prefer to create hell on earth.

Fundamentalists tell us that if we do not believe what they believe we will go to hell not heaven. They are of course the self-appointed chosen ones who will go to heaven.

Hell is not a mythical place. It is here on earth, we create it.

It is Rwanda. It is the nine-year-old girl raped by her mother’s boyfriend or the parish priest. It is Iraq as it descends into hell.

The Truth as Iraq descends into Hell

And yet even in Iraq, as it descends into hell, the people find joy, love wins.

My wife and the burnt light

December 31, 2011

On Christmas Eve, my wife and I were reflecting on the year that was nearly ending whilst dining at a restaurant.

I started to complain about something that didn’t happen the way I wanted it to.

My wife focused her attention in a Christmas tree that embellished the place.

I thought that she wasn’t interested in the conversation, so I changed the subject:

“This tree has a beautiful illumination”, I said.

“Yes, but if you look carefully you can see one burnt light among dozens.

” It seems to me that instead of thinking this year as dozens of enlightened blessings, you chose to look at the one light that did not glow.”

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

2011 was the year of protest.

All the little lights twinkling are the Occupy camps across the world.

All the little lights twinkling are the brave people who take to the streets in Syria and Egypt, even though they do so at risk to their lives.

The one dead light is the corrupt who must be removed from power.

Protest the dominant theme of 2011

Synchronicity: I was reading Faith Under Fire by Canon Andrew White:

In Arabic: Yom asal, yom basal which means one day honey, one day onions. Canon Andrew White would designate days as honey or onion, as often a good day would be followed by a bad day, then one day decided to change his perspective, every day would be a good day. Not just a philosophical shift, but a spiritual shift.

Surrounded by death and destruction, Canon Andrew White and the people he loves and serves still see the joy of life.

Psalms 30:5

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

It is often those who face the greatest adversity who share the greatest love. Canon Andrew White in Iraq is a good example of this.

St Paul pleaded with God to remove the thorn from his side, God responded …

1 Corinthians 12:19

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Love drives out fear.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

2 Timothy 1:17

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Canon Andrew White

As I have said many times, the congregation of St George’s are the most joyful people I have ever served. … There cannot be any such word as can’t here in Iraq. We have to persevere, and we do. And in everything we see the Glory of God.

Angels appear in St George’s and as seen by Ezekiel wheels within wheels.

Wheels within wheels

Parable of What Language Does God Speak?

December 12, 2011

Once upon a time there was a man in the Serengeti District of western Tanzania called Marwa. In the sixth grade he studied the Christian religion. At Baptism he chose the name Emmanuel which means “God is with us.” After finishing high school Emmanuel read magazines and books about God. He believed that God is truly present among us, but he asked: “What language does God speak?”

Emmanuel posed his special question to different church leaders in his village. The old catechist answered. “I think that God speaks Latin.” The chairperson of the parish council guessed, “God speaks our local language Ngoreme.” But the searching youth Emmanuel had doubts. “When I get the right answer,” he said to himself, “I’ll know immediately and feel great joy.” So the young African set off on a journey. In the neighboring parish he asked again: “What language does God speak?” One Christian suggested Kuria, another local language.

Again Emmanuel had doubts. He began to travel across the whole of Tanzania visiting small towns and big cities. In one place the Christians were certain that God spoke Swahili. People in western Tanzania said Sukuma while residents in the northeast said Chagga. Emmanuel was not satisfied with these answers. Remembering the African saying — “traveling is learning” — he journeyed outside Tanzania. The Kenyans said Kikuyu and the people of Uganda answered, “God speaks Ganda.” In West Africa he got different replies: Lingala in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Hausa in Nigeria and Arabic in Morocco.

He decided to travel the whole world if necessary. Passing through Europe he was told “French, German and Italian.” The Christians of North America said “English” while South Americans replied, “Spanish.” In his heart the young Tanzanian knew that these answers were inadequate. Determined to find the real truth he went to China where the local people insisted that God speaks Mandarin or Cantonese. Emmanuel was tired from his long travels but he resolutely pushed on. In India he was told Hindi. He reached Israel late in December. The local inhabitants said, “Surely God speaks Hebrew.”

Exhausted by his long travels and the unsatisfactory answers, Emmanuel entered the town of Bethlehem. The local hotels were filled. He looked everywhere for a place to stay. Nothing was available. In the early morning hours he came to a cave where cows and sheep were sheltered. He was surprised to see a young woman with her newborn baby.

This young mother said to the traveling youth, “Welcome, Emmanuel, you are very welcome.” Astonished to hear his name, the young African listened in awe as the woman called Mary continued: “For a very long time you have traveled around the world to find out what language God speaks. Your long journey is over. God speaks the language of love. God loved the world so much that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

Overjoyed to hear these words of Mary the young Tanzanian understood Gods language of love for all people, for all races, for all nations. Emmanuel exclaimed, “Truly, today God is with us.””

A short story by Rev. Joseph Healey posted on African Proverbs, Stories and Sayings: Many stories just “happen.” One Advent in Iramba Parish in Musoma Diocese, Tanzania we decided to create an original story for the Christmas homily. Congregations on big celebrations such as Christmas and Easter are very large, mixed groups. Many of these people only come to church on the biggest feasts of the year. A didactic homily or sermon may not communicate well, but a story always will. This particular parable came from asking Christians in Iramba Parish the provocative question: “What language does God speak?” Their answers and the accompanying discussions became the basis for creating this African Christmas parable. It uses different means of social communication such as African languages and African sayings.

The second of three African stories read by Virginia McKenna at An African Christmas with the Occam Singers at St Nicolas Church.

I am indebted to Virginia McKenna for introducing me to this wonderful Christmas story and for telling me where it and and many other wonderful African stories are to be found on the net.

An African Christmas
Love Wins