Curtis Dahlgren
December 28, 2013
"MY NAME IS PAUL," he said (continued)
By Curtis Dahlgren

"ASSUMING, for a minute, that you're the Apostle Paul," I said, "where have you been?"

"I DON'T KNOW," said the stranger. "It seemed like I was sleeping, having, on occasion, pleasant dreams; then I had this horrible nightmare. I dreamt people are full of envy, hatred, and immorality; that governments are corrupt and corrupting; that the world was full of wars, and that Christians were being tortured and killed again."

"That's actually all true," I said. And he says:

"All of a sudden I woke up and here I was."

And you were standing in front of a saloon?" I asked.

"Exactly," he says. "And my first thought was, I could use a glass of some good old Mediterranean wine. So I came in here, but where AM I?"

"You're in the Upper Peninsula," I said, and he says:

"Where's that?"

"It's in Michigan," I said.

And he says, "Where's that?"

"It's in the United States of America," I said. "We used to call this the New World. It's about three months west of Europe by sail boat, or a few hours by supersonic airplane." And he says:

"Is that some kind of a flying machine? I saw those in my bad dream. They were battling each other in the sky."

"Yes," I said. "And people are being killed in battle every day. Even in this part of the world Christians are being maligned for quoting the Apostle Paul."

"Why?" asked the stranger. And I said:

"They want to silence us. Drive religion into the shadows, underground. Any other questions?" And he says:

"Where's the bartender? Is she still stomping the grapes, or what?" And I said:

"That reminds me," I said. "I have a question for you. In your letter to the Romans, you told them to be 'submissive' to the powers-that-be, the authorities. Elucidate for me, if you will."

"In the first place," he says, "I was writing to the Christians in Rome specifically. We ministers didn't want our lay members there to get crucified."

"That was for you guys, wasn't it?" I said. And he says:

"Exactly. I could still show you scars on my back that I got for disobeying the authorities. Another point is, I had to put something in the letter to get it past the censors in case it got intercepted by the postal authorities. I knew that the Christians would understand what I meant." And I said:

"What about Christians in other parts of the world?" And he says:

"In the middle of the first century, people in Asia Minor and Greece weren't under the thumb of the Empire quite as much. On Mars' Hill, a person could speak just about anything that was on your mind. Peter and I said that if you have Freedom of Thought, Religion, and Speech, don't waste it! That would be like having God give you a talent, or dollars, and burying it in the ground instead of using it!"

"In other words," I said, "Unto whom much is given, much shall be required."

"Exactly!"
he said. "Any other questions?"

"Well," I said, "we could talk about theology, about the 'faith-works' controversy, but I already understand that." He nodded and says:

"Faith WORKS!"

"Absolutely," I said. "But I have one other question."

And he says, "What's that?" And I said:

"When did you learn how to speak English?"

"Oh," he says. "That happened on one day of Pentecost when I was in the desert being trained by the Lord Himself."

"That figures," I said. "But if He taught English, He was ahead of His time, wasn't He?" And Paul said:

"He was always ahead of His time; He created time, and everything else people seem to enjoy so much at this time of the year. Their overindulgence only verifies His prophecies, especially if people try to put Christians to silence. The Lord predicted a time of Great Hatred."

Then what should appear but the dear lass with the bubbly glass of burgundy. I told her to put it on my tab, and Paul raised the glass:

"To the Kingdom."

I raised my Back 40 bock and said:

"Uff-da. To the Kingdom!"

But then I added, "By the way, I do a little writing. If I quote you, is that okay?"

With a lurch of his head and a laugh from his belly, the rosy-cheeked stranger said "OKAY!"

And then, without another word, he was gone. Not up the chimney, but straight through the looking glass.

[I woke up on the couch and God said "Have a nice day!']

© Curtis Dahlgren

 

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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)

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