The World of Madness is Round
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This is an Incomplete Rough Draft.
Writing this book will require a year at the very least.
I value any comments you may have; send them to:
swift@softwareproblem.org

The Carpenter

Jonathan Swift
swift@softwareproblem.net

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The man in the middle was clearly long dead. I could see that both of the men on either side were still alive, but just barely so. It was dark not because the Sun had set, but because the angry clouds were so heavy. I heard distant claps of thunder and saw an occassional lightning bolt. I turned up my collar in a vain attempt to repel the bitterly cold wind.

I looked around, but not only was there no one else with me there on the hilltop, I could not see anyone anywhere, not even in the distance. To be put to death in such a cruel way has to be bad enough, I thought to myself, but no matter how foul their crimes, would it have been too much to ask that they not have to die alone?

I gazed up again at the man in the middle, wondering what he possibly could have done to deserve such a fate. Only slowly did I realize that the Horror I felt came not from the gruesome display before me, but from my growing understanding of just where I was, and of just Who the Man in the middle was.

I was filled not just with a profound sadness, but also with an aching loneliness of such a depth as I have never known. There was no sermon, no Sunday School, no Scripture, no painting, sculpture nor Passion Play that could possibly have prepared me to understand what it would be like to be at the actual event.

Shrieking with grief, I dropped to my knees. Head bowed, eyes clenched tight yet unable to contain my tears, I pressed my trembling hands together. "Oh Dear Heavenly Father, Please Have Mercy On His..."


"OWNED!"

My eyes shot open; I looked up utterly aghast. Christ was beaming down at me with a mischevious grin.

"Give me a hand will you? There's a prybar around here somewhere."

In a wild panic, I ran back and forth all over the hilltop until I found the prybar. "There's a ladder too," Jesus said.

"Romans! Engineers My Fat Hairy Ass. It's a poor workman doesn't put his tools away at the end of the job."

"The foot first. Initial removal order is of critical importance. But once you're done with My foot, you can do My hands any way you like."

I tried to find a scrap of wood to lever the prybar against, but none was to be found. "Please forgive me, my Lord," then hooked the nail that jutted from His foot and pressed the bend in the bar as hard against the top of His foot as I possibly could. Strangely, He didn't seem to mind.

Hanging now just by the two nails through His hands, He curled both knees up against His chest, then kicked both legs around a few times. "Thanks a million," He said, "they were getting pretty stiff."

I raised the ladder then rested it against the Cross just past His right hand. After scurrying up I pried out that nail as well.

"Quickly now, the other one before my foot slips and I'm left hanging by just that one nail." I went back down the ladder, propped it at the other end, then raced back up and began to pry.

I expected Him to fall but instead He lowered slowly and gently to the ground.

"Iron spikes right through the palms of both my hands! My Self, that's gotta hurt."

He held out His left hand, palm upward. "Who's up for a snack? I haven't eaten in three days." He stared at the palm of His hand for a few seconds, until a piece of unleavened bread appeared.

"I'm sorry, I forgot how much you like Mexican." Looking down again at His palm, the matzo disappeared to be replaced by a Tortilla. "Or perhaps you would prefer corn?"

"Wheat's just fine," I gasped, beginning to hyperventilate.

"Thanks. I'm a wheat Man Myself. The Holy Land doesn't know from corn - not yet anyway."

He held out His right hand, this time with His palm pointed to the left, fingers slightly curled. He focussed His gaze on that hand as well. After a few seconds, he looked away, glanced idly around the hilltop, then turned sharply right back at His hand, glaring angrily this time.

"Crap! Someone put the arm on My Chalice again." Now turning the palm of his right hand straight down, he swept it side to side a few times. A mouse appeared. He grasped it, then began moving it about, clicking the button occassionally.

"They've been disappearing ever since some troll on the Internet gave everyone idea that My Chalice had some kind of resale value." After one final click, he let go of the mouse, which vanished.

"My replacements will be here shortly. Get a fucking clue, will you? They're twelve ninety-eight for a pack of four at Walmart.com."

He waited impatiently, tapping His foot. "Last time I pay extra for FedEx," he muttered. Finally, a wireless device descended from the Heavens. After He scribbled His signature on it, the device ascended, then a small brown box descended. He tore the top off, tossed aside the packing material, then pulled out a Cup.

I could see that there was indeed nothing at all valuable about the Cup, but it was quite clear even from a distance that it was filled with the very sweetest Wine. "We'll share just the one," He said, then took a sip and passed it to me. He tore a bit of Tortilla off then popped it in His mouth, then passed the rest of the Tortilla to me as well.

I took a sip of Wine, finding that indeed it was the very finest I had ever had the privilige of tasting. I tore off a bit of Tortilla, dipped it in the Wine, then put it in my mouth. After swallowing it, I offered both the Cup and the Tortilla back to Jesus.

"Which vineyard is that from? I'd like to buy a bottle myself." I was puzzled that he didn't take either the Cup or the the Tortilla. Even more puzzled was I when his face fell, that mischevious grin replaced by an expression of profound sorrow. It was only when He turned away in what I could see was a failed attempt to hide His tears from me that I realized what I had done.

"Forgive me Lord! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE FORGIVE ME!"

He shrieked at the top of His lungs, then turned back to me, His eyes wide with profound Horror. Holding the palms of both His hands an inch before my face, He screamed, "IRON SPIKES RIGHT THROUGH THE PALMS OF BOTH MY HANDS!" The scabs burst off all His wounds, not just his stigmata but also from the spear wound in his abdomen, from the pricks in His scalp from His crown of thorns, and from the lash wounds on His back. His Blood flowed freely from all of them.

He fell over sideways, collapsing in a faint. The bleeding from His wounds became a prodigious torrent. I stood there struck with terror and with awe, not knowing what to do. I looked up and saw that His Blood poured from the hilltop, where it had become an angry Sea of Blood stretching from horizon to horizon.

Dumbfounded, I watched for a moment then realized the hilltop was now an island, one which grew rapidly and increasingly smaller as the Sea of Blood rose. Huge waves of Blood reared up as they approached the hill, then pounded violently into its shore.

If I don't solve this problem but quick, I thought, We are both going to drown. After a moment of contemplation, I sat down next to Him then took Him into my arms, gently cradling His face against my left breast. The torrent was still prodigious, but I could see that it had slowed just a bit.

"I understand," I said gently, "I really do. I know you think I don't, but I do."

"It's gotta be rough, I know it just has to be."

"How very pointless it must be to have the insight to foretell the future, when one possesses not the power to undo the past."

With that the torrent stopped. While He still bled profusely, He did so no more than you or I would had we suffered the same wounds.

While I had solved one problem, I was not yet where I needed to be. I rocked Jesus gently as I continued to hold Him in my arms, contemplating what I should do next.

After a few minutes I gently and carefully took His left hand in my right, brought His palm to my lips then softly kissed His stigma. To my amazement, not only did His bleeding stop but within seconds His wound healed completely. A horrible scar remained, but I figured that was the best I could expect.

That never really worked when Mom tried it, I thought.

Next I kissed each of the wounds where the thorns in His crown had pierced His scalp. I had to shift Him about, very slowly, gently and carefully, to get to all of the wounds.

I lifted Him just a bit to free His right arm, then took His right hand in my own that I could kiss that as well. Finally, I lowered Him gently to the ground, leaned over to kiss the spear wound in His side, then crawled on my hands and knees to kiss His foot.

All better now, observing that His bleeding had stopped completely. He was quite covered with the most gruesome scars, but at least he was in no danger of bleeding to death for a second time.

I took Him in my arms then continued my gentle rocking. I don't know how long I held Him so, but it must have been for almost a day. It was only when I noticed that the Sun would set soon that I realized that the clouds were gone, and that it was no longer at all cold.

I had not noticed the jug on the ground to my right. I removed the cork stopper, held it to my nose then sniffed: olive oil. I poured a bit into my hand then annointed first His right foot, then His left, then finally His hair. Again I took Him in my arms and rocked him.

The Sun set. After a little while, Venus appeared in the evening sky, then, just a few at first but then more and more, it was followed by the stars. Finally the sky was completely black, but spectactularly lit with stars, with the Milky Way plainly visible from one horizon, all the way above me, then down to the opposite one.

I gazed awestruck upon The Heavens, yet filled with a desperate despair. I went to Caltech to study Astronomy, I thought to myself, but the most cruel irony was that Southern California had such polluted air and such a vast number of streetlights that I was completely unable even to see even one star at night.

We remained like that, with me sitting and He lying in my arms while I gently rocked Him, all night long. The sky slowly grew light. Just a few at first, but then more and more, the stars all disappeared. A deep red glow appeared on the Eastern horizon. I smiled when I saw the edge of the Sun appear above the distant mountains. He stirred a bit, crossed His arms over His chest then nestled back into mine.

The Sun was high in the sky when He finally, slowly sat up. He gazed upwards for quite a long time, then looked down at the ground in front of him. Finally he looked straight at me with a calm yet very sad expression.

Jesus wept.

"Forgive me, Oh Lord," I said very quietly and very gently, "I knew not what I did."

"Of course I forgive you," He said calmly, "But that does not mean it is easy for me to do so."

He continued to sit in front of me, now gazing down at His hands, first His right then His left, back and forth for quite some time. Suddenly He held them both up in front of Him, palms towards His face, with a puzzled expression. He frowned for a moment, then relaxed. His face now bore a serene, contemplative look.

"Hey Jon," He said in a very serious tone, "Check this out."

He turned His head towards His right a bit, then slightly downwards, but with His eyes towards me, fixing me with a piercing stare. After a moment He whipped His left hand up in front of His left shoulder, His fingers all pointed upwards, His palm towards His right.

After another pause, He shot up His right hand as well, but with His index finger pointed up and His other fingers curled. Finally, He turned His right hand sharply so that His index finger now pointed towards His left palm.

"BEHOLD!" He shouted. A bolt of lightning struck just yards away with a deafening thunderclap.

When I recovered from my start, I saw that He had plunged His index finger through the stigma in His left hand so that it stuck out from the back. I damn near fainted - but His mischevious grin had returned.

After pulling His finger back out of His stigma, He continued to fix me with His stare as He leaned over to His right so that He could reach a small chain that lay on the ground. I heared a loud Pop! somewhere in the distance when He gave it a sharp yank.

I looked off to see where the sound had come from, seeing a whirlpool starting to form about a mile offshore. The Sea of His Blood slowly began to recede.

There is absolutely no substitute for quality development tools, I thought, Benedict is getting sushi out of this. Nothing but the very finest.

"We are here to discuss Forgiveness," He said.

I whipped out my notebook, turned to a blank page then began taking notes.

Editorial Note: I'll write up His lesson on Forgiveness later.

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The World of Madness is Round