Tag Archives: Christmas

My Christmas Gift to You — An Illustrated Summary of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene Part 1 — First Installment

Edmund Spenser planned a series of twelve great poetic books. He created a new form of poetic stanza with a complicated rhyme and rhythm scheme, which became known as the Spenserian stanza, just for this work. Each book was dedicated to a different aspect of Christian character or virtue. This is the first,  the Faerie Queen, Part One. It was written in the late 1500s and dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I. This story is an allegory. Like the parables the Lord Jesus Christ told in His days on earth, it tells of earthly things to make a point about spiritual things. The fairy queen, Glorianna, is a good and pure ruler who represents the glory of God, for whom Queen Elizabeth I is the inspiration.

The Red Cross Knight is a young man untried in battle but equipped with wonderful armor and a shield bearing the emblem of the cross. He represents Holiness, or the process by which a young Christian matures in God’s service by “putting on the whole armor of God.”  Una is the fair maid who represents Truth. The dragon that holds her parents captive, of course, represents the power of evil. The magic performed in this play is presented as evil. There is violence because we are in a spiritual battle against sin and wickedness. The palace of pride is presented as rich and beautiful on the outside but filthy and falling apart underneath. Wicked people sometimes deceive Christians and believers sometimes fall in with the wrong people.

They come to harm themselves, and cause harm to others whom they are supposed to be protecting. Archimago means “great magician.” Duessa, whose name means “two-faced,” pretends to be Fidessa, which means “faithful.” Sans Foy, Sans Loy, and Sans Joy, evil knights who are brothers, have names meaning “Without Faith,” “Without Law” and “Without Joy.” Spencer did not explain how the Red Cross Knight got sent on his quest in the Faerie Queene Book One. It begins In Media Res, in the middle of things, like many great epic works. He intended to explain to background for the quest of the Red Cross Knight in a later book, which he never finished, but he did explain it in a letter to Sir Walter Raleigh.

The court of Glorianna, queen of Faerieland, is the site of an annual feast where anyone may come and beg a favor of the queen. People in trouble could find knights begging for a quest to prove their worthiness, both of them petitioning the queen at this festival of the twelve days. The Red Cross knight received his quest on the first day of the festival.The queen’s palace is radiant in its beauty. The walls are decorated with white and gold hangings and rich ornaments. Tables with long white cloths and platters filled with food are set up in front of Glorianna’s throne in the center, for it is a great feast. Music fills the air. Rich and poor feast together. The queen enters with her ladies in waiting and chief advisors and takes her seat. Glorianna the Faerie Queen welcomes everyone to her annual Feast of Twelve Days.

It is her wish that none should be sad or want for anything. During this time the queen can refuse no request. A ragged young man enters the court. He has come from far away and is clumsy and simple but not afraid to approach the queen. Queen Glorianna realizes that he is good and virtuous, and that he shows courage and strength. He asks that if any adventure presents itself during the feast that she would give it to him to perform. Glorianna promises to grant the young man’s favor. She urges him to stay in the meantime and share the feast, to eat, drink and rest himself. The young man replies that he is not worthy to sit in the beauty of the court of the great queen.

Soon a lovely princess slowly enters the court, veiled and weeping, leading a lamb (symbolizing her purity and innocence), accompanied by her dwarf servant (who represents human reason) and a donkey (representing the church) carrying knight’s armor, shield and sword (This is the armor described in Ephesians 6). She is dressed in mourning black over a radiant white gown. Queen Glorianna notices the young woman and calls to her to come near. She explains that this is a time of happiness and joy, and asks why she wears a dress of sorrow. The young woman says her name is Una. She asks for a champion to slay a dragon that has taken over her country and imprisoned her father and mother. She shows the fine armor, shield seasoned in battle, decorated with a blood-red cross, and great sword she has brought for her knight.

The young man runs and falls at Una’s feet. He reminds the great queen of her promise and claims the adventure as his own. Una scornfully asks the queen if this is her greatest champion. Queen Glorianna warns the young man that this is no adventure, but a fight to the death. She observes that he is young and has never seen battle. The young man asks if the glorious queen of fairyland will go back on her word. Glorianna admits that she cannot do that. She orders the sweet maiden to accept her champion. Una begs the great queen to give her a real champion. She tells the queen that the journey  back to her country is long and hard, filled with dangers and troubles. Glorianna chides her, asking if she should break a promise made during the Feast of Twelve Days. She says that the young man shows modesty, strength and courage and tells her not to judge too quickly. She tells Una to rest, eat and drink. The dwarf and donkey depart with the young man to get him dressed in the armor.

“See, now,” says Queen Glorianna when he returns, “how wondrously fair your knight looks, dressed in the splendid armor you brought.” Una looks in amazement and admits that he is a true knight, and that God has sent him in her need. Glorianna commands him to kneel, takes his sword, and names him knight of the Red Cross. She commands him to serve his lady faithfully and perform the task he has promised to do, as God gives him strength. The knight replies to the great queen that he will. He urges Una to go with him at once and not to tarry, since her need is so great.

The Lady Una, her knight, and her faithful dwarf cross a meadow beside a dark forest. They see a storm coming. The knight urges his lady to make haste and take shelter in the wood. Una suggests that they wait there until the storm passes. The knight is impatient to go on and argues that no one knows how long it will last. He points out a path into the woods that seems to go just the way they were heading. After a time they notice that the path twists and turns more than they had thought. Una thinks that they are lost. Then the knight sees that the path grows wider, and that many feet have come that way. (Matthew 7:13,14 — “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Una cries out that she knows where they are now. It is the wood of Error. It is true that many people have gone down that path, but in a cave nearby lives a terrible monster who devours men. She says they mus flee. Error appears at the entrance of the cave, snarling and hissing, a hideous half-woman, half serpent with a scorpion tail. The knight exclaims that he is not afraid of Error. He vows to destroy her. In the battle with Error she casts her nets about him (symbolizing the power of what we see and read to drag us away from godly thoughts and actions) and seems likely to defeat him.Narrator: The knight fought bravely, but Error seemed likely to defeat him. Una cried out to him to have courage, and to let the Lord give him strength!

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Guest Post by Deborah Heal — The Power of a Story

Writing Real Good

by Deborah Heal

Christian fiction writers sometimes think their stories are less important than the sermons, essays, and treatises of the “serious” non-fiction writer. But imaginative writing has tremendous power to teach deep truths. For example, many, many people have come to know God through C. S. Lewis’ Narnia stories.

Storytelling is even an effective tool for fund raising. One Christmas, when it was time to send out the monthly newsletter for our crisis pregnancy center, I decided to use a story to help readers understand the problems families faced. Here is the letter I sent out:

 mary joseph jesus

 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger.” Luke 2:7

Now that was a crisis pregnancy! There is something so heart wrenching about the newborn King lying in a stable when he should have had every luxury in the universe.

Every parent wants the best for their precious little ones. But for some couples like, Carl and Brenda…

June, 1955. Carl was just out of the service and couldn’t find a job. And he had a wife and two kids—Brenda, three-year-old Stevie, and two-month-old Patty. So Carl packed up the family and moved, but with the recession there were no jobs. For a while Brenda worked at the dime store, and Carl stayed home to watch the kids. With no gas for the car, he walked across town when he heard the Shell station was hiring. Sure enough, the sign in the window said, HELP WANTED, but the man inside told him the job had just been filled. It was a long walk back home. “The air Force will take me back,” he told Brenda. But the Air Force was not taking men with two children.

The approaching Christmas season just highlighted their misery. “Well,” Brenda said, “at least Patty is too little to know about Christmas presents.” Or maybe she did and that’s why she cried so much. She seemed hungry all the time, no matter how often she nursed, and Brenda began to wonder if she had enough milk.

Brenda cried in the doctor’s office when he explained that, “yes, you can get pregnant even while you’re nursing.” And when baby Mikey came, he slept in a dresser drawer because Patty still needed the crib.

This Christmas season I am asking you to consider a very special gift so that we can continue to help families like Carl and Brenda’s resist the pressure to abort their baby “Mikey’s.” Your gift will allow us to help with baby supplies—like a crib for the baby to sleep in.

Apparently, my little story helped to put a face on the problems associated with unplanned pregnancies, because donations poured into the center.

Does the story seem to overly sentimental? The “Patty” in the story is me. I’m grateful to be able to use my family’s ordeal to write real good.

author photo

Deborah Heal is the author of the young adult novels Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy She lives in Waterloo, Illinois, where she enjoys reading, gardening, and learning about southern Illinois history. She is married and has three grown children, three grandchildren, and a canine buddy named Scout (a.k.a. Dr. Bob). Currently, she is working on book three in the Time and Again trilogy.

You may learn more about the author by visiting her website: http://www.deborahheal.com/, her  Facebook Fan Page, and Goodreads. Her books may be purchased on Amazon.com.

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Dressing up for the Holidays: Free Images to Help You Make Ebook Covers

There isn’t any one magic charm that forces readers to buy your book, but certainly a great cover will at least tempt them to linger and consider. If you’ve already put your ebook out into cyberspace with a less-than perfect cover, it’s not too late to make it better. I just ran across a site maintained by a professional stock photographer. http://1photos.com/ Has an abundance of beautiful images, all kinds, even people, which are rare in stock photography without payment. but here’s the statement brom the site owner:

“Hello, My name is Kiselev Andrey. I am professional stock photographer. And now I want to present 1photos.com – the big collection of free stock photographs. All of my photos are free for corporate and personal use. Every image is free! 1photos.com features exclusive images found nowhere else on the web with new pictures being added every week. Without even registering, you can browse archive and download all the images you need. Photos are not offered in different sizes, but the standard resolution is generally high resulting in large pictures.”

So dig in, and even if you don’t make your own covers, perhaps you can give your designer a heads-up about this wonderful site. Here are three covers I have remade using images from this site. They make me happy, like newly wrapped presents for Christmas. And I hope they will be more tempting for readers to unwrap.

Benny and the Bank Robber 2: Doctor Dad takes place roughly in the mid-eighteen hundreds, and involves three teenagers and some of their growing pains. I am so happy to have found a handsome young man in fancy dress for the Christmas ball at his school and two lovely young ladies to portray the twin sisters who make his life more than a little uncomfortable. Be sure to take a look at the Benny and the Bank Robber series, three books so far, if you have a younger reader looking for a historical adventure to grow up with. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/102416

At the beginning of the book Prince Tristan of Parangor attends his father’s funeral, trying to avoid the cold and drizzle with a dark wool cloak, so this image of a handsome, cloaked man was a happy find for me. Mayra, Tristan’s student and later his love interest, comes to life as this young beauty enslaved by a cruel mistress and trained against her will to please men. The royal seal of Parangor, a ring depicting a badger in a wheat field, goes with Tristan on all his journeys and puts its stamp on his identity, his marriage, and his right to return to his kingdom.  The Baron’s Ring is a Historical Fantasy dealing with bullying, child slavery and a Black Widow murderess who uses occult powers to try to destroy Tristan of Parangor’s kingdom and his life.  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/90923

For my first ever NaNoWriMo, venture, the challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November, I decided to work on the sequel to A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist, and I made the goal by the 19th of the month. The story is not yet finished, but I was looking for Victorian-era images and was so happy to find these. Doctor Oliver Twist comes to life as the narrator of this tale, and even Pinocchio and his mama surprised me by living among the images on this wonderful site.

I hope you will consider putting some of our books, in new wrappings or old, on your giving list. They are all linked along the right side. Enjoy taking a look at what we have to offer.

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Filed under Excerpts from our Fiction Books, Excerpts from our Nonfiction Books, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

Christmas 2011

 South Tulsa Baptist Church

We spent Christmas in Tulsa, Ok. We spent a lot of time with our daughter, and went to Chili’s for lunch yesterday with her and my Aunt and Uncle. We went to my Aunt and Uncle’s church, South Tulsa Baptist Church for communion last night. There were well over a thousand people there. They had a brass choir for a prelude which ended about 10 minutes before the service started. That was followed by a brief video of why we need Christmas, beginning with creation and including a lot of Hubble space shots. The music was great and the Pastor announced that they had raised $10,000 for food for the local rescue mission. He publicly thanked all who volunteered so that all the money went to buy food instead of to pay overhead. We then went over to my Aunt and Uncle’s house and saw my cousin, her husband and their children. On our way back to our motel room, we looked at Christmas lights. One house with 40,000+ lights had them blink in sync with Christmas music played over a local radio station.

Tulsa Bible Church

This morning we went with our daughter to “her” church, Tulsa Bible Church. It is a smaller church, around one thousand, and the service was also very good. We actually sang the Nicene Creed to the tune of a Christmas Carol. We’ve never done that before. We are always somewhat concerned when we visit a new church, but we were greatly blessed and thankful for the preaching of the Word of God. We then ate, changed clothes, went over to my cousin’s house to say good bye and left as she was attempting to feed the mob at her house.

We are now at a Christmas buffet at a Petro. Pie!

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Books for All Kinds of Readers (Devices and People) Part One: Non-Fiction

Recently I joined my first forum claiming to be especially for Christians. I won’t name it, but I will say in my brief experience poking around over the last few days I am amazed at the wide variety of people who post on a Christian forum, and what they post. There are Pro-Choice Christians on there. There are Harry Potter fans on there. There are skeptics on there. There are people lamenting the death of Christopher Hitchens, an avowed atheist and and author of, among many other things, the book “God Is Not Great.”

I posted on my Facebook page the following status on the day I heard that news. “Christopher Hitchens, author of the book ‘God Is Not Great,’ has died. He knows better now, I think.” A pastor friend said how sad it was that he had died without Christ. I responded, “It is not as if he was misled or deceived in the way that some are, worthy of pity. I wish no one had to go to Hell, but such as he send themselves there. No one makes them go.”

The pastor took me to task, basically, for being unloving and apparently not having the heart of God. I am not unloving. It is sad, and saddens God, I am certain, when the unsaved die unrepentant, but once they actually are where they do “know better,” my tears cannot bring them back. Let me spend them on the still-living unsaved, please, and my prayers as well, rather than browbeating me over the ones who now know better but are past doing anything about it.

We have known so many people who were not atheists, who professed Christianity, but of a very different brand from mine. We know God will sort it out. We have to take them at face value, yet be a “Fruit Inspector,” and try to discern from God’s Word what We should be before Christ. We also have to try to minister to Christians. The talents with which we believe God has led us to minister include our writing and our ability to create our website, our e-books and blog, and to try to make people aware of them.

Back to the posters on the Christian forum. Most importantly to us, regarding the different kinds of Christians we have encountered, there are people on that site, quite a number of people, asking where they can find Christian fiction and non-fiction on there. Many people recommended classic authors of Christian fiction and non-fiction, like C.S. Lewis, who wrote both, but we have a more modern recommendation to make.

Since it’s the week before Christmas, we hope you’re giving or getting an e-reader, and we hope you’ll consider some of our books to help fill it up. Our posts this week will, we hope, give you a push in the right direction.

First of all we have non-fiction. Included on this blog are posts that are excerpts from Antidisestablishmentarianism, our non-fiction book about Secular Humanism, its history, and our future if we don’t disestablish it as our established religion in America and most of the rest of the world.

https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/images-from-illustrated-antidisestablishmentarianism/ is a photo gallery of images from the illustrated version of the book.

https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/introduction-to-antidisestablishmentarianism/ is the preface to the book.

https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/introduction-to-antidisestablishmentarianism-2/ is the introduction to the book.

https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/chapter-fourteen-from-antidisestablishmentarianism-what-does-the-scientific-evidence-prove/ is an abbreviated version of Chapter Fourteen of the book,

https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/secular-humanism-americas-establishment-of-religion/ is from Chapter Six.

The unillustrated version of Antidisestablishmentarianism  is 4.99, and the Illustrated version (200 full-color, full-page illustrations of major points) is 9.99.

Our second non-fiction title is Biblical Studies, student and teacher editions, designed especially for homeschoolers. Homeschooling curriculum can be expensive and our curriculum is designed to help with that problem. Both versions are over 600 pages long, with illustrated portions, materials for all ages, Old Testament, New Testament, background historical studies, and more.

Our YouTube Channel, ffvp5657, has free videos correlated with many of the studies, including full 3D animated Jonah and Ruth video studies with digital puppets giving commentary. The Revelation video set alone has more than 30 ten-minute segments. The student manual is 4.99. The Teacher’s Manual has the full Student Text, answer keys, and extra projects. It is 99 cents. A new photo gallery in the blog, “Images from Biblical Studies,” linked at the top with the blog’s pages, has pictures from this curriculum.

The links on the right side of the page go to Smashwords and Amazon, where you can read more details about all our books, and see more samples. We hope this season you will consider adding to your library of Christian reading.

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Filed under Excerpts from our Nonfiction Books, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

The Camel’s Complaint: A Christmas Puppet Play

Our Christmas gift to all: A puppet play I wrote some years ago. Merry Christmas!

The Camel’s Complaint

Characters:
Caliph the Camel
Hannah the Horse
Daniel the Donkey
Lucius the Lion
Ollie the Ox
Sarah the Sheep

Scene One|
Setting: Desert oasis. Palm trees, green plants such as aloe, yucca, water hole off to side. Tents visible in background.
Lighting: Outdoor sunset.
At Rise: Hannah enters left, whinnies loudly. Caliph stumbles on behind her, sinks down, begins to snore.

Hannah: Caliph! Caliph! Wake up, great ship of the desert!

Caliph (Grumbling, not looking up): May a thousand fleas make their nests in your tail. Can’t you be quiet?

(Daniel enters right.)

Daniel: Ah, the most beautiful flower of the desert. What’s the matter, Hannah?

Hannah: Caliph won’t get up again, Daniel. The caravan’s going to leave without him.

Daniel: They won’t leave without that sorry excuse for a camel.  Remember what he’s carrying?

Hannah: but he’s got to get up. He’s making us lose time every day. What if we’re too late?

Daniel: Get up, son of a sand-slug. Caliph! You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Caliph: It’s fine if you want to keep walking all night, every night. This load of mine is much too heavy.

Daniel: It should be heavy. That’s gold you’re carrying, O grandfather of grouches.

Caliph: Sand for breakfast, dust for lunch, cactus spines for supper. What a life! I’ve had enough.

Daniel: You haven’t got any choice. Our masters are headed for Judea. I know that much.

Caliph: Why Judea? The whole place smells like Caesar’s armpits.

Hannah: They follow the Star.

Caliph: The sky is full of stars! Can’t they pick one going to the Caspian Sea Resort? I need a vacation!

Daniel: I’ve heard them talk about a new King.

Hannah: This King is greater than Herod or Caesar, the masters say. They call Him the King of kings.

Caliph: Humph! All I know is, my load’s too heavy and I’m tired of walking. I don’t care about any king of kings. See you at the waterhole. (Caliph exits left.)

Hannah: What if we miss the King of kings, Daniel?

Daniel: We’ll have to think of a way to hurry Caliph up. Hmmm … I have an idea. Follow me. (Both exit left.)

Scene Two
Lighting: Desert sunrise.
Setting: Similar to scene one, but plants, etc., rearranged to show it is a different location.
At Rise: Caliph runs onstage from left.

Caliph: We can make another few miles before it gets too hot. Come on, come on!

(Hannah and Daniel stagger onstage behind Caliph, panting, exhausted.)

Daniel: Caliph, stop! We’ve got to rest! You mangy, flea-bitten son of a jackal, stop! (collapses)

Caliph: Is that lion still following us?

Hannah: Oh, Caliph, there isn’t any lion! Daniel made up that story to scare you so we could go faster!

(Caliph stops dead, turns, butts heads with Daniel.)

Caliph: No lion?

Daniel: No lion, Caliph.

Caliph: I ran all night long, and now you tell me there’s no lion? Why I should —

Daniel: Go ahead. I’m so tired I don’t care what you do.

Caliph: Fortunately for you, my long-eared friend, I am also too tired. But I’ll have my revenge. (Caliph lies down heavily, and begins to snore.)

Hannah: We certainly made up for lost time today, Daniel. It was a good idea.

Daniel: We’ll be in Jerusalem tomorrow night. Get some sleep, fairest Hannah. King of kings, here we come.

(He gives her a peck on the nose. She nuzzles him, and they go to sleep. Lucius the Lion enters quietly from right and looks at the three sleeping animals, walks all around them, sniffing, and stops over Caliph. Caliph suddenly snorts, shaking his head with a loud jingle of bells. Lucius runs off right. A distant roar is heard offstage. Caliph jumps up.)

Caliph (Whispering): What was that? It couldn’t be. Could it? (He looks around fearfully, then drops off to sleep again. After a pause, lighting dims to signify sunset, and animals get up and exit.)

Scene Three
Setting: Bethlehem. Stable with hay in manger, buildings visible at sides.
Lighting: Night outdoor in town.
At Rise: Ollie and Sarah enter, munching.

Ollie: By all the boils on Job’s back, I’m glad it’s calmed down around here, Sarah.

Sarah: It was a madhouse during that census, wasn’t it, Ollie? So many strange animals and  people.

Ollie: Even people staying in the stables with us! And giving birth to babies, by every pair of unclean animals on the ark!

Sarah: What a strange place for the Lamb of God to be born. But I’m glad we got to see Him.

Ollie: Yes, indeed, but it’s better for Him to be living in a house, by all the salt in Elisha’s cruise.

Sarah: Ollie, I heard a lion last night.

Ollie: By the four hundred prophets of Baal, Sarah, this is Bethlehem — civilization. A lion! Don’t be silly.

Sarah: I know I heard it. It was scary. Ollie! There it is!

(Caliph runs onstage right, pushes between Sarah and Ollie, tries to hide.)

Ollie: By all the water in the Red Sea, I’ll have my horns in you, you — CAMEL?

Caliph: Hide me! Hide me, quick! I’ll be dead and lying in a sand-swept grave if I go back to that caravan!

Sarah: You scared us half to death! Who are you, and what are you doing here?

Caliph: I am Caliph, son of Casbah, son of Cashmir, heir to the royal line of blue-blooded Bactrian —

Ollie: Spare us the pedigree. By all the soldiers in David’s army, what are you doing in our stable?

Caliph (munching a mouthful of hay): Enjoying your fabulous fodder. I’ve run away from a caravan. They were bound for Jerusalem, but I gave them the slip in Jericho. I’m a free camel! Ha – ha – ha – ha – ha! Eh — by the way, where am I?

Ollie: Out in the cold, by all the Philistines Samson killed! (He shoves Caliph with his horns.) We’re done feeding strangers, thank you very much.

Caliph: Ouch! Those horns are sharp! Am I bleeding? You’ll be hearing from my attorneys!

Sarah: We work for our food, you silly camel. If you want our master to feed you, maybe you could help him at his inn.

Caliph: Work! I’m through working! But I do have something that will make your master take care of me for the rest of my life. My packs are full of gold!

Sarah: Gold! You ran away with your master’s gold? Stay out of our stable. This is where the Lamb of God was born.

Caliph: Well … it wasn’t really my master’s gold. It was for some King … the King … uh … the King of … a king of … some sort.

Ollie: That’s all we need — someone who steals a king’s gold. You get out of here, or by all the spices of Sheba’s queen, you’ll need more than an attorney when I get through with you! Go on, get out!

(Ollie jabs Caliph again. Caliph runs off right. Ollie and Sarah exit left.)

Scene Four
Setting: Barren desert. No plants of any kind except dead brush. Jagged rocks.
Lighting: bright daylight.
At Rise: Caliph stumbles on from left, falls exhausted.

Caliph (gasping): No food … no water … this pack … still on my back. How could things get worse?

(Lucius enters right, stands directly over Caliph, sniffs him. Caliph slowly looks up, then jumps away.)

Caliph: Aaaah! Now I’m going to be lion lunch! I knew it could get worse!

Lucius: You must get back to the caravan at once.

Caliph: Oh, O get it. I’m hallucinating. You’re just a mirage of a lion, right?

Lucius: The Lion of Judah is in great danger. You must get the gold to Him.  He will need it to escape.  Do not let the Enemy win! Go! Go!

(Lucius roars and chases Caliph offstage left. Roaring continues, then fades away.)

Scene Five
Setting: Bethlehem stable as before.
Lighting: Night in town.
At Rise: Ollie and Sarah enter left, heads nod, they fall asleep. Lucius enters quietly from right, comes up to Ollie.

Lucius: Where is the Lion of Judah?

Ollie (Startled awake, he snorts and waves his horns.): What? Keep away! By all the straw in Pharaoh’s bricks, there’ll be no mutton or porterhouse for you tonight, lion!

Lucius: The Lion of Judah! Quickly! Where is He?

Sarah (cringing): You’re the only lion we’ve seen.

Lucius: He was born in this very place not long ago. A baby — the travelers from Nazareth. Where is He?

Ollie: By every grain of feed in Joseph’s brothers’ sacks, He’s well-guarded from hungry lions.

Lucius: I do not want to eat Him, my foolish friends. I only want —

Lighting: Star appears in sky above set, fills scene with bright light.

Lucius: Ah! It is the sign. They will find Him now.

Ollie: Who are you?

Lucius: My name is Lucius. The Star and I are both sent to lighten that which is dark. You and your fleecy friend have helped the One Who has come. Others will help Him too.  Even stubborn old Caliph. We will see Him safely all the way. I must go now and make sure my reluctant friend has returned to his duty. Farewell, Ollie and Sarah.

(Lucius exits right.)

Ollie: The Lion of Judah? Didn’t you call Him the Lamb of God, Sarah — that baby, I mean?  By all the stones in Solomon’s temple, I —

(Ollie and Sarah exit left, talking. Daniel and Hannah enter right.)

Daniel: I can’t believe Caliph would really run away.  We came all this way to find the King of Kings, and Caliph ran off with the most important gift of all.

Hannah: Our masters are so sad.  This may be the town where we will find Him — the star stopped right here, but without the gold —

(Faint sound of roaring. Caliph runs in left, panting.)

Caliph: The lion! Is it still after me? I’ve been running and running, but I couldn’t get away! I — Daniel! Hannah!  Look out! There’s a lion! It chased me all the way across the desert! Run!

Hannah: Caliph! You’re back! Is the gold safe?

Caliph: Gold! How can you think of gold at a time like this?  Our lives are in danger! Didn’t you hear me say there’s a lion chasing me?

Daniel: I told you that story wasn’t true, Caliph. How could you run away with the gold? It was a gift for the King of kings!

Caliph: The gold is perfectly safe, strapped to my back, weighing at least ten thousand pounds — it would have been safe if that lion had eaten me, not that either of you care.  Say, a minute ago it was dark. Where’d that bright light come from?

Hannah: It’s the Star, silly! See it up there? This is where the King of kings is.

Caliph: The King of kings? That was it! But that lion — he said something about the Lion of Judah — and there was a sheep talking about the Lamb of God — I am so confused!

(Lucius enters left. Daniel and Hannah run off right.)

Caliph: I’m too tired to run anymore. Go ahead and eat me. The gold is here. You can give it to the King of kings, or the Lion of Judah, or the Lamb of God, or whoever’s supposed to get it. Bon appetit!

Lucius: Your masters will be here in a moment, and you will live to serve them a long time, silly, stubborn Caliph. Thanks to you, the Bright and Morning Star will be safe.

Caliph: Don’t tell me, let me guess. This Bright and Morning Star — He’s the same as the King of kings, and the Lion of Judah, and the Lamb of God — Have I got it all straight now?

Lucius: He is all those things, and many more. Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace …

Caliph: You mean He’s — He’s the One? THAT One?  I ran off with His gold? Oh, you’ve just got to eat me. I can’t live knowing what I almost did.

Lucius: What you almost did is not as important as what you really did, Caliph. You brought the gold that will get Him safely to Egypt, away from Herod. All is well.

Caliph: What can I do? I can never make up for all the trouble I’ve caused.

Lucius: Be faithful to your masters from now on. Be faithful, Caliph, and you will be faithful to Him.

(Caliph turns and looks up at the star. Lucius exits left.)

Caliph: The Bright and Morning Star. I think I like that name best of all. I’d better go find my masters now. Faithful Caliph.  Hmmm … I like the sound of that. (Exit right.)

Production Notes for The Camel’s Complaint

Settings: Scenes One and Two are desert oasis with plants which can be changed around to show two different locations. Scenes Three and Five are Bethlehem stable with hay in manger. Scene Four is barren desert with scrub brush, jagged rocks.

Lighting: All outdoor. Scene One is sunset, Scene Two sunrise, Scene Three city at night, Scene Four bright desert day, Scene Five same as Three but add Star shining like daylight at appropriate time.

Props: Bundles or chests for Caliph’s back. Jeweled harnesses can be made from costume jewelry to decorate Caliph and Hannah. Daniel and Ollie wear plain rope halters.

Puppets: Camel, Horse, Donkey, Lion, Ox, and Sheep.

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Random Thoughts on the Subject of Christmas

I read an article about a YMCA that replaced its Santa with Frosty the Snowman. This was a decision by the local management, not some upper-level YMCA ruling. They said it was because they wanted to make their annual seasonal celebration more inclusive for everyone. I heard earlier from a friend that a YMCA in Pennsylvania was going to let them hold church services in their building, but then decided they shouldn’t. After all, that C in the name shouldn’t be misconstrued as implying that they support Christianity.

But back to the Santa thing. Please tell me when we got to the point that Santa Claus was a Christian symbol in America? I know there are historical roots in Roman Catholicism or Orthodox belief with Saint Nicholas and Father Christmas, but I always thought that Santa Claus as an American institution was pretty much non-religious. Frequently he has quasi-religious characteristics, such as keeping a watch and a list to see about that whole naughty and nice thing, rewarding the good (candy and toys) and punishing the bad (coal and switches), and the ability to travel the world and make his deliveries in a single night.

Some Christians hasten to point out that Jesus Christ most likely wasn’t born in December, that this time-of-year celebration has many pagan roots and elements and is hardly Christian anyway. Even those conservative Christians who are glad to celebrate Christmas have frequently spoken out against Santa as usurping the place of God. They object to Santa taking on some of God’s attributes and crowding out the birth of Christ entirely. Sometimes Christ is allowed to co-exist, but it has always seemed weird to see the nativity set alongside the sleigh and reindeer on so many lawns. The church I grew up in had Santa Claus visit the Sunday School children. That was weird, too.

The true meaning and purpose of Christmas has been leaking out of the American brain for years. I’m going to continue this ramble in a later note, but let me leave you with this thought. Are you just as guilty as secularists and the rest of the confused country of making this holiday, this “Holy Day,” incomprehensible to the world?

Every year there are politically correct government or management decisions to cut out nativity scenes, to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” to stick to non-religious Christmas music, to avoid any reference to the true reason we have this holiday at this time.

More and more, however, Christmas trees are no longer welcome, decorations on desks at work are banned, and anything that reminds us that Christmas is anything but a winter holiday with possible time off from work is taboo. It’s okay to display lots of commercialism starting sometime in October, to go nuts with the lights and lawn displays, to max out the credit cards buying stuff. It’s also okay to make fun of Christmas, to emphasize that it’s totally mythological. Santa and Jesus are equally fairy tales.

The TV show “Bones,” about a forensic anthropologist and an FBI agent who solve crimes, apparently loves to do Christmas shows. One had a murdered temp agency Santa who seemed to be the “real” Santa. He refused to work on Christmas Eve, designed toys, and wore real ermine on his suit.

Another one had Dr. Brennan (Bones) expounding on how she takes a trip out of the country at Christmas to avoid the whole ridiculous celebration. She is reluctant to even enable her incarcerated father and brother to celebrate Christmas together.  Brennan objects to lying to her brother’s adopted children and pretending he is not in prison, just visiting his father. Booth (the FBI agent who is a practicing Roman Catholic and very badly represents the faithful) states that to make all this happen they are going to have to practice deceptions, and that you have to tell lies at Christmas. It’s part of the deal, apparently.

Secular Humanism has been taking aim at Christmas for years. They’d like to wipe it out of existence. Kwanzaa seems to have been invented to further that purpose. Every year you see t-shirts and bumper stickers proclaiming “Festivus for the rest of us.” (If I understand it right, Festivus is some sort of celebration invented on the TV show “Seinfeld” and adopted by secularists as if it were real). Winter Solstice is another great one to bring up. Pagans can celebrate their holiday, but not Christians.

Hannukah seems to have been squeezed almost into non-existence as well. When we delivered to Michaels craft stores in Jewish areas they complained that management never sent them any Hannukah supplies. Nothing even remotely connected with Christmas or the true God in the minds of Secularists can be permitted. Every year they push the envelope further. Sometimes people push back. Even Jews want the trees, they want Santa, but do they want the true God or Christ?

The movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” deals with a congressman who, in one scene, speaks to a constituent who wants to keep a creche (nativity scene) at a firehouse. There is opposition and the man wants Wilson to make the opposition stop. Wilson says to him, with the wisdom of Solomon, knowing his people and his towns so well, that he should move the creche to a nearby church lawn, and adds, “everybody lives.” Wilson is depicted in the movie as a hard-living, hard-drinking, womanizing reprobate, but a man who still takes his political and social responsibilities seriously. And he wants to keep Christ out of secular life, over on the church lawn where He belongs.

So, see, in a way, this incident with the YMCA kicking out Santa means secularists are trying to attack Christianity when they attack Santa, and trees, and Christmas carols. I guess our culture is so warped now that we may have to consider Santa an ally, though I’m not necessarily ready to fight to keep him in Christmas celebrations.  I am ready to point out that this is another attack by Secular Humanism, and we should take it seriously.

I’d lots rather fight to keep the creches at the firehouses (the town I grew up in had one for many years), the wise men and the star up on the hill near Arizona State University in Arizona. I’d like to see stars or angels on treetops and along city streets (though the depiction of angels is a whole other subject). Now and then someone speculates that maybe the reason we give presents is because the wise men gave gifts to Jesus. I’d fight to keep that in too.

We read the Christmas story with whatever family we can gather at Christmas. The whole thing, from Zacharias to the return from Egypt, out of the Bible, not a Bible Story Book. I would definitely fight to keep that. That’s the most important thing to keep, honoring and recognizing the importance and authority of the Word of God. We should do it all year long, but maybe if you haven’t really studied the Word of God and accepted its authority in the past, this is a good time to start. To keep Christ in Christmas and in America we have to keep the Word on our lips, in our minds and in our Hearts.

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