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Arrogance v ignorance (Faith untested is only an opinion)

2013/07/24

NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics Many years ago when I was in college, some of us gathered in a friend’s third story dorm room discussing an Ethics class assignment dealing with The Holocaust; How would we respond to the Nazis bursting in the door and demanding to know where the Jews were hiding? In the quiet of the dorm room some of us confessed we’d cave, some professed we’d stay resolute and hoped we could endure torture and there was much said between these two points.

One fellow, Paul and who was not in the Ethics class, claimed to be Christian. His father was a Bible answer man at a Christian radio station. In an era of long haired hippie freaks, he stood out in his close cut hair, pale skin, a perfectly starched and ironed white shirt w/ thin black tie that hung loosely on his closet hanger shoulders and billowed about his once-a-week-fasting frame. Blond and blue-eyed, he took every opportunity to evangelize us. He wasn’t a pain or a nuisance so much as a gnat.

He came into the room, listened, then nodded and said confidently, “I would tell the truth, tell them where the Jews were, and trust Jesus to perform a miracle and save them.”

Questioned, he said that he’d have to tell the truth because that’s what God required of him. He was insistent and adamant; His faith told him that God/Jesus would save those Jews, that some obvious Red Sea type miracle would be done.

One of the other people in the room was Ben, a wrestler, a big, quiet fellow, normally good natured and with a ready smile. Moonless midnight sky black hair and always in need of a shave, he had arms as thick as most people’s legs and his legs were as big around as most people (he laughed when we described him this way).

He was also Jewish. He’d lost people in The Holocaust.

Ben, leaning against the door, listened patiently, his brow furrowed, his lips silent, his eyes fixed on Paul and squinting as if Paul were some bright light on a close horizon. Paul started insisting that telling the Nazis where the Jews were hiding would be a test of his faith.

Ben quietly opened a window. He put his hands on the window sill, inhaled deeply, upturned Paul, grabbed him by an ankle and held him outside the window, three stories up.

“You have ten seconds to decide. Tell the truth, sacrifice the Jews and hope for a miracle, or lie, convincingly, and save your life. In ten seconds you’ll fall three stories. You may not die, but you’ll be badly hurt. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be spared in either case. You admit there are Jews in your house and you’ve harbored Jews, you’re an enemy of the state and will be killed as an example to others. You convince me there are no Jews here and I may kill you anyway as a warning to others.”

“Ten…”

We didn’t think Ben would let Paul drop. He’d never been violent or even angry that we could remember. Even when we went out for pizza, he was the one who stopped arguments and shoving matches with reason and quiet good humor.

Now he relaxed his grip a few times. Whatever blood should have been rushing to Paul’s head never made it there. He was blanched white and screaming for Ben to stop.

“Nine…”

Paul never called for Jesus to save him. He begged Ben to bring him in. He screamed at us to help him.

“Eight… Where are the Jews?”

More screams. We could hear people outside on the college quad shouting up at this strange play. Somebody hollered for others to call campus security.

“Seven…Where are the Jews?”

Paul screamed hysterically now. Hysterically. “PLEASE DEAR GOD SOMEBODY MAKE HIM STOP!” I remember thinking, “Does that count as a call to God or is he just using the adjectival modifier?”

“Six…You are going to drop to the ground unless you tell me where the Jews are. Where are the Jews?”

At this point one of the other fellows in the room said, “Ten dollars Ben can’t hold him the full ten seconds.” Ben wasn’t breathing hard. He looked like he could hold Paul out the window forever. I said, “What?”

“Five…”

A window in the room next to ours opened up. Somebody shouted “Paul says he’d let Nazis kill the Jews and hope for a miracle. Ben’s going to drop him unless he changes his mind.” There was a quick response from the crowd, “Let the fucker fall!”, but nobody laughed.

“Four…Where are the Jews?”

Paul screamed, “I don’t know! There are no Jews!”

“Three…I’m not convinced.” He took his eyes off Paul, turned his head and looked at us, “Are any of you convinced?”

Somebody said, “Ben, come on. Enough’s enough.”

“Two…Nobody here’s convinced, either. Where are the Jews?”

Paul is crying now. Screaming and crying, hysterically begging for someone anyone to help him. He’s calling to Jesus Christ and all the saints and not in ways I think they’d recognize as calls for help.

“One. Time’s up. You die.”

Ben released his grip and drew his arm back in. Paul screamed and in that second before falling he cried, “YOU FUCKING SON OF A BITCH THIS IS WHY JESUS HATES JEWS!”

But before Paul even started to fall, as his words were echoing off the other dorm buildings’ walls, Ben’s other arm shot out, grabbed Paul’s leg and pulled him back in.

Paul was shaking and screamed, “YOU JESUS FUCKING CRAZY SON OF A JEW BITCH!”

Ben grabbed a towel and wiped Paul’s face off. He lifted a blanket from the bed and gently put it around Paul’s shoulders. Campus security ran into the room. An ambulance was summoned. The fellow who was wagering on Ben’s strength said it was all a stunt, just a dorm prank, and pulled several ten dollar bills from his pocket to prove it was just a crazy bet.

Paul never pressed charges. He left school the next day, transferred to a Christian school somewhere where Jews weren’t allowed to hold Christians out windows as tests of faith. Nobody said anything about it to Ben and he graduated two years later with a degree in education and some letters in wrestling.

I ran into Ben years later. He was teaching highschool physics, coaching wrestling and golfing whenever he could work it in. I reminded him of those few moments with Paul and he smiled at me. “Faith untested is only an opinion, and a poor one, at best,” he said.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 2013/08/21 1:43 pm

    This story is obviously fake and/or extremely embellished. It reads like a frankensteign Goosebumps book. Its a quilt of other stories and is obviously unoriginal in many of its dynamics.

  2. 2013/08/21 2:52 pm

    Thanks for your comment, JS. Glad you enjoyed. I’m guessing it struck a nerve based on the energy and types of misspellings in your comment.
    Good writing does strike emotional chords, me thinks, and that was my intent with this piece. Good to know it worked.
    Thanks again.

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