A Great Rabbi stands, teaching in the marketplace. It happens that a husband finds proof that morning of his wife's adultery and a mob carries her to the marketplace to stone her to death.There is a familiar version of this story, but a friend of mine - a Speaker for the Dead - has told me of two other Rabbis that faced the same situation. Those are the ones I am going to tell you.The Rabbi walks forward and stands beside the woman. Out of respect for him the mob forbears and waits with the stones heavy in their hands. 'Is there any man here,' he says to them, 'who has not desired another man's wife, another woman's husband?'They murmur and say, 'We all know the desire, but Rabbi none of us has acted on it.'The Rabbi says, 'Then kneel down and give thanks that God has made you strong.' He takes the woman by the hand and leads her out of the market. Just before he lets her go, he whispers to her, 'Tell the Lord Magistrate who saved his mistress, then he'll know I am his loyal servant.'So the woman lives because the community is too corrupt to protect itself from disorder.Another Rabbi. Another city. He goes to her and stops the mob as in the other story and says, 'Which of you is without sin? Let him cast the first stone.'The people are abashed and they forget their unity of purpose in the memory of their own individual sins. ‘Someday,’ they think, ‘I may be like this woman. And I’ll hope for forgiveness and another chance. I should treat her as I wish to be treated.’As they opened their hands and let their stones fall to the ground, the Rabbi picks up one of the fallen stones, lifts it high over the woman’s head and throws it straight down with all his might it crushes her skull and dashes her brain among the cobblestones. ‘Nor am I without sins,’ he says to the people, ‘but if we allow only perfect people to enforce the law, the law will soon be dead – and our city with it.’So the woman died because her community was too rigid to endure her deviance.The famous version of this story is noteworthy because it is so startlingly rare in our experience. Most communities lurch between decay and rigor mortis and when they veer too far they die. Only one Rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation. So of course, we killed him.-San Angelo Letters to an Incipient Heretic
Orson Scott Card
An awfulness was deep inside me and I couldn't fight it; forced into submission and taken hostage by it, I could only just lie there, let it wash over me and let myself be consumed by it. If I cooperate, maybe it won't stay too long; maybe it'll let me go free. But if I fight it, it might stay longer just to spite me. So I decided to let The Feeling inhabit me as long as it desired, while I lay still, cautious not to incite me, secretly hoping it would leave me soon and bother someone else, but outwardly, pretending to be its gracious host. The most discouraging element of what I felt was my inability to understand it. Usually when I was filled with an unpleasant feeling, I could make it go away, or at least tame it, by watching a light-hearted film or reading a good book or listening to a feel good album. But this feeling was different. I knew non of those distractions could rid me of it. But I knew nothing else. I couldn't even describe it. Is this depression? Maybe once you ask someone to describe depression, he can't find the words. Maybe I am part of the official club now. I imagined myself in a room full of people where someone in the crowd, also suffering from depression, immediately noticed me-as if he detected the scent of his own kind-walked over and looked into my eyes. He knew that I had The Feeling inside me because he, too, da The Feeling inside him. He didn't ask me to talk about it, because he understood that our type of suffering was ineffable. He only nodded at me and I nodded back; and then, during our moment of silence, we both shared a sad smile of recognition, knowing that we only had each other in a room filled with people who would never understand us, because they didn't have The Feeling inside them.'t It Pretty To Think So?
Nick Miller
When it begins it is like a light in a tunnel, a rush of steel andsteam across a torn up life. It is a low rumble, an earthquake in theback of the mind. My spine is a track with cold black steel racing onit, a trail of steam and dust following behind, ghost like. It feelslike my whole life is holding its breath.By the time she leaves the room I am surprised that she can’t see thetrain. It has jumped the track of my spine and landed in my mothers’living room. A cold dark thing, black steel and redwood paneling. Itis the old type, from the western movies I loved as a kid.He throws open the doors to the outside world, to the dark ocean. Ifeel a breeze tugging at me, a slender finger of wind that catches atmy shirt. Pulling. Grabbing. I can feel the panic build in me, theneed to scream or cry rising in my throat.And then I am out the door, running, tumbling down the steps fallingout into the darkened world, falling out into the lifeless ocean. Outinto the blackness. Out among the stars and shadows.And underneath my skin, in the back of my head and down the back of myspine I can feel the desperation and I can feel the noise. I can feelthe deep and ancient ache of loudness that litters across my bones.It’s like an old lover, comfortable and well known, but unwelcome andinappropriate with her stories of our frolicking.And then she’s gone and the Conductor is closing the door. Thedarkness swells around us, enveloping us in a cocoon, pressing flatagainst the train like a storm. I wonder, what is this place?Those had been heady days, full and intense. It’s funny. I rememberthe problems, the confusions and the fears of life we all dealt with.But, that all seems to fade. It all seems to be replaced by images ofthe days when it was all just okay. We all had plans back then,patterns in which we expected the world to fit, how it was to bedeciphered.Eventually you just can’t carry yourself any longer, can’t keep youreyelids open and can’t focus on anything but the flickering light ofthe stars. Hours pass, at first slowly like a river and then all in arush, a climax and I am home in the dorm, waking up to the ringing ofthe telephone.When she is gone the apartment is silent, empty, almost like a personsleeping, waiting to wake up. When she is gone and I am alone, I curlup on the bed, wait for the house to eject me from its dying corpse.Crazy thoughts cross through my head, like slants of light in anattic.The Boston 395 rocks a bit, a creaking noise spilling in from theundercarriage. I have decided that whatever this place is, all thesenoises, sensations - all the train-ness of this place - is afabrication. It lulls you into a sense of security, allows you to feelas if it’s a familiar place. But whatever it is, it’s not a train, orat least not just a train.The air, heightened, tense against the glass. I can hear the squeak ofshoes on linoleum, I can hear the soft rattle of a dying man’sbreathing. Men in white uniforms, sharp pressed lines, run past,rolling gurneys down florescent hallways.
Jason Derr