As the old preacher and his grandson sit on their back deck watching the sun rise out of the ocean, a lesson in French is being conducted.
"And how would you answer this, Andrew?"
"Que voudriez-vous ordonner ?"
"J'aimerais un dîner, mais j'ai peur je serai empoisonné."
"Very good," The old man says, laughing. "I sense you're being smart. So, for your final quiz this week, read my newspaper column." The eleven year old boy picks up the the thin publication. "And remember the accent," the old man says, "it's very important you don't sound foreign."
"Aimez le seigneur avec tout votre coeur et âme. Aimez Dieu d'abord et d'autres comme vous-même." He pauses, in thought, and then continues, "Dieu doit toujours venir d'abord."
As the child reads, the old man eats his cold cereal. Halfway through the column the old man frowns.
"What's wrong grandpa," the child asks.
"Nothing child," he says through a mouthful of raisins and bran. "You're doing fine. Keep reading."
"If nothing is wrong, then why is your eyebrows like that? It's my accent, isn't it?"
As the old man wipes milk from his chin, the boy hears the scrape of whiskers against the napkin and thinks of his whiskers and when they might start growing, "It's not your reading, child, it's the edit."
"Oh," he says and reads the rest of the column without mistake.
After a moment of silence, the old man speaks, "Every week that editor hacks my column to pieces."
"It wasn't too bad," the boy answers, "I liked it."
"But you didn't write it. That makes a big difference."
"Someday I'm going to be a writer just like you, grandpa."
The old man smiles at this, remembering when he first wanted to be a writer, and looks thoughtfully at the boy. "Well, on writing, I have a few things to share with you, son. Remember this: the editors will always get their way, the publishing company controls all, and if your message ever gets compromised, it is better not to publish at all. This way your integrity is saved."
"So, are you going to stop writing?" Sadness became obvious on the child's face.
"But, your message...it was..."
"Son, my message don't matter when I am writing for God; only God's. I write this column for God."
"God wanted you to write about love?"
"Yes." the old man nods, holding up the paper, "But, from one writer to another, that wasn't my point at all. I wrote about how Satan has ways of distorting people's ideas, even about love."
"Well, when it comes to things like extra-marital relations, people justify their sins by saying they're in love. The bible is clear on these things, but emotion reigns supreme in this world. Take a man marrying a man, for instance."
"Does it say in the bible that men shouldn't marry, grandpa?" Andrew asks, watching the sun climb higher into the sky.
"The column I wrote referenced Romans chapter 1, so, if your want to know more, read the bible and learn from God. You're old enough to discern right from wrong, aren't you?"
"Yes," the child answers as he thumbs the bible to Romans and starts reading out loud.
"No, read it in French, please."
Time passed as the child read, then the bible closed slowly. Thoughts were were visible on the child's face. "I understand what it's saying, grandpa. Especially in verse 26 and 27, but, why would the editor leave that part out. It seems so important."
"Son, it all comes down to making money. The newspaper don't want to print something that might offend a reader because that would lower sells. That's the first lesson on writing. Money rules all, even editors and publishers."
"But if the bible says it..."
"That don't matter no more, son. The bible says lots of stuff and no one cares."
"So, what will you do?"
"Nothing, 'cept keep writing for God and keep trusting Him to guide my words."
"I want God to guide my words too," the child said, taking a sip of his hot chocolate. Then, he smiled slyly.
"What are you smiling for?"
"Can I write the next column for you grandpa?"
"Sure you can, I'd be delighted, but remember you might never get on the page."
"I got a plan that will make it hard to edit." The smile was still on his face.
"What kind of plan?"
"I'll write the whole thing in French."
Both writers laughed.
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