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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Home Group (11/29/07)

TITLE: Bohemian Rhapsodies
By william price


In a lantern lit dank basement, hiding beneath a humble stone house, gathered five not-so-common people.

All university students in Prague, they sat in silence, hearing only the howling Bohemian wind whistle through worn window shutters upstairs.

The comforting aroma of fresh bread and potato soup saturated the room.

There were no smiles on the unshaven faces of the young men, no adornment brightening the countenance of the lone female. They were all clad in black.

Jan Hus was dead.

Their gathering used to be larger. In the weeks following the news of their friend being burned at the stake in Constance, fear and confusion caused many to flee or hide.

The group were members of the Bethlehem Church in Prague where Jan Hus preached his controversial ecclesiastical reforms, maintaining the Church consisted of more than just clergy. His teachings disturbed Church leaders, but inspired the people of Bohemia.

This 15th Century home group encouraged each other weekly; artists mostly, all sharing their interpretations of scripture in various art forms.

Dusan was first to rise from his stool. His long, black hair was pulled back in a pony tail. He opened with prayer.

“Almighty God, who gave your servant Jan Hus boldness to confess the name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of the world, and courage to die for his faith; grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”

Jakub, a pale looking young man, picked up his bagpipe and was joined in front of the small group by Beta who wore a high paper hat on her head with the inscription Haeresiarcha.

Jakub played Hus’ favorite hymn, Oh, Ye Warriors of the Lord.

Josef, the youngest of the group, stood wearing a black executioner’s mask. He bound Beta’s hands behind her back and chained her neck to a pole in the basement. He began piling straw up to her shoulders.

Tears streamed from Beta’s eyes.

Josef’s voice trembled as he spoke, “Save your life now by a recantation.”

Beta’s sadness transformed into boldness, proclaiming, “God is my witness that I have never taught that which I have been accused by a false witness. In the truth of the Gospel which I have written about, taught and preached I will die today with gladness.”

Dusan rose again, clad now in a red cape and wearing red gloves, as Josef scattered the writings of Jon Hus as kindling on the straw heap. Dusan danced as fire around Beta, his red cape slapping her face, as she sang, ”Christ, thou Son of the living God, have mercy upon me.”

Jakob’s bagpipe played with greater fervor.

Dusan then stretched his red gloved fingers around Beta’s throat as she stated, “In 100 years, God will rise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.” She then sunk her head, feigning death, and slid to the floor beneath the straw.

The music from Jakob‘s bagpipe deflated as it went silent.

A tall, muscular young man named Viktor stood with a broom. He swept away the straw and poured a sack of ash on and around Beta’s prone body. He then picked up a darkly cast oil painting he created depicting the Church that executed his mentor. He nailed it to the post to which Beta was still chained. Viktor then returned to his stool and grabbed a piece of paper. He walked slowly over the ashes and nailed it onto the painting. The paper had the number 95 written on it.

With the four men back on their stools, Beta rose from the ashes. Her hands and neck were free from the rope and chains that had her bound. She walked to each of her friends, giving them strong embraces.

The Lord’s presence in the room was so strong, none could move.

Josef finally spoke.

“What about the 95, Viktor?”

“I don’t know, friend. It’s what the Lord showed me to do.”

“What now?” Beta asked.

“I still smell soup and bread,” Jakub added.

“What would Jan have done?” Dusan wondered.

They smiled simultaneously and went upstairs and blessed the food. Minutes later the group had the pot of soup and bread out in the rain feeding the poor and encouraging them in the Lord.

Jan Hus was dead, but…

Author’s Note: In the year 1517, almost 100 years after Jan Hus’s death in 1415, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention (a list of 95 issues of heretical theology and crimes of the Church at that time) into the church door at Wittenberg. Luther is considered to be founder of Protestantism.

Haeresiarcha: Late Latin for a leader in heresy.

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This article has been read 1284 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 12/07/07
The sense of atmosphere is absolutely captivating. I was pulled in like I rarely am to a piece. Absolutely breathtaking.
Karen Wilber12/07/07
Haunting, atmospheric. This makes me want to get out my church history text and do a little reading. Those early reformers were brave indeed.
Gregory Kane12/08/07
A thoroughly unexpected plot – novel in every way.
Jan Hus was not renowned for his tact. On the walls of his church were several paintings contrasting the Bible with the attitude of the established church. One showed Christ washing the feet of his disciples, the other the Pope standing while others kissed HIS feet.
Lynda Schultz 12/08/07
Wow, I am impressed by the obvious depth of your research and by the creativity in the weaving of your story. Very good.
Sharlyn Guthrie12/08/07
This is well-researched and masterfully written. I enjoyed the journey back in time.
Kristen Hester12/09/07
Well, sir, last week in the red ink district you wrote "Have to learn the balance still." I'd say you found the balance this week! The writing is excellent.

As far as the story goes, it was captivating (I seem to use that word a lot when describing your entries.) It was the opposite of predictable. Even to the very end. I figured when they smiled they were going to laugh and visit and eat. Instead, they passed out food.

Not being very artsy, the characters were fascinating to me. It seemed like such a unusual thing to do (acting out the death scene, etc.) that I believed it happened. Did you create these characters from scratch? I'm impressed.

My only nit pick is the sentence that began "In the 15th century..." It seemed to break the flow a tad, but it was needed, so I 'm not sure how to fix this. It was a tiny matter and did not take away from the excellent story.
LaNaye Perkins12/09/07
Your title drew me in, but your writing held me to the very last sentence. WOW, this was very intense and vivid. I pray I will be as skilled as you some day!
Jan Ackerson 12/09/07
Interesting style, a very chronological narrative, and a bit of a change of pace for you. I think the sparse style really fits the subject--I was riveted by every word.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/10/07
Absolutely powerful. I was intrigued. I loved the onomatopoeia in the second paragraph and the twist at the end.
Patty Wysong12/11/07
Wow. This caught me completely off-gaurd. I was hooked, leaning in to the monitor--I finally got to breathe when I got to the soup and bread again. LoL. What a relief that was, too! The writing style really suited the story. ...wow.
Brenda Welc12/12/07
How do I put this: this was very regal! I loved the feel of this. You have a very articulate way with words and I just loved this line:

"The comforting aroma of fresh bread and potato soup saturated the room."

Never would I have thought of using the word 'saturated' when I was describing this. The story history was great too. Keep up the great writing! (It's truly blessed)

LauraLee Shaw12/12/07
This is a truly magnificent read. From title to hanging end, I was overwhelmed at the ability God has given you.
Sara Harricharan 12/12/07
Wowza! I felt like I was along for a roller-coaster ride, zooming through the scenes, staying just long enough to catch my breath and feel the emotion before rushing on. I loved the character's names and especially the footnote that explained the 95. This was very inspiring! ^_^
Tim Pickl12/12/07
Captivating, indeed! This story could be developed into a historical novel....possibly a film! "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

Matthew 5:10-12
Paula Titus 12/12/07
James Dixon12/12/07
You brought this story to life. It was very informative and inspiring. An inventive angle to take on the topic.
Sheri Gordon12/12/07
Wow. This is incredible. Inspiring, educational ... a wonderful read in all ways. Excellent job with the topic.
Peter Stone12/12/07
That's an excellent article. Jan Hus has always been one of my heroes, and the treachery by which the so called Church leaders of his day murdered him was shameful. Excellent scene with the stake and all, really have me wondering what the characters were going to do. Have you studied about Zwingli, one of Luther's peers? He was far more on the ball and also a pioneer of Protestantism. He too was murdered by the Church (in battle) for his beliefs.
Dee Yoder 12/13/07
I was very interested in what this artistic group was going to present. The drama they played out about their leader's death is an excellent way to show what happened; it really kept me reading. I like the plot twist at the end, too.
Yvonne Blake 12/13/07
RED PEN: An historical essay!
You made history real and very touching. I like your setting. I could feel the sadness in the damp basement.

I think the phrase (All university students in Prague) should have come at the end of the first sentence, or leave out the pronoun in the second sentence.

"In a lantern lit dank basement, hiding beneath a humble stone house, gathered five not-so-common people.

(All university students in Prague,) they sat in silence, hearing only the howling Bohemian wind whistle through worn window shutters upstairs."

This was well written, teaching something that few in America really know.

I wrote on this theme too, only in future America.
Sara Harricharan 12/13/07
***Congrats!*** ^_^
Dee Yoder 12/13/07
Congratulations, William!
Sheri Gordon12/13/07
Congratulations on your well deserved EC. This is very good.