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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)

TITLE: A Terrorist in the Family
By Gregory Kane
04/22/08


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They call my uncle a terrorist. They say that he tried to desecrate Heykal Qodesh, the house of God. They hatched a plot to strike him down in cold blood, even as he walked through the streets of the Holy City. But I wouldn’t let them.

I don’t even know my uncle that well. He left our town before I was born. My mother was the youngest of seven and her early memories of him are sketchy. Her abiding impression is of a religious fanatic, ever anxious to prove himself holier than his neighbour. It didn’t take him long to dismiss the easy-going religion of our friends and neighbours. Late in life, my grandfather allied himself to the fundamentalist sect of the Perushim and my uncle was among his first converts.

Being such a famous man, stories abound of his adventures, but I’m never sure how many of the tales are apocryphal. They say he blinded a man on one of his trips and he lead a prison riot on another. What I do know is that he travelled to the Holy City to further his studies and that he gave himself heart and soul to the Perushim. My uncle is loath to tell exactly what happened in those years. They say that he aided in the arrest and execution of religious dissidents. Later on he spent time in Syria, followed by a period of further preparation in Arabia. At some point he underwent a mystical experience in the desert, leading to his swapping allegiance to yet another sect, this time the Naziyr faction.

I first met my uncle when he paid a short visit on his way to Greece, although I was too young to remember much more than a short, kindly man with a beaky nose. When he passed through some four years later, we were awash with exciting adventure stories, although by then I was too tall and far too shy to beg a seat on his knee. Then this year my mother announced that she would bring me on pilgrimage to the Holy City. I suspect that she would like me to study here in the future, but there is an excellent university in Egypt that interests me far more. Such matters are in the will of God.

Our visit to the Holy City coincided with the return of my uncle after an absence of several years. Although they brand him a terrorist I never saw him carrying any weapons. Instead he arrived laden with chests of gold and silver – gifts, he said, for the poor and needy. But controversy continued to dog him. I suspect that what it comes down to is simply jealousy. The holy men in the assembly were unable to best him in debate and they could not abide a ‘heretic’ having the last word. So they stirred up a mob and urged on the riff-raff to tear my uncle limb from limb. Indeed they would have done so, had not a platoon of Italian peace-keepers intervened.

I hear that the soldiers were all set to torture him in order to extract a confession. But there was some quibble over nationality and jurisdiction, so he was thrown instead into a stinking, flea-ridden cell. I think that he could easily have rotted there but the holy men of my people – I use that expression with all the contempt that it deserves – still wanted his head. Forty of them made a pact not to touch food or drink until my uncle had been slaughtered. On the following day, as he was being brought through the streets under armed guard, the assassins were to pounce and end his life.

It never happened. As soon as I heard, I went and told my uncle. He in turn sent me to speak with the colonel in charge of the garrison. I think the man was more worried about losing some of his men, but he arranged for my uncle to be transferred in the middle of the night to another facility. And he has remained there ever since.

I visit him from time to time. We talk about the Mashiah, whether this Jesus really was God’s chosen one. I’m as yet undecided but my uncle Paul is persuasive. And he is family. I still wouldn’t dream of climbing up on his knee, but it’s good to sit at his feet and listen to his stories. After all, he has nowhere else to go.


____________
Acts 23:12-35


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This article has been read 679 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Betsy Markman04/24/08
A very nice twist. It took a while to figure out who this uncle was. Well done.
Lynda Schultz 04/24/08
This is excellent. You've taken a character out of Scripture that we know next to nothing about and brought him alive, as well as the one detail of his life that we have a record of. Very well done.
Beth LaBuff 04/24/08
I knew I'd really like this after reading your first paragraph…and I wasn't disappointed. I was into the third paragraph before I figured out which Biblical characters this was about. I like your use of the word "apocryphal". You've written an excellent story based on Acts 23. I really like what you've done with this and the authenticity your Hebrew (?) words give this.
Tim George04/25/08
A very good condensed retelling of the life of the Apostle Paul. You helped us see him as others of his day would.
Laury Hubrich 04/26/08
oh Wow! Loved this. I was so confused until the end. Great job!
Laury
Joanne Sher 04/26/08
Love this take on a SO familiar character. Love the sprinkling of terminology, and the wonderful word choice. Compelling!
Joshua Janoski04/27/08
Paul is one of my favorite figures in The Bible, so I was able to catch on to who was being described right away. I like stories like this that take real Biblical stories and figures and then add a fictional twist to them. Good job with this one! :)
Peter Stone04/28/08
Enjoyable read of Paul's life from a new perspective. I really liked the ending where the MC sits at Paul's feet.