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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)

TITLE: Rock Salt
By Gregory Kane


“This is a disaster,” said Hephistames. “It’s all unravelling while we sit here on our butts and do nothing.”

A shrug served for a reply as his companion went on polishing the blade of his broadsword. “You should have more faith,” he said at last.

“Bah, faith is for humans with their short-sighted vision. I can see perfectly well what’s going on all around us and it’s depressing. People are being slaughtered out there. Hundreds of the saints have been picked up by the authorities and thousands more have fled the city. And I’ve lost count of how many of the weaker ones have abandoned the Way, denying their Saviour. There are demons on every street corner and Beelzebub struts around clapping his talons and cackling with delight while we do nothing about it.”

“So?” Archelon swept his sword in a wide arc and smiled with satisfaction as it burst into flame.

“So?! It ain’t right to have warrior angels sitting in barracks while demon spawn are wandering the streets with impunity. If you ask me, I blame the Spook. I reckon he’s out of his depth.”

Archelon looked up at this, shock written all over his face. “That’s pretty close to blasphemy, don’t you think?”

“Doesn’t have to be,” replied Hephistames. “The way I figure it, he hears everything we say anyway so there’s no sense in not saying what we’re all thinking. Let’s face it, the Lamb did a sterling job – thirty years of obscurity followed by – bam – three years of the most dynamic ministry the world has ever seen. Like everyone else, I was speechless when he went and snuffed it, but three days later we all got a peek at the master plan. The guy’s a genius.”

The diatribe was interrupted by a diabolical scream of triumph from outside. Both angels gave an involuntary shudder before Hephistames continued. “The Spook is another matter. Sure, he got off to a good start – mass conversions, miracles, deep-seated repentance, impressive social action… topping Ananias for hypocrisy was a cool move. But this business with Stephen came out of the blue. No one could have foreseen how Saul would turn it to his advantage against the church. The way things are going, I reckon that in a couple more days the only believers left in Jerusalem will be the apostles.”

“Let me show you something,” said Archelon, dragging his friend into the kitchen. He walked over to the pot of rock salt that the maid-servant Rhoda used for preserving meat and he picked up a handful. “This works better when the salt’s a bit finer,” he explained, crushing the crystals to powder in his powerful grip.”

“I don’t understand what you-”

“Just hush a moment.” Taking a half-filled bowl of water, he allowed a trickle of salt to fall. “Now what do you see?”

“The salt has dissolved.”

“And now?”

“There’s not enough water for all the salt to dissolve. A tiny amount is settling on to the bottom of the bowl.”

“Exactly,” agreed Archelon, releasing the rest of the powder. “And now?”

“The salt’s just sitting there doing nothing. But I don’t see what-”

“This, my friend, is a picture of the church in Jerusalem. The Lamb told them to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, didn’t he? Well, it’s been three years now and they’re still sitting here. A few of the villages in Judea have heard the message but the rest of the country - let alone the world - is still bound by sin’s corruption. Salt is no good if it all stays in one place. It has to be sprinkled, to be scattered, if it’s to be effective.”

“And you think that’s why the Spook told us to stand down?”

“I know it. It’s horrendous to watch but he’s making sure that God’s holy salt gets out to where it’s most needed. The Spirit – there’s no way I’m calling him the Spook – knows exactly what he’s doing.”

Hephistames thought about this for a moment, then sighed and slumped down on to a nearby stool. “I suppose I ought to send him an apology, shouldn’t I?”

“Might be a good idea,” agreed his companion. “But in the meantime you need to pack your things. Your marching orders have arrived. Michael wants you in Samaria before the day is out. Seems that Philip the evangelist could do with a little help against the legions of hell…”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 07/31/08
I like this. Very imaginative.
Amy Michelle Wiley 07/31/08
Great article--very creative! I'm glad you explained what Spook was, because I hadn't quite figured it out. Made me laugh when I did read the explanation. Cute.
Hannah Hunter08/01/08
The story is good, but I really don't think an angel would be so disrespectful of the Holy Spirit. That part really bothered me.
Yvonne Blake 08/02/08
Interesting POV... a little disrespectful in places, but you demostrated a good lesson.
Helen Dowd08/04/08
Well, you asked in the Hinting section if we thought your mention of "Spook", referring to the Holy Spirit was bordering on the sacrilege. In my opinion, I think it does a bit. You asked! But then, I am of the old school, being well on into my senior years. Maybe things in the modern world are a bit freer, but I wouldn't like to chance it...However, it is YOUR article, and you did a good job with the telling of it, even if I....Well, enough said...Helen. Write me if you want. I don't mind a discussion...
Tim George08/05/08
The story is well written and indeed different. Good dialogue. Since you asked , I have to agree about the "Spook" part. The Holy Spirt is God just as Christ is God as the Father is God. Can't imagine an angel speaking of God in such terms.
Gregory Kane08/08/08
author's note: apologies to those readers who were offended by the tone of this piece.
The term Spook was intended to be a tongue-in-cheek parody of the archaic term 'Holy Ghost'. I'm sorry that it didn't work.
The doubts over the abilities of the Holy Spirit were intended to parallel the doubts we all experience when things go badly wrong, eg doesn't God care, doesn't he know or is he unable to act? In this case the actions of the Spirit are clearly vindicated by the end.
It's not a sin to question, but rather entirely human. Whether it's an angelic trait, no one knows - although Peter does say that even angels long to ponder the mysteries of God (1Pet 1:12)