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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Good and Bad (05/07/09)

TITLE: Marvin
By Rick Higginson


Marvin was a literalist – one of those people that take everything they read and hear literally. He wasn’t so bad that if you told him it was raining cats and dogs, he would get confused because there wasn’t furry pets falling from the sky, but if he read a rule, he would adhere to it precisely.

This earned Marvin a Good Driver discount from his insurance company, because – unlike most people – he didn’t think of speed limits and stop signs as suggestions. Whether there was a police officer in sight or not, he would not stray even one mile an hour over the limit, and always came to a complete stop.

Marvin was also a valued employee of his company, for he never bent the company rules, was never late, and the only time in anyone’s memory that he left early was the day the power went out and his boss sent everyone home.

It would seem, then, that as a Christian, Marvin would succeed at all he did, for he did not question the Word of God, nor rationalize his way out of anything that God had said. Sadly, this was not the case.

He had done all right, up until the day he read the passage in Mark 10:18, where the rich young ruler comes and calls Jesus good, and Jesus tells him that there is none good but God. To Marvin, this passage was an astounding revelation, as earthshaking to him as the study of Galatians was to Martin Luther. His eyes were opened, and his perspective changed. You see, Marvin was a literalist, and if the Bible said that there was none good but God, then nothing in the world could truly measure up as “good.”

This caused great consternation in what had previously been a good marriage, for suddenly, nothing Marvin’s wife did could truly be appraised as “good,” since compared to the goodness of God, it could only fall so short as to be bad. Marvin, being a literalist, would say so. His favorite meatloaf, prepared lovingly by his darling Myrtle, was no longer a good dinner, but just another bad meal. Her new hairstyle wasn’t very good, because, well, God would have done so much better with the clippers and curlers. Needless to say, it was more than she could bear when he applied a similar logic to a romantic getaway for their anniversary. Hearing that the restaurant and hotel weren’t good was bad enough, but having her looks and performance as a lover evaluated as bad was the final straw.

His church life fared similarly. The music was no longer good, the sermons were bad, and, as Marvin stoically pointed out, all the good works of the church membership were as filthy rags. It wasn’t long until the pastor bade him good-bye – or bad-bye, since it could only be good if the wish were from God – and he was invited to find another church. The whispered comment of “good riddance,” followed by the correction of “bad riddance,” chased him out the door.

Alas, poor Marvin moved into a bad house, in a bad neighborhood, got stuck in a bad job, and ended up catching a bad cold which degraded into a bad case of pneumonia. If only Marvin had taken the time to go back to Genesis, he might have avoided all that bad trouble. He could have read that God looked upon all that He had created, and declared that it was good, and shared in that literal summation of the world around him.

Incidentally, Marvin’s wake was well-attended by family and acquaintances who took his instructions literally. They didn’t mourn his passing, but celebrated his passing into the Presence of God, just as he had asked.

And a good time was had by all.

Well, except maybe for Marvin, who was having a rather bad time trying to explain his bad attitude to God…

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This article has been read 874 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Catrina Bradley 05/17/09
Marvin should have kept reading. :) I like the dry, tongue in cheek humor of this piece, but I think it needs a little more action to offset the narration feel. JMHO. It did make me think tho, which is GOOD.

And I'm still thinking. I think I might be changing my mind about my "action" comment. I think I need to read it again. :)
Joanne Sher 05/18/09
Oh, this is creative. Great humor and a super message - and, of course, that last line is a KICKER.
Mona Purvis05/20/09
Your writing style stands out in this piece so much. So different than I would write it...and better. You were able to balance the good/bad @ 50/50 throughout the telling and it kept me feeling uncomfortable because I wanted to offset to the good. That was strong writing. Very good, indeed.

Sheri Gordon05/20/09
Very interesting, and thought provoking. That statement by Jesus has always been confusing to me...maybe I have a little Marvin in me. Good (or bad) job with the topic.
Glynis Becker05/20/09
So witty and clever, I enjoyed every sentence. Wonderful take on the topic.
Patricia Herchenroether05/21/09
Very creative-I loved it. Witty, humorous, and with a message too! Thanks.
Diana Dart 05/21/09
Perfect! What a smooth flow from the introduction to our charming Marvin, right through to his wake. "A good time was had by all," LOL. I totally love your sense of humour and the wacky characters you create (that sometimes make me squirm in my own skin). Bravo.
Sheri Gordon05/21/09
Congratulations on your EC. I really enjoyed this piece. As I said on my previous comment, very thought provoking.
Sharon Kane05/22/09
My oh my! This packs quite a punch to those perfectionists among us! I dodn't think I want to follow this too far. Well done for excellent writing!