"Tom, I'm so glad you could meet me for lunch!"
"Just because I'm up to my eyeballs in physics research doesn't mean I'm a completely insensitive boyfriend, Nicole. You sounded really upset. What's wrong?"
"My parents want me to come home for the PFD festival."
"Sounds like fun. What's the problem?"
"I'm not talking about the partying and gift giving most of those on this and many other decks on this ship have. I'm talking about gatherings where they sing and talk about the whole history of the Personal Floatation Device movement."
"Ah, yes, you did tell me that many in your family are Floaters..."
"And to intensify things, my aunt and uncle who got jobs on one of those decks where Floater propaganda is illegal will be here this year, heaping on guilt about how grateful we should all be that Floaters can gather freely on this deck. ... Okay, what are you grinning about, Tom?"
"Well, as a student of science, I can assure you that all that fear-mongering is just that, an attempt to burden you with a PFD that is completely unnecessary, looks ridiculous, and limits your freedom. This ship has been afloat for eons, ever since those violent currents first pressed all this driftwood together to form this magnificent ship."
"I must admit that sometimes that magnificence almost makes me think it could have been designed..."
"Don't be silly! We scientists haven't figured out everything about this ship, so how could one individual have constructed it? And if someone did, he or she certainly isn't taking any active role in piloting or maintaining it today. You've never met a captain, or even second or third mate, have you Nicole?"
"Well, no, but we've had a few speakers here at the university that claim to be crew who know a lot about the ship's operation."
"Sure, but are they all telling you the same things?"
"Not necessarily. I've seen many iterations of PFD's, from spongy, to floral, to intricately folded paper, and splendidly embroidered silk. There was even one of stainless steel, but that seemed even heavier and more restrictive than the dull, classic ones most of my family members wear. Then there are the speakers that say that if you want one at all, it is fine to weave together elements of those that appeal to you the most. And, of course, there are those who assure us that the ship is indestructible, so the point is moot."
"That's the most sensible view in my book. It's the passengers that keep any kind of order around here, the passengers who help those in need, and the passengers who try to keep evil under some degree of control. You don't see any sign of some beneficent "Captain" doing that, do you?"
"Perhaps not too much on this deck, but you should hear some of the stories my aunt and uncle tell. One time, the wind caught their cloaks the wrong way right in front of the deck patrol. Their PFD's were in plain sight, but the patrol didn't even notice!"
"Well I wouldn't want to disparage your relatives integrity, but..."
"I don't know... They just have such a way of telling it that makes your spine tingle."
"All emotion. You're too smart to base your choices on feelings."
"You're right. I think you've given me the strength to survive the festival with my sanity in tact. Thanks!"
"No problem. Glad I could help."
"How was your trip, Nicole?"
"I almost faltered a couple of times, but stayed strong, thanks to your encouragement."
"I knew you were smart enough not to fall for all that old superstition."
"What's that, Tom?"
"Um, it sounded like a huge explosion... Hang on to your chair, Nicole! And grab my hand!"
"Yikes! I've never been in the ocean before! Where did that other ship come from, and who is that on deck?"
"I don't know, but the current seems to be dividing us in to a group on each side of him..."
"That other group isn't hanging on to any debris. They all have PFD's."
"There are many in our group with PFD's."
"But they're all the decorative kind..."
"Captain, Captain. Please rescue us!"
"I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!"
"Why are you looking at me like that, Nicole?"
"Because, Tom, your eloquent doubts discouraged me from accepting my last opportunity to put on a real PFD. Now I see that you were a shark all along."
"Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,` will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?` Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!`
Matt. 7:21-3 NIV
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