Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Glurge: Father has to choose between saving his drowning son and another boy.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2000]
Carla Muir is a writer who has penned a number of uplifting tales, including
The 2001 version of "The Father's Anguished Tale" not only changes the dramatis personae to make the pastor the unbeliever who was saved and the old man who tells the story from the pulpit the father of the boy who died, it also concludes with an exhortation to forward the glurge to five close friends in order to get them to pray for the sender, boasting "Let's just see Satan stop this one." But its largest change is represented by the following bit added deep within its text, sandwiched between the "How great is the love of God that he should do the same for us" and "Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man's side":
Our heavenly Father sacrificed his only begotten son that we could be saved. I urge you to accepted His offer to rescue you and take a hold of the life line He is throwing out to you in this service." With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room. The Pastor again walked slowly to the pulpit and delivered a brief sermon with an invitation at the end.The purpose of this expansion of the original is to bludgeon the reader with the message of the story, rather than leaving it to him to work out that it's an allegory for God's sacrifice of his only begotten son to save mankind. Another glurge expounding on this theme is the
However, no one responded to the appeal.
However, while the literary offering about the pastor, the childhood friend, and two drowning boys, one who died and one who was rescued, dates to a book published in 2000, the underlying plot is a great deal older and indeed launched the writing career of a famed spy/adventure novel author. In 1954 in a competition sponsored by the Glasgow Herald, a short story titled "The Dileas" fetched a prize of £100 for its writer, Alistair MacLean, who then went on to write H.M.S. Ulysses, The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra, Where Eagles Dare, and Breakheart Pass.
"The Dileas" tells the story of a crusty sea captain who sets out during a fierce storm to rescue his two sons, who were on a vessel now reported to be foundering. He comes across the two young men struggling in the water at the same moment as he spies in the opposite direction a makeshift raft bearing two small children. The heavy, roiling seas make it impossible for him to attempt to rescue more than one party, so he turns the boat for the children and manages to pluck them from the sea even as his own sons slip under the waves and drown. He makes his choice based on the children's having been lashed to the bits of debris they were found clinging to, which he takes as a sign of his sons' having wanted the youngsters saved even in preference to themselves. (Had the young men wanted to preserve their own lives rather than those of the children, they'd have tied themselves to that raft.)
"The Dileas" differs from "The Father's Anguishing Decision" in that nothing about the salvation of souls drives the sea captain's choice; he bases his decision about whom to rescue on what he believes visual evidence tells him about his sons' desires, choosing at that fateful moment to respect their right as grown men to give their lives for others. He views himself as supporting a decision already made in preference to overriding it.
Barbara "rising to a crescendo, with a crash of symbols" Mikkelson
Last updated: 25 January 2005
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