Soul Competency

UPDATE (30 Oct. 2013): Cleaning up my database, deleting the tables for the plugin used to host this file, so, no more link. The story, incidentally, has been trunked, though I may try revise it eventually.

UPDATE (2 January 2006, 12:30pm): The story is now attached. You may download it here!

Writing Jesus of Nazareth as a character in one’s own story is, well, as you might imagine it’s ridiculously difficult. So of course, when drafting my most recent short story, “Soul Competency”, I found myself blocked at the point where the protagonist was about to meet Him.

Yes, capital-H him. It may surprise some of you, but some old habits stick. Well, finally, today, after a couple of days of basing him on other people — most prominently basing some of his conversation with my protagonist upon a conversation I once had with the wonderful saxophonist Dewey Redman, whom I met during my teenage years in Saskatoon, and who had me missing his mother’s cooking — I had a singular breakthrough and went back to one of the parables from the synoptic gospels to retrofit it to what I think is a version He’d approve of, were He to show up today in the situation set out in my story.

So anyway, I’ve completed a draft of “Soul Competency” and will subject it to some editing tomorrow morning. After that, I suppose I’ll post a draft here for any critique that anyone feels like offering. I’ll add the PDF link to this post in an update so check this post again later, if you’re interested in offering criticisms.

Thereafter, I gotta get my butt in gear prepping something short for the Canadian SF/fantasy anthology Tesseracts10 anthology, which is taking submissions from Canadian writers until March. And of course there’s all the other short (and longer) stories that need sending out to magazines. They’ve mouldered long enough and I think the week after camp, I’ll be making a big trip to the post office.

But for this evening… since I’ve finished a story, I’m going to go back to reading, as a kind of treat. I’m a third of the way into Max Barry’s Jennifer Government and, well, it’s an alright book, I think. Good so far, as satire; I’m worried about the ending that was so widely panned, though. (Some of you may know Barry as the creator of the Nationstates online game, which I played for a while. My nation, dyscraxia, is sadly no more. Ah well.)

2 thoughts on “Soul Competency

  1. It has been a while since the last time I checked on your blog but I’m glad I came at this point. I was very glad to find your short story available for download here and I took some time to read it tonight.
    I’m not in any way an expert critic(not even a modestly good one)so don’t take my opinion very seriously (even though it’s a positive one).
    I honestly enjoyed reading it.
    A couple of questions: Does Suleiman’s view on teaching methods reflect your own? And wouldn’t it be natural that Suleiman would be more expectant about his meeting with Jesus? I mean, if He came again, wouldn’t it be likely many (even professing other religions) would turn to Christianism? Why the capitals in Him and He? My opinion is that Suleiman wouldn’t use it when writing about Jesus.

    Oh, and either people mailed you directly their views on the story or I bet you’ve been concerned about the lack of feedback here ;)
    Best of luck in getting the story published!

  2. Actually, I’ve been tracking the downloads and not many people have downloaded it to read, so I’m not all that concerned.

    Thanks for the feedback. For one thing, we don’t know that Suleiman doesn’t turn Christian later, but then there’s no evidence he will, either. I think the capital-H He thing might be a wobble, but on the other hand, it makes it pretty clear who he’s talking about when he talks about Him.

    I don’t think he’d be more expectant, though. My point in the story is that a lot of Christians began to be worried about how little their professed religion impacted on their lives — for a short time — and that most non-Christians would do what is, after all, the rational thing: they’d assume it was a hoax. After all, I suspect the Vatican would strongly suspect hoax at first, and perhaps even declare it a hoax — perhaps even believing it was one — if it turned out that the returned Jesus diverged from received Gospel versions of his stories as much as the one in my story.

    Finally, I’m not sure that Suleiman’s opinions of various teaching methods perfectly fit mine, but I do think that there’s some distillation of what I think. I think the pendulum in mainstream ESL theory is starting to swing back from the idiotic extreme it went to where all discussion of grammar is anathema, that teaching grammar is bad for students, that English is magically learned by just speaking it, that it’s best to use limited classtime focusing on spelling races and such.

    And certainly his experience with students matches my experience with the majority of the college kids I’ve taught since moving to Jeonju, ie. people who don’t truly want to learn English but are compelled by either some kind of ideological force — the claimed “need for English” in my real-life students, and the drive of religion in terms of my story — which, since it’s not really their own deep motivation — since they don’t practically need it, and don’t honestly want it — fizzles out quick and cold.

    And I really do think some Christian Capitalist would put out a tape set — in fact, I found one’d blog and he was inquiring about whether people were interested — and I am dead certain that most people would be much eager to blather at their god than to listen, given half a chance.

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