Search This Blog

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What is Marriage? - Biblical Basis

So far we have examined the biological basis of marriage. We'll address the Biblical basis next, and then the cultural basis as the Biblical will provide an information base for the cultural aspects.

Is this important for non-Christians to understand? Yes. Because if one does not understand these basic points, one will tend to respond to straw men arguments instead of the true Biblical model. Also, a lack of understanding here will fail to see how well the Biblical basis blends with the biological one discussed last time.

Unfortunately many of the straw men have been promoted by Christians themselves, so one can hardly fault non-Christians for arguing against them. Some of them I would argue against as well. So it is most critical that Christians reexamine what marriage is based upon Biblical principles rather than from pop theology.

To that end, we will look first at God's design, then the theological design, and end with some conclusions.

God's Design for Marriage

The most complete snapshot of God's intentions in creating marriage, and what it is, is from the words of Jesus Christ Himself.

And there came unto him Pharisees, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? trying him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. But Jesus said unto them, For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of the creation, Male and female made he them. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh: so that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Mar 10:2-9 ASV)

Jesus takes this opportunity to quote Genesis 2:24. The two shall become one flesh. Note this refers to "flesh." This is a physical union. So much so that Jesus says they are no longer "two, but one flesh." This reflects two main truths about this marital union, that is, the basis for marriage from the Biblical perspective.

Sexual intercourse unites a man and woman into one flesh. This is at the heart of marriage. Jesus makes this clear in the next verses following the above:

And in the house the disciples asked him again of this matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her: and if she herself shall put away her husband, and marry another, she committeth adultery. (Mar 10:10-12 ASV)

We'll get to the issues of divorce and adultery later. For now, Jesus is clarifying for His disciples about his comments to the people quoted earlier. For He said, "What God has joined together, let not man put asunder." How is that done? Certainly not by a piece of paper.

Instead, Jesus shows that the way such a union is broken asunder is by committing adultery: to have sexual intercourse with someone other than one's spouse. His whole argument with the Pharisees is based on the fact that when a physical union is sealed through sex, it is "torn asunder" when adultery, having sex with another, is committed.

St. Paul also has this in mind when he said, "Or know ye not that he that is joined to a harlot is one body? for, The twain, saith he, shall become one flesh." (1Co 6:16 ASV)

Clearly, from a Biblical standpoint, and from God's perspective, sexual intercourse joins two people into one flesh—no matter how serious the two people take it. Not needed is a legal certificate saying you're married. It is not needed that you live together. It is not needed that anyone thinks or believes you are united in marriage, even the couple themselves. Even a marriage ceremony is not needed. By the act of sexual intercourse, from God's perspective, the two are joined into one. Even if it is merely a harlot you pay to have a one-night stand with.

This is why premarital sex is an oxymoron. There is no such animal. When you have sex, you are marrying that person. Sex is a marital forming act. As we noted in the biological basis, one can live together, share expenses, be the most intimate of friends, but without that sexual union, it is simply good friends living together. Sexual union forms the basis of joining the two into one, and therefore the core beginning of a family.

And therefore, according to Jesus, when you have sex with another person after joining to a spouse, you are tearing asunder that bond created with the first, save if the other spouse has committed adultery before you. Standing before a minister, many think they are getting married for the first time. Yet if they have "sown their wild oats" before that ceremony, they are deceived. They've already been married and committed adultery with as many people as they have had sex with.

It is clear from Jesus' words that God's design was for us to join with one person, and not tear that asunder by uniting to another. But due to our fallen condition, our hardness of heart, deviation from the ideal is treated in an attempt to provide healing.

Creating one flesh is fulfilled literally in the offspring of sexual acts. As we noted in the biological basis, it is the potential creation of children inherent in the act of sexual union that provides for the uniting factor. What more literal fulfillment of the two becoming one is there than in the children produced from that sexual union? Both husband and wife's DNA, united into a new person. The child is literally the one flesh of the two.

Without this potential reality, sex would not be uniting. It is the mingling of the two's seed that at the same time provides for the possibility of children, and the two becoming one flesh through the act designed to give birth to new life. Without that fact, sex would only be one more way among many options to have a good time.

Jesus, with these words, links the biological design of God with God's design and purpose. The two are fully synced into one reality. Participating in sexual intercourse with someone is tantamount to saying to them, "I want to have your children and create a family with you." Because that is the purpose of doing that act. The potential is always there each time sexual union happens, no matter the reason the couple is doing it.

I know, there is the pill, and abortion. Since the 1960s, people have had the option to get rid of the purpose of sex: children. If the pill or other modes of contraception don't prevent a pregnancy, there is always the option to kill the child before it can escape the womb. Be that as it may, it doesn't change the nature of the act to make it non-uniting. The fact is, whether a person ever has a child or not, the act unites the two into one flesh simply because that is what the act is designed to do biologically as God created it.

One union, not torn asunder. That is God's design for marriage. Have we violated that ideal? If statistics are anywhere close, a clear majority of the readers of this blog have not followed that prescription, for whatever reason. This does not mean it is the end of the world. There is healing and forgiveness. But it is oh, so easy to take the fallen state and want to make that "normal" because we'd rather not face our guilt than acknowledge it and deal with it openly.

God's Theological Intent for Marriage

St. Paul makes it clear that our marriage is an image of our union with God.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church. (Eph 5:31-32 ASV)

Prior to these verses, St. Paul speaks of how husbands and wives should show love for one another, and each one is related to Christ and His bride, the Church, the Body of Christ. St. Paul says, "for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; because we are members of his body." (Eph 5:29-30 ASV)

As one body, we are united to Christ in baptism. (Romans 6:5) And that bride is to be presented to Christ in the next life. (Revelations 19:7) What we have now in human marriage is a shadow of that union. As Jesus prayed, we'd become one with Him. (John 17:21-23) Therefore our union with each other in marriage is an image of our union with God.

As such, it is meant to reflect that ideal. What image does sexual union with more than one person create? Multiple gods? Switching from one god to another? Likewise, what picture does uniting with multiple people for the sole purpose of having a good time paint? Union to God isn't to be taken seriously? Is for our own selfish fulfillment? Everything centers around us and not Him?

This is why St. Paul instructs Timothy and Titus that a bishop and deacon should only be from those who only had one wife. (1 Timothy 3:2, 12, Titus 1:6) Even for the office of widow, among other criteria, they had to be the wife of one husband. (1 Timothy 5:9) Because those ministering as the hands and feet of Christ among the people should reflect a proper theological marriage to God through their earthly marriage. They had to conform to God's design specs in order to represent Him in an official capacity.

Is divorce allowed? Is remarriage allowed after divorce? After the death of a spouse? Yes. According to Christ, due to our hardness of heart, our fallen condition, the ideal design specs that Christ presents is often not achieved and allowance is made.

But it is still the design specs Christ gives as the Christian understanding of marriage. Sexual union unites us into one flesh with another. Sexual union with another causes us to commit adultery with the first, and so on down the line, save when adultery has already been committed by the other spouse. Or by the death of a spouse, in St. Paul's opinion, though he encourages them to not remarry. (1 Corinthians 7:39)

We will examine divorce and adultery in more detail later. Here we note this indicates God's original design spec is "a man and a woman" joined in marriage for life through the action of creating children, whether or not any children are ever brought forth. In this, the biological basis for marriage that syncs with the Biblical basis for marriage. God considers such a union, a marriage, and not to be torn asunder by sexual union with another.

Next time we'll examine the cultural basis for marriage.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hot New Reviews on Mind Game and Hero Game

I've recently received two new reviews, one on Mind Game and one on Hero Game. Check them both out and if you've not had the chance, I encourage you to get and read the books and offer up your own honest reviews.

The Mind Game review comes from a professional review site: Reader's Favorites. Here's an except of what they had to say:
This is a well-written, exciting story with lots of adventure. It appeals to all ages of science fiction/fantasy fans, new and old. There are references to new technology for younger readers along with references to older popular science fiction/fantasy movies for older readers. The characters are very relatable.

Not too shabby. Today I received word that author Lisa Godfrees, who had reviewed Mind Game previously, giving it high marks, just reviewed the second book in the series, Hero Game, at her book review site, and among other things, had these comments:
Anyone that likes sci-fi would enjoy this book. I believe that middle-graders especially would love it, both guys and girls. I plan to buy copies for our elementary school library.

Bottom line, if you like fun sci-fi, you can't go wrong here! Thanks for checking them out, reading, and reviewing.

Read more about Mind Game and Hero Game, along with sample chapters and where they can be purchased.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What is Marriage? - Biological Basis

Marriage has become a hotly debated topic within the last few years as the issue of recognizing homosexual marriage by the state has come to the forefront. Both in initiatives to outlaw it and to legalize it by various groups on both sides.

But the arguments focus on two main areas: legal definition of marriage and the biblical classification of homosexual sex as a sin. Homosexual groups tend to focus on the inequality of the former, while religious groups focus on the latter. Meanwhile, few seem to be asking what marriage really is. Not purely based upon legal questions, or purely based upon Biblical prohibitions, but on a holistic approach that takes all aspects that define marriage into consideration.

To that end, I am going to do a series of posts about marriage. This will not be a complete historical run down, but will involve the following main topics:

  • What is Marriage?

  • Alternate Forms of Marriage

  • Divorce, Remarriage, Adultery

  • Healing Marital Devaluation

Some of these topics will overlap, but I think they can lay the groundwork to a fuller understanding of these controversial issues by all sides, as well as other issues that are often ignored by our culture and the Church. So let's tackle the first topic:

What is Marriage?

Marriage is defined by biology and culture. For the Christian, also by biblical theology. The later will only matter to Christians directly, but if understood in context, syncs nicely with biology and can inform the cultural aspects. Non-Christians may appreciate understanding its basis if they can get past preconceived ideas about the topic.

In this installment, I'll examine:

The Biological Basis for Marriage

Often people will survey the structure of "husband and wife" in the animal kingdom to prove the diversity of marital and familial makeups on display. For sure, there are many. All the way from a mate eating the other directly after sex to lifetime partners. However, what often isn't focused on is the similarities.

Sex. In one form or another, it always involves the sharing of DNA for the purpose of conception. Sure, there may be an off beat example out there, but the basic biological purpose of two entities coming together in a sexual union is for procreation. Without that purpose, there would be no basis for a marriage or family structure, however that might play out in any individual species.

From species to species, the purpose of sex, the purpose of forming a husband/wife relationship, is to ensure the propagation of the species. If an activity cannot potentially create that outcome, whether it does or not, there is no biological marital union.

Look at it this way. There are countless activities that we share with each other, many of them pleasurable. Whether it is eating together, going to a movie, or enjoying a game of tennis, none of those activities are seen as creating a marriage or union.

Meanwhile, our society views sex as just one more enjoyable activity to share with someone you like. No more bonding than sharing a bowl of ice cream. Yet, when one considers the biological foundation of marriage, it boils down to sex. For practically every animal, sex and the creation of offspring is the foundation of that union.

If you think about it logically, it should be obvious. Take a husband and wife. Let's suggest they appear married in every way. They live together. They spend quality time together. They share their intimate lives together. They have a legal paper saying they are married. Even a wedding. Yet, neither has ever had sex with the other. Answer this question. In what way is this living arrangement any different than best of friends sharing living expenses under a mutual contract?

The obvious answer is, it isn't any different. I could easily set up a living arrangement with my best male friend or even a woman who wished to live a celibate life, and duplicate the same scenario. If all marriage involves is mutually shared living arrangements and friendships, then how is that deserving of any special recognition? Anyone can create a contract to set up such an arrangement.

But add sex into the mix, and one has a totally different animal. Then DNA is shared, and potentially merged, creating a union of the two into a new person. Once you have that potential, the marriage of the two species takes on purpose. Because only that act creates a family structure. Without sex creating a union, you have two good friends living together, and sex is just one among many pleasures that are shared but means nothing more than going out to watch a movie.

Mammals. While in the animal kingdom at large, how "marriage" and families are structured varies widely, in the sub-classification of mammals, less so. In fact, one of the characteristics of this class is the care for children within a family structure of a father and mother. Can you find exceptions? Yes. Yet the vast majority of mammals, of which humans are one, have a father and mother living together to care for the offspring produced by having sex. The fact humans for over at least 6000 years of our known history do this, is one reason we are classified as a mammal.

What does this prove? Very simply, this. At its foundation, the basis for a family structure, and therefore the basis for two people to be married, is sexual union in a way that potentially produces offspring. All other marital characteristics flow from this fact. Even Jesus, as we will see, acknowledges this reality.

This physical union turns the "water into wine." Living together is changed into familial bonds. Legal contracts are turned into sacred vows. Pleasure is transformed into loving bonds. Man and woman are united as husband and wife.

What is marriage biologically? It is the sexual union of two people to form the core of a family. I've heard many say, "Oh, we're just living together. We're not married." I say, "Oh yes you are. If you've had sex, you may not be legally married, but in reality, you are." Just have either one of you cheat on the other, and tell me you won't react just as strongly about it as any "married" couple would.

Why? Because sex creates a marital union between two people. It is a biological reality that's been with us since creation.

Next time, the Biblical basis for marriage.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Show, Don't Tell?

The common writing "rule," show, don't tell, has taken a beating in recent times. When I started writing fiction in 2006, it wasn't long before I heard about the suggested mode of writing. Usually from a critiquer who pointed out I was in telling mode here or there.

But I've noticed there has been a growing backlash to this mode of writing. Why is it being rejected as a valid guideline for new writers to write fiction? I think for the following reasons:

  1. Extreme usage in critique groups. One such person attempted to tell me that one should have no telling in fiction, everything had to be shown. So he would point out any telling, and appeared to refuse to offer any other constructive feedback until I "fixed" this one issue. If a person encounters too many like that, it is easy to overreact to the opposite extreme and throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  2. Show, don't tell is the answer to every issue. Related to the above, some critiquers go overboard to using show, don't tell for the solution to any number of unrelated writing problems. Writers hearing "You're not showing here, just telling," when addressing a character's dialog only shows they don't know what they are talking about, using the rule as a crutch because they don't know what else to say. Enough of those, and a writer is tempted to ditch the rule as lame simply because they encounter people who are using it lamely.

  3. Hate any perceived rules. Some folk are just anti-rule. Any perceived guideline that says one should do X, Y, or Z in writing automatically gets push back. "I'll show them" attitude prevails. Especially true if the person gets someone saying you always have to do it this way if you want to keep a reader's attention.

  4. Lazy writers not looking to improve. Some writers don't care. They just want to write a story and have everyone praise them. They aren't looking for critiques. They don't want to know how to improve their writing. They feel what comes natural to them is correct for them, and any effort to write differently is artificial. So they don't gain the writing skills through practice, including knowing when and how to show instead of tell.

If you've fallen into one of these reactions to the show, don't tell rule, maybe it is time to take a step back and gain a balanced perspective. The last group may find this the hardest to do, so let's look first at why one needs to show in fiction, instead of tell.

Non-fiction conveys information; fiction conveys an experience. Few pick up a work of fiction hoping to learn how to grow a garden or how to change the starter in a car. Not that one can't learn how to do those things from a work of fiction, but that's not the reason most buy a fictional story. They buy a fictional story to be entertained. To be immersed into another person's world and experiences. To see the world from a different set of eyes.

The showing mode of writing is not an efficient means to convey information. This is why non-fiction doesn't use much, if any, showing. Even the stories told in a non-fiction book are told in telling mode, because the point is to illustrate a truth, not have the reader experience another person's life. For instance, you'll note the stories in the Bible are primarily told not shown.

However, to have a reader sink into another person's world, to see from their eyes, showing becomes critical. Telling can't effectively do that. To accomplish its goal, fiction has to be primarily showing, using telling when needed. In short, to experience another person's world, you have to convey to the reader what they are experiencing, not simply what happens to them.

A quick example. This would be telling: "Paul saw the dagger as it sank into him." It conveys the information of what happened to Paul efficiently. It does not convey what Paul experienced.

Showing would be more like this: "Paul saw the sun glint off a blade flashing his direction. He jerked back, but a pain echoed through his nerves, his skin numbed, and warmth flowed down his side, soaking his clothing. His knees buckled as darkness swept over him."

The showing doesn't efficiently convey what happened, but it does efficiently tell you what Paul experienced, thus providing emotional impact. Emotional impact is the key to entertaining fiction. Without showing, there would be little emotion conveyed, and would not be as entertaining as it could be. If a person ditches showing for one of the above reasons, then you need to be honest with yourself. You are writing fiction as if it were non-fiction.

Some will tell me, "But this writer did it effectively." Usually they are pointing to a "classic" written years ago. An omniscient narrator used to be the standard story telling mode, which involved more telling. In that day, an author didn't have to compete with more emotionally engaging stories, so writing in telling mode could still stand out, not to mention the number of published books back then per year was smaller, so easier for a well-told story to stand out.

This is not true today. You are competing with story-tellers who know how to engage their reader's emotions through effective showing. This is why you'll hear if Tolkien were submitting his Lord of the Rings book today, it is unlikely he'd gain a following. By today's standards it has a lot of problems. But you'll notice even in that work, Tolkien does show, even if it is not as much as most authors do today.

So, how does one know when to tell and when to show in fiction? I have the following general guidelines I use once I've finished my first draft and am ready to edit.

How critical is the phrase, sentence, paragraph in the movement of the story and/or character arc? The more important to these goals, the more important it is to show instead of tell.

For instance, let's say we need to get Jane to answer the telephone. The call itself moves the story forward. The ensuing conversation provides a clue to the mystery, but the fact she answers the phone isn't important other than the fact she does it. It isn't something the reader needs to experience for the story to move forward.

Indeed, to show that would likely bore the reader if they read, "A ringing echoed through Jane's head. The phone! It must be him. Her shoes snapped against the wooden floor, creaking the planks under her weight so much she wondered if she would fall through them. She wrapped her fingers around the smooth, black dial phone. A cold plastic greeted her hands. The ringing ceased as she lifted the receiver, lighter than she expected. 'Hello'?"

Unless you are building tension for a big moment/reveal, you're building emotional investment for nothing. People don't notice that level of detail unless it is new or they sense a moment of importance. You're convincing the reader something important is about to happen, and when it doesn't, they'll tend to wonder why the emotional investment was made. If you simply need to tell the reader that she answered the phone, it would be more efficient to say, "The phone rang. 'Hello'?"

To maintain the pacing of your story. Related to the last point, sometimes you need to move your characters from point A to B, but nothing happens during that time which moves the story forward. So to show all the detail of that trip would bore the reader. Reducing the trip down to a handful of descriptive words and a telling summary will keep the pacing of the novel from bogging down into drudgery.

Transitional paragraphs. Often you have a transitional paragraph between scenes that requires moving through a period of time to the next scene were story-moving dialog/action will take place. Like the last reason, it would be pretty boring to show someone on watch all night when nothing happens of significance. A simple, "George struggled to fight off sleep until the first rays of dawn arrived and Henry arrived to relieve him," gets the reader quickly through an otherwise uneventful time frame with little loss of interest.

Dialog. It is rare that you hear someone talking in showing mode. When is the last time you heard someone describe their reaction to a joke like this: "My gut tightened. I squeezed my lips tight in hopes of blocking the impending spray of coffee from my mouth. But the pressure grew to the point of shoving my lips apart. Hot liquid careened into his face." No, instead you're more likely to hear, "I laughed so hard I spewed coffee all over him."

Dialog is predominately telling. Leave the showing for the narration if you don't want unnatural dialog littering your story. Included in this is a character telling a story to another. Unless the story goes into a full flashback, in-story mode, a story told by a character in the story would tend to be more telling than showing, unless they were attempting to dramatize it.

Non-fiction. If you are writing non-fiction, one naturally uses telling mode to communicate information effectively. But there are times in fiction where a writer may want to convey some information. Back story is often given in more telling mode, often by a character. Dishing out back story needs to be in short bursts, on a need-to-know basis. You don't want long paragraphs of back story, so you don't want to show it unless there is a good reason to do so. When you need to convey information, a telling mode gets the job done much quicker.

Creating emotional distance. There are times a writer may need to create emotional distance. Especially if it is something that the point of view character is not that emotionally invested in or you want to minimize the impact on the reader. For instance, if you have a rape scene, to minimize any emotional reactions from readers who have gone through it, it could be told instead of shown.

One could come up with other instances of using telling instead of showing, but if you want your scenes to have emotional impact, in-the-story feel, you need to ensure important story-moving segments are shown instead of merely told. The uniqueness of reading a story is the immersion into another's experience, another's thoughts, another's worldview. Movies can't easily accomplish this. If you fail to take advantage of this strength in your stories for one of the reasons listed at the beginning, you'll shortchange the reader, and not give them a reason to read the next book, much less finish the one in their hands.

Do you think some of the negative attitudes toward show, don't tell are a valid reaction or an over-reaction?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Three Little Pigs, or How to Invest Wisely

Once upon a time, there were three little pigs. No, not those pigs. Come on. Stay with me here. Must you always jump to conclusions?

Okay. As I was saying, there were three little pigs. One day Papa Pig says to the three, "I'm getting old and can no longer work the farm. I need to give you each your inheritance so you can invest it and provide from me into my old age."

And so he did. To pig number one, Sam, Papa Pig gave him $500,000 dollars. To pig number two, Jake, he gave $300,000. To Bubba, pig number three, he gave $100,000.

Sam decided he would invest his money in stocks. Surely the profits he would get would more than pay for his Papa's retirement. So he bought $500,000 of stocks in real estate notes.

Jake thought it better to invest in something more solid. He decided to buy property. Then not only would his Papa gain an investment, but a nice place to live that was paid for.

Bubba thought for a while and then decided both of them were wrong. He hit the streets and found the lame and beggars. He gave them $1000 with the words, "This is from Papa Pig to help you."

As luck would have it, a big, bad wolf...what? No, no, no! Not that big, bad wolf. This is altogether different. Trust me.

Now, there came a big, bad wolf market to Sam's investments...oh, I see I got the animal wrong, didn't I. My bad. There came a big, bad bear market. It knocked on Sam's computer market tracking software and said, "Little pig, little pig, let me in. Trade off your stocks or I'll growl and I'll snarl and I'll eat them up!"

Yeah, yeah, I know. Not the same punch, but like I said, this ain't your mama's three little pig story. Now where were we?

Sam said, "Not by of one little mouse." So the bear growled and he snarled and he ate the stocks up!

Sam ran to Jake's house, and lamented his losses. He cried, "I've lost all $500,000 of my Papa's money. It is left to you to provide for him. We know Bubba doesn't have any business sense. He gave all his away."

Jake patted a wall of his mansion. "Papa will do just fine. I knew those stocks you bought were risky."

But then the big, bad, wolf...I know I got it wrong last time. I'm on track now. Let me finish. The big, bad, wolf in sheep's clothing, otherwise known as a politician, knocked on Jake's door. He said, "Little pig, little pig, let me in. Or I'll write a 5000 page bill and add it as an amendment to the "Keep our Kids Safe from Drugs and Bullies" bill (otherwise known as KKSDB), and I'll confiscate all your land."

Jake shook his head. "Not by the vote of the next election."

So the big, bad wolf in sheep's clothing stayed up into the night writing a huge bill, introduced it to Congress, added it to the "Keep our Kids Safe from Drugs and Bullies" bill, and it passed by a vote of one.

Jake then heard another knock at his door. "Who's there?"

"We're from the EPA, and your land is the only habitat for the endangered albino wolf. We'll have to take your land and kick you out."

So Sam and Jake ran to Bubba's humble abode. They both decried their poor fortune at losing their inheritance, and Sam pointed out, "And you have nothing to show as well. Our Papa will live in poverty for the rest of his life."

Bubba shook his head. "Yusa jist don't git it, do ya?" A knock at the door interrupted him. "Who's banging?"

It just so happened to be the big bad wolf in sheep's clothing again. "Little pig, little pig, let me in. Or I'll...I'll..." The wolf in sheep's clothing grumbled. "What did you invest your money in?"

Bubba snickered. "I gone and put it in peoples."

"Peoples? I mean, people?"

"Yes. I giv it away to folks who need it."

The WISC snarked. "That's government's job. You can't give it away."

"Too late. Already gone and done it."

The WISC remained silent for five seconds, and then said, "I'll need to expand the gift tax. Yes, it needs attention." Then he left.

Jake threw up his hands. "We got rid of the wolf, but not before he drained all of our Papa's retirement away."

Bubba shook his head. "When a person gives, it comes back ten-fold and stores treasure in heaven."

Sam slapped his forehead. "What good will that treasure do him now, unless you plan on speeding up his death from starvation?"

Bubba opened his door. "Fowler me." The two shrugged and followed. Bubba led them to their Papa's house.

Some men worked on house repairs. One family carried a crock-pot full of slop to the door.

Bubba pointed at the house. "Looks like he'sa gitten cared for right nicely, if you'sa to ask me."

Sam and Jake stared wide-eyed. Sam said, "Friends in this life."

Jake nodded. "And a treasure in the next."

Bubba smiled. "And no wolf cana take that away, no how."