In The Beginning

I said to young Joe, “Joe, I want you to imagine a god.”

Joe asked, “What is a god?”

“It doesn’t really matter. Just close your eyes and imagine a good old man.”

“Okay.”

“Now, Joe, does he have a beard?”

“No.”

“Well, give him a long white beard.”

“Okay.”

“Is he bent over, and does he have wrinkled skin?”

“Yes.”

“All right. Now stand him up straight and smooth out his wrinkles.”

“Okay.”

“Are his eyes bright?”

“Not very.”

“Hmmm. See if you can imagine his eyes to be very bright, so that he appears to be almost looking right through you.”

“Okay.”

“You got it?”

“Yes!”

“Great, Joe! Now give him an original name.”

“Okay. How about Potah, P-o-t-a-h?”

“Terrific! You’ve done it, Joe! You’ve created the great god Potah!”

“No I didn’t. I’m making him king of the elves!”

“Oh. What are elves?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Well, Joe, now imagine that Potah asks you for a sacrifice.”

“What’s that?”

“Something you give up for nothing in return. And suppose he asks you to sacrifice—in this instance, kill—your puppy dog?”

“Why would he do that?”

“Because he feels like it.”

“Not my Potah! He’s a thinker! He would think, ‘What is the good of a dead puppy to a god or a king?’ My Potah doesn’t want sadness; he wants to see happiness.”

“Joe, if only most grown men were as half as smart and as good as you.”

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