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A Cheerful Temper

A Cheerful TemperA Cheerful Temper

There was once a man who greatly admired his father. His father had known so many people and had seemed quite cheerful. He had gone before both the rich and the poor, this was because he was a hearse driver.

The father had been of a good temper and had read the newspaper the Intelligencer. It was a plain newspaper about all sorts of things.

The father had some wonderful stories about the graveyard to which he took his charges. This man had been picky and would find something wrong with everything. There was another man who had never said a good thing. There was another who was happy and walked around in rich clothing. There was a stingy woman and a woman who could sing beautifully, but only told the truth when she sang one particular song. There was also another young woman, who was not remarkable really, so they would let her lie.

The father buried them all and read the Intelligencer.

When he died his tombstone would read:

The man with a cheerful temper.

Observations

I bet hearse drivers were full of stories back in the day. I’m sure there are not quite as many stories to tell these days.

Themes

This man was awfully cheerful despite his job, which could be something we could look at, but we’re not going to. We’re going to look at all those people he talked about. Those people had all been very different in life, but where did they end up? They ended up dead and in the graveyard. We’re all going to end up dead at sometime or the other. It doesn’t matter if we’re stingy or mean or happy. We’re all going into the same ground.

The hearse driver knew this and happily accepted what his life would become. He didn’t let the idea of death spoil his today.

Overall

I bet this guy was fun to ride with, but how would you know? You’d be dead already.

Weigh In

Don’t you think it would be more interesting if tombstones told a little something more about the person buried below?

Would you put a joke on your tombstone?

There is No Doubt About ItThere is No Doubt About It

There was once a hen who accidentally pulled a feather out of herself. She didn’t think much of it. She said the more feathers she plucked the more beautiful she would get, but she was a respectable hen and would have done no such thing. Another bird heard what she had said.

Soon a story was being passed about a hen that intended to pluck all of her feathers out. Then it turned into two hens. They wanted to impress the rooster. Then it was three hens. Then it was five. Five hens would pluck out all of their feathers to appear more slender for the rooster. This story got back to the original hen, who could not recognize herself as the originator of the story. She determined that she would get the story in the newspaper and she did. One feather grew into five hens.

Observations

I want to draw a parallel to our modern-day life and these hens. While the story they told was not true, how long would it be before hens started plucking out their feathers to impress the roosters? It might have happened. As humans, the females of the species didn’t use to shave their legs, their armpits, and their everything. It all came about because someone thought it looked good and it would impress other people. Do we actually have to shave our legs? No, we don’t, but to be socially accepted we do. While this story is a silly little story, it describes human nature. We go along with everyone else in what they think is good even if it is time-consuming or even detrimental to our health.

Themes

This story is sort of like that game Telephone. You tell one person something, they tell the next person what they think they hear, and by the time it gets to the end, it’s something completely different. This story went from a feather to five hens in a short amount of time and it’s all because people/birds decided to spread rumors.

Spreading rumors is nasty business. It’s best that you don’t repeat them.

Overall

Don’t pluck your feathers out.

Weigh In

Do you think birds gossip among themselves?

If you had feathers instead of hair, would you pluck it out?

On Judgment Day

On Judgment DayOn Judgment Day

Judgement day will be the most solemn day of our lives. Death once came to get a man. The man was a staunch upholder of the truth. It generally seemed like he was a good man.

Death touched his body and his soul was freed. The man looked back at his white shroud and left with Death.

They passed through a place where it seemed everyone was trying to grab at something inside of someone else. It turns out there was an animal in each of them. The man wondered what his animal had been.

Huge birds shrieked at the man. They asked if the remembered them. Each bird was some callous thought the man had had.

Moving on, the man stumbled over stones. Death told the man these stones were careless words he had uttered.

They soon came to the gate. The man was asked what manner of man he was. He said he had obeyed the commandments and had hated evil and persecuted it when he could. It was then suggested that he was a follower of Muhammad. The man said he was a Christian. He was reprimanded saying that the council of Jesus was love and mercy, not hatred. The man realized that he had done wrong in his life.

God was merciful though. The man’s soul was filled with mercy and he was taken into heaven.

Observations

This is an imagining over what the day of judgement could be like, if there is going to be a day of judgement. We really have no idea what this idea might be like or if it will even happen. Michelangelo painted his thoughts on the painting I added as the illustration for this post, but we don’t know. We theorize. We guess. None of us know though.

Themes

Here’s the thing, this man thought he had done pretty well, and he probably had, but he didn’t take into mind the smaller sins of life. He was a bit bigoted and unaccepting, even though he thought that was how he was supposed to be. A sin is a sin, while some sins are worse than others, sin is still sin. None of us are free from sin and this story was a good example.

This man never thought his thoughts and his careless words would be judged. He never thought the manner in which he worshiped would be judged. Sure, he was an upstanding member of Christianity, but it came at the cost of hating the sinners, which we’re not supposed to do. We’re supposed to love and forgive everyone.

Overall

Careless words can cause many ills.

Weigh In

Do you think this man deserved to go to heaven?

Do you think it is appropriate to hater the sinner?

The Story of the Year

The Story of the YearThe Story of the Year

There were once city sparrows who found it cold in the city. There was no grass and snow lay all around. The people had said it was the new year, but it was still cold. The year had not begun because spring wasn’t there yet. They decided to travel out to the country to see if it was any warmer there.

It turns out it wasn’t any warmer in the country and it was still winter there as well. There was an old man sitting on a hill. The sparrows wondered at who he was. He was old man winter as the raven said. He was waiting for spring to come.

Spring did some, two children a boy and a girl, were carried upon the backs of storks to old man winter. He met the two and then he was gone. The children grew as spring grew. They played and scattered flowers everywhere. They scattered flowers upon the apple trees and upon the ground. The whole season was a time to play for them.

When summer came, they were grown, and married. They spent time in the summer watching the summer plants and summer flowers.

Autumn came and the wife longed to see spring again. The beautiful colors in the changing leaves had to be her flowers. She soon died. The man was left alone. He soon became old man winter himself. He waited for spring to come in again on the same hill that he had met the previous old man winter. When spring came, he too was gone, gone away to be with his wife.

The sparrows still waited for spring and they still thought man’s calendar was incorrect. The year started with spring and that was that.

The End

Observations

Old man winter, we’ve heard about him, but usually we don’t hear about him having a wife. I thought the wife was a rather nice touch.

Do winter and his wife not have children? Where do the spring children come from?

This story seems to be a combination of Old Man Winter and the Year. The year starts out as a baby at the new year, but grows into an old man by the end of the year.

Themes

This is a story about the year, but it’s also a story about life and death, specifically the cycles of life. Things grow and die within the space of a year, but we do not. Our lives are longer than one year, but we have the same seasons. We’re born, we enjoy childhood. We enjoy the summer days of our lives. We then move on to the Autumn days of our lives. Then we end up in winter, the twilight days of our lives.

We find meaning in comparing our lives to the cycle of the year. A person has to admit that the seasons of the year and the seasons of our lives are fairly similar.

On a lighter note, this story is also about how strange it is that our year, at least in the northern hemisphere, begins in the middle of winter.

Overall

Poor Old Man Winter, all alone on a hill.

Weigh In

What do you think about the reflections of the year and our lives?

Do you think Old Man Winter was lonely?

The Swan’s Nest

The Swan's NestThe Swan’s Nest

In the North near the Baltic sea there is a swan’s nest. The swans fly out over countries to do great things. One swan was Tycho Brahe. Other swans were called the Lombards and the Varangians. People begged for mercy from the northern swans. There aren’t so many swans these days, but the Lord still relishes the swans and what they have done. One day there will be a last swan and a last swan song.

Observations

The story is a bit longer than my summary, so what in the heck is it about? It’s not really about swans, I’ll give you that much. The peoples mentioned in this story, the Lombards, Tycho Brahe, and the Varangians, are all peoples from the north who went south and became mercenaries and warriors. They left their own lands and warred in other lands. They were known as fierce warriors.

Themes

This story has nothing to do with actual swans. It’s about Norse warriors. It’s a nationalistic story. Hans was glorifying all the warriors of the north. He was comparing them to swans which are beautiful, strong, and swift in their flight.

This isn’t an actual fairytale, well, it’s not an actual fairytale for anybody not from a Norse country. It’s a statement of pride, veiled thinly in a story.

There isn’t really a nest of swans by the Baltic sea that produces warriors.

Overall

I find stories like this story difficult to deal with.

Weigh In

Wouldn’t you want to compare a warrior to another animal and not a swan?

Some of these groups were pretty fierce and deadly, I don’t really see a point in praising a group of people who brought so much bloodshed with them. Do you think they should be praised?

In a Thousand Years

In a Thousand YearsIn a Thousand Years

In a thousand years people will live in America. They will travel upon airships to Europe to see the ruin of all. Everything will be ruined. The great cities of Europe will lay in waste. You could see Europe in its entirety in a week. There have been books written on the subject. The rivers will still be in the places they were, but civilization will be dust and ruin.

Observations

I used a photo from Chernobyl for this post because there weren’t any illustrations for this story that I could find.

Hans writes about airships which is rather interesting. This story was published in 1852, which is a time before airships, or so you would think. A Frenchman named Henri Giffard built a working airship in this very same year. Airships were a conceivable thing during Hans’ time, believe it or not. The airship couldn’t be controlled and was steam-powered, but it got lift-off. It worked. Hans must have heard about it and was inspired to write a story about the advance of technology.

Themes

This is odd coming from Hans. This is a post apocalyptic story. This isn’t necessarily something you would expect from Hans. Back in the day, Hans’ day, there weren’t really a lot of post apocalyptic stories floating around. Society hadn’t necessarily gotten to that point where people were imagining total destruction. Back around Hans’ day people were more or less tough. They were used to rebuilding everything if there was war or disaster. They put on their big girl panties and dealt with it. They were so much farther removed from technology than we are today.

Deeper into the story, this is about humanity. It’s about how we like to look at our pasts, but it’s also about how we like destruction. We don’t know what happened to Europe in Hans’ story, but that doesn’t stop us from wanting to gawk at it. Look at those poor losers who decimated themselves with nuclear war, or what have you. We want to view the destruction and its aftermath. We can never fully comprehend destruction until we’ve actually lived it. That’s part of why the whole idea of viewing total destruction is so fascinating. What did the people do who were involved? What did it all look like afterward? That isn’t to say that it’s not morbid, because it kind of is, but it’s also human. It’s all really awful, but we can’t look away.

Overall

What else does Hans have up his sleeve?

Weigh In

Would you ride in an airship, not an airplane, but an airship?

What do you imagine could have turned Europe into a land of desolation?

The Loveliest Rose in the WorldThe Loveliest Rose in the World

There was once a noble woman who was sick. The doctor thought there was no hope for her. He said there was one chance. If the loveliest rose in the world was found and she saw it before she closed her eyes she just might be cured.

People immediately began suggesting where to find the loveliest rose in the world. Some said it was here. Others said it was there. One woman said the loveliest rose in the world was the blush in a child’s cheeks. Some thought this idea was silly.

It was not long before the noblewoman’s son ran into the room. He was carrying the Bible. he read to his mother with a rosy glow in his cheeks. The boy read, “Greater love hath no man than this.” The mother said she saw and whosoever beheld the loveliest rose in the world would never die.

Observations

Hans is getting preachy in some of these stories.

Hans mentions a couple of nobility names that have become something of legend in those stories. Those names are Walburg and Winkleried. It’s more of a nationalistic thing rather than any great admiration for these people. They weren’t really so amazing, but Hans’ countrymen believed their deeds to be heroic so they went down in legend.

Here’s the thing about this story–does the mother live? Hans is getting into eternal salvation in this story. There is no way of knowing whether or not the mother actually lives. She may know she’s fine eternally and then just kill over. A rose isn’t going to make her live. Roses can be pretty great, but they’re not going to bring you back from the brink of death.

Themes

The rose is used in a lot of religious symbolism. To some, it could be the virgin Mary, as in much lore used by the DaVinci Code, but there is other flower symbolism associated with religion. Christ is called “the rose of Sharon” in the Song of Solomon.

If you accept Christ and do whatever is required of you to do so, then you will never truly die, but your body is still going to die. Your soul will live on. This is what I was pointing out in the previous section. This mother has accepted Jesus into her life and, as such, her soul will never die because she has “beheld the rose.” Whether or not she lives through the next day is another matter. We don’t know, but her eternal salvation is assured, supposedly.

Overall

I don’t know how religious Hans was, but from reading some of his stories it seems he was rather religious.

Weigh In

Does the mother live? Does the mother die? What say you?

Do you think it’s time to get a different doctor?

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