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Stories You Have to Know: The Tower of Babel

Brick by brick it went up. Sweaty backs. Bulging biceps. It got to be so tall it cast a shadow over the camp below and offered shade from the sun above. At first it seemed like a good idea, but then with some justification it was a great idea. We should build the Tower.

No, let's build a name for ourselves.

How does one build a name? By beating the unbeatable. I will make the impossible my slave. I will accomplish with my life something that others don't even dream for themselves. I will build a name so great that some will sweat and some will rest in the shade that I cast.

I will build a safe world where nothing can harm me. Noah had the flood, but I will build a tower so a boat is not required. Water will only fill my basement. All will be wet and worn, but I will be comfortable. The specter of disaster will not harass me.

I will build a place where I never have to say good-bye. Subdue the earth? Increase, multiply, and tame the wildness? No, I will not listen to what God says. I will pick up my gloves and my trowel and I will stack bricks one by one, lines of mortar cut as straight and smooth as my father's walking stick. Every dull sound as it goes down will bring me 6 inches closer to God.

People will love this tower. Why should we spread out? If you go then you will change. Our language will change. Our children will change. You will begin new customs and so will I. We will grow different and apart. You will become people of the mountains, but here we are people of the plains. Your children will become people of the rivers, but mine will conquer the big blue. You will put on garments and beads as you do now, but it will change because the earth you trod will change.

Will I even know you? If you go and then return, will I be here? What if I miss you? This makes me sad and resolute.

In our old age when the Great One brings us back to see each other's face so that we may laugh and wonder at each other, so much will change I will not know what to say to you. Let's not listen to God. Let's stay within eyesight of the Tower. The Tower will always be here calling you home. Never be beyond the Tower. The world is wild and filled with wild waters. The Tower is safe.

I will not accept limits. Gravity will not reach up and pull this down. I will become smarter than the earth. Every thing I do not know now will make me wise then, for I will learn, sweat, try, and persevere. Obstacles will become the way. Every weakness made strong. I will get up, build up, and climb up. I will touch clouds. As I climb the people below will become smaller, but I will become bigger. Bigger than God. Ages will look at this Tower and say my name. My name will expand beyond my years. Immortality in the sky. Yes, I will climb my Tower of defiance and I will stab the heart of God who said I couldn't.

I will make this Tower my God. I am the work of God's hands and am told I must revere and worship. No. My hands will create something I will worship. I will pick up my tools and bow down. I will love this. I will touch it. Caress it. Swear by it. It and my love for it will change how I am willing to live. I will rest upon its crown my hope, my pride, and my name. This Tower is the altar on which I sacrifice God.

Don't you want a world that is the safe, the same, and predictable? Don't you want your name known from plain to plain? To have your name echoing from the Tower into the ears of all below?

Would you like to join me?


I can't understand you.

And you can't understand me.

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