Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: Chrismas

Papa Panov should be Father Martin

Le Père Martin, a Christmas story about an old shoemaker who wanted to see Jesus, appeared over 130 years ago. It was the work of Ruben Saillens, writer, musician and Baptist pastor of Marseilles. Unbeknownst to him, the tale was soon translated into English and circulated without the name of the author.

The Russian writer Leo Tolstoy read the English translation of the tale, and, thinking it was an old English folk tale, made an adaptation in Russian. Tolstoy’s version quickly spread around the world, no doubt aided by the renown of his name.

When Ruben Saillens learned that his tale was circulating under the name of another, he wrote to Tolstloy, who apologized to him in 1888. Ten years later, seeing that the tale attributed to Tolstoy was still in circulation, Ruben Saillens again sent him a courteous complaint. Tolstoy replied with the following letter (written in French):

As I have written to you, in all the Russian editions of my writings, it is said that the story Where love is, there is God, has been borrowed from a translation made from French. (1) With regard to the translations that are made of this story in America or elsewhere, it is completely impossible for me to control them, especially since more than 15 years ago I surrendered all of the copyrights for all my works published after 1881 in Russia as well as abroad.
Receive, Sir, the assurance of my distinguished feelings.
Leo Tolstoy
March 20, 1899
(1) and which is none other than your story: Father Martin

Tolstoy’s story, apart from being located in Russia, seems to give less importance to the Bible. In the tale by Ruben Saillens, the old shoemaker, Father Martin has had misfortunes in his life and it seems that he has recently obtained a large Bible that he is often seen reading. In Tolstoy’s story, Papa Panov searches for the old family Bible, which he has not read for a long time. From this point, the stories are almost identical.

If anyone wants to have the story written by Ruben Saillens, the copyright is now expired and I can send it by email (text only, without illustrations). Also, because I have been unable to find this tale in English I have translated it. Send me an email at the address found under Contact Me at the top to request this story in French or English, or both.

Twice a year isn’t enough

I went to the barber shop a few days ago, feeling a need to get myself spiffed up a bit before attending the gatherings that happen at Christmas time. A lot of other men seemed to have felt the same urge at the same time, as there were six ahead of me.  There were another six waiting their turn when I stepped out of the barber chair a half hour later,.

This is an old fashioned barber shop, not one of those fancy men’s hairstyling places. Grant takes five minutes to do a good looking haircut and keeps up a running conversation while doing it.

One of the men ahead of me had an unruly mop of black hair on his head and a bushy black beard on his face when he sat down in the barber chair. Five minutes later he stepped out of the chair with a brush cut and a moustache.

I thought to myself that this guy probably only needs to visit the barber shop two or three times a year. I could save myself a good bit of time and money by following his example – but I don’t think my family would approve. This man himself may have been under some family pressure to make himself look more presentable for Christmas.

Are there still folks who go to church twice a year? When I was a boy there were people who appeared to feel drawn to attend a worship service on Christmas Day (or Christmas Eve) and Easter Sunday, but not at any other time of the year.

I think it’s good that folks want to commemorate those two important events in the life of our Saviour, but I don’t think it’s enough. That is kind of like getting your hair cut twice a year.

Return of the sunshine

sun-310144_1280My wife left for Edmonton again on Sunday, December 14. That was followed by a week of overcast skies. I sent her a text message on Friday saying “You are my sunshine,” since I hadn’t seen any sunshine since she left.

Yesterday was the beginning of another new week, and it was a gloriously sunny day. I am taking that as a promise of brighter days ahead. No, my wife isn’t home yet, that happens tomorrow.

Yesterday was also the first day of winter, which maybe isn’t so great, but it means that the days start getting longer as of today. That is good news.

Many people are travelling to be with family for Christmas. We will be travelling all of 2.5km to be with our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.

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