Image courtesy of Alex Felltir Sunderland
(Be prepared – there is no horror in this story, but there may be a touch of blasphemy. I apologize in advance if anybody is offended, but this is the story that the picture inspired me to tell.
While there are multiple interpretations of the story, Jonah and the Whale is one of the more well-known tales in the Bible. The general sequence of the story – man meets God, man meets whale, whale eats man and spits him out, man does the work of God – is relatively consistent in most incarnations.
This story is almost entirely untrue.
The true account of Jonah and the Sea Serpent was documented by his younger brother Josiah. This telling was passed down through Josiah’s descendants, though each generation was sworn to secrecy as to the actual contents of the story. This author is not at liberty to detail the way she was able to coax the story out of the current descendants – suffice it to say that she is very, very talented.
Once upon a time there lived a drunk named Jonah. Jonah was known about the local drinking establishments for telling tall tales after enjoying his drink. One day while Jonah was lounging through the afternoon, a shining figure came and said that he was God and that Jonah needed to save the wicked people of Ninevah because it was God’s will for him to do so. Jonah, who was a pretty lazy guy, said “hey dude, why don’t you go find someone else to do your dirty work.” God was pissed and told Jonah he better follow through or else.
That night at dinner Jonah told his family about how he met God and thought he was a jerk and his family believed him as much as they had when he came home and said that one day people would fly across the sky in big metal machines. They knew that he was a drunk and an idiot so there was no way they were believing this whole “meeting with God” business.
Now Jonah’s younger brother, Josiah was a bit of a joker and the next day when Jonah was wearing off his latest alcohol binge, Josiah snuck up on him and, with the clever use of reflective metal and shimmery makeup, told Jonah that he was God and that this was Jonah’s last chance to save all the people of Ninevah.
Jonah said “tough shit” and decided to take a sail on a tiny dinghy he kept in the local marina. Halfway across the bay, a giant sea serpent swept from the sea and captured Jonah and the dinghy in one large swallow. The serpent had been swimming along in the bay, minding its own business when a small boat floated past his head, disturbing his leisurely afternoon. To punish this interloper, the serpent sprang from the water and captured the drunk man and the dinghy. Three fisherman watching from the shore told their wives all about it, but as they were Jonah’s drinking buddies nobody believed them.
Much to his chagrin, the serpent discovered a couple days later that he DID NOT like the taste of drunk men or dinghys and spit them both onto the shore. Jonah emerged from this experience a changed man ready to follow the word of God.
Josiah never again impersonated the Holy Father and Jonah went on to live a happy and fulfilling life, and saved all the people of Ninevah.
Becket Moorby, October 2011