The Stove

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Last year authorities in Montana discovered that a hermit had been
living in an old Forest Service cabin, and they were concerned about
his well being. They decided to send up a team of experts from
different fields to analyze his living arrangements, and to make sure
that he was okay. First they decided on a Psychologist, to make sure
that the man was mentally handling his isolation. Next, they decided
on an Engineer, to make sure that the cabin is still structurally
sound and safe. Finally, they decided on a Theological professor
from the university, to make sure that the man's spiritual needs were
being fulfilled.

The team made it's way up the treacherous terrain in three days, but
they were truly exhausted. Finally, on the evening of the third day,
The area around the cabin was clean, the ground almost appearing as
though it had been swept often. There was smoke coming from the
stove pipe chimney, and the door was slightly ajar. Cautiously, they
walked inside.

Inside the cabin everything appeared neat and tidy. The only thing
that stood out, and this immediately caught the attention of all
three men, was that the stove was suspended 18 inches off of the
floor by about a hundred wires attached to the ceiling. The pattern
of the wires was very intricate, cutting this way and that, and it
appeared to be a very sturdy arrangement.

At first, all three men did not know what to make of the arrangement.
Finally with a loud, "Oh yes!" the Psychologist spoke. "This very
clearly explains this man's desire to return to the womb. He has
arranged the stove so that he can crawl underneath to, once again,
feel the warmth of the womb."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed the Engineer. "This serves a very clear and
definite thermodynamic purpose. He has lifted the stove so as to
reduce the zone which the heat has to permeate, allowing the cold air
to remain within the cabin, locking the heat in place. This man is a

The Theological Professor stayed quiet a moment longer, but then he
too spoke. "I hate to disappoint you both, but I believe you are
both wrong. The placement of fire on raised altars has always been a
significant emblem of the existence of faith and religion in
cultures of the past and present. It would clearly be that this man
has created an altar for whatever faith he has clung onto or, worse
yet, created."

At this, the three men argued until there was a loud knock at the
door, and the three men turned to see that the hermit had returned to
his home. Immediately the three men approached him and demanded to
know the significance of the placement of the stove.

The hermit stared at the three men long enough to hush them up, and
then he spoke.

"Well...had to fix stove pipe...plenty of wire...not enough stove

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