Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Dr. Bowler on "Ghost Canyon"

Dear Matt: Congratulations on your new book. There’s some fine writing and keen theological insight in it. I happen to have a copy of “Ghost Canyon” here in front of me and I’ll quote you my favourite passage.

The light inside the Holy Ghost Canyon monastery was dim but I could see the bandit running his coarse hands appreciatively over the jewel-encrusted icon holder.“Drop the iconostasis, Blackie,” I snapped, “I’ve got you covered.”The mustachioed bandito, plunderer of a hundred churches, slowly turned around. His cruel face bore a sneer.

“So, it’s you .... Matt Francis, Orthodox Gunslinger. We meet at last.”“Yes,” I replied, “And now you will pay for your foul misdeeds. Society will no longer tolerate your defilement of its church treasures and disruption of the eremitical life-style of the deserts of the Old West. I’m taking you in to Fort Edmonton where I reckon Judge Byfield will put a swift end to your evil ways.”

“Maybe,” said the foul trader in stolen relics, “And ... maybe not.”“What do you mean? None of Jesuitical riddles will avail you here, Blackie! I’ve got the drop on you.”“You think so, cowboy?” A mocking grin played across his wind-burnt features. “How would the good people of the territory look upon the great Matt Francis, Orthodox Pistolero, if they knew about all the time he had spent as a .... Wesleyan?”

I gasped. Blackie had an evil reputation — mothers would frighten their children into good behaviour just with the mention of his name — but surely this revelation was beyond even him!“That’s right, Francis, me and the boys know all about your dissolute youth, your dabbling with Arminian theology, your claim to the Second Blessing! How do you suppose that cute little school-ma’arm that you’re fixin’ to wed would like it if she knew she was about to hitch up with ... a Nazarene?”

I dropped my pistol to the ground, not caring that it had been blessed by the Archimandrite Theodorou or that its pearl-handle contained a fragment of the shin-bone of St John Chrysostomos. Blackie was right. My friends and neighbours knew me only as the shining light of reformed North American Orthodoxy. I had told them that I had been educated on Mount Athos where kindly monks had taken me in as an abandoned baby, the unwanted off-spring of a harlot and a travelling bear-trainer. The knew nothing of my membership in the dark cult founded by Phineas F. Bresee.

Blackie began stuffing precious icons into his sack. He knew I was helpless against his threat. If the townsfolk learned of the stance that I had once taken on the Filioque clause I would be lucky to escape hanging. And Krista, well.... I could imagine the tears in her beautiful eyes once she doscovered the truth of my guilty past. There was nothing I could do as I heard Blackie’s triumphant hoof-beats fade in the distance

....As I say, not a bad start for a young writer, though why you chose to begin in the obscure Theological Western genre is a puzzle to me. I’m looking forward to reading Matt Francis and the Iconodules of Apache Junction and the much-anticipated Matt Francis and the Mystery of the Patriarch’s Catamites.


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