The Art of Enticement

The lightning-rods salesman, dressed in storm-colored clothes jangling and clanking with his peculiar bag of rods approached the two young boys, Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade, laying on the front lawn:

“Halloway. Nightshade. No money, you say?”

The man, grieved by his own conscientiousness, rummaged in his leather bag and seized forth an iron contraption.

“Take this, free! Why? One of those houses will be struck by lightning! Without this rod, bang! Fire and ash, roast pork and cinders! Grab!”

The salesman released the rod. Jim did not move. But Will caught the iron and gasped.

“Boy, it’s heavy! And funny-looking. Never seen a lightning-rod like this. Look, Jim!”

And Jim, at last, stretched like a cat, and turned his head. His green eyes got big and then very narrow. But Will was staring beyond the man now.

“Which,” he said. “Which house will it strike?”

“Which? Hold on. Wait.” The salesman searched deep in their faces. Some folks draw lightning, suck it like cats suck babies’ breath. Some folks’ polarities are negative, some positive. Some glow in the dark. Some snuff out. You now, the two… I–“

“What makes you so sure lightning will strike anywhere around here?” said Jim suddenly, his eyes bright.


The salesman almost flinched. “Why, I got a nose, an eye, an ear. Both those houses, their timbers! Listen!”

They listened. Maybe their houses leaned under the cool afternoon wind. Maybe not.

“Lightning needs channels, like rivers, to run in. One of those attics is a dry river bottom, itching to let lightning pour through! Tonight!”

“Tonight?” Jim sat up happily.

“No ordinary storm!” said the salesman. Tom Fury tells you. Fury, ain’t that a fine name for one who sells lightning-rods? Did I take the name? No! Did the name fire me to my occupations? Yes! Grown up, I saw cloudy fires jumping the world, making men hop and hide. Thought: I’ll chart hurricanes, map storms, then run ahead shaking my iron cudgels, my miraculous defenders, in my fists! I’ve shielded and made snug-safe one hundred thousand, count ’em, God-fearing homes. So when I tell you, boys, you’re in dire need, listen! Climb that roof, nail this rod high, ground it in the good earth before nightfall!”
Ray Bradbury from his novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes”

There are a few different motifs and themes in this classic Bradbury novel, but the one I want to touch on here is belief, the psychological power and influence of what a group’s ideology can accomplish, for better or worse, when the right components are all in play.

The characters in Something Wicked This Way Comes are amazed and puzzled by “Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show,” a strange carnival that has unexpectedly arrived in their small town. Word soon spreads that because it caters to people’s deepest desires and fears, it is viewed by the town as evil. Yet, Mr. Dark claims they did not arrive unannounced, or unwelcomed. Indeed, the people of the town invited them, ah, wanted them:

Mr. Dark:  “Your torments call us like dogs in the night. And we do feed, and feed well. To stuff ourselves on other people’s torments. And butter our plain bread with delicious pain … Funerals, marriages, lost loves, lonely beds that is our diet. We suck that misery and find it sweet. We can smell the young ulcerating to be men a thousand miles off. And hear a middle-aged fool like yourself groaning with midnight despairs from halfway round the world.”

The good people of Green Town handed over the power and will for Mr. Dark’s visit. Whether taught, or inherited, or both, they had long believed their lives were incomplete, intolerable, in the balance, and in grave danger. It wasn’t until Will Halloway’s father, Charles Halloway, embraced his age, occupation as a janitor, the paradox of life and death, and his gifted humanity that any “power” the Pandemonium Shadow Show could have wielded was gone, like a mist in the wind.


NeoConservative & owner Steve Green

When a story is told well, as was Orson Welles’ 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast, mountains can be moved and lives changed forever. Whether that canard is true or not often makes little difference. And when a captivating story is well performed, immersing its audience with spectacular effects, marketing tools, and endless millions of dollars, the spellbinding dopamine avalanche is near impossible to stop. Or can it?

With all the same dramatic components and controversy in play with the creation, development, and intent, the recent opening of the Museum of the Bible is no different.

“At the center of this [drama] is the word “non-sectarian,” which the Museum of the Bible uses often in its messaging. The term has a long history in the evangelist community dating back to the early 19th century. As Steven K. Green (no relation), the director of the Center for Religion, Law & Democracy at Willamette University College, explains, for the faith tradition, the concept is rooted in the belief that there are fundamentals of the Bible that are non-disputable and non-debatable. “It’s hard for you to realize it is representing a particular perspective,” says Green of the often well-meaning evangelical Protestants who clashed with Catholics firm in their own religious tradition in the 1800s.”


The museum opened its doors to the public today. Here is one article from magazine which elaborates on the museum’s promises, its biased funding, and the far-reaching controversy over its artifacts and narrative-slant all wrapped in an enticing Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show.

I’m very curious to read what all of you have to say about “The Greatest Show Ever Told” and whether museum visitors are well-versed, or should be, in the much broader less known (untold?) stories, artifacts, and narratives of the Bible. What are your thoughts?

(paragraph break)

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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28 thoughts on “The Art of Enticement

  1. Hello Professor. To your point of presentation, I remember being about 14 and taken to New York City for a school project. I got to see a broadway show. I did not even get to watch TV at home and that show with all the things they could magically do on stage stunned me. I could not explain how they could do it, I wanted so much to be part of that world, yet was not prepared in anyway to even learn it in more depth.

    So it could be that some get that same thing from religion if they are not prepared for it and have no understanding of how it is done or what it really is. Just as I had no tools to understand stage management and lighting so also people in a religion are not familiar with the manipulation of emotion and desire. In the story above the Jim gets interested when he feels the man has knowledge he doesn’t have, and fear that his home might be the one spoken of.

    I would ask why the bible should have a museum of its own? If such a thing be, it should try to showcase all holy books possible, not just one. Will it show the worst of religion as well as the best that is normally presented?

    Grand post, you always make me think. I like it , but my brain wants overtime pay now. Hugs

    Liked by 6 people

    • Scottie, I think magicians and magic shows are a good comparison. Modern studies of human sensory show compellingly how imperfect our interpretation of stimuli can truly be, on a frequent basis too. For some it is difficult, for various reasons, to suspend judgment until a reasonable amount of time and data have been observed, collected, dissected, etc. Searching just a bit longer and doing your best to keep personal impulses and emotions out of the equation allows a person to recognize and if necessary to remove errors.

      I would ask why the bible should have a museum of its own?

      An excellent question Scottie. As the splendid Smithsonian article spoke of… Hobby Lobby owner and founder of the Museum of the Bible, Steve Green and his creators, curators, historians, and other experts involved, are telling only ONE version/slant and context of a Bible, i.e. Evangelical Protestant, when in reality there are a menagerie of versions and contexts. What concerns me most about the museum’s presentation is that Americans will continue being naive and ignorant of all the “untold” or little known stories surrounding all parts of the modern popular Canonical Bible. And I think your suggestion (at the end) is a wonderful idea, however, because the museum is a PRIVATELY OWNED affair, it is most certainly biased as well as misleading with their term “non-sectarian.” No matter how hard one tries to claim exclusive jurisdiction over Holy Scriptures and the Nature of Yahweh, it is indeed impossible. I doubt that ever changes if one stays strictly in current mainstream Judaism or Christianity.

      Thanks for your thoughts Scottie! I greatly appreciate hearing from you. 🙂

      Liked by 5 people

      • No matter how hard one tries to claim exclusive jurisdiction over Holy Scriptures and the Nature of Yahweh, it is indeed impossible. I doubt that ever changes if one stays strictly in current mainstream Judaism or Christianity.

        I’m not sure what you mean. Can you explain further what you’re trying to say here?

        Liked by 3 people

        • Sure CR. Thank you for asking.

          Without going into my full Curriculum Vitae and life-experiences… personally, I believe, along with a wide-spectrum of scientific, scholarly support to boot, that trying to explain the Nature of God is completely impossible strictly from historical manuscripts — manuscripts that will have sociopolitical and economic human biases along with cultural regional magic, or bizarre unexplainable events and their available interpretations — that CAN and HAVE BEEN found in various other contemporanious cultures around the globe, but with some major and minor differences. To say it another way, a Grand Design & Designer can easily be found by a theist throughout many ideologies and religious systems/traditions. No one group has exclusive rights to a single, historical monotheistic God. All known Scriptural versions, extinct or extant, of God, Gods, Goddesses, et al, are not convincingly superior over another when too much of firsthand testimonies do not exist, much less unanimously agreed upon. If Gods, Goddesses, or a God does indeed exist, they obviously do NOT want full disclosure to humanity when it would be so incredibly EASY to do so. Rather, again if they do indeed exist, they prefer to keep much of their Nature confusing and cloaked, and in the end seemingly and gladly desire blind “faith” from their followers AND allow all of them to wallow in their unknowing or incompleteness.

          Hope that helps CR. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

          • But I suspect that one explanation for the many different denominations is that they have many different views of God from group to group, individual to individual, so then how can one speak of singular vision in the first place (all Christian’s believe X, all Jews believe Y)?

            Liked by 2 people

          • I disagree. Reading the article you sent me makes me even more sure it is a bias and slanted showcase of one particular view of one sect’s take on the bible. The Professor addressed this above. Remember the person funding this museum the most was willing to place his version of faith over every woman in the country when he sued the ACA and took it to the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case. SO if he would do that , he sure won’t give an open unbiased view of the history of the bible and the effect on the people. Be well. Hugs

            Liked by 3 people

            • I was speaking more about the presentation of certain aspects of American history and The Bible like slavery. The article made it sound like they presented it more even-handed then expected, which is good.

              Liked by 2 people

          • Yes, it does at least make the attempt to offer non-sectarian hints and flavors. But according to a wider scholarly opinion/review, it might be similar to having Homer’s Iliad but no Odyssey. 😉 A crude analogy, granted, but nonetheless true.


    • Hi Scottie! Thank you for recounting your youthful experience here. 🙂

      I am very much inclined to agree with Professor Taboo about magicians and magic shows, which, although very entertaining, titillating and intriguing, ultimately render one unsatisfied if one were to remain inquisitive and rational. Eventually, one feels cheated and frustrated as magicians seldom or never explain their tricks, as much as the Bible is forever frozen in (a historical) time and thus unable to provide truly valid, reliable and holistic answers. The former (those magicians and their staging) exploits the chinks in our perceptions as we engage the world through our senses (see my post at; whereas the latter (the Bible and the religious authority and their “staging”) takes advantage of, and finds its way into, our tendencies, pitfalls, biases and fallacies (see as we select and digest information.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Idolatry is a very accurate description Robert, especially when museum-makers and “non-sectarian” historical experts do NOT tell the full story! When one studies extensively the sociopolitical climate of 1st century CE Jerusalem and the Levant, within the oppressive dynamics of the Roman Empire, the Bible’s development is ANYTHING BUT non-sectarian. I mean back then ALL of Judaism — especially considering the Diaspora — was fragmented and sectarian and this was the case BEFORE the 4th century CE New Testament was even a dream, a vision of being written and collected! Hahahaha! 😲🤣

      Yes, Bradbury is an all-time favorite of mine. Love the novel and film too! Thanks so much for your feedback Robert!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Fascinating and intriguing, especially for an early communist Soviet childhood teenage upbringing, where we were told in history class there is no G-d, but the government; churches are shut down with wooden planks, and if we were to see old Babushkas praying outside to bravely approach them with enlightenment that there is no higher power, heaven or hell… Thus, I would definitely visit the museum and thanks to you so much, PT, now I know it exists. Why didn’t I see this on the news before? Grateful you are spreading the word, Professor. I think it’s important to have this museum, especially for physical or web surfing guests and visitors to realize that there are other broader concepts to explore, rather than being stuck with the ones offered in school to a brainwashed child….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Luda! See, YOU would be one of those museum visitors I would NOT worry about being too gullible. 🙂 Like I had growing up and raised by an Agnostic father, you have a “unique” perspective and experience to share as well! How is that you ask? Well, let me tell you! LOL

      You would be coming to this museum from a fairly (if not more) impartial position, reading, watching, and absorbing what the museum was presenting to you. I’m assuming that from your Soviet secular background you were exposed to and aware of MANY anti-religious viewpoints, yes? In other words, you could have, or probably have(?) the unique perspective of some neutrality which allows for wiser evaluation, contrasting, comparisons, of various world-views rather than simply accepting (being brainwashed by?) those of your parents, family, and immediate community. I find your unique position/experience to be highly beneficial for you! 😁

      Other Americans visiting the museum, especially those who have NEVER left their community, state, or nation? Yikes! 😳 I’m not so sure they are equipped for higher levels of objectivity that comes with exposure to and immersion in ALL of life’s and the world’s lessons of understanding… better. That CERTAINLY includes various faiths, cultures, and belief-systems!

      Does that make sense?

      Liked by 3 people

      • Wow, never thought my unique upbringing was beneficial to me. What an interesting introspection. PT, something positive for a change. I always felt deprived of belonging to a more spiritual realm and seek out higher evolved earthly beings. Yes, I come with a healthy dose of skepticism, thanks to my currently agnostic parents ( who think they will simply rut in the ground after this lifetime) and all immediate family, but I find it fascinating to inquire about something so out of reach for me, as religion.
        However, can’t speak for other Americans, who were born here, especially. As per immigrant’s view, this is a whole new dimension to absorb, learn and possibly look into.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Wow, never thought my unique upbringing was beneficial to me.

          Hahaha… depends on who is impacted by it, huh? It could be argued that YES, you too have benefitted from your unique upbringing Luda. 😉 Generally speaking, I think every single person on the planet has something very valuable to impart to others! One must desire to modestly help or collaborate with others in that spirit. Obviously and unfortunately, not every person wants that (modesty) for others. With regard to that and this museum and my post about it, I feel a visitor SHOULD keep this in mind… that this “narrative” of the birth, development, and utility of the Bible (its retirement? death? 😛 ), is only ONE lens/narrative and it is specifically Protestant-American. That CERTAINLY is a small (tiny?) part of what this life, world, others and their cultures have to offer!

          And your “skepticism” Luda can indeed serve you quite well, as I’m SURE it has in many cases throughout your valuable life! ❤

          Liked by 2 people

  3. I was looking for two things in the Smithsonian article: the part where it mentions Historical Fiction and a description of some sort of largish program handed to certain visitors to discretely hide their hard-ons.

    Does Ken Ham and his family get a discount on the Non-Obligatory Donation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha! Ark, I really enjoy your good sense of humor! Thank you. 😉

      Don’t spend too much time searching for the “Historical Fiction” section in any of the museum’s pamphlets, literature, or the actual museum displays or artifacts. But you make an excellent point with your rhetorical search! “Discretely hide their hard-ons” LOL Shouldn’t that read “…to discretely hide their DIVINE hard-ons“? 😛

      As most American 501(c)(3) organizations and their “paid” staff such as churches and religion-entities, the term “discount” isn’t really used in our IRS exemption codes and laws. See Tax Information for Churches and Religious Organizations for detailed info… if you are an OCD tax attorney in the making Ark. 😉 😛 I believe the BETTER question would be “Are they REALLY donations that Ken Ham receives no benefit or financial gains whatsoever directly OR indirectly?” In other words, does Ken Ham freely give — as parts of the New Testament does teach — of his plentiful bounty and resources merely for the benefit of others; a truly accounting DEBIT. I’d wager NO, not at all.

      Honestly Ark, by the definition of an accounting DEBIT I know very, very few American Ken Hams and Joel Osteens that truly and freely give in that manner. HAH!

      Liked by 1 person

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