Fred and George

Many years ago, when the world was much larger and not so crowded, two men set out to cross a large desert. One was coming from the East while the other came from the West, and as chance should have it, they met in the middle. After many days of solitary travel, they were both anxious for company. They made camp together that night and shared their evening meal. They talked all night, telling stories of their homes and families, until the sun began to rise. Then, the man from the East turned to face the man from the West and said, “My friend, we have spoken of many things this night, and I feel as though you are my brother or one of my dearest childhood friends. For us to meet in this great desert cannot have been chance, and so I feel I must tell you this truth. In my city, we worship the One True God. He is gracious and merciful, and if you do your best to follow his commandments and sacrifice three goats to him every spring, he will bless you and your family and make your children healthy and your crops plentiful. His name is Fred.”

The man from the West looked back at the man from the East, horrified by this revelation.

“No, my friend. You are wrong! In my city, we worship the One True God. He is gracious and merciful, and if you do your best to follow his commandments and sacrifice three goats to him every spring, he will bless you and your family and make your children healthy and your crops plentiful. But his name is George. This Fred you worship must be a false god or a demon.”

Outraged by these deeply contrary assertions, the men drew their swords and killed each other.

 

Or maybe it went like this . . .

 

Many years ago, when the world was much larger and not so crowded, two men set out to cross a large desert. One was coming from the East while the other came from the West, and as chance should have it, they met in the middle. After many days of solitary travel, they were both anxious for company. They made camp together that night and shared their evening meal. They talked all night, telling stories of their homes and families, until the sun began to rise. Then, the man from the East turned to face the man from the West and said, “My friend, we have spoken of many things this night, and I feel as though you are my brother or one of my dearest childhood friends. For us to meet in this great desert cannot have been chance, and so I feel I must tell you this truth. In my city, we worship the One True God. He is gracious and merciful, and if you do your best to follow his commandments and sacrifice three goats to him every spring, he will bless you and your family and make your children healthy and your crops plentiful. His name is Fred.”

The man from the West was overjoyed. He embraced the man from the East and replied, “My friend! In my city we also worship the One True God. He is gracious and merciful, and if you do your best to follow his commandments and sacrifice three goats to him every spring, he will bless you and your family and make your children healthy and your crops plentiful. But we have known him since the time of our forefathers as George. Surely this Fred is one and the same with our George!”

The two men, overjoyed at having found such kindred spirits, decided to go together, first to the city in the West and then to the city in the East, to tell all of their kin and countrymen about this great discovery.

When they arrived at the city in the West, they went immediately to the headmen of the city and told them their story. Horrified and outraged, the headmen proclaimed them blasphemers against the One True God, dragged them into the center of the city, and stoned them to death. Then the headmen gathered all the fighting men of the city. They crossed the desert and laid waste to the city in the East, claiming it in the name of their god.

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