Sheltered Life

After a hard day spent painting a picture window in my basement shelter, I dropped in on Pastor Peterson. I wanted to end our falling out on the issue of shelter ethics.

“Come in, Eutychus,” he called. “Any casualties yet in defending your cellar?” I ignored this. “I thought we might bury our differences,” I began.

“And not our neighbors,” he said. “Did you hear about the new book on shelter etiquette? Suppose you are entertaining when the bombs hit. Do you know the polite way to withdraw to your shelter and dismiss your guests into the fallout?” I was relieved when the doorbell rang. But Miles Underwood entered. I knew he had been active in Vernal Vistas, the cemetery association, but I hadn’t heard of his new connection. It was with Conrad Helter, a construction company specializing in the conversion of swimming pools into split-level shelters.

“I’ve just been talking to Dr. Eugene Ivy in Deepwell Heights,” said Miles. “The crypt at All Souls is magnificent. With air-conditioning it will make a fine shelter. I have suggested a promotion for expenses—a series of Cryptograms stressing the survival potential of All Souls.” Peterson glanced at me. “What steps will All Souls take to secure the crypt against Presbyterians or Methodists in the event of an attack?” he asked.

Miles smiled. “There can be no panic in a community saturated with Helter Shelters. Each can survive in the church of his choice.”

The pastor abruptly proposed a “Shelter Text”—Isaiah 26:20: “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.”

He added that a shelter from wrath and destruction is a biblical figure for God’s salvation. But God’s ...

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