Thursday, November 8, 2007

About "Magi"

I can trace the inspiration for “Magi” to three separate sources—four if you count the biblical record.

The entire idea of a 100-word Christmas-card story came from Neil Gaiman’s “Nicholas Was …” In it he recasts jolly old Saint Nick as the victim in a supernatural horror story. Yes, it works. And, yes, it’s creepy. And, yes, you can read it
right here.

On the other side of the spectrum, I like to read T.S. Eliot’s “
Journey of the Magi” with my family every Christmas. They’re very indulgent of me regarding this because even though this is one of Eliot’s more accessible poems, it’s still pretty dense stuff. It doesn’t take a literature degree, though, to wonder how the magi must have felt returning to a pagan home after beholding Christ.

The short's most obscure reference, the “star / Star” section, came from a sermon by Dr. Kent Hughes, formerly of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Most people wouldn’t consider
Baalam of talking-donkey fame to be proper subject material for Christmas preaching, but Dr. Hughes pointed out that some scholars think Numbers 24:17 might have prompted the magi to journey to Bethlehem.

This short was one of the most fun things I’ve written lately. My sister-in-law was visiting us, and one morning she and Clara slept in. I got up early and wrote out a draft by hand at our kitchen table.

The three gifts made it in there, in case you were wondering. You just have to look very carefully.

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