During the last few weeks we’ve been discussing the institution of the Church in our weekly podcast, The Next Step. (episodes #165. 166 & 167 – http://epostle.net). We’ve been referring to a story called “The Man from Ick” and its surprise ending. I’ve used this story throughout the years to start conversation about the church and her mission. Here is the story in its entirety. You can hear it read in “Ani’s Bubble” as part of Next Step #166 http://www.epostle.net/archives.html
The Man from Ick
Once there was a town called Ick.
The people of Ick had a problem. They were icky.
For some reason, everyone who was born in Ick ended up icky. Scientists, doctors, experts from all over the world had tried to analyze the people of Ick; and although they all agreed that the people of Ick were icky, no one could agree on a cure. In fact, there was no cure.
The scientists, doctors, and experts agreed that the only thing they could do would be to give people suggestions on how to cope with their ickyness.
But experts or no experts, everyone learned to cope in his or her own way. Some pretended they weren’t icky. Some tried to keep busy and forget their ickyness. Others decided that being icky was better than not being icky. . . and they got ickier
Some just didn’t care.
Usually, if you were able to get a person from Ick to be honest, he or she really didn’t like being icky.
Well, you can imagine how many people arrived in Ick with a “cure” for ickyness. And you can imagine how many people were always willing to try each new cure that came along. And strangely enough, some of the cures seemed to work. . . for a while. But eventually, the cure would stop working, and everyone would be icky again.
One day, something happened that would radically change the people of Ick. A long-time resident of Ick began to suggest publicly that he had a cure for ickyness.
It was very difficult for the people of Ick to believe that a person who lived in Ick himself could have a real cure for ickyness.
But then something strange happened. One of the ickiest people in all of Ick believed in this cure and was changed. He simply wasn’t icky anymore. Everyone thought it was just temporary and waited. But it didn’t go away; and before long, lots and lots of people started believing the man from Ick. . . and everyone who believed was cured.
It was incredible, and one would think that the people of Ick were overjoyed. But the people weren’t overjoyed, and soon a town meeting was called.
The fact of the matter was, the business community of Ick had been built around the basic fact of people’s ickyness. And with more and more people losing their ickyness, the economic future of Ick was threatened. After an extremely heated discussion, it was generally agreed that what appeared to be a cure for ickyness was probably like all the other so-called cures and would soon turn out to be a hoax. Since so many people were being misled and since it was possible that many more people could be misled and since a person who would perpetrate such a hoax could affect the stability of Ick, the “savior” was asked to leave.
He continued to cure people, and each day those responsible for the stability of Ick became more and more concerned. One day, the savior of Ick disappeared. It caused quite a commotion, and no one to this day knows what happened. Some say he had been done away with. Others said they had actually seen him the day after he disappeared.
What was strange was that, even though the savior was gone, people who believed in him and his cure would suddenly find their ickyness gone. And even though the majority of the townspeople agreed that this savior was, in fact, a hoax, all those who had believed in him were still cured.
The people who had lost their ickyness thought everyone would jump at the chance to be cured. They were sadly disappointed. Very few were even interested. So the ex-icky people did what they could to convince the icky people that their cure was not a hoax, and every once in a while someone would believe.
Apparently, and this is only hearsay, a small group of ex-icky people began to worry that, if they or their children associated too much with icky people, they might be contaminated or become icky again.
It wasn’t long before these people banded together and moved to the top of Ick Hill, an isolated spot on the edge of town. They would work, shop, and go to school in downtown Ick and then return to Ick Hill for their evenings and weekends. But it wasn’t long before the people of Ick Hill became so fearful of contamination that they built their own school, market, gas station, and shopping center
A few more months went by. And one morning, the people of Ick woke up to see Ick Hill covered by a large glass bubble. Ick Hill was now a completely self-contained community with everything completely under control.
One particularly cold morning, an icky person in the city of Ick noticed that there was no visible activity inside the glass bubble of Ick Hill. A rescue party was sent to see if everything was all right.
After breaking through the glass bubble, they were shocked to find the entire population of Ick Hill dead. Autopsies were ordered, and the cause of death was the same for all: suffocation.
Creative Learning Experiences
Edited by Wane Rice, John Roberto and Mike Yaconelli
St. Mary’s Press, Christian Brothers Publications, Winona Minnesota