When my son was ten years old, he asked me to tell him a story.
“Once upon a time,” I began, “a deer was lying hurt in the forest. Two animals, Fox and Possum, passed by but didn’t help.”
“They didn’t do anything for the deer?” asked my son.
“Nope. You should also know that Fox and Possum were the most religious animals. That’s important. Fox had on a clerical collar. Possum thought Fox’s collar was a bit high church and snooty.”
“What’s high church mean?” asked my son.
“It’s complicated. But you don’t need to understand that to get the point of the story.”
“So what happened to the deer?”
“I’m getting to that,” I said. “Fox and Possum continued on to a Bible study at the other end of the forest. They didn’t want to be late, for being late to Bible study is a Cardinal sin. Fox and Possum left poor Deer lying in the leaves, panting and bleeding from his wounds.
“Then Skunk ambled by and was dismayed to see Deer. He had compassion on Deer. He cleaned his wounds and put bandages on them. He offered deer some Canned Skunk Food that he had packed for lunch. (Deer liked the Canned Skunk Food. It tasted like pistachios.) So Skunk gave up his lunch, but Deer –“
“Wait!” exclaimed my son. “That’s the story of the Good Samaritan. You stole that from Jesus.”
“You never said it had to be original. And I think it’s theologically impossible to steal from Jesus at this point in history. Besides, the Bible is public domain.”
“What’s public domain?”
“It means anybody can borrow a story from the Bible and it’s not stealing.”
“I’m still not sure how Jesus feels about this,” said my son. “Maybe you should ask his permission next time if you want to steal the Prodigal Son and make it the Prodigal Porcupine or something.”
“I’ll text Jesus next time. And I’ll start working on the Prodigal Porcupine.”