by Kevin Penner
Trying to avoid his call to Ninevah, Jonah takes his troubles to a psychiatrist.
(Psychiatrist - P - is sitting in chair next to couch. A heavy French or German accent would probably be appropriate, plus plastic nose and glasses, etc.)
P: Next! (Jonah - J - enters, with nervous look) Your name is Jonah?
P: Just lie down on this couch and try to relax. (Jonah lies down, but he is not relaxed) So Jonah, tell me what's bothering you.
J: Well, you see, I've been having these dreams . . .
P: Ha, yes, dreams -- windows into the soul is what I call them -- tell me about these dreams. How long have you been having them?
J: As you know, I'm a prophet and so for many years now I've been having dreams and visions -- God telling me what to do and so on -- you know, the regular sort of thing.
P: No, I don't know -- it all sounds highly irregular to me.
J: Just take it from me, these dreams were normal.
P: (mutters to audience) He's telling me what's normal!
J: But it's this dream I had the other night that's bothering me. (long pause)
P: Well, go on.
J: I don't even like to think about it! (he shudders)
P: Just relax, take a deep breath and tell me all about it. You'll feel much better when you do (takes notebook in hand and writes)
J: It's like this: God has told me to go and preach to the people of Nineveh! (he shudders again)
P: (mumbles to himself) Yes, definite self-destructive tendencies here. (writes it down) Have you ever had these feelings before?
J: What feelings?
P: Of wanting to do away with yourself.
J: Commit suicide? Oh no, no, no! I want to save my life -- I don't want to go to Nineveh -- they'd chop off my head, they'd burn me alive and cut me into little pieces -- AAAAAAAAGGGHHH! (he jumps off couch and hides behind it)
P: (mumbles to himself as he writes in his notebook) Looks like multiple personality disorder -- part of him is self-destructive while part is self-preservative. Jonah, please relax. (looks up and sees that Jonah is missing) Oh, please, get back on the couch. (Jonah does so) Now, it is obvious that there are conflicting impulses at work inside you. Would you say you are under a lot of stress?
J: (nods vigorously) Yes, very much so.
P: You say that God has told you to do this?
J: Yes! He wants all those people to REPENT (he stands up on the couch and speaks with a loud voice) and turn from their wicked ways! God wants sweeping changes among the people and leaders and Nineveh that will have an impact on the entire Middle East. And he wants me to preach repentance.
P: (mumbles) Ah, yes -- delusions of grandeur. (to Jonah:) I understand then you have a sort of sense of destiny?
J: No, NO! (he collapses to huddle in a fetal position on the couch) That's what God wants me to do. But I can't do it . . . waaaaahhhh! (he crys into couch, sucks thumb, etc.) And everywhere I go, I feel God is watching me.
P: Hmm -- infantile defense mechanisms and maybe paranoid schizophrenia? (to Jonah:) Can I suggest that you look on this whole, er, God thing as a figment of your imagination . . . a temporary phase of reverting to childhood fantasies?
J: (leaps up and yells) What? A figment of my imagination? NO, God is real -- he's almighty and powerful! I've experienced him throughout my life -- it's not just a temporary phase.
P: All right, all right. I'm sorry to upset you. Please calm down. Could I ask you a question? If God is so powerful, don't you think he could convert those heathen Assyrians some other way, without your help.
J: What do you mean?
P: Maybe he could appear to them in a dream like yours or send somebody else instead of you?
J: (sits bolt upright) Hey, I never though of that! God could appear to them in a dream or send someone else. Thanks a lot -- you've lifted a load off my mind.
P: Good, good. Now I think the best thing would be to get away from it all for a while and just relax. Maybe I could suggest a Mediterranean cruise. They're predicting good weather.
J: Sounds like a great idea.
P: I happen to have a travel brochure on Tarshish -- great place to spend a couple of weeks. You just take the ship from Joppa.
J: And it's far away from Nineveh.
P: Yes, I thought you'd like that.
J: Thanks for your help. How much do I owe you?
P: The bill will be in the mail, heh, heh.
J: Right then. I'll see you.
P: And here's your prescription. Follow it to the letter, and good luck to you, Jonah!
J: (reading prescription) "One Mediterranean cruise. Get plenty of rest and relaxation. And don't go anywhere near fish -- they could be bad for your health." Nice psychiatrist -- he's even interested in my health. (as he exits:) Now, let's see what I'll need -- plenty of socks, couple of pairs of pants, but no swimming trunks -- don't like swimming -- about ten shirts . . .
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