Arguably the most intriguing Oregonian ever was C E S Wood. Soldier, painter, poet, novelist, essayist, lawyer, photographer, family man, Wood was far far ahead of his community and culture, yet rambled on, in his own way, to satisfy his inimitable curiosity.

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Tonight OPB TV premieres a 30 minute documentary on Wood, February 11 at 9:00 pm.

Wood’s 1927 novel, Heavenly Discourses, post-dates Mark Twain’s Letters From Earth by perhaps 30 years. It spoofs Twain’ dialogue between God and various angels, ridicules the pious, laughs out loud at the gods. Remember, this is from 1927. (Twain’s version was held from publication by his daughter until 1964 for fear of prosecution.)

GABRIEL: I am afraid Heaven won’t stand for that. Jesus has preached peace too long.
GOD: …We must first frighten them, fill them with fear, then with hate. For example, headlines in the Heavenly Herald: “Horrible Atrocities of Satan,” “Make the Cosmos Safe for Jesus,” “Satan Threatens Your Halos,” “Satan Disembowels a Cherub,” “Satan Rapes the Ten Foolish Virgins,” and so on…
GABRIEL: But none of this will be true.
GOD: True? Of course, it won’t. Don’t be a fool, Gabriel. You can’t work up a war—preparedness, I mean—on the truth. This is war—I mean preparedness—and we simply must lie—the more horrible the lies the better.

Here’s a brief essay by Wood, on Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, from Century Magazine, 1884.

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