[PW] Long Shot if this short story description rings a bell

Gillian Wiseman gillianw at wacotx.gov
Thu Mar 28 15:09:20 PDT 2019


I generally will post the description on Goodreads in the "What's the Name of that Book?" Group. It often garners an answer in a week or less.


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From: Project-wombat [mailto:project-wombat-bounces at lists.project-wombat.org] On Behalf Of Perisho, Steve
Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2019 4:58 PM
To: list at project-wombat.org; Jim Sherman <jim.sherman at gmail.com>
Subject: [PW] Long Shot if this short story description rings a bell

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Possibly the Short Story Index.  But you've probably already tried that.

Steve Perisho
Theology and Philosophy Librarian
Seattle Pacific University

-----Original Message-----
From: Project-wombat <project-wombat-bounces at lists.project-wombat.org> On Behalf Of Jim Sherman
Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2019 2:51 PM
To: list at project-wombat.org
Subject: [PW] Long Shot if this short story description rings a bell

I'm a reference librarian struggling with ways to assist a patron who is looking for title or author of a short story, detailed below:

"I can't remember the author or name of a short story that I read in high school or college. It keeps coming up in conversation (surprisingly often), so I'd really love to find the original story. It's about two men of different religions (maybe Christian and Jewish or Muslim) who find themselves floating upward together from earth to heaven. They argue about religion along the way. They are allowed into heaven and are confused when they see that all of the gods of all of the religions from earth are represented. They learn that it doesn't matter how much they pray to their god as they are standing before him in heaven. It makes no difference. Only the prayers from people on earth affect the different gods by making them either grow and be strong or shrink and be weak depending on how belief from people on earth waxes or wanes. Eventually they realize that there is no point in staying in heaven. They again find themselves floating upwards.
This
time they keep rising until they pop like bubbles and are absorbed into universal oneness. I've done many internet searches over the years but have never found the story. Thanks for any help you can offer."

I find this sort of question very difficult to answer, as  often they might be stories read in a magazine, or an excerpt from a larger work.  Does this story ring a bell for anyone? On a more general note, is there a tool out there that people have found useful for hunting down short stories based on this sort of description?  Thanks!
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