engineer, a psychologist, and a theologian were hunting
in the wilderness of northern Canada. Suddenly, the
temperature dropped and a furious snowstorm was upon them.
They came across an isolated cabin, far removed from any
town. The hunters had heard that the locals in the area were
quite hospitable, so they knocked on the door to ask
permission to rest. No one answered their knocks, but they
discovered the cabin was unlocked and they entered.
It was a simple place -- two rooms with a minimum of
furniture and household equipment. Nothing was unusual about
the cabin except the stove. It was large, pot-bellied, and
made of cast-iron. What was strange about it was its
location: it was suspended in midair by wires attached to
the ceiling beams.
"Fascinating," said the psychologist. "It is obvious that
this lonely trapper, isolated from humanity, has elevated
this stove so that he can curl up under it and vicariously
experience a return to the womb."
"Nonsense!" replied the engineer. "The man is practicing the
laws of thermodynamics. By elevating his stove, he has
discovered a way to distribute heat more evenly throughout
"With all due respect," interrupted the theologian, "I'm
sure that hanging his stove from the ceiling has religious
meaning. Fire LIFTED UP has been a religious symbol for
The three debated the point for several hours without
resolving the issue.
When the trapper finally returned, they immediately asked
him why he had hung his heavy pot-bellied stove from the
His answer was succinct. "Had plenty of wire, not much stove