Lithuanians have a legend.

It ends in a coffin.

lithuanian legend

What attitudes will bend our habits of thought?

Several centuries ago, a curious but deadly plague appeared in a small village in Lithuania.  What was curious about this disease was its grip on its victim; as soon as a person contracted it, he would go into a very deep, almost deathlike coma.  Most individuals would die within twenty-four hours, but occasionally a hardy soul would make it back to the full bloom of health.

The problem was that since early eighteenth century medical technology was not very advanced, the unafflicted had quite a difficult time telling whether a victim was dead or alive.

This did not matter too much, though, because most of the people were, in fact, dead.

Then one day it was discovered that someone had been buried alive. 

This alarmed the townspeople, so they called a town meeting to decide what should be done to prevent such a situation from happening again.

After much discussion most people agreed on the following solution.  They decided to put food and water in every casket next to the body.  They would even put an air hole up from the casket to the earth’s surface.  And a string attached to a bell above the ground was also created so that the grave could be dug up if need be. These procedures would be expensive, but they would be more than worthwhile if they would save some people’s lives.

Another group came up with a second, less expensive, right answer.  They proposed implanting a twelve-inch long stake in every coffin lid directly over where the victim’s heart would be.  Then whatever doubts there were about whether the person was dead or alive would be eliminated as soon as the coffin lid was closed.[1]

What attitudes will bend our habits of thought? 

Five Questions to Consider:

1. What unspoken priorities command our decisions?

2. How is our thinking impacted by prior commitments?

3. Does our focus in this life consider the next life?

4. Are our choices about right or wrong based on unchangeable obligations?

5. Who or what has the most impact on our thinking?

Mark believes habits of thought are born by how we accept or reject eternal laws (Romans 8:5-9).

[1] Adapted from Ronald T. Habermas, Teaching for Reconciliation: Foundations and Practice of Christian Educational Ministry, rev.  Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2001, p. 60.

Like this Article? Please Share:


  1. There is an old Latvian saying “You can sleep in your grave.” In this case, it sounds like some were sleeping, more literally, in there graves. 🙂 Hope all is well Marcus.

  2. Thanks for the Lithuanian tale, Dr. Eckel! It reminded me, in some sense, of Aesop’s Fables. I loved Aesop’s Fables growing up.

    You can tell which group valued life and which group valued money. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *