Fortress of Mist Commentary: Enabling is Damaging

In Fortress of Mist by Sigmund Brouwer, an exchange between Thomas (now ruler of Magnus) and Gervaise of the chapel on pages 146-147 is an excellent solution to our enabling problem in America.

Thomas visits Gervaise in the chapel to discuss how the Earl’s son escaped Magnus. The conversation strays for a moment into entitlement or welfare.

Then,” Thomas said, with what sounded like an attempt at lightheartedness, “I have no choice but to withhold money from the church charity.”

But my Lord, you know both questions are impossible for me to answer.”

Thomas’ sigh reached Katherine with as much clarity as his light-hearted tone had done before. “Gervaise, much as you pretend surprise, you expected that decision from me. You know, as I do, that many are now tempted to forsake work for the ease of charity meals.”

Gervaise chuckled. “What do you propose? Every day, one or two more appear on the church doorsteps.”

Get the Father to deliver long sermons. Ones that must be endured as a price to pay for the meals.”

Laughter from both.

Then a more sober tone from Thomas. “I jest, of course. Instead, find work on the church building or its grounds,” he said, “Any work. Let those who are able contribute long hours, enough so that it is more profitable for them to seek employment elsewhere. You will soon discover who is truly needy.”

In true Sigmund Brouwer tradition, a message sneaks through the story. This time, it’s a message I agree with whole-heartedly—mercy and love without enabling someone to remain in destitute. Work is healthy, even if that work is volunteering when hard times makes employment difficult or impossible. Welfare wasn’t meant to be something to live on forever.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

*The Orphan King
* Fortress Of Mist
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