All Creatures of Our God And King XCII

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Planet Earth will wait with baited breath to hear the Donald’s new view on immigration. With a proposed meeting with Mexican President Nieto possibly sending a conciliatory message, there will certainly be a hard scrabble to assure the “real” Trump supporters that it is all just a ruse. As the Donald moves towards compassionate conservative status, one wonders if anyone but the media are fooled.

Being fooled brings us once again to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Consequences for Reverend Dale’s most recent dalliances were not forgotten, just delayed. At the board meeting after Wednesday Night Prayer meeting, Mulva was allowed to make her case for keeping Reverend Dale. Whether she was still suffering the effects of her recent illness, or if she was just worn down, Mulva mounted a light defense for Reverend Dale.

“It is agreed”, said Elder Cheatum, “we will move with all possible haste to find a replacement for Reverend Dale”. The board had voted unanimously.

“Questions remain”, said Elder Cheatum, “but I think in the best interest of our mission that we take this opportunity to move Reverend Helena to town”.

Reverend Helena looked up, but did not voice a concern.

“She needs to be closer to the church, and to Channel 99”, Elder Cheatum said, “plus we’ll need the rectory for the new pastor.”

“Any objections”, the Elder asked as he looked about the table.

There were none.

“Good, I’ve got a couple of new listings in some lofts in town that could be just the thing”, Elder Cheatum said as he looked at the Reverend, “I believe we can upgrade your surroundings while putting you within walking distance of the church”.

The young Reverend was still silent. Elder Cheatum took her silence as complete agreement. “Mulva, do you have our reports”, the ELder asked.

“I do”, Mulva said as she handed out the P&L and balance sheet. “As you can see, the Bible Bookmarks are bringing in as much as the collections from both churches.” “The donations from TV land are now over seventy-five thousand a week, and still climbing.”

“They’ll continue to climb as we develop our own network”, said Elder Diggum, “I’ve been looking at the cablecast of the Shepherd’s Chapel out of Arkansas, and I think we can use them as a model for launching Reverend Helena world-wide.”

Elder Diggum continued on, “They are crushing it according to the cable people and are as an unsophisticated lot as you could find.” “Their whole hook is a ‘Mark of the Beast’ DVD.” “I believe we could send out something similar for under a dollar a copy.”

“Well, I hate to shift back to the unpleasantness”, said Elder Wiley, “but has anyone given Reverend Dale his termination date?”

“I told him thirty days”, said Elder Cheatum, “and I told him there might be some severance if he can keep it in his pants until we find a new pastor.” “Sorry, ladies”.

“Well, I’ll still make sure the necessary paperwork is done”, replied Elder Wiley, “particularly since we know Reverend Dale has a propensity for suing people, even when he’s in the wrong.”

“I think we’re done”, said Elder Cheatum as he rose to leave. “I’ll be calling you with some possible new residences”, he said looking at Reverend Helena.

Reverend Helena gave a soft, “Okay”, but did not voice any further opinions. The meeting was adjourned and everyone went their separate ways.

Sunday morning came quickly. Bud decided to attend church at the “Little Church in the Valley” this week. His decision was partly because of his tardiness that morning, but mostly because of the rumors he had been hearing. The Right Reverend Dale E. Bread had gotten himself sideways with the Elders again and it looked like this time Reverend Dale was on the way out.

“I absolutely hate it”, Bud thought as he pulled into the church parking lot, “in one regard, if Reverend Dale and his brood move out of TackyToo, I’m happy,  I get to rent the trailer right away”. Bud couldn’t imagine renting to someone who was more trouble and less reliable with their rent check than the Breads.

As Bud climbed the steps to the church, he was still working his problem.

“If the Breads don’t move, then at some point Mulva’s Christian charity is going to kick in and I’m going to be on the hook for the rent and utilities again”, Bud thought. “I just hate it when history repeats itself”. “Evolution says we’re supposed to be smart and learn from our mistakes”.

Bud took his place in the third row and looked towards the pulpit. “Supplementing a ‘serial philanderer’ doesn’t seem like the smart bet to me, and, I am all about evolving”.

Bubba Hawker leading the choir in a hearty rendition of “Up From The Grave He Arose”, broke Bud from his internal revery. Bud wondered if the choice of hymns was Bubba’s subliminal message to all that he felt like he had been put down long enough, and now Bubba was about to arise. Bubba’s belief that it was time for him to claim his birthright had been stated to one all. Probably even to the the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread. What Bubba didn’t realize was that it didn’t matter what his lineage was, he would never be elevated to Pastor. Even in an interim basis. As kind and as good a soul as Bubba was, his die was already cast. None of the Little Church faithful felt that they could trust Bubba to give directions on how to get to the Walmart, let alone the Pearly Gates.

Ready to go out in a blaze of glory, Reverend Dale brought a stick of dynamite to a house full of matches this Sunday. His aura burned a fiery orange when he delivered his sermon, “Are You Willing To Face Your Past?” Cloaked within the sermon was the directive that “he who is without sin should cast the first stone”. It appeared that the Right Reverend was going to paint all of the congregation as sinners and then hope to receive the forgiveness card. Bud figured that ploy had a snowball’s chance in Hell, but stranger things had happened before. Like what happened next.

Just when the altar call was made, little Devin Bread, the eldest of the Bread brood, broke for the altar and began contorting as if possessed by a Mexican jumping bean. The contortions played second fiddle to the glossolalia that followed. To Bud’s untrained ear it sounded like a bunch of Spanish words mixed in with a lot of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednegos.

While Bud felt unqualified to speak on the quality of the tongues being spoken by the child, he could speak with a little more authority about snakes. Bud sat slack-jawed with the rest of the congregation as the child took the six foot timber rattlesnake and swung it by its tail around and around his head like a whirligig. Little Devin seemed charmed though, or truly possessed by spirit.

After placing the rattler back in the box, Devin returned quietly to his seat next to his Momma. Reverend Dale led the congregation in a rousing chorus of “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”, and delivered the benediction. Bud was so stunned he almost forgot to sneak out while everyone’s eyes were closed.

On the drive back to TackyToo, Bud tried to parse what he had seen. While most would attribute the spectacle to the Holy Ghost, based on his own run ins with the little miscreant, Bud strongly suspected the work of Beelzebub.

“Perhaps I judge too harshly”, Bud thought. He decided to update Mulva later, she was already carrying too big a burden.



All Creatures of Our God And King XCI

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. In news that we should all be concerned with, on a level that runs much deeper than our obsession with presidential politics, it is revealed on Youtube that today is the start of the “End of Days”. According to some religious seers, the AntiChrist will be unveiled today and Armageddon is just around the corner. While I do mental gymnastics with all of the possibilities of the Rapture, I wonder how the AntiChrist will be revealed. I’m imagining the Donald’s normal stylist is replaced by someone who had not been pre-warned to cut around the two prominent horns hidden by the Donald’s coiffure. I could be wrong, it could be a really strong wind that unsettles the coif, or perhaps a fall. Those “Make America Great Again” hats aren’t just for advertising, you know.

Speaking of making America great again brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Bud rushed back to TackyToo to attend to the two pork shoulders he had cooking on his Big Green Egg. Bud popped the top on the Egg and gave the shoulders a good basting of his “special sauce” before double checking the temperature. A quick check revealed that the temperature would be good for the hour or so it would take to watch the recording of today’s telecast from the Crystal Palace. Satisfied that all was going well with his cook, he made  a couple of Vienna sausage and mayonnaise sandwiches to eat while watching the DVR’d telecast from Blairsville. As fragile as Mulva was, Bud didn’t want to force her to watch the recording after she had experienced it live, particularly if there was something unsettling in the footage.

Bud glanced at his Big Green Egg remote temperature gauge and saw the temperature was holding steady. “Like a fine wine, we will serve no pork before its time”, Bud thought as he settled into the Barcalounger in the office of the Rec room.

This week’s telecast from Channel 99 in Blairsville started differently than previous telecasts. The production team had used canned footage to give an “artsy” feel to the lead up to the interior shot of the church. The scenes were mainly nature scenes of waterfalls, deer in a field and Cardinals building a nest. The background music to the intro was an all instrumental version of “Faith of Our Fathers”. Bud felt the music was a little heavy for an intro, but overall he liked the new look. It was a much more professional start to the telecast than the shot from the truck showing people streaming in the door. Bud appreciated the fact that the new intro was very calming for the viewer. Previously, the viewer felt like they were late to church and were rushing to get into their pew before the services started.

“Kudos to the production team”, Bud thought as he started his second sandwich, “Whoever is responsible made good use of their Psychology 101 class”.

As in their previous telecasts, Channel 99 cut to the interior of the church, and then “poof”, Reverend Helena Handbasket was on stage framed by a single spotlight. She was attired in a navy blue or black robe this Sunday, with her customary white sash with gold trim. Bud surmised that the robe was navy blue since he didn’t think that Reverend Helena held too strongly to the “clergy dressed in black” philosophy.

As Bud opened his second Mountain Dew, his mind began to wander, “I wonder how many different robes she has”, he thought, “technically, the robes are her ‘work clothes’, and the female of the species does like to show up to work not wearing new outfits.”

Bud paused the telecast as he took a quick bathroom break. He was struck by the thought that Reverend Helena, though a young woman, didn’t have a lot of room to show her fashion sense in a robe.

“She probably feels that mixing the colors is the way to present a fresh look”, Bud thought as he restarted the DVR, “I bet there’s a group out there that is attending services just to see what Reverend Helena will be wearing next.” Was that as good a reason for attending services as any other? Bud preferred not to judge, except when it came to the Kardashians. Bud was thankful that Reverend Helena was the anti-Kardashian.

This week’s sermon was, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. Reverend Helena did her dead level best to keep God from appearing too angry to the congregation. It was Bud’s observation that the Reverend also tried to make the “sinners” less sinful. It appeared Reverend Helena was giving a little more hope to the “backsliders” than what usually came through in an “Angry God” sermon.

“Religions don’t like to compare themselves to other religions, except to point out how they’re better and the other guys are worse”, Bud thought as he was opening his third pudding cup, “But, I think Catholics have got a good thing going for them with that absolution at the time of death thing”. “The weekly tuneups, confessions, are a good idea too.” “Get the sinners to reflect on their deeds, give them some silly penance, and then forgive them.”

“Easy peasy”, Bud thought.

Bud was now completely lost in his own revelry and was merely “watching” the telecast, not absorbing it.

“Keeping the sinners in the fold as long as possible just makes good business sense”, Bud thought, “A sinner who gets the impression that they can never be forgiven will quit trying after a while”. “Or at least I know I would”.

Bud’s self identification as a sinner left him impressed by the Reverend’s recognition that casting folks into the fiery lake was not going to keep attendance up, or the tithes.

“The Reverend Handbasket appears to be playing the long game”, Bud thought, “and I have to admit it, it is quite refreshing”.

“Evangelicals are generally a judgmental, ‘my way or you’re going to Hell way’ lot”, Bud thought as he switched the TV to a rerun of Naked and Afraid.

“Who knows what could happen if a little mercy was thrown in the message”, Bud refledted as he checked his Big Green Egg’s temperature. Satisfied that his pork butts would be okay for another hour or so, Bud let the sight of two blurred naked people pretending to survive unaided in a hostile environment lull him to sleep.

“Could there be anything more unreal than a reality show”, was Bud’s last thought before slipping off into dreamland.


All Creatures of Our God And King XC

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Well it’s just like the old country song, “She’s a good-hearted woman in love with a good timing man”. It seems that Anthony Weiner is just so fascinated by technology that he can’t keep himself from sending pictures and texts of a lewd nature out into the stratosphere. Finally, enough is enough, and the good-hearted woman, his wife Huma Abedin, has decided to kick him to the curb. I can’t wait for the Donald’s campaign to try to take the high road in this affair.

Speaking of good-hearted women, brings back around to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. When Bud returned to TackyToo he found Mulva in the full throes of an all out migraine. Mulva was basically immobile for the next three days. Bud had contacted the Elders at Mulva’s urging and Elder Cheatum and Elder Diggum were able to make the deposit from the collections received at both locations. Mulva was too weak to attend Wednesday night Prayer Meeting for the first time ever. Even through two pregnancies and two births, the stars had aligned to allow Mulva the opportunity to keep her perfect attendance record intact. Not this time. Mulva allowed Bud to talk her into resting one more day before “climbing back up on the horse”.

Truth was, Bud was enjoying all of the extra attention he was receiving from the Ladies Auxilary. While the Auxilary was tending to Mulva, Bud was being tended to as well. The Auxilary had relieved Bud of his chores for a few days, and he was happy to use the time to see after Mulva. Mulva not responding to his texts and calls, and then not being where he thought she was supposed to be, had scared Bud. Juxtaposed to his darkest fears, Bud was perfectly content to get Mulva her medicine and cold compresses as directed.

When Sunday rolled around, Mulva was ready to go again, but she was ready to go to the Crystal Palace, not the Little Church in the Valley. Bud decided to vote his pocketbook, and attend the services at the smaller church. He felt like he needed to support the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread even though he felt like the Reverend was spiraling out of control. He didn’t doubt Bubba Hawker’s account of the details from last Sunday’s service, in fact Mulva and the Ladies Auxilary had rounded out the details even further. At issue was whether the Reverend would be give “one more chance” by the Elders. Would the Elders allow the Reverend to continue his rehabilitation and serve as the pastor of the smaller congregation, or would he be jettisoned? Bud was very interested in the answer.

Working in Reverend Dale’s favor was the fact that the Elders had their hands full keeping up with the mushrooming growth of the Reverend Helena’s congregation. To begin a new pastor search now for the faithful who had chosen the original church over the Crystal Palace would divert resources away from the juggernaut being built in Blairsville. If the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread could be persuaded to “keep his hands in his pockets”, then the traditionalists could continue their worship in the little church that Bubba Hawker’s great granddaddy had founded so long ago. Otherwise, the Elders might decide to close the little church, forcing the “traditionalists” to come to town. The only other Ecclesiastical option available to the Nunsuch congregation was a “Foot Washing” Baptist church a mile or so away. The Elders were relying on the fact that once you’ve seen someone “tap dance for Jesus”, while holding a six foot timber rattler above his head, conventional services just weren’t the same.

As Bud drove to the little church his mind wandered. “I spend a lot of time on the ecclesiastical” he thought, ” No where near as much as Mulva, but an awful lot for a heathen.” Bud tried to divine his fascination with their religion.

“I know I’m drawn to interesting personalities”, Bud thought, “And, where else can you gather such a diverse collection of personalities and watch the people so closely.” “Where else could you psychoanalyze their inner most feelings”. “Prison maybe, but if you watch someone too closely in prison it leads to bad things.”

“Heck, getting involved with an unusual personality at church will just be viewed as being ‘service minded’”, Bud chuckled to himself, “It makes it sound like you’re caring, and not just curious”.

Bud had positioned himself to arrive at church in plenty of time to catch any opening fisticuffs. Who knew if Alva Bread, or Anita Goodman, might both be wearing identical jewelry gifted to them by the Right Reverend again. As Bud took his seat in the third row from the altar, he amused himself by making up a “Player’s Handbook”.

“First rule in the handbook”, Bud thought, “Don’t buy gifts that are BOGO”. “Act like you’ve got good sense, even if you don’t have a lot of money.” “The same gift in a different color is still the same gift!”

Bud speculated that Reverend Dale had been relying way too much on divine intervention when he assumed that his wife and his girlfriend were not going to run into each other at some point wearing the same gift. The price of the assumption was very likely going to be the Reverend Dale’s job.

As Bud stared out over the congregation, he was struck by the eeriness of watching two people whose heads were frozen in place for an hour. Alva Bread and Anita Goodman stared straight ahead for the entire service. Never left, never right, never even blinked that Bud could tell. They turned and exited the service via different aisles at the end of the service like two Stepford wives.

As Bud watched the service unfold before him, he was struck by the reality that the service was kind of a let down when compared to the anticipated cat fight. The sermon was about Adam and Eve and the serpent and how the Lord cursed the serpent for his part in the fall of Adam and Eve. The scripture was from Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel”. The words were delivered with great vigor, and seemed to hold special meaning for the Right Reverend.

As Bud pulled his vanishing act during the benediction, he figured he could talk the scripture over with Reverend Dale later, perhaps over a pulled pork sandwich. Bud headed back to TackyToo to check on his pork shoulders slow roasting in the Big Green Egg. His official work for the day was finished.



All Creatures of Our God And King LXXXIX

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Alt-Right, sounds kind of like Ctrl-Alt-Delete, which is what you do when your computer is so totally fouled up that the only thing you can do is force a reboot. My guess is that the Alt-Right people feel that a reboot of society is what is needed, and what they expect from their candidates. Aaaahh, if we could just go back to those halcyon days of the 1850’s when the black were slaves, women couldn’t vote, and Mexico was being annexed into the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. What a bunch of morons.

Speaking of rebooting brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Bud was not concerned that he had not received a response to his text message to Mulva. Most of the time she was so busy with church business that she didn’t realize she’d received a text. There was no way Bud could match Mulva’s commitment to the church either spiritually or physically. Bud felt that putting on his Sunday finest, sitting erect and not falling asleep for an hour every week was a fair price for keeping peace in the family.

“I have gotten something out of attending services all these years”, Bud thought as he reviewed the IHOP menu, “It’s comforting to nod your head in greeting to folks you’ve known all of your life, even if we don’t take the time to speak”. “It’s kind of a ‘I’m still here, and you are too’, that is an acknowledgement that we primates are social animals”.

As Bud ordered the ‘all he could eat pancakes’ he continued to reflect, “We could get the same feeling at a Unitarian church, or the library, I guess”. “It’s just a little more special when folks are attending an Evangelical church”. “When you throw in the snake handling, well, you’ve got a special group of people”.

Bud stirred ice into to his coffee to keep from burning the roof of his mouth. “Of course, Reverend Helena is doing her dead level best to mainstream our little cult”, he thought.

Bud had heard from Mulva that the weekly TV viewership was consistently raising by twenty percent each week. He had seen for himself that the new church, the “Crystal Palace”, was bursting at the seams. “If the trend continues, we might be on the cusp of a national wave”, he thought as his first stack of pancakes arrived, “We may find ourselves someday saying, ‘I was cool before you even knew it was cool’”.

Bud was intimately aware of the fact that one didn’t have to believe in any of the dogma to be a part of it.

“I guess it helps to believe”, Bud thought, “but if you’ve been going as long as I have, you basically have all of the routines and rituals memorized”. “When the preacher says, ‘turn in your hymnals to page 325’, you say, ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ before the preacher does”.

Bud realized he was humming “The Old Rugged Cross” to himself as he waited for his second stack of pancakes. In Bud’s version, the tune was the same, but the word’s were different: “On a hill far away, stood an old Chevrolet, it’s fenders were battered and torn, then along came the Lord, in a ’48 Ford, and drove the old Chevy away”.

Bud realized he must have been humming out loud because he was suddenly surprised to have Bubba Hawker slide into the booth across from him and pick up the verse. In spite of all of Bubba’s deficits, Bubba was singing the right words.

“I’m guessing that if Bubba knew the Chevrolet words he had them beaten out of him long ago”, thought Bud. In deference to Bubba’s strict religious upbringing, Bud stopped humming.

“Hey Bubba, how’s it going”, Bud asked.

Bubba was grinning like a dog that had found a long lost bone. While Bubba had a warm, cheerful grin, Bud could see from his vantage point that his mouth was almost completely bereft of teeth. Bud had known Bubba all of Bubba’s life. Even now, it was hard to remember which, or how many, teeth were lost to neglect, corporal punishment or the accident.

The accident had left Bubba compromised to the point that Bubba did not realize how off putting his smile was.

“I bet he can’t even control it”, Bud thought as he started to look away.

Even if Bubba knew how scary he appeared sometimes, he didn’t appear to be trying to hold his emotions in check today. He was smiling to beat the band. As Bubba ordered a double stack in an effort to catch up to Bud, Bud marveled at how thin Bubba was.

I’m sure that eating only foods that required minimal chewing plays a part in Bubba’s razor thin body type”, Bud thought as he watched Bubba dig in, “While my BMI is about 300, I’d calculate Bubba’s at about 10″.”He’s so thin you could read a paper through him, as Daddy used to say”.  Bubba’s double stack arrived and he was grinning like a mule eating briars.

When Bubba had finished his double stack, he addressed Bud,”We missed you today in church”.

Bud explained that he was in church, just not the Little Church In The Valley. Bud went on to say that when he went to the services at the Crystal Palace, he could stop at the IHOP and get all of the pancakes he could eat. Bud’s logic was unassailable, and Bubba could not counter. To minimize conversation, Bud ducked his head back into the menu like there was a big decision that needed to be made about whether to have sausage, patties or links, bacon or ham. The waitress appeared and Bud choose to go “whole hog” and get links, bacon and ham. Bubba opted for another double stack of the pancake special. The pair were then left with nothing between them but the silence.

Bubba did not like silence and asked, “Did you hear what happened at church today?” His grin was from ear to ear, and his face was so red that he looked sunburned.

Bud replied, “no”, and immediately feared the worst. His first thoughts were of Mulva and he pulled out his cell phone to give her a call. Mulva didn’t answer and Bud was forced to ask Bubba if Mulva was ok.

Bubba smiled and answered that “Miss Mulva was just fine”, it was Reverend Dale that was in “big trouble”.  Mildly relieved, Bud reflected on his situation with Reverend Dale.

“I can’t afford for the Reverend Dale to have another incident, like before”, Bud thought, “I’m just starting to break even on carrying him and his brood for these past months at TackyToo.” “Who will pay the bills if Reverend Dale is hospitalized again, or worse yet, out of a job?”

Bud contemplated his self interest while he listened to the details of the latest Reverend Dale affair. He could tell that Bubba felt the story had implications for him as well. It appeared to Bud that now that the Reverend Dale had gotten himself sideways with the congregation again at the Little Church In The Valley, Bubba believed that it was his, “why not me?” moment.

“I’m so glad it’s not me that has to dash his hopes again”, Bud thought.

Bud kept all of his thoughts to himself, he didn’t want to concern Bubba with any more information than he already had. Bubba seemed like he was about ready to burst, and it was not from the pancakes. Bud picked up the check and told Bubba that it was his treat. Bubba said, “thank you”, and grinned.

“You heading back to Nunsuch”, Bubba asked.

“Not for a while”, Bud replied, “I’ll pick you up if you’re still on the road when I come back through.” As Bud drove towards the Crystal Palace in hopes of finding Mulva buried deep in her work, he speculated on what course their conversation would take.

“I’m not interested in ‘doing the right thing’ again, no matter how Mulva thinks”, Bud thought, “If we want the ‘right thing’ to happen, Reverend Dale needs to get his issue fixed”. “It might not fix his wandering eye, but he can get everything else that wanders taken care of.”

Bud pulled into the parking lot of the Crystal Palace and did not see Mulva’s car. Risking life and limb and revocation of his parole, Bud sped back to TackyToo in search of his wife.


All Creatures of Our God And King LXXXVIII

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. As we reflect on the fact that on this day in 2008, Barack Obama became the first African-American to be nominated by a major political party for President of the United States, we listen to the Donald scream at people of color, “Vote For ME, what have you got to lose?” It sounds like a campaign strategy from a teen comedy where the nerdiest nerd runs a campaign for class president on the “What have you got to lose” ticket. So, to everybody who vote for president based on snappy, kitschy slogans; look around, everything you see is what you have to lose.

Speaking of things to lose brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. When Mulva arrived back at TackyToo there was no sign of Bud. She presumed he had kept his promise and attended services at the Crystal Palace this week in her stead. Mulva decided to rest for just a bit on the sofa before heading in to Blairsville to gather the collections from that day’s service. She felt the beginnings of a migraine forming and wanted to head it off if she could.

Bud had indeed kept his promise and driven to Blairsville. He had actually gotten started a little bit earlier this week than usual. Bud wanted to see if he could actually get a spot in the parking lot, rather than walking from downtown Blairsville. As luck would have it, Bud snaked a parking space right as one of the gofers for Channel 99 was pulling out. He parked right next to the broadcast truck.

“I bet the gofer was headed out for coffee”, Bud thought as he climbed the steps to church, “It will probably be a long walk for him when he gets back”. “Well, I guess if I continue to feel guilty about taking his space, I’ll move my car after everybody sees I made it to service on time.” Bud knew that his twinges of guilt generally didn’t last long, so he was pretty sure he’d be over it by the beginning of the service.

“There are times when a failing memory comes in handy”, Bud rationalized.

Bud found a spot in the third pew by forcing everyone to move down so that he could take the aisle seat. He mumbled “good morning” to the odd looking fellow next to him who identified himself as Lenny Krapitz. Fortunately for both parties there were just a few minutes available to chit chat before the lights dimmed, signalling the start of the proceedings. Bud quickly turned his attention away from his pew mate to concentrate on the stage. Bud had learned early in life the penalties associated with talking during the service.

The choir began singing “Faith of Our Fathers” in one voice as the congregation looked to the stage for the arrival of Reverend Helena Handbasket. As she had done since the move to the Crystal Palace, Reverend Handbasket appeared as if by magic on the stage. Bud determined to search for a trapdoor that very day if given the opportunity.

“I’m fairly sure that Reverend Helena has not mastered the art of transmutation”, Bud thought, “If she has, that’s pretty miraculous by itself”.

“There has to be some physical reason that she appears so suddenly on the stage, and I’m going to figure it out”, Bud determined as he turned his gaze to the pulpit.

Reverend Handbasket was decked out in a lavender robe with white sash, trimmed in gold. Bud wondered if the lavender robe was some sort of  tribute to Prince, who had died that week. The constant replay of the news of Prince’s death had driven Bud to distraction that week. While trying to get the news from any station on any other topic, Bud, in a fit of pique, had launched into a tirade to all of the other residents of TackyToo gathered in the Rec room.

“The blurring of the lines between celebrities and deities has gone way too far for my taste”, Bud said, “I have no problem revering the works of those who do good deeds and raise up those around them”. “I don’t know that I can name any rock stars that fill that bill”. “Maybe there’s a soup line somewhere or rehab facility being funded by Prince royalties”.

Observing the looks of bewilderment on the faces of the other residents, Bud had finished his soliloquy with, “I promise to look into that”, as he retreated from the Rec room.

The title for this week’s sermon was “Thieves in the Temple”, and Bud couldn’t recall having heard anything like it before. There were some references to the dishonest politicians and corrupt government officials stealing from the poor and middle class. There were also references to the dishonest people who work their way into your heart and turn out to be no better that the money changers that Jesus threw out of the temple. In one sense, it was as convoluted a sermon as Reverend Helena had delivered. Fortunately, the folks pressing forward to take part in the testament of faith and the altar call had gotten the message. It seemed that the majority of the folks understood exactly what Reverend Helena was saying and wanted to come closer to her to share the “Spirit”.

Since Bud felt no need to ask for absolution, he snuck out during the benediction and walked the fifty yards to his prime parking spot. He had completely forgotten any twinges of guilt he felt for stealing the parking space. As he arrived at the space, he was glad the Channel 99 people hadn’t blocked him in or plastered his car with Channel 99 bumper stickers in retaliation. 

Bud texted Mulva that he was headed to IHOP for lunch. Maybe she could stop on her way to the Crystal Palace and they could eat lunch together. Since Sundays were catch as catch can for the couple, the IHOP would serve as a welcome break for their duties. Besides, today was  “All of the Pancakes You Can Eat Sunday”. Bud didn’t wait for Mulva’s response to head to the eatery. “Life’s good”, he thought as he entered the parking lot.



All Creatures of Our God And King LXXXVII

BudLiteGood morning, y’all.The news has brought us the sad tidings that over 250 people are confirmed dead in the Italy earthquakes. It is that horrible time when the mission goes from “rescue” to “recovery”. There is hope that more people will be rescued, but the clock is ticking against them. The body can only go a few days without water, and that time limit is rapidly approaching.

Speaking of things that one cannot live without brings us to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. The church leadership committee met promptly after Prayer Meeting on Wednesday night. Mulva and Reverend Helena seemed to be speaking in conspiratorial tones when the Elders entered the office. They quickly hushed their conversation as the Elders entered.

“Okay, show of hands, who all knew that Reverend Dale was working at Walmart”, asked Elder Cheatum as he sat down. All committee members raised their hands.

“Okay”, the Elder said as he looked at Mulva, “why didn’t anybody think it was important enough to tell me?”

Mulva looked down at her paperwork as she responded, “because it didn’t seem like a big deal”. “It’s a short time thing until he can get caught up with his bills and get a little put back for the new baby.”

The secretary/ treasurer looked up to see that Elder Cheatum was fuming.

“We took away his health insurance when we fired him”, continued Mulva, “what’s he supposed to do?” “I asked Elder Wiley if we should start taking care of his coverage again, but he said to wait and see what happened.” “I guess Reverend Dale just got tired of waiting to see what would happen, and he went an got a job, just like a man’s supposed to do.”

The secretary/treasurer was emboldened by her own words, “It’s not like we don’t have five hundred dollars a month to make sure that those children have adequate medical care”. “If we can’t do for our own, who can we do for?”

The room was deadly silent. Finally Elder Cheatum spoke in a much less aggressive tone.

“I guess you’re right”, he said, “tell Reverend Dale that we are reinstating his family’s health care immediately and that the church will handle any expenses he has until he’s reinstated.”

Elder Cheatum continued, “Also tell him that he will receive ten percent of his collections each week if he quits his Walmart job immediately.” “That should take care of them adequately with the housing allowance we’ve been providing.”

Mulva looked Elder Cheatum square in the eye as she said, “I’ll tell him, I’m sure they will all be relieved.”

“Good”, replied Elder Cheatum, “and one more thing, there are to be no secrets in this group.” “If anyone knows anything that can reflect poorly on this ministry, the whole committee is to know about it immediately.” “Are we understood?”

Mulva met the Elder’s gaze again and said , “Yes”.

“Good”, responded Elder Cheatum as he rose from his chair. “Alvin”, he said as he looked at Elder Wiley, “I’ve got somewhere else to be, will you bring me a copy of the financials tomorrow?”

Before Elder Wiley could answer, Elder Cheatum was gone. The remaining members continued the meeting to its completion although their souls weren’t in it. The confrontation had cast an overall pall on the group. The “Goodnights” and “See you in church” were halfhearted as the group left for their homes.

Mulva decided to attend services at the Little Church in the Valley that Sunday. She hoped to restore her soul with the years of positive memories that she felt every time she took her place in the third row from the altar. It was as if the wood of the pew could transmit feelings directly to her cerebral cortex, assuring her that she was at the right place, doing the right thing.

Just as Mulva was feeling her faith being restored, pandemonium broke out in the center aisle of the sanctuary. The conflict arose when Ms. Anita Goodman was sliding into her pew behind Alva Bread and her brood. As Ms. Goodman slid into the pew, Alva Bread turned to acknowledge another believer, and then noticed that Ms. Goodman was wearing the exact same pin that Reverend Dale had gifted her the day before.

The two women noticed the similarity about the same time and flew into each other. In fairness, it was more Alva Bread flying into Anita Goodman, but, Anita Goodman did give a good accounting of herself. While Ms. Goodman did a fine job of defending herself,  she was outnumbered five or six to one. Before Mulva could get to the combatants, some of the Bread’s older children had joined in the fray. Devin, the eldest Bread, was doing the most damage with a hymnal he had picked up. Eventually both adversaries were retired to their respective corners, or pews, and the service got under way.

Mulva returned to her pew more confused about her role and mission than ever before. It was like no matter how she tried to set right the cart of Reverend Dale and his family, fate, or something seemed determined to turn it over again. As she pondered the meaning of the most recent events, she was astounded at the title of Reverend Dale’s sermon; “As You Reap, So Shall You Sow”.

The actual quote was from Galatians, 6:7, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” As a firm believer in signs, Mulva, was convinced that the great beyond was sending messages to the Little Church in the Valley, and that God was no longer using shorthand to deliver the message. The reality that the sermon had probably been set at least a week ago was not lost on Mulva. The fact that the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread was not prepared to change his sermon on a moment’s notice did not challenge Mulva’s belief that the “Lord was working in mysterious ways”.

As Mulva watched the Testament of Faith and the altar call, she wondered how a man who could be so close to the holy spirit be so unable to control his baser desires. It was a mystery that she knew she would never solve. As Mulva went to the office to do her count, she debated whether to give the Reverend Dale the good news about the stipend. Mulva realized today’s confrontation would likely resolve in Reverend Dale being fired again. She remembered her Daddy joking about giving a man a raise so that he could “fire him from a better job”. As she place the items in the bank deposit bag she determined to wait until later before talking to Reverend Dale. “To let sleeping dogs lie, you need to let them go to sleep first”, Mulva thought. She drove to TackyToo with a heavy heart.



All Creatures of Our God And King LXXXVI

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. The pictures coming from Italy are heart wrenching. What would be a mild earthquake by California standards has leveled a city in central Italy. The city suffered a smaller earthquake a few years ago and was supposedly rebuilt to current earthquake proof standards. I am assuming there will be an investigation launched and criminal charges leveled at some point. Or maybe not. Anyway, I can now cross off another spot listed as a top ten spot to retire. Waking up with my penthouse apartment in the basement does not seem like a viable plan, even if the prices have never been better.

Speaking of viable plans brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. The Elders had just settled into their corner booth for their weekly unofficial meeting of the church leadership committee when they were joined by Bubba Hawker. As the Elders tried to think of a polite way to extricate themselves from the situation, they each reflected on Bubba’s history.

“Contrary to Evangelical belief, sparing the rod just might be the best parenting”, thought Elder Wiley, “Especially if the rod is going to be used against the child’s head”.

Bubba had his best chance for a normal life when DFCS came out to have a look at his living conditions. Bubba had been eight or so. In spite of all of the signs of physical abuse, it would have been very difficult for the DFCS agent to remove Bubba from his home. Bubba was the son of a well respected preacher in a small community where everyone knew everything about each other. More importantly, no one told anything about a member of the community to an outsider. No one was willing to collaborate any stories about Bubba’s living conditions. The grammar school teacher that had called DFCS to investigate the issue was gone the next year. Everyone learned a lesson from the experience, and everyone went on minding their own business.

Bubba had learned to endure his lot with a grin on his face, much like he was displaying to the Elders as he sat across the table from them at the IHOP.

“How he manages to keep his pancakes in his mouth while grinning in his toothless countenance is a mystery”, thought Elder Cheatum, “I guess his table manners were taught to him with as strict a dictum as his Bible verses”.

It is a pastor’s fate to break bread with as many members of his congregation as he can. Spewing food while asking the faithful to dig “just a little deeper” each Sunday would not have a positive result when the collection plate was passed. As a result, Bubba’s manners were sound. In fact, if it were not for the fact that “good sense had been beat out of him”, as Granny Waller used to say, Bubba had all of the tools to be a great pastor.

Enhancing his resume for taking the reins as pastor of the Little Church in the Valley was the fact that Bubba had been handling snakes as far back as anyone could remember.

“His daddy probably put one in the crib with him”, thought Elder Diggum.

It was common knowledge that the snakes had always responded well to Bubba. Even Old Ben seemed to up his deportment a notch when Bubba was in charge.

Rounding out his qualifications, Bubba had a beautiful deep bass singing voice. It was the deep bass of a three pack a day smoker, without the occasional rasp and coughing. One could assume that Bubba’s deep voice would carry a sermon well into the rafters, even at the Crystal Palace. Additionally, Bubba’s knowledge of the hymnal was complete. His knowledge of the hymnal had allowed him to elevate his status to acting choir director when Ophelia Bottoms had been temporarily cast out. The Elders were aware that the temporary elevation in status by their moving Ms. Bottoms away from the clutches of the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread had been one of the reasons that Bubba felt that he was once again on a career path to becoming a pastor.

I’m just guessing, but I bet that Bubba has a couple of dozen sermons memorized from his years of hearing them repeated in church”, thought Elder Cheatum, “I’m sure that in his mind, Bubba thinks that he is the ‘total package’”. “I bet Bubba thinks that he should be the one making the altar call each Sunday”.

Resigned to having breakfast with Bubba, the Elders channeled their thoughts and conversation towards non-controversial topics.

“What brings you to town”, asked Elder Diggum, “in fact, how did you get to town?”

“I hitched”, grinned Bubba, “it’s easy”. 

“Well, I guess everybody has to come to town sometime”, said Elder Diggum, “you didn’t just come to eat breakfast did you?”

“No, I came to see Reverend Dale”, replied Bubba as he wiped his mouth with his napkin, “He’s working at the Walmart and I’ve never seen a preacher work at a Walmart”. 

The Elders were barely able to hide the looks of shock on their faces, even if Bubba had been able to draw facial clues. How was it that the ‘least informed’ among them had the latest news.

“How do you know this”, asked Elder Wiley.

“I seen him”, answered Bubba, “first time, was last week when I came to town for new shoes.” Bubba promptly brought his new Skechers up to table level for the Elders to see.

“There he was at the front door, smiling, saying ‘Welcome to Walmart’, ‘Welcome to Walmart’, ‘Welcome to Walmart'”, Bubba seemed to be caught in a loop.

Elder Wiley broke the loop by asking, “Did he recognize you?”

“I reckon; he said ‘Welcome to Walmart Bubba”, replied Bubba, “he didn’t call anybody else by name.”

Bubba gave a wide toothless grin to express his celebrity at being recognized by a Walmart greeter. Bubba placed his knife, fork and napkin in his plate, signifying that he was done.

“You go on Bubba, we got this,” said Elder Cheatum as he picked up Bubba’s check.

“Thank you very much sirs”, said Bubba as he rose to leave, “Any of you all heading towards Nunsuch?”

“Not until Prayer Meeting tonight”, replied Elder Diggum, “we’ll see you then.”

“Okay, bye”, replied Bubba, and he was gone.

“Well, the question of the day is, what the heck is going on with Reverend Dale”, blurted out Elder Wiley, “Being a greeter at the Walmart ain’t going to pay the rent, and that’s what we all should be concerned about with this latest bit of news”. “Is he trying to shame us in to paying him more money, or has his congregation gotten too old for him?”

It took a second for the other two Elders to catch the implication, and Elder Cheatum was the first to speak.

“If we are all painfully honest with ourselves, Reverend Dale’s skill set seems to lend itself to being a gigolo”, chuckled Elder Cheatum, “I just don’t know how much work there is in our area for the trade”. “I’m equally unsure as to whether a hard working gigolo would make enough to support his brood”.

“Barry, why don’t you slide by Walmart and confirm the story if you can without being noticed”, asked Elder Cheatum.

“I’ll do it”, interjected Elder Wiley, “Barry is as inconspicuous as a trailer carrying a ‘Wide Load’ sign.”

“Well, thanks, I think”, said Elder Diggum, “I do have other things to do today.” 

With a heartfelt, “See you in church”, the three friends left the parking lot to attend their duties for the day.


All Creatures of Our God And King LXXXV

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. As President Obama tours the devastation of Louisiana he receives criticism from both sides. The Right want to know why he wasn’t there sooner, why he didn’t cut short his vacation so he could perform a photo-op like the Donald and Pence did. The Left want to know why the President didn’t mention the fact that all of this abnormal weather is being cause by climate change. I guess being President means you’re not going to please all of the people all of the time.

Speaking of not pleasing people, brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. After his dissertation on the intolerance of the Elders, Bud Lite was ready to view that day’s telecast from the Crystal Palace in Blairsville. Bud selected the telecast from the menu of his DVR and turned up the sound. He didn’t want to miss a note from Ted E. Baer and His Love Fellowship, or a syllable from the Reverend Helena Handbasket. As the telecast began, the camera panned from the outside of the church where fifty to seventy five followers milled about the big screen mounted on the broadcast truck, to the interior of the church. The Love Fellowship began the gathering hymn and Reverend Handbasket appeared magically on the stage.

The Reverend was once again resplendent in her accoutrement, decked out in a peach colored robe with white sash and gold trim. Bud surprised himself when he realized he was  thinking that the peach robe was a nice touch, Georgia being the Peach State and all. He further surprised himself when he realized he had an opinion about how the robe choice was also a good color to offset the Reverend’s fiery red hair. As the cameras panned the altar area they revealed that the colors from the flower arrangements also complemented the Reverend’s ensemble. The whole tableau came across beautifully in the high def broadcast. As hard as he searched for clues, Bud could still find no reveal as to how the Reverend was able to magically appear on the stage as if she materialized from thin air.

This week’s sermon from the Crystal Palace was based on Matthew:7 1-3, “Judge not, lest you be judged”.

“It’s a good thought for all of us to keep in mind each day as we go about our daily lives”, stated Reverend Handbasket, “Of course if you’re in management, or ever expect to get a desired result from a group of people, you’re going to need to judge a little”. The congregation laughed politely at Reverend Helena’s little joke.

“I truly believe the expectation of the scripture is that we not judge one another too harshly in our primary relationships”, said Reverend Helena, “Treat others as you want to be treated, and you’ll do just fine.”

The Reverend’s movements and body language seemed to be more pronounced this service than in previous telecasts. It was like she was trying to bring some of that “old time religion” into the sermon. Bud was surprised to see Reverend Helena actually thump her Bible once or twice to emphasis her points as she moved about the stage.

As Bud watched the telecast, he wondered if last week’s sermon had caused the Elders to try to rein in the Reverend Helena. The Elders may have felt that the Reverend was getting to “social” and losing sight of the core values of the congregation.

“I’d love to be a fly on the wall in those meetings were the Elders try to rein Reverend Helena in”, thought Bud. He resolved to ask Mulva if she had heard any of the chastisements. It was hard to know where the Reverend began and the Elders ended without overhearing the conversations.

I hope that the Elders don’t stifle the Reverend too much”, Bud thought, “if that’s whats going on”.

During the collection, Bud and Mulva discussed the meteoric success of the church. Mulva confirmed that the church’s success had come about because the Reverend was connecting to a much broader base than before. The Reverend’s charisma had brought in new initiates from as far away as Columbus and Charlotte and all points in between. Mulva had the evidence in the requests for Bible bookmarks and her deposit slips. 

Mulva looked Bud squarely in the eyes as she said, “It’s amazing to me to see a really big church filled to the brim for an Evangelical service”. “An Evangelical service that doesn’t promise a transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor like Ted Cruz’s dad delivers, but, a service that preaches the Golden Rule and admonishes us to not get ‘all judgey’.”

Bud watched the testament of faith with great anticipation. He was curious to see if  Reverend Helena was going to “up her game” by working with a timber rattler this week. Bud had witnessed Reverend Dale introduce a “big boy” into his service earlier that day. It was such an event that Bud had phoned Mulva with the news before he had left the parking lot of the little church. It was the first time since the incident that Reverend Dale had tempted fate again. It was a big step in Reverend Dale’s recovery.

To Bud’s utter amazement, the Reverend Handbasket lifted what looked like a six foot rattler out of the box, and treated the rattler, and the audience, to a rather fast paced version of the Watusi. As the Reverend placed the rattle snake back in the box, the choir launched into “Softly and Tenderly”. The aisles were filled with people who wanted to “come home”. Reverend Helena stood in front of the altar handing out blessings and welcoming the initiates to their new home until the telecast ended.

Bud turned the TV back to regular programming and sat quietly for a while.

“Well”, asked Mulva.

“Well, it looks to me like the Elders have found a gold mine’, replied Bud, “I could probably get involved in a church that was built around the golden rule.”

“I hope the Elders don’t ruin it for everybody”, said Bud as he changed topics, “I guess you want to give the rest of the pork to the Bread’s.”

“Yes, I do”, replied Mulva.

“Well, save me enough for a sandwich tomorrow and I’ll be ok”, Bud said as he tuned in to the American Ninjas.  


All Creatures of Our God And King LXXXIV

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Condemned by his own words, the Donald continues to say just anything that pops into his peanut sized brain and expects his audience to accept it as if it were gospel. “Crime at levels that nobody’s seen. You can go to war zones in countries that we’re fighting, and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities. They’re run by the Democrats. To the African Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people, what the hell do you have to lose?” This was the Donald’s appeal to people of color to vote for him at a recent rally held before an all white audience. “What have you got to lose?” Let’s start with your freedom and work back to your self respect.

Speaking of self respect brings us back to our retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. After attending services at the Little Church In The Valley, Bud returned home to TackyToo. Bud interspersed his afternoon with watching the TV in the Rec room office and keeping his pork butt basted. As he watched the news items flashing along the bottom of the screen, he made a mental note to throw away the information he had gathered about retiring “in luxury” to Ecuador. Although the earthquake that ravaged the coast of Ecuador caused minimal damage to the capital, Bud didn’t plan on taking any chances in his dotage.

Mulva arrived back home about five. After changing out of her Sunday clothes, she joined Bud in the office for dinner. Bud had supplemented the pulled pork sandwiches with potato salad, cole slaw and potato chips. It was a meal they had enjoyed hundreds of times over the years. Before queueing up the DVR to watch this week’s telecast from the Crystal Palace the couple took the opportunity to discuss the “news” of the week.

Bud and Mulva had been visited that week by their daughter, Melody, who had brought big news to the Lite household. It was Melody’s intention to marry her longtime roommate, Alex, in June. Finding out that his daughter was gay, and getting married, in the same conversation was a bit of a shock for Bud. He handled the news with as much aplomb as he could muster, and no one was aware that he had never suspected his daughter was gay.

The couple had asked to hold the reception in the Rec room, and Bud was totally on board. Bud volunteered to decorate the Rec room in what ever theme the women chose. Bud reasoned there was no point in renting the American Legion hall or some other spot when the Rec room was right there at their disposal. Bud had casually mentioned to the wedding planners that the reception was not going to be the issue. The wedding might be problematic.

Melody wanted to get married at the old church, the Little Church in the Valley, even though the couple could probably fill the Crystal Palace.

“Getting a preacher to marry you guys is not going to be our issue, I think”, Bud had said to the wedding planners.

“Reverend Dale is very beholding to your mom and me”, Bud had related, “Even if Reverend Dale has any personal reservations, I think he’d forgo them in our case.” 

“And, from everything I’ve seen, the Reverend Helena would not offer any resistance to performing the ceremony”, Bud had told the group, “Reverend Helena seems to genuinely believe in ‘loving one another as oneself’”.

“Reverend Helena has spoken out against the stupidity of the discriminatory laws being passed by various state legislatures around the South, so I think she’d be on board”, Bud had continued, “In fact, she might enjoy the opportunity to practice what she preaches.”

“No, I think the attempts to roadblock a ‘gay wedding’ will come from the Elders”, Bud had told the wedding planners.

Now as Bud and Mulva sat quietly munching on pork and reflecting on the week’s events, Bud chose to open the topic in a passive aggressive manner.

“It’s a sad thing to say that folks you’ve known all of your lifetime would throw themselves in the path of your child’s happiness”, Bud said, “I think the Elders will try to prevent the wedding because they feel like the wedding is going to cause some irreparable harm to the fabric of the universe or something”.

Mulva continued to chew on her sandwich while she gathered her rebuttal thoughts.

“You know, even here in the mountains, we’ve come to the point that almost everyone will admit that every family has ‘one’”, Bud said, “Most folks will admit that they love dear cousin Michael, ‘even though he never married’.”

Mulva continued to chew while Bud continued to wind himself up. 

“I guess accepting gays as equals is just not possible for some folks”, Bud continued, “It’s like they think that anything other than shunning and condemnation is going to make ‘gay’ spread like the flu”.

Mulva continued to chew while not offering any rebuttal to Bud’s assertions. By remaining silent she allowed Bud to think that she agreed with him completely, and in this case, she did. She knew eventually Bud would wear himself out and when the time was right Mulva would get Bud back on task.

“Well, let me just say here and now, we’re going to work this out so that my daughter has the most special day of her lifetime”, Bud said, “Melody will get the wedding she has always dreamed of, if it harelips the Pope”.

Bud reached for the remote as Mulva cleared away their paper plates. She had hoped to offer some commentary to the telecast, but this might be a good night to practice the old adage, “silence is golden”. Bud was wound tighter than a two-dollar watch, any more stimulation might send his blood pressure through the roof. Mulva had no intention to be planning a funeral and a wedding at the same time.



All Creatures of Our God And King LXXXIII

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. As the Donald makes his “pivot” on immigration, and begins to take a more Jeb Bush view of the world, we wonder if the diehard loonies are going to drop away from supporting the Donald. One can assume that the “nod and a wink” was delivered to the brown shirts by the Donald’s surrogates, but there may be some potential Trump voters that didn’t get the memo. In case the Donald’s new policy is unclear, let me assure you, he’s just kidding. Like asking Russia to hack America’s email accounts, the Donald is just being ‘sarcastic’. Don’t worry white supremacists, this leopard hasn’t changed his spots, or hair color.

Speaking of a leopard changing his spots brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting was fraught with polar extremes. The crushing disappointment of the weak altar call was tempered by the jubilation of the finances. In spite of the lack of participation at the services, the faithful were still tithing according to plan. The money from TV land was still climbing exponentially. Mulva felt extremely confident that the financial plan that she presented at the meeting to open two day care centers would be a no-brainer. She was extremely surprised to be met with resistance from the Elders. Elder Wiley voiced legal and liability concerns, Elder Diggum voiced infrastructure concerns and Elder Cheatum worried about the best and highest use of the money.

“I see the value as a service”, Elder Cheatum stated, “I’m just not sure that it is the best way to spread our mission.” “If we offer a ‘free daycare’, we’ll have people dropping kids off from all over the tri-state area”, he continued, “people that will never darken our doors on Sunday.” “We have to have whatever services we offer in the community tied to membership, not ‘open to the public'”.

Elder Cheatum finished with, “The money is better spent opening new market areas out of the state, even if we have to pay for the telecasts.”

Elder Diggum jumped in at this point to give the news that there were a couple of Christian cable networks that might support adding an hour from The Full Gospel Original Church of God once they saw the telecast’s popularity.

“Our viewership numbers are phenomenal”, Elder Diggum said, “they’d be foolish not to give us a spot.”

“And we don’t run the risk of being sued if some little urchin spreads Ebola to all of Union county,” replied Elder Wiley.

Mulva finished delivering the rest of the financial news and sat quietly with Reverend Helena while the Elders discussed how they would approach the cable networks.

Finally Elder Cheatum rose and asked, “Anything else?” There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned. Reverend Helena retreated to the rectory before Mulva could tell her how much she had enjoyed her sermon, even though it was over the TV. Mulva guessed they could talk after Sunday’s service.

In spite of an all-over body ache brought on by hiking the trails around Tallulah Falls, Bud made good on his promise to Mulva to attend church on Sunday. In deference to his soreness, he begged off driving into Blairsville to catch the services at the Crystal Palace. It wasn’t the driving that was the issue, it was the four block walk to get to the church from wherever there was an available parking space.

I guess there’s a price to pay for popularity, and in this case, it’s the fact that some of us who are less spry might choose to attend other services”, thought Bud, “Or maybe no services at all”.

As Bud pulled into the parking lot of the Little Church In The Valley, he continued to muse to himself, ”I’m not saying that the parking situation at the Crystal Palace is creating heathens, because there’s always the telecasts as an alternative”. “I’m just saying that some of the less energetic worshipers might enjoy being inside and in their pew in less than a minute.” “It couldn’t be more convenient here at the little church if it was a Drive-thru.”

As Bud took his place in his traditional pew, his mind continued to wander. “I wonder if anybody ever thought about the concept of a Drive-thru for religion”, he thought, “If not, I’d like to patent/copyright/whatever the idea.”

Bud allowed his imagination to run free as he continued his plan.

“I can see for the Catholics it would work great”, he thought, “Obviously, it would be perfect for communion, right?” “You’d go to the box and order for the car, stop at the tithing window, and then proceed to pick up your order from the priest”. “The priest would give a blanket blessing for the car, a ‘go and sin no more’, and you’d be done for the week”.

Completely lost in the scene playing out in his head, Bud continued.

Confessions would be a little trickier if you didn’t want to share with the rest of the family.” I’ll have to work on that some. It might be something like the bank with pneumatic tubes. Each family member could put their sins in an envelope with their name on it that would then be sent in to the “confessional”. The hearer of confessions would then open the envelopes, read the confessions and then place a penance response back in the appropriate envelope. Little Johnny might send in “I kicked the dog” in his envelope, and receive a “say ten Hail Mary’s” as his penance. I can see a wall mounted rack of penance cards color coded and graded by severity from top to bottom. The venial sins would be handled by the penance cards closer to Heaven, the mortal sins would be handled by the cards at the bottom, closer to Hell.”

Bud was unaware that the gathering hymn was being sung as he mapped out his plan for world dominance of the “Divine Drive Thru” in his mind.

The confessional line could be a second drive-thru with just the one extra stop.” “That way the confessors wouldn’t hold up the folks receiving Communion.” “If tens of billions of hamburgers can be served quickly and efficiently using drive-thrus, can’t we expect “the Divine Drive Thru” to be just as successful,” Bud asked himself.

Oblivious to his surroundings, Bud continued on, “What’s really cool is that there is already a network of drive-thrus in almost every community already setup to handle the traffic.” “Chik fil A doesn’t open on Sundays.” “This would be a perfect marriage of functions.” “This could be more successful than the daiquiri drive-thrus in New Orleans.” 

The Right Reverend Dale E. Bread’s powerful voice finally broke through the fog of Bud’s brain. This week’s sermon was on God’s watchfulness. The title of the sermon was,“His Eye Is On The Sparrow”. Bud gathered from the message the implication that if God has the time to watch out for something as small as a sparrow, he’s certainly watching over us. Reverend Dale tried to blend in equal parts of “God is watching out for us”, and “God is watching us”. Bud had the feeling that the Reverend was emphasizing the “God is watching us” part a little heavier when Reverend Dale looked Bud in the eye.

Bud remembered one of his favorite scriptures at that moment, John, 8:7, “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
Remembering a verse that not only relieved pressure on his feelings and was also on point to the situation was a double bonus for Bud. Bud figured God’s surveillance system had to be at least as good as the cameras that Bud had planted around TackyToo.

He’s got the Right Reverend dead to rights on a couple of issues”, thought Bud, “I think I’m remembering right that adultery still applies if only one of the parties is married.” “Of course, if both parties are not married, fornication applies.” “I do not see a Heavenly course for the Right Reverend, if the Lord is watching.”

Bud was surprised to see that Reverend Dale had worked a timber rattler back into the testament of faith. The rattler seemed amused by the Right Reverend’s dance of exaltation, but not so amused as to be offended. Bud was happy to see that the new team member played nice and went back into his box without incident.

“Sometimes your prayers are answered”, thought Bud as he got up to leave. “I’m sure Reverend Dale’s were with his new friend.” “I know mine were when the services ended at 12 noon on the dot.”

As Bud left the parking lot of the little church in the valley he thought of the pork butt he had left cooking on the Big Green Egg that needed basting. It would provide a fine supper for he and Mulva while they watched the DVR’d telecast from the Crystal Place later.