Good morning, y’all. I think the most interesting story I’ve read recently is how our former directors of the CIA are referring to the Donald as a “Russian Doll”. It seems that the former directors, both of whom worked for Republican presidents, think that the Donald’s desperate need for flattery made him susceptible to being turned by Putin. Putin, who the directors point out never left the KGB, would be adept at exploiting the vanity of a megalomaniac. Fascinating stuff if the future of the world didn’t hang in the balance.
Speaking of balancing acts brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. The month of January was fairly flying by. Everyone associated with The Full Gospel Original Church of God was busier than “a one-armed paper hanger” as Elder Diggum liked to say. Elder Cheatum watched the congregation squirm into the spaces available at Sunday’s service on January 17th and marveled at the diversity before him.
As he watched the big screens in the front of the auditorium, the camera panned the crowd displaying the faces of people the Elder had never seen before. In point of fact, the Elder might have crossed to the other side of the street if he had seen some of the new acolytes out walking on the street. The new group of parishioners that were coming in from the hinterlands were as diverse a group of folks as one would ever hope to see.
“It looks like the auditions for Barnum and Bailey out there”, the Elder thought to himself.
While the Elder had grown a mild tolerance to the “body arts” as some people liked to refer to tattoos, he felt they should be of the subtle variety. The Elder realized that most young people sported an ink illustration or two, he just thought they should be out of sight. Where the Elder drew the line on “body arts” was the puncturing of perfectly good flesh and then sticking some sort of appliance through the hole. While he had long ago grown to accept the piercing of ears by women, he was horrified at the new custom of piercing noses and cheeks and lips. Piercing the tongue was so vile that the thought caused the Elder to retch.
While the Elder had gained a little acceptance of the female of the species puncturing themselves, he could not for the life of himself understand males wearing ear rings. When he looked out over the crowd, he saw a couple of males that had not only punctured their ears, but inserted something that looked like a spool for thread through the hole to make the earlobe drag like a basset hound’s.
“That can’t be good for you, can it?” the Elder thought to himself.
As Elder Wiley came over to stand next to Elder Cheatum, Elder Cheatum nodded at the big screen TV displaying the faces of the two males with spools in their ears.
“You know these folks don’t worry about my approval one iota, and I’m happy they don’t”, Elder Cheatum whispered in Elder Wiley’s ear, “but, I do believe they’re in the right spot to have their lifestyles and choices evaluated.” “I can think of a few members of the congregation that will tell the newcomers what they think of their looks straight off.”
Elder Cheatum nodded towards Amen Corner and continued, “One blast of ‘country wisdom’ from Granny Waller should separate the curious from the confirmed right way.” “She’s never had a problem telling folks what she thinks, and at 97 years old, she’s just that much more forthcoming with her opinions; the filters are all turned off.”
Elder Wiley grinned and whispered in Elder Cheatum’s ear, “You always know where you stand with Granny Waller.”
Just then the sounds of Ted E. Bayer and the Love Fellowship blasted through the sound system as they began to play the gathering hymn. Conversation no longer possible, Elder Wiley moved to his usual spot near the front of the church .
In this week’s message, the Reverend Helena Handbasket unleashed a blast from the fiery pit to warn the prideful of their eventual reward if they didn’t change their ways. It was not enough that, “pride would go before a fall”, but Reverend Helena Handbasket threw out a quote by T.S. Elliot that further summed up her feelings on the topic. “Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important”, was the quote. It was obvious that the quote had reached deeply into the congregation’s psyche by the pensive looks on their faces.
As Reverend Helena “preached on”, she explained that everyone should be important. “Everyone should be important to their families, their communities, and most especially, important to their church. “Your feelings of importance should come through your contributions though, and not through a sense of self importance”.
From where Elder Cheatum stood, it appeared that the Reverend Helen Handbasket was clearly issuing a challenge to the new members. As the Elder passed the collection plate from row to row, and looked at the member’s faces as they passed the plate to one another, he was struck by the thought.
“If you want to be proud of yourself, do good works in the church, don’t just show up dressed to the nines and expect to get recognition for your Bruno Maglis.” “I can roll with that”, the Elder thought to himself.
The Elder’s suspicions that the collection plate was a little heavier than usual was born out by Mulva’s deposit slips.
“Looks like people don’t mind paying a little extra to be able to feel prideful”, remarked Elder Cheatum.
Mulva looked up from her calculations and said,”I guess, I thought it was one of Reverend Helena’s best sermons, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did”, replied the Elder, “I was particularly impressed by the use of the quote from a Unitarian to drive home the point of self importance.” “I might have gone with anything from Proverbs, but you can’t argue with success.” The Elder nodded toward the bank deposit bag that was being filled by the secretary/treasurer.
“Speaking of good works for the church, how’s Bud coming with our website,” the Elder questioned.
“I think he’s trying real hard to get it going”, responded Mulva, “there’s been lots of diversions lately, and Bud is easily taken off of task.”
“That’s ok, I was just asking”, Elder Cheatum replied, “I’d just like to have it up to announce the new times and everything else we can think of”.
Elder Cheatum stood to leave and said, “Give him my best”.
“I will”, replied Mulva as she went back to her duties. The Elder left the parking lot proud of his contributions for the week.