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All Creatures of Our God And King LXXI

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. There is no “out of bounds” for crazy. Unlike all of our endeavors in life, where there is perceived to a defined area that society feels comfortable operating in, crazy does not have those restrictions. I’m referencing the Donald’s call to arms by the second amendment wingnuts to do harm to Hillary because the Donald is unable to compete intellectually. To paraphrase the words of that great American, Forest Gump, “Crazy is as crazy does.” I don’t recall there ever being a  political campaign in America that was predicated on the assassination of the opponent. Thanks for that, Donald.

Speaking of giving thanks bring us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. The Wednesday morning “breakfast club” members were gathered around their favorite table at the IHOP when Elder Cheatum dropped the bomb.

“I got a call from Bud Lite”, the Elder began, “and he has related some very disturbing news to me.”

“Is Mulva ok”, asked the other Elders in unison.

“She’s fine, for now”, Elder Cheatum replied, “but Bud is scared that the latest news might send her to Glory”.

“What is it”, asked Elder Wiley, “quit drawing it out.”

“Well, as Bud tells me, he had security cameras installed around the park at TackyToo so that he could get the goods on a suspected peeping Tom”, Elder Cheatum continued, “Seem’s Bud wanted to be able to confront the peeper with video evidence when he evicted him.” “Well, even though the peeper is long since gone, the security system lives on.” “The cameras just keep recording everything they see, 24×7, rain or shine.”

“And….”, asked Elder Diggum.

“And the cameras have revealed more goings on in the wee hours of the night than just the possums turning over the trash.” “Bud has tapes of the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread sneaking into Ms. Anita Goodman’s trailer the last three nights at about 2AM.” “The camera’s datetime stamp shows Dale leaving at about 3AM.”

The Elders are all quite for nearly a minute.

Elder Wiley is first to speak, “I think we have established a new meaning for ‘The Sweet Hour of Prayer’.”

“Well, we can make light of it”, answered Elder Cheatum, “but Bud is afraid the news will send Mulva right off the deep end.” “In her way, she is as important to us as Reverend Helena.” “We need to come up with a plan for protecting Mulva from this information.”

Elder Diggum took the opportunity of the moment of contemplation to order another order of French toast and a side of bacon. When he finished ordering, he looked at his two friends and said,

“You know the old phrase that you can’t teach an old dog a new trick.” “Is there anyway in this world we can teach this ‘old dog’ how to forget this particular trick?”

“Neuter him, I reckon”, replied Elder Wiley, “I don’t see any other way.”

Elder Cheatum looked at Elder Wiley and grinned, “Always the practical one, aren’t you?” 

“Well, I’m just saying that it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle”, replied Elder Wiley, “if you know what I mean.”

“Yes, yes, we know what you mean”, answered Elder Cheatum. “Look, I’m going to tell Bud to keep it quiet”. “If it blows up in our face, we’ll deal with it then, but as of now we are like those three monkeys.” “We haven’t seen anything, we haven’t heard anything, and we’ve certainly got nothing to talk about.” “Agreed?”, he asked as he looked at Elder Diggum.

Elder Diggum answered by clapping his hand over his rather full mouth.

“Ok fine, now let’s get out of here and remember, we don’t know a thing.” said Elder Cheatum as he started to slide out of the booth. 

“That’s not that much of a stretch for Barry”, said Elder Wiley as he handed Elder Diggum the bill, “Here, Barry, this one is on you.” 

The three friends rejoined eight hours later for the “official” weekly board meeting after Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting. All of the news was good. Work was progressing at the Crystal Palace at a pace consistent with a motivated volunteer workforce. Mulva announced that she had ordered another twelve thousand Bible bookmarks in response to the request coming in from the new market areas. Mulva also announced with equal pride that Reverend Dale had made a payment on his outstanding debt to TackyToo. The news was met with smiles and words of approval from the Elders. The meeting ended on a high note.

Sunday’s services were packed to the rafters in spite of the snow on the ground. Elder Cheatum couldn’t help but notice that the Channel 99 truck in the parking lot was a very large step van. Previous telecasts were handled by a converted Ford Econoline. Now the telecasts were being funneled through a van the size of those food trucks you see in Atlanta.

“Well, I guess we’ve all stepped up a bit”, Elder Cheatum thought as he headed inside for the service.

This week’s sermon was on “Envy”, and would complete the ‘seven deadly sins’ series. From his vantage point at the back of the church, Elder Cheatum thought that Reverend Helena gave a good one.

“Not as good as ‘Gluttony’, or ‘Lust’, but still right up there”, the Elder thought.

While waiting for his cue to begin the collection, the Elder wondered about his tenuous relationship with Reverend Dale. The Elder wondered if any of his feelings towards the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread were envious in nature. Clearly the words of Reverend Helena’s sermon were creeping into the Elder’s psyche.

“I mean, he truly is the poster child for an ‘old dog'”, Elder Cheatum thought as he headed to the altar to collect his collection plate.

“He makes his living selling something that can never be returned, and apparently only puts in about eight hours a week doing it.” “The balance of his week is spent ‘ministering’ to the congregation.”

“If truth be told, I’ve always known that Reverend Dale prefers to minister to the more fetching female members of our community”, thought Elder Cheatum as he avoided looking at Anita Goodman while passing the plate down her row.

“I suspect I could be envious of the Right Reverend”, Elder Cheatum thought as he returned his full collection plate back to the altar, “it just seems like the risk-reward is too disproportional for my liking”.”Once you’ve been caught cheating on your spouse, nobody will trust you in anything else.” “The loss of confidence might be something you’d never recover from”.

“Who can afford that”, the Elder asked himself as he watched the Reverend Handbasket put the snakes quietly back in their box.

At the end of the benediction hymn, the Elder and the Reverend crossed paths in the aisle as the Reverend was going to take her first turn at the exit. The Elder was headed to the office to get the preliminary numbers on the collection, and to check Mulva’s attitude. It was hard to judge which was higher, the collection or Mulva’s mood.

The Elder left the church confident that everything was under control.

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