Good morning, y’all. Hillary is the nominee, Bernie won’t let go, and Will Rogers old saying is being played out in primetime. “I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat.”, Will Rogers used to say. And that’s the beauty of it, the Democrats have a wide diversity of groups, ideas and philosophies that come together under the big tent that is the Democratic party.
Speaking of big tents bring us back to the retelling of the history of the Little Church in the Valley. It is day four of Summer Revival 2010, and Elder Diggum has just entered the rectory to join the committee meeting going on inside. The voices are louder than usual, and his partner, Elder Cheatum, is describing his experience in Tent number one from the night before.
“Well let me just say this, I don’t care if we can get Brighton Early for a dollar a week and a plate of fried chicken, he’s not the one for us.” “I didn’t understand half of what he was saying, and it wasn’t while he was speaking in tongues, in fact, I don’t recall if he was taken over by the spirit or not.” “I just remember he kept talking about “being in the Matrix”, whatever that is, and comparing it to being in the “corporeal plane”. ” In my opinion, it’s way too Early, for the Reverend Early.” Elder Cheatum looked about the kitchen table for responses to his pun. He was delighted to hear a few “good ones” from the collected group.
Elder Cheatum continued on with his report and voiced his concerns about their headliner, the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnstone. “I’m telling you, he was as red as a beet when he left the stage last night.” “I don’t know what that scratching is all about, if it’s contagious or not.” “If it is contagious, we’ll be laughed right out of the mountains.” “Can you hear it now, ‘Healer infects hundreds, News at 11?'” “My Lord, it’s bad enough the man can’t handle a garden snake as well as any Nunsuch six year old, he even dropped the snake last night.” “He wasn’t bit or nothin’, he just dropped it!”, “If his security hadn’t of pounced on it, the snake might have gotten into the crowd and Hap’s little secret would have been out.” “I think we’ve got a real problem here.”
“Now, now, let’s not get ourselves too caught up in the moment”, said Reverend Daniel as he poured himself a cup of coffee. “Hap’s still drawing people to the tent like it’s the first night, and his altar call still has them packed in the aisles.”, “We’re half done, let’s reach out to the Right Reverend and see if we can offer him any further assistance.” “Maybe he just needs a dose of salts.” “He can use the bathtub here in the rectory if that fancy tour bus doesn’t have one.” “Elder Cheatum, why don’t you suggest it when you take him his share of yesterday’s gate?”, “Speaking of which, madame treasurer, how are we doing?”
Mulva Lite began to gave her complete report. Collections for night three of the revival were six thousand and eight hundred and eighty dollars . The uptick in the collection plates had come from Tent number three, with the other two tents holding even from previous nights. After paying all of the ministers their share, including the exorbitant fee going to Hap Johnstone, the net to the Little Church in the Valley was thirty seven hundred dollars and some change. Treasurer Lite explained that larger collections from a tent where they were only paying a five percent fee made a big difference.
Mulva was almost gleeful when she reported that the concessions had gone over the ten thousand dollar mark for the first time ever. The net profit was hanging close to the seventy five percent mark. Treasurer Lite also brought in a piece of new business for the committee. Since the Ladies Auxillary were serving fruit cups, Ben Waller, Granny Waller’s great grandson, had offered to take all of the food scraps from the revival for his pigs. He would in turn give a butchered hog to the church for the Summer picnic. Mulva felt it was a win-win and had closed the deal without consultation. There was a moment of anxiety for Mulva as she watched the faces of the collected menfolk to see if she had made a good decision or not.
Finally Reverend Daniel spoke up and said, “That’s a right fine idea, Mulva, we need more thinking where we can use one problem to fix another one.”
The rest of the committee smiled their approval and Mulva forged ahead with her report. The care and feeding of the Hap T. Johnstone entourage was more than expected, but if all trends held true, the week’s profits could clear fifty thousand dollars. The use of volunteered labor was a big savings, and Treasurer Lite felt that there should be a program setup for the soliciting of items from local merchants to support the efforts of the Little Church in the Valley. Items that were going to be tossed out in local eateries could certainly be re-purposed for the glory of the Lord. The committee looked at one another and then Reverend Daniel thanked Mulva for her report.
There being no further business, the committee set about devouring the fried catfish and hush puppies placed before them by the Ladies Auxillary. The committee had the good fortune to sample the evening meal provided the revival ministers and their assorted entourages at the committee’s lunch hour. Lunch for the visitors had been confined to soups, stews, salads and sandwiches. The contract had called for three hot meals a day, and the Ladies Auxillary were living up to their end of the bargain. While there had been no mention of haute cuisine in the contract, the Ladies felt like some of their diners were being a little hyper critical of the simple fare. Most of the Ladies were having trouble getting home in time to prepare dinner for their own families, who would have been proud to be eating as well as the folks at the revival.
Lunch being finished, the committee thanked the Ladies and retired to the front porch to sip on sweet tea and rock a bit. Elder Cheatum was headed to Hap Johnstone’s tour bus with Hap’s share of the daily take when the Cadillac Escalades pulled out of their spaces and headed for the highway. Waving the envelope with the money inside, Elder Cheatum flagged down the Escalade holding Hap Johnstone and his secretary. Ms. Leer reached out her hand for the envelope, and Elder Cheatum handed her the envelope and the ledger for signature. Elder Cheatum leaned in to the car and told Hap, “We need to talk”.
Hap pushed the ledger back at the Elder with a “later”, and then, the power window was closed. Elder Cheatum noticed that the bare hand extended by Hap was covered with a rash looking like prickly heat. Seeing the evidence of one of his concerns provided the Elder with the perfect opening to confront the Right Reverend. The rash was but one of the issues that was troubling the committee. But, with a screech of tires, Hap was gone. Confrontation would have to wait until Hap returned. Hopefully, he would return.
Elder Cheatum headed back to the front porch to rock awhile, while cogitating on what to do.