Good morning, y’all. “Something is happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear”; what prophetic words. Demonstrations are being held all over the country protesting the latest police killings of innocents. One of the innocents was found to have been stopped fifty-two times over the last few years. Never convicted of anything harsher than assorted parking/driving offenses. It appears that the infraction that led to his ultimate execution was driving while black. If the police are this afraid of the population, they ought not to be issued guns. Think Barney Fife.
Speaking of assorted infractions bring us back around to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Sunday’s service was a combination of new, and old, and weird. Worshipers witnessing the new “addition” didn’t know what to make of the trailer that had metastasized itself onto the side of the church. Late arrivals were happy to have a seat, though. It was ugly, and the word was circulated that it was only temporary until a more permanent solution could be derived.
It was true that the seats in the trailer didn’t have quite as good a viewing angle on the services as actually being in the sanctuary. The big screen TV mounted at the front of the trailer and expanded sound system should pay big dividends. The Elders were concerned that seating could be a potential conflict between new worshipers and the older members of the church. Certain seating arrangements had been in place for decades in the little church. The Elders hoped that they could avoid any back biting or infighting for the “good seats”, by the addition of the audio-visual component to the new trailer and sanctuary.
The Reverend Helena Handbasket was now flanked at the altar by two big screen TVs with a Boise PA system. Now, even the folks in the back row of the church or the trailer, were able to watch the Reverend Helena Handbasket perform her magic in full HD.
“The comparisons to Carrie’s mom from the movie “Carrie” will probably be even more plentiful now that the faithful will see the whole show in digitized glory”, thought Elder Cheatum from his vantage point in the last row. As the Elder did a quick head count on the attendance, he mused to himself, “Barry went a little crazy at the electronics store, but from the looks of things, we’ll pay the whole bill from collections today.”
As the Elders started the collection plate for the service, they also passed the prayer basket right behind. The prayer basket was a tradition dating back to Hiram Walker. It was the way that the parishioners could put in the name of a family member or loved one that was needing special attention from the Lord. The prayer baskets were brought to the altar after the collection and the Reverend Helena Handbasket would pull out a name or two and offer up prayers to the congregation on that person’s behalf. It was a widely held belief, almost a sign, actually, that if the Reverend didn’t pick your name, that, that person was already healing and didn’t need special prayers. The requests that were not picked out by the Reverend would be reviewed by the Women’s Auxiliary after services. Each request would receive attention, if not that day, at Wednesday Night Prayer meeting.
On this Sunday, the deep roots of Georgia football were in evidence in the prayer baskets. Georgia’s star running, Mick Chub, had been seriously hurt the day before. The prayer basket was filled with requests for prayers for Mick Chub. According to Reverend Handbasket’s retelling of the episode after services, she was shocked when the first name she pulled out was “Chubbie”. The Reverend thought that she was being pranked, and she had a good idea of who the perpetrator of the prank was. Everyone in the congregation had seen the Reverend as she turned and looked directly at Hugh Morris and said, “the prayer basket is not to be used for prayers for yourself”. When the second name the Reverend pulled out was “Mick Chub”, the Reverend’s face turned as red as her hair. The new HD TV’s showed the transformation of color in the Reverend’s face with exceptional clarity. The Reverend offered up an impassioned request for Mr. Chub’s quick healing. She also took the time to pull another half dozen names from the basket and offered entreaties to the Lord on their behalf.
The Elders were having a good laugh at the Reverend’s expense at their Wednesday morning breakfast.
“I can certainly see how she thought it was Hugh Morris asking for special assistance”, Elder Wiley said. “That old goat makes his attentions known to every good looking female under the age of thirty,” Elder Wiley continued, “and some not so good looking.”
“It was funny watching her blush,” said Elder Diggum as he dug into his steak and eggs. “And did you notice how good the reds were on those big screens?” “I think I got a really good deal, and I think that geek I hired was outstanding.” “Did I tell you he also works at Channel 99 doing camera work and stuff?”
“Only about eight times,” Elder Cheatum said, “You did good Barry, now give us some peace about it.”
“The young scholar seems off his message a bit this week”, he said as he handed that week’s copy of the North Georgia Gazette to Elder Wiley. Elder Wiley looked at the religion column as written by the young intern Howard Doohan. It read:
The holy pontiff is making a tour of the United States right now. I happen to have been deeply touched by the pontiff last night when I tuned into my favorite news show, the NBC Nightly News, no longer with Brian Williams. The new anchor, Lester Holt, does a fine job, but he is not the seasoned veteran Brian Williams is. I was bursting with anticipation to hear about the top news story of the day, a genetically engineered cross over of a farm animal and a transportation device. I believe they called it a “duckboat”. The lead story was that a “duckboat” had run amok in Seattle with deaths and injuries and other assorted of mayhem.
But, before we could get to the lead story, the viewers had to watch the pope ride another genetically altered vehicle, called the popemobile, about a quarter of a mile to church. In deference to his advanced years, I’m going to cut the pope a lot of slack here. The pope is 78, and walking a quarter of a mile is probably too much for a man in his stage of life. I also understand that there were millions of folks in New York City that wanted to get a glimpse of his popeness as he passed by.
For occasions such as these, the pope’s entourage carry a Jeep that looks like it was designed by the folks at Tupperware. The popemobile has a snap down lid on it so the pope can be seen by everyone, but he is still behind bulletproof glass. For the longer stretches of this tour, the pope is tooling around in a micro Fiat, very consistent with his ecological message. The Jeep popemobile has got to get about 12 miles to the gallon. I guess it’s good they only use it for a quarter of a mile at a time.
Anyway, the pope finally arrives at this monster of a church that I forget has had how many hundreds of millions of dollars spent on it. The pope pops out of the popemobile and, like Edwin Edwards at a crawfish festival, starts shaking hands and kissing babies with everyone in sight.
The clock was approaching the 7 o’clock hour, and the folks at NBC didn’t seem to be remotely motivated to move from the scene at the church. All of NBC’s viewership waited as the pope made the long slow walk down the aisle of this monster church. Finally, his popeness reached the altar of the church and began taking deep breaths in anticipation of delivering a long sermon.
At 7 o’clock, Lester and his friends had to say goodbye and relinquish their time to “Wheel of Fortune”. I was aghast. I had waited patiently for one half hour to receive information about what had set this “duckboat” off on its killing spree.
What if “duckboats” were rapidly reproducing and the streets of Blairsville were about to be overrun with genetically engineered, mentally fragile, hybrids? How was the general public supposed to respond to the threat based off of the scant information received from NBC News?
Visiting the monster church was not the only stop on the pope’s tour. The pope also visited the 9/11 memorial and gave a stirring speech to Congress. My guess is there were less deaf ears at the 9/11 memorial than in the Congress.
I realize I’ve made a feeble attempt at humor about the visitation of the leader of one of the largest religions on the planet. In his defense, he seems to be a good one, which is an exception in his position. I just marvel at the power of a man who had the ability to completely disrupt all of the media in this country, but can’t stop his priests from abusing children. This powerful man would have us believe that he is powerless to allow women control over their bodies, or allow women to advance to leadership positions in the church.
I’m out of space, but not things to say. Until next time.
“Well, looks like he’s decided to become the humor columnist”, said Elder Wiley has he handed the paper back to Elder Cheatum.
“Works for me”, said ELder Cheatum. “I’m happy for him to shine his light on anybody but us.”
“Amen”, replied Elder Diggum.
The three friends walked out into the parking lot together.
“How are we coming with that second trailer”, asked Elder Cheatum.
“I’m going there right now to check,” Elder Wiley responded. “Barry you might need to make another run to the electronics store this week.”
“Fine, just let me know”, said Elder Diggum as he got into his car. The three friends parted until they would meet again at prayer meeting.