All Creatures of Our God And King XCVII

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Sadly, I can imagine the horror of a Trump presidency. I can only surmise that all of the talking heads, the news analysts, can not. Maybe they feel that their limos will still pick them up and deliver them to their penthouses regardless of who is President. Maybe they don’t see the danger behind the racist, xenophobic, misogynist becoming the most important man in the world. I liken the media’s obliviousness to Marie Antoinette and her response to being told that the people didn’t have bread. “Let them eat cake”, she is quoted to having said. If the media don’t stop trying to make the election into a horse race for their ratings, then we will all reap the whirlwind for their lack of holding Trump and his minions to account. Walter Cronkite must be spinning in his grave, along with all of the other true reporters.

Speaking of holding others to account brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. At the insistence of his wife Mulva, Bud Lite headed in to Blairsville to attend the services at the Crystal Palace. It was Pentecostal Sunday and Mulva wanted Bud by her side this Sunday. As Bud circled the area looking for a parking spot he reflected on the legend of the Pentecost and how it held deep meaning for the Evangelical faith.

Pentecost refers to the occasion of the visitation of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, and the other early Christians, after Jesus had ascended into Heaven. It was a very big deal to the attendees of the Little Church in the Valley. The followers knew that visitation by the Holy Spirit was not limited to just one day of the year. The Spirit could visit at any time or hour, and most members thought the Spirit was just waiting inside the church for the congregation to return from one time to the next. To some members, Pentecostal Sunday was like celebrating a wedding anniversary. The first anniversary was special, but thereafter you were just going through the motions. Fortunately for the Evangelical movement, the majority of the followers did not feel this way.

Bud found a spot about four blocks away from the church and had to do his version of a sprint to get to the church on time. Bud reached the steps of the church just as the bells pealed their call to the faithful. Bud’s heart was still racing when he slid in next to Mulva in the third row. Bud heard the overhead camera glide into place as the choir opened up with “Faith of Our Fathers”. The Reverend Helena Handbasket materialized on the stage and then wandered over to the corner of the stage. Reverend Helena was dressed in a blood red robe with her customary white sash with gold trim. Her fiery red hair looked more bouffant than usual. Bud assumed the Channel 99 techs had given her a personal microphone to use, because the sound filling the auditorium was just perfect, even though she wasn’t standing behind the pulpit. There was no evidence of a boom mike overhead, so Bud reckoned Reverend Helena was wired up like a rock star.

Reverend Handbasket started her sermon talking about the Pentecost, describing the early days of Christianity. She spoke in a rather matter of fact voice, like she was giving a Sunday School lesson to a group of grammar school children. She described how the Apostles were at a loss for what to do next after Jesus had ascended. The Apostles were reflecting on their next moves when the Spirit came upon then. Reverend Helena quoted Acts 2:1-6, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.” Obviously these were the core beliefs of an Evangelical congregation. The Reverend was “preaching to the choir”, as the saying goes.

Just in case the viewers were not convinced by her words, Reverend Helena had arranged a visual aid to help the faithful. There appeared to be a reflecting substance embedded in the Reverend’s hair that gave off the appearance of a flame when struck by whatever light the stage crew was using. The effect was overwhelming in person, Bud could only imagine how it looked on TV.

As Bud watched the Pentecostal flame burning over the Reverend’s head, he thought to himself, “I watch a lot of Sci-Fi and I don’t think I’ve seen that technique used before”. “I’ll have to Google magic tricks when I get a chance”.

Pentecost is one of the times communion is served at The Full Gospel Original Church of God. When Reverend Helena finished her sermon, she made the call to share communion and moved to her spot in front of the altar. The altar had been pre-staged by the Elders with the “wine” and the “flesh”. As the Elders moved the trays with shot glasses of grape juice to the congregation, the choir sang, “Are You Washed In The Blood”. After the “wine” had been circulated by the Elders throughout the congregation, the acolytes left their pews. They formed a line that went out the doors of both aisles with acolytes lining up to receive the “body of Christ”.

As Bud surveyed the lines he thought, “You’d think the church was giving away free double quarter-pounders with cheese, not an oyster cracker”.

The communion took the place of the usual altar call and testament of faith. Any evaluation of Reverend Helena “upping her game” based on the rumors of the serpent prodigy Devin, could not be conducted. Reverend Handbasket did seem to be spot on with the rest of the service, and she got through communion efficiently. At the end of the service the choir sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, and Reverend Helena pronounced the benediction. Rather than slipping out ahead of everyone else, Bud stayed behind.

“This is the week I’m finding out how she does it”, Bud said to himself as he walked backstage with Mulva. While Bud was interested in seeing where his wife spent so many hours of her week, he was more interested in seeing how Reverend Helena materialized on stage. When he saw the trap door outline in the stage, he understood. He immediately felt a calming effect.

Crazy, I felt like I was about to burst”, Bud thought after solving the puzzle, “I’m sure I wasn’t filled with the Spirit, but I sure was filled with something”. “Must have been curiosity”.

Bud followed Mulva back to the office and bounced from one foot to the other until being released by his wife. Bud did manage a “good sermon” to Reverend Helena who had already changed into her street clothes. Bud’s offer of all the pancakes she could eat was met with a polite refusal by the Reverend. Satisfied he had done all that was sociably required of him, Bud left the grounds at a good clip headed for IHOP.


All Creatures of Our God And King XCVI

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. All that is good and right with the planet has now returned. Yes, I’m taking about the return of the college football season. Months of specious speculation, prognostication and wishful thinking will be overcome by the reality of what is. Even if the current temperatures belie our return to the fall season, our hearts spring forth with the joy that comes from the memories of falls past. Will this be the year our champions return once again to their rightful status as national champions? Stayed tuned, the results will come all too fast. My team is off to a good start.

Speaking of champions of the past brings us back to our retelling of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Elder Cheatum returned to the Little Church in the Valley that Sunday to be the eyes and ears for the leadership committee with regards to the goings on with young Devin Bread. The reports that had come back to the Elders were shocking on their surface. If true, the Elders would need to find a way to manage little Devin. Elder Cheatum was determined to see if the witnesses accounts were a one time fluke, or if something was going on that was straight out of the Old Testament. Elder Cheatum was recalling Isiah 11:6, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.”

Based on all accounts, there was no doubt that a little child had tamed one of God’s more anti-social beasts.

“Was it a fluke, a miracle, or the work of a desperate Dad using his son to keep his job”, questioned Elder Cheatum to himself. “For my money, it is a combination of Reverend Dale and the Devil”, Elder Cheatum thought as he slid into the last row.

“I think the Reverend Dale has provided the opportunity for the child to perform a bit of devilment”, the Elder thought as he surveyed the congregation, “The devilment may have a lofty goal, keeping his daddy’s job, but, the subterfuge still runs counter to the high standards of the Evangelical movement”.

As the gathering hymn played, Elder Cheatum continued to build his argument in his mind that the Bread’s were up to no good.

Speaking in tongues and the laying of hands to heal might be easy to fake, and therefore easily used to take advantage of an unsuspecting congregation”, reasoned the Elder, “but the handling of snakes is not something one can fake, even if one is a fakir”.

“While the Devil has a long history of using snakes to do his bidding, I reject the notion that there is something more sinister here”, the Elder concluded, “Helping an eight year old to keep a few serpents under control would be ‘child’s play’ for the Prince of Darkness; I’m thinking that the only Devil at play here is Reverend Dale”.

The service was as normal as normal could be. The sermon was entitled, “The Importance of Pentecost”, and most of the followers had heard it many times before. The sermon was so well known that Elder Cheatum thought he heard Bubba Hawker’s bass voice mimicking the sermon from his place in the choir. Bubba Hawker’s attempt to rise to power was another problem that needed to be dealt with, but not today. Elder Cheatum was becoming convinced that his return to the Little Church was a waste of time when the sermon changed course.

With about ten minutes left in the sermon, Reverend Dale was struck dumb, in mid-sentence. The Reverend’s mouth was open but no sounds were coming out. The silence lasted for about twenty seconds when it was broken by the high piping voice of Devin Bread. Little Devin picked up the sermon at the exact spot that his Daddy had left off. Devin continued the sermon in his loudest voice as he made his way to the pulpit. Being too small to stand behind the pulpit, Devin stood next to his Dad and delivered the rest of the sermon, word for word, to the awestruck congregation.

The Evangelical congregation had been witness to some mighty strange and unusual events over the years, but Elder Cheatum could not recall ever having a circumstance like this before. When little Devin Bread picked up the sermon from his Dad, the entire congregation’s jaws fell slack, as if one. Elder Cheatum speculated that there must be others in the congregation, besides himself, that wondered if it was a staged event. The Elder was equally sure that there were those in attendance who believed they were watching the Second Coming. To their credit, the Breads, father and son, played the event as coolly and calmly as two seasoned Broadway performers.

At the end of the sermon, little Devin made the altar call and headed down to the floor of the auditorium in front of the pulpit. Bubba Hawker seemed to have regained his senses, or maybe it was just an involuntary response like breathing. Either way, his deep bass voice boomed out, “Love Lifted Me”, and the rafters of the church shook with the reverberations of his voice. Maybe Bubba hadn’t ciphered yet that there now appeared to be another Bread between him and his rightful inheritance, his legacy. Bubba’s call to preach where his father, grandfather and great grandfather had preached was now being blocked by an eight-year-old. Not to mention Devin’s daddy, if Reverend Dale ever regained his senses.

Little Devin did his dance of exultation with as much grace and style as one could ever imagine an eight-year-old to possess. The spirit filled dance included moves from early Michael Jackson and the character ReRun from the TV show “That’s My Momma”. The dance moves were a direct result of Bud Lite adding the Nickelodeon package to TackyToo‘s cable package. In a move designed to keep the children in the trailer park from monopolizing the big screen in the Rec room, Bud paid five dollars a month so the kids could watch wholesome shows in their own trailer. Now the congregation was watching the law of unintended consequences bust a move in front of the largely septugenarian audience.

While many in the audience felt compelled to move forward, Elder Cheatum held back. Standing with a good line of sight to the altar, the Elder could watch for any trickery. He found none. Little Devin reached into the box and went for the timber rattler first thing. Seemingly oblivious to the danger, Devin pulled out the six foot timber rattler. As Devin held the snake aloft, the audience could see that the serpent was a good bit taller than the child. No mind, Devin wrapped the snake around his neck, then he tied it in a knot around his waist like a belt. Next Devin grabbed the snake by the tail and whipped it around on the floor like he was stirring sugar into his ice tea.

At this point Elder Cheatum started thinking “ringer”. Elder Cheatum assumed that the Breads had substituted the real rattler with a very real looking rubber substitute. If it was not a substitute then the snake had been loaded up on sleeping pills. About the time that Elder Cheatum was ready to slip out and report to the other Elders that there was chicanery afoot at the “Little Church In the Valley”, one of the Elders in training reached for the snake. Waldo Inacrowd, lifelong church member and owner of the travel agency “On The Road Again”, should credit his lifetime of clean living with giving him the quick reactions that avoided a tragedy. The timber rattler took a lightning like snap at Elder Inacrowd’s face as Elder Inacrowd tried to relieve Little Devin from the serpent. The snake opened his mouth so wide Elder Cheatum could see his venom sacs from his spot in the last row.

“Well, we’ve certainly answered the question about whether the rattler is a ringer or not to my satisfaction”, thought Elder Cheatum, “There are a ton of other unanswered questions, but I know I’m not going to get to the bottom of them today”.

The Elder decided to slip away before the scene in front of the altar devolved into something out of the movie, “The Wicker Man”. He glanced back over his shoulder as he went out of the door and saw that the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread had not moved an inch from his spot behind the pulpit.

“If he is truly catatonic, somebody will call the EMT’s, I guess”, Elder Cheatum thought, “Of course, at this point, I’d say all the Reverend Dale needs is for little Devin to lay hands on him.”


All Creatures of Our God And King XCV

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I’m imagining an America with a taco stand on every corner. According to the Trump Latino specialist, Tio Tomas, that’s what we’ll have if we don’t build a thirty foot impenetrable wall guarding us good God-fearing white folks from our neighbors to the South. One can only speculate what the Canadians might do in response. The Donald’s dystopian future might include stands selling thick bacon and Molson beer right next to the Taco stands. On a related note, a taco stand on every corner in America is speculated to raise employment by nine and a half million people, so there is that. 

Speaking of employment brings us back again to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Wednesday following the “miracle in the valley”, the Elders met for their unofficial meeting of the board at the IHOP in Blairsville. Instead of being named Wiley, Diggum and Cheatum, the Elders could have substituted Confused, Concerned and Cautious. Elder Wiley broke the ice.

“What in the name of Sarah’s hatband is going on in Nunsuch”, Elder Wiley asked his two friends. “People are swearing that Reverend Dale’s eldest took over the testament of faith”.

“And then Bubba Hawker decided to go all Indian snake charmer and risk his life kissing a rattler”, added Elder Diggum as he reached for the butter.

“That sums up what I was told”, replied Elder Cheatum, “and I don’t know what to think.”

He waited for the waitress to leave before continuing, “I think one of us is going to have to monitor the situation in the valley until Reverend Dale is gone.”

Elder Cheatum waited a few seconds and then said, “Okay, I volunteer.”

“Look”, Elder Cheatum said as he placed a napkin between his cup and saucer, “we don’t know what conclusions, if any, we can draw from the events.”

Elder Cheatum continued, “Was the child Spirit Filled, put up to it by his Daddy, or just acting out, we just don’t know”.

“Was Bubba Spirit Filled, feeling the ghost of his Daddy, or just jealous on some level that he’s not the pastor”, added Elder Wiley, “we just don’t know”.

“Well, we do know we’ve got a gold mine in Reverend Helena”, answered Elder Cheatum, “and perhaps a little nugget in Reverend Dale’s kid.” “Who know where this might lead.”

“Well as long as all roads lead to the Tres Amigos Retirement Village in Belize”, said Elder Diggum, “I’m on board.”

The Elders spent the rest of their breakfast lost in their own imaginations of life on a beach in Belize. As they prepared to depart from the parking lot of the only eatery in Blairsville with International in its name, Elder Wiley looked at Elder Cheatum and said. “I guess we won’t see you in church”.

“You will tonight, but not Sunday”, Elder Cheatum, “So, see you later.”

Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting was as normal as vanilla ice cream. Even though the followers continued to cast quick glances in his direction, little Devin Bread sat like a statue in his pew. When the service was concluded the board members, plus one, met in the office at the back of the church.

Elder Cheatum broke the silence, “I’ve questioned quite a few folks so far, and to my amazement, they all seem to agree on what they saw this past Sunday.”

Elder Cheatum continued, “Sometimes we hear two completely different things in what we’re being told.” “I like to be clear on what the message actually means before I use it to actually take action on the item.” “I hate to get a new course charted and then find out that I’m headed off completely in the wrong direction.”

The Elder paused for effect before continuing.

“To her credit, Reverend Helena is pretty straight forward with what she’s trying to get across.” “There’s not a lot of mumbo-jumbo involving the Protestant Reformation, or scripture that no one can decipher”, the Elder said as cleaned his nails with a pen knife.

“Let’s all be honest, there’s a lot of scripture that can be interpreted in a hundred different ways”, Elder Cheatum said looking around the table, “Preachers do it all of the time”.

The Elder smiled at the group and said, “I just don’t want to give up pork rinds thinking it’s going to lead to my salvation, and then find out that I had misinterpreted the intent of Leviticus 11:7-8 “And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.”

The group emitted a light laugh acknowledging the Elder’s attempt at humor.

“So the question before us is, as I see it, is the child Devin truly touched by the Holy Spirit, or is this an attempt to keep Reverend Dale’s job?”

Elder Cheatum looked at the secretary/treasurer, “Mulva, what are your thoughts?” 

Mulva arranged the papers in her hands before answering, “I tend to think that the child was taken over by the Spirit.” “I talked to Alva about it, just mother to mother, and she seemed scared to death by what happened”. “Alva says Devin won’t talk about it, not even to Reverend Dale”.

“And what does Reverend Dale think”, asked Elder Cheatum.

“He’s as surprised as everybody”, Mulva replied, “He doesn’t know whether to discourage Devin or not, since it might all be divine inspired.”

Elder Cheatum glanced at his watch, “Okay, we’ve spent enough time on this topic”. “Let me just wrap up by saying I’ll be attending services here this Sunday.” “If there’s another ‘miracle’, I want to witness it.” “Now, let’s get on with regular business.”

Elder Diggum reported that the work establishing their own cable network show was progressing rapidly. If things fell into place, The Full Gospel Original Church of God might be able to broadcast Summer Revival 2016 on their own channel.

Mulva reported that the cash was still pouring in to the point that the church had had to open two new bank accounts to ensure coverage of their deposits by the FDIC.

At this point, Elder Wiley interrupted his doodling to point out that he was reviewing the prospectus of several startups that the church should consider investing in.

Mulva caught herself before speaking. From Elder Wiley’s words she could tell that her dream of Day Care centers for the working poor of the area would never materialize. Mulva glanced sideways at Reverend Helena to see if the Reverend had picked up on Elder Wiley’s  words. Reverend Helena glanced quickly at Mulva letting her know that she had received the message loud and clear.

Elder Cheatum rose from his chair signifying the end of the meeting. The group walked to the parking lot together, to return to their very separate lives.


All Creatures of Our God And King XCIV

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. As storms rage off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina, another storm is building in the state of California. California released a convicted rapist today after serving a whopping three months in jail. Now, to be fair, there were extenuating circumstances. The convicted rapist was white, highly educated and able to afford attending a prestigious university. The convicted rapist was also able to afford the best attorneys, and had at least one parent that could rationalize abhorrent behavior. Most importantly, the convicted rapist was adjudicated by a judge who apparently cared far less for the victim than the perpetrator. Maybe the judge identified more with the male than the female, who knows?

Speaking of of making judgements brings us back around to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Bud had just returned to TackyToo when he got a call on his cell phone. Bud saw the word “Hurricane” on the caller ID, and assumed it might be a severe weather report. Thinking that it was one of the many weather reporting agencies in Georgia, he answered the call.

Bud was very appreciative of the fact that his local weather service would call when a tornado was advancing on his house. In truth, the weather service made calls for all sorts of bad weather, not just tornadoes. Bud usually ignored them. This message was entitled “Hurricane”, so he was intrigued enough to answer. As it turned, out the call was from the “Hurricane Ministries”. It was Bud’s first ever “robo call for Jesus”. Bud speculated that the ministry recognized the power of the word “Hurricane” and that most people would pick up their calls because the word “Hurricane” took up most of the screen on caller ID.

“Well, I know for sure if I had seen the word ‘Ministry'”, Bud thought, “I would have never picked up”. “I’ve got all I can handle right now with our little band of Evangelicals without taking on a new drain of time, energy, and finances”.

In spite of the fact that the Hurricane Ministries promised to teach Bud the path to Salvation in under a minute and a half, and they promised not to ask for any money, Bud pressed “2” to be added to their “do not call list”. Bud was always interested in new marketing techniques and he resolved to keep an eye on the Ministry’s Facebook page to see how they fared.

“It certainly changes the dynamic if you can sell salvation over a phone line and not have any of the usual overhead to deal with”, Bud thought as he carried the last of last night’s bucket of Kentucky Fried chicken to the Rec room office.

“Some things are just as good cold”, Bud thought as he settled himself into the Barcalounger to catch the DVR’d service from the Crystal Palace, “and fried chicken is one of them.” 

The big screen TV showed the intro to the telecast and then switched into the interior of the church. As the choir began to sing “Faith of Our Fathers”, Reverend Helena once again appeared like she was materializing on the stage. For the one thousandth time, Bud decided he needed to sneak into Blairsville one day next week and inspect the pulpit area of the church a little closer.

“There’s got to be a trap door there somewhere that allows the Reverend her magical entrance”, Bud thought as he scraped the bottom of the barrel for the crunchy tidbits of chicken left there, ” I’ll sleep better at night knowing I’ve solved the mystery of her manifestation”. “There’s already way too many logic traps being set up here in our little portion of the hills”.

As always, the Reverend was resplendent in her robe and fiery red hair. Her robe was a patch work of many colors that seemed to catch the TV lights and reflect them directly back into the camera. There appeared to be about six dominant colors in the robe, but there could have been more. The robe was very distinctive, and as it turned out, part of a theme.

Today’s sermon was entitled, “Sold Into Egypt”. The Reverend took the story of Daniel and his brothers as the main topic, and expanded it to give a more current feel. Reverend Helena likened the “99%, the poor and middle class”, to Daniel being sold into slavery by his brothers. The “1%, the greedy, jealous brothers”, were abusing their power and privilege to take advantage of their brothers. The Reverend questioned the 1%’s right to “stack their silver higher and higher” while their brothers were homeless.

In yet another break of religious decorum, Reverend Handbasket used a quote from somewhere other than the Bible to drive home her point. Reverend Helena quoted Andrew Carnegie, who said, The man who dies rich, dies disgraced.” The Reverend set up the quote by telling the congregation that Carnegie was the richest man of his time. Carnegie had no problem with being prosperous and accumulating riches, he just felt that you shouldn’t try to “take it with you”. The Reverend pointed out that America has the finest public library system in the world because of Carnegie’s belief in helping out his fellow man.

Reverend Helena closed the sermon out with Matthew 19:24, Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  The last quote from the scriptures was just in case someone had not gotten the point.

Bud paused the DVR for a few seconds for a bathroom break and to reflect on what he had just heard. “One of her better sermons”, Bud thought when he plopped himself back into his easy chair, “I wonder how it’s going to play to the 1%”.

The altar call and testament of faith were quite tame in comparison to what Bud had witnessed at the “Little Church in the Valley”. Bud wondered if Reverend Helena would feel any pressure to “up her game” based on the goings on at the Little Church. He was sure the pressure would be there, he just wasn’t sure how Reverend Helena could compete with a child, or a snake savant.

Bud decided to not discuss the events of the day with Mulva until after supper. He made himself scarce by watching NFL games he had no interest in until Mulva called him home. After a fine meal of crock pot slow cook chili and cornbread, Bud related the “miracle in the valley”. He could tell from the look of amazement on Mulva’s face that she was going to have to get independent confirmation of his report. While Mulva didn’t accuse Bud of a heresy as damning as backsliding, her eyebrows were raised to the point of almost leaving her face. Bud was convinced that Mulva was going to spend the evening making calls to see how much Bud had embellished the story. He looked forward to being vindicated.



All Creatures of Our God And King XCIII

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. So much controversy, in so many places, that it’s hard to focus on the fact that a certifiable sociopath is actually considered to be a viable candidate by about a third of the electorate. One of the controversies is football related, so I’ll “tackle” it first. Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the Forty-niners, refused to stand during the national anthem in protest to the police state we find ourselves in. Many, myself included, support the protest. Others are calling for his head; and at least, his job. Of course those with the guillotine are the same ones who support the parents of American children being deported, all Muslims being on a blacklist, and black people returning back to the days when they were “well fed and cared for”. Colin Kaepernick should continue standing up for his rights by sitting down, in my opinion. We need more like him.

Speaking of standing up for our rights brings back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Over the years, Bud had seen some pretty wild things go on at the altar call and testament of faith. He’d seen people so dispossessed of themselves that they ripped off all of their clothes. He’d seen people so “spirit filled” that they went into a catatonic state for hours and lay stiff as a board on the church floor.

Bud had seen people speak in “Tongues” and even seen people “heal” one another by the laying of hands. In all of his years and the hundreds of services, Bud had never seen an eight year old swing a six foot timber rattler by his tail like he was trying to throw a lasso. Not until this Sunday. The fact that Devin, son of the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread, was able to place the rattler back into the box without incident should go down as one of the miracles of our time.

Bud’s skin felt like it was on fire. “It’s a miracle”, he thought, “and I don’t use the word miracle lightly”. In fact Bud was probably more judicious of his use of the word “miracle” than the Catholic church was when they were proposing someone for sainthood. Bud had just happened to witness something that seemed physically impossible to what he considered was a very logical mind.

“If they didn’t pump that rattler full of sedatives before the testament of faith”, Bud thought, “then that is one very wrought up rattler in the box right now”.

Bud couldn’t imagine anyone being foolish enough to tempt fate by bringing out the rattler for a second performance. To Bud’s amazement, there was one person in the congregation that was immune to logic and common sense. Bubba Hawker’s immediate reaction to the display by little Devin shocked one and all. In retrospect, Bud could only imagine that Bubba felt compelled to act as he did because of the recognition that little Devin’s performance had stunned the congregation. Bud surmised that on some level, Bubba felt that the congregation had been given another reason for not jettisoning the Reverend Dale.

To the surprise of all, Bubba flew from his perch in the choir to the box housing the timber rattler in front of the altar. Without giving it a second thought, or perhaps the first thought, Bubba reached in and pulled the rattler out of his hideaway. Holding the snake behind its head in his right hand, Bubba carried the snake aloft while Bubba did his version of the “Tap Dance for Jesus”. As Bud watched in complete fascination, he had to admit, Bubba had moves.

If there was any cognitive thought involved, Bubba must have recognized that this was no ordinary dance off. After a couple of minutes of spinning and stomping, Bubba stomped loudly several times to get the congregation’s full attention. It was an unnecessary move as there was no doubt about who held the floor. In a move only witnessed in documentaries and the pages of National Geographic, Bubba channeled the spirit of one of those demented snake handlers in India. Bubba brought the snake around in front of him, and then kissed the snake full on the lips.

When Bud returned to reality, he joked to himself to relieve the tension. “It might be sacrilegious to ask if there was any tongue”, Bud thought, “but if so, I think it was just the rattler”.

After the display, Bubba was shaking like a dog trying to pass a peach pit. The sweat was pouring off of him like a ditch digger in the Amazon. He passed the snake up around his head one more time as if to say, “see, look what I can do”, and then put the snake back in his box. From his years of exposure to the ophidian species, Bud was convinced he didn’t want to be the next guy to open that box.

Apparently, Reverend Dale had also figured that discretion was the better part of valor. The Right Reverend did a cute little trick with a copperhead in one hand and a water moccasin in the other, but didn’t go near the rattler box. Bud reflected that Reverend Dale must have figured the “Little Church in the Valley” had run through its allotment of miracles for the day.

As Bud watched the followers flood the area in front of the Altar, he tried to project what the implications of today’s “miracle service” might have on the Elder’s decision to fire Reverend Dale. As Bud looked around, he realized that he was the only one left in the pews, even arthritic Hugh Morris had made his way to the front.

“Will the Elders be able to support the decision to release someone that clearly has the faith of the congregation?”, Bud thought, “and what do they do about the ‘miracle in the valley’?”

As exploitative as the Elders had been with Reverend Helena, Bud couldn’t wait to see their reaction regarding little Devin. If somebody hadn’t dosed the rattlesnake with gasoline to make him drunk, then Bud had been present for an event that would be told for generations.

“The fact that no one had to go to the emergency room bolsters the convictions of the faithful”, Bud thought as he headed out the door, “And it sure plants a seed of doubt in us infidels”.


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.