Crestmont Methodist

“… the whole idea of ‘truth’, then is determined from man’s point of view – literally man’s vision, what he can see. Isn’t this debate about the nature of theistic eternity just a case of man’s lack of vision? There are transitional creatures that many amongst us have seen: spirits, ghosts or angels, whatever you wish to call them. And then there are many who have some measure of the powers that we all shall have if and when we cross over. The medium, and the telekinetic, and those with less understandable powers, the clairvoyant and the prophet. These are the transitional creatures.”

Harold turns to Betty, whispering “Don’t you this new preacher is kind of weird? What’s all of this ‘when we cross over’ brouhaha?”

“Hush. I want to hear the sermon.” Betty glares at Harold’s #8 NASCAR hat before returning her eyes to the pulpit.

Reverend Luella has fired up a PowerPoint display. “… look, indeed, look through the lens of a microscope, and a whole new world comes into existence. Before the means was created by which its vastness could be viewed, this world did not exist. Even afterwards, many refused to believe, many could not hold the vision in their minds, and vast numbers never even got the news.”

“I haven’t heard anything about God, yet.” Harold removes his watch and shakes it by his ear. Frowning at the result, he slides it back on to his wrist. There had been donuts earlier this morning, donuts that he had foolishly ignored.

“I think he’s getting ready to go there. He’s only got about ten minutes to wind things up.” It was into Betty’s pie-hole that the donuts had flocked. Why had he sullenly stuck to his ridiculous cup of black coffee and not-quite ripe banana? He would someday die in spite of his gustatory deprivations, and the preacher’s word only increased his abstract sensation of witherhood. Yes, he had made up that word, but only because there was none other that could adequately describe his abstract sensation of you-know.

“…and in the past few decades the telescope has grown magnitudes more powerful than Galileo dared dream. We see back to the very beginning of time, my friends. Think on it. Time is merely the movement of matter and energy through space. It is a conceit, of course, an admission of the limits of our vision. How can time have a beginning or an end? What we see, when we think we see the beginning of time, is beyond vision. Instead we are looking at a transitional point…”

“Never thought about that before.”

“You never think about anything, Harold. You just drift around with that stupid grin on your face all the time.”

“It is not a stupid grin. It’s just the way my face is arranged. I don’t go around insulting your face, do I? You’d have none of that.”

“I’d smack you silly if you did. Sorry. It isn’t a stupid grin. But it does get irritating when…”

“Hold on. I think he’s getting ready to tie his themes together.”

“…in a transitional universe defined by the limits of our vision. If we can see back to what we perceive as the beginning of time, cannot we look forward to what, if we could see it, we would describe, falsely, as the end of time? Ah, but this is where our transitional creatures, the clairvoyant and the prophet, come in.”

“What the hell is he talking about?”

“Look! Did he just light a cigarette?”

“Well, let’s hope that it's just a cigarette.”

“…and as you can see, the ushers are now passing out the ashtrays. Please feel free to smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. Thinking can be hard work. Seeing is even harder. Why do we feel challenged by the existence of the transitional man, when by their very existence, they offer us a glimpse of the eternal?”

“Hey, preacher! How bout a little something from the gospel?”

“Look, Betty. It’s George Peterson. He’s got a gun!”

“I think it’s a flask, Harold. But you know how one thing leads to another…”

“…upon a hill, stars shining furiously, the transitional creature lives closer to the transitional points and sees them as what they are – portals. Portals for transitions into new waves of grace unknown and unknowable… ouch! Who threw this flask?

“It’s me, Reverend Luella. George Peterson, loyal member of the Crestmont Methodist Church since 1987, and a man who will take no whatnot. This isn’t a very good sermon that you’re preaching here, particularly considering it’s your first one. What’s up next week – the mating habits of the Australian caribou?”

“As a matter of fact, yes. Just for you, George Peterson, sermon interrupter and thrower of  silver-plate… What’s this? Cheap whiskey? Tastes like Virginia Gentleman… come clean, George Peterson. You live at 426 Velmont, do you not, the grand home with the twin porticos? And yet you drink this swill? Please. We will not be asking for your tithing with today’s collection plate, as you obviously need the money more than we do. As a matter of fact, get out. Get out of my church right now.”

“Well, technically it’s not your church. I mean, it’s our church, and you’re just an employee, like the custodian. And I agree with George Peterson. He may not have very good taste in whiskey, but he knows religion when he doesn’t hear it.”

“Ethel Schwartz, you are a heathen. You wouldn’t know religion if it came up and bit you on the ass. I was just about to get to the part on the union between the transitional man and the eternal spirit and how we can navigate the…”

Sit down, Harold. Where do you think you’re going.”

“I’m putting an end to this nonsense, that’s what I’m going to do.”

But he’ll embarrass us! You saw what he did to George and Ethel. The man is brutal.”

“Nevertheless… Reverend Luella! If you’re a real preacher, I challenge you to lead us all in a hymn right now.”

“Oh you do, little man… It’s Harold Green, is it not, and the woman quivering beside you must be your common law wife Betty. How’s that yeast infection coming along, Betty? All right, infidel, I accept your challenge. Hand me my guitar, Bishop Ginger. Is everyone familiar with ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ by the Smiths?”

“That’s not a hymn.”

“True. But it’s a darn good song.”

“Rubbish. Morrissey is a wanker.”

“Is that a teddy that you’re wearing under your suit, Brother Justin? Never mind, I can tell by your blush. Now out with you. And out with anyone who can’t sit still and listen nicely. Okay, bye bye, Nancy Frank, and take good care of the wee one. Ever learn who the father was? Anyone else? All right, then. I was talking about portals before I was so rudely interrupted. The transitional creatures use these as a means to breach…”

© 2005, Mark Hoback