Sunday, November 27, 2005

Preacher's Getaway Car

The Windveil is crouching here just behind an assembly hall for a church camp we discovered in a remote location. You'd never guess this was here. We're at the innards of this encirclement of cottages which makes up this rustic retreat which has been used for years by a church group. This is the infrastructure for the old time camp meetings.

The hall is lined with many long rows of very wide wooden benches on which the faithful and those being drawn closer to the faith are to be seated. On a podium there's a lectern from which the minister delivers his messages.

The accommodations are a bit this side of the Four Star amenities and by design one would think. Each cottage has a rude cooking spit, a faucet for running water, hard bunks and roughly hewn furniture and not much of it either. Seated engagements are held in very small outbuildings wisely placed at some distance. The clear purpose is to isolate young folks from the worldly ways, from the soft comforts of idle teenage living and focus the kids on the spiritual rather than the comfortable. Today, however, it's as deserted as Jonestown. It somewhat resembles Jonestown after the clean up crews swept up the Dixie cups and the spent faithful. Pretty quiet.

I wandered the great expanse of this hall and tried to project myself into the camp meeting. I wondered how it must be for the flock when the preacher is really giving them the Word, giving them hell since that's where they're going if they don't accept the Wordl

I then even more fantastically projected myself up at the lectern preaching to a packed house while extolling virtue. I might be able to summon a bit of scripture from my distant recollections and draw on some righteous indignation from a minibottle or two. I have the strong feeling that sooner or later someone would rise to their feet and point to me as an infidel, an impostor or perhaps recognize me from my less sanctified past. One minute I'm Jim Jones and the next they're all pouring their Kool-Aid on the ground and moving my way.

In a blink of an eye even the best demagogue can tumble from his lofty perch and take on the sudden scent of a mortal. When that happens, the leaping preacher needs to have his getaway car crouching near the narthex or better still at the back door with the motor running.

Praise the Lord and pass the keys.


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