The Rev. Johnny Christian’s voice boomed out of the radio on Pastor Walter Mitty’s kitchen counter as he brushed his teeth in the bathroom.
“The questions is not ‘are you gonna be-LIEVE in Jeee-zus’ but “is Jeee-zus gonna be-LIVING in you’. You see, many folks want to serve God?but only in an advisory position. A lot of church members who are singing ‘Standing on the Promises’ are just sitting on the premises.”
Mitty had to laugh at Rev. Johnny’s facility with one-liners. Sometimes Pastor Walt found the “All Things Are Possible Hour” entertaining and even inspiring. At other times the pastor of the Miracle Faith Tabernacle drove him crazy.
Stepping on to the front porch to get the Tribune, Mitty felt the sun on his arms. It was going to be a beautiful day. In a few weeks the maple on the parkway in front of his house would be dressed in bright yellow. He felt his spirit lighten until he looked at the front page of the Trib. The headlines, in contrast to the weather, spoke of political corruption and wrangling, both here at home and all over the world.
As he walked to the men’s fellowship, Pastor Walt struggled with Johnny Christian’s message. Three political posters had already been taped to the restaurant’s front window. Eric, Dominique and Ash were already sipping coffee as Mitty approached their booth.
“Morning, Pastor.” The man in the Brooks Brothers suit smiled. “Eric just got his absentee ballot. We’re checking it out.”
“Morning Dominique. Ash. You going to be out of town Nov. 7, Eric?”
Eric Anderson looked up from the absentee ballot.
“I’m?I’m going to kind of a seminar in San Francisco.”
“Business?” asked Dominique.
Eric looked at Pastor Mitty with a frown as he replied, “Sort of, Dominique. Sort of.”
“Debbie and the kids going with you?”
Eric gave a “help me out here” look to Pastor Mitty and stirred his coffee. “No, I’m going solo this time.” He put the spoon on the saucer and added, “Wouldn’t want to take the kids out of school.”
Mitty thought about Eric a lot-what it would be like to live in the closet, pretending to be someone you are not. Having to tell, not exactly lies, but not really the truth either to maintain the image you think other people want to see.
Dominique’s mind, however, had already drifted back to politics. “So, Eric, you gonna vote for Blagojevich?”
The man in the flannel shirt and khaki pants sighed. “I guess so. Loyal Democrat and all of that. You gonna vote for Topinka?”
Dominique laughed ruefully. “I guess so, too.” He looked out the window at his month old Prius and said, “Neither one of us are very excited about the election, are we?”
“I’ve know Judy Barr Topinka for 25 years.” Ash was in the mood for reminiscing instead of debating politics. “Knew her when she was just a state legislator. In those days she used to come to the chamber of commerce meetings every once in awhile and to the Oktoberfest we used to have in Poplar Park.”
“Are you going to vote for her?” asked Mitty.
“Naw. I guess I’ll go with Blagojevich, but like the rest of you, I’m not very excited about voting this time. Seems like something is missing.”
“More coffee, guys?” Alice began filling cups without waiting for an answer. “So, what problem is the Poplar Park brain trust solving today?”
“I just got my absentee ballot, and we were?” Eric began until Alice cut him off.
“Not worth the paper it’s printed on.” She set her Superior Coffee pots on the table next to the booth and the men’s fellowship braced themselves for one of Alice’s sermons. “Do you think it’s gonna make any difference? Topinka or Blagojevich? I knew I couldn’t trust a politician named Rod. And Topinka?she’s too beholding to the party.
“Loyal soldier and all of that, but she’s too careful for me. They both know how to play the game, but the game they’re playing has never included me.”
Alice went on for several more minutes until a guy sitting at the counter reminded her that she was being paid to pour coffee.
Alice’s “sermon” stuck with Pastor Walt as he walked home, and it made him recall another one of Johnny Christian’s one-liners: “It’s easier to preach 10 sermons than to live one of them.”
Character seems to keep coming up during election campaigns, he thought as he hung his jacket on the coat tree by his front door and glanced at the newspaper lying on the floor. Blessed are those who can distinguish between those who really have it and those who only pretend.