A Crisis of Faith

Good morning, y’all. I mentioned earlier that one of the positives of being on house arrest due to the Corona was missing the multiple services of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Mulva continues to live her faith and brings me the highlights. They have sparked some “spirited” discussions. Today’s free-for-all didn’t revolve around ideology as much as personality. Personality is always so much harder. Ideology is in the vapor, personalities you can reach out and touch. I guess that means I have trouble with reality.

Anyway, the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread has been unable to handle the entertainment portion of the show since the incident, which is placing a huge burden on the coffers of the church. It’s one thing to bring in a traveling minister to hold a revival, because you’re hoping to increase the size of the congregation. On the other hand, having the faithful pay for two preachers, and one of them at specialist rates, is more than most congregations can handle. The Baptists and Methodists maybe, but not our little spirit filled church. So, for the third straight Sunday, the Reverend Bread has sat on the sidelines while another minister handled the altar call and performed the testament of faith.

The congregation showed their tolerance and reached out to a woman pastor this time, the Reverend Helena Handbasket. I asked Mulva if it was tolerance or parsimonious that determined the choosing of a woman. The Reverend Handbasket was about thirty percent cheaper than her male counterpart. Mulva bit her tongue and proceeded to tell me what a good job the Reverend Handbasket had done.

The congregation appeared to have been truly moved. Hugh Morris came forward and gave his soul to Jesus. Old man Morris hasn’t moved in his pew in the last twenty years, even to scratch. For decades folks have speculated he had gone on to his final reward when they’d see him sitting so still during the service. Ever watchful, the congregation has been denied their view of an ascension for years. On the last note of the benediction, old man Morris always pops up and goes on about his business. This Sunday Hugh popped up early. I hope it was the altar call and not a bladder call.

I expressed my confusion to Mulva as to what the dilemma was, seeing as the Reverend Handbasket had brought a soul to Jesus and that surely word of mouth would bring in the curious next Sunday. In my mind, the church would get an up tick in donations which should certainly cover the discounted preacher’s pay. The problem, as she explained it, was how to avoid paying the Reverend Bread at all. Since he’d been injured in the performance of his duties, Mulva was concerned the church was in a funny space. Well, I conjured on that one for a while and I finally came up with an example that fit, Jimmy Swaggart.

Now, for those of you that don’t remember the story, Jimmy Swaggart was a Pentecostal preacher down in Baton Rouge that went from poor to super rich via his televangelism. As it is with many members of the cloth entertainers, preaching  talking to a camera doesn’t have the same satisfaction as bearing witness to sinners in person entertaining before a live audience. It was during the laying of hands on a wayward female that the Reverend Swaggart was exposed as a frequenter of a New Orleans red light district. Like the Reverend Bread, Jimmy Swaggart fell victim to a crisis of faith and ultimately was defrocked. Swaggart’s tearful apology to the world on his TV show was one of the great moments of religious programming, somewhere near the 900 foot Jesus.

I summarized to Mulva that if Reverend Bread was a cowboy and couldn’t get back on the horse, he wouldn’t be a cowboy anymore. She liked the “getting back on the horse” analogy, but wasn’t all that comfortable with advising the Reverend Bread to find a new line of work. I’m sure this is not the last word, but here was Jimmy Swaggart’s:

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