Onward Christian Soldiers

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I am happy to report that after a night without a coughing spell, I look forward to a reprieve from my exile on the sofa. I will try to modify my daily activities so that I don’t get overly tired and create a relapse. Maybe I’ll just sit in the office today and start thinking about my taxes. D-day is just thirty days away. Never too early to start panicking.

Speaking of panicking, I dodged a seriously big bullet today. My illness provided another excuse for missing this week’s services at The Full Gospel Original Church of God. While not thankful for the illness, I am thankful for the excuse. The events of last weekend’s futile altar call, and some other monetary considerations, propelled the Elders to create a “roadshow” for this week’s TV broadcast. I have no idea who came up with the concept, and I have no idea how much convincing it took the folks at Channel 99 in Blairsville to go along with the plan, but I’m sure it was an adventure that caused a lot of anxiety for all of those responsible.

As the plan unfolded on the TV screen, parishioners were met in the parking lot of the church and shepherded onto buses. The destination was the newly reconditioned “Crystal Palace” in Blairsville. As Mulva has related to me, there has been lots of rumbling about the expenditures of the new church. My guess is that the Elders wanted to get the congregation’s mood back on a more positive plane.

There were three buses in all, and they were packed to the gills. The overflow were encouraged to provide their own transportation for the caravan bound for Blairsville. The “A” listers were assigned to ride in the lead bus with the Reverend Helen Handbasket. The “B” listers in the second bus were given over to the care of the Right Reverend Dale E. Bread. The last bus was filled with the same folks who are always clambering for the last seats in church as the service begins. I couldn’t tell from the TV if the third bus had a “tour guide” assigned or not. As the events unfolded for the ride into town, only one of the bus monitors mattered.

Channel 99 in Blairsville had assigned a cameraman to the first bus and another cameraman was shooting from the Channel 99 van in the caravan. The cameraman in the first bus was broadcasting the Reverend Helen Handbasket leading the “A” listers in a fiery version of “Onward Christian Soldiers”, when the Reverend Helen Handbasket broke her song with cries of, “stop, stop”. The camera chronicles the Reverend Helen Handbasket then telling the driver to pull into a parking lot. The viewers at home are not given a clue as to what is going on until the cameraman pans to the infamous sign of the “Boobie Bungalow“, one of Blairsville’s centers of exotic dance.

Well, like ants bringing food back to their queen, the congregation of The Full Gospel Original Church of God were out of the buses and their cars and drawing a circle around the Reverend. The shot from the Channel 99 van was fantastic. The faithful were milling in a circle around the Reverend Helen Handbasket, standing in the parking lot of a strip club, with looks of anticipation on their faces. You could see from home that most of the folks were confused as to whether or not this was an intended destination, or if it was just serendipity. Some of the male members had a sheepish look, but maybe that was just my imagination. Every ear was attuned for the Reverend’s voice, but she had to wait to speak until the Channel 99 crew got her a mike.

Once “miked up”, the Reverend Helen Handbasket unleashed a furious condemnation of women who sold their bodies for the lustful eyes of men, and the men who lusted after them. There were strong words describing the “blight” on the community that the establishment imposed, and the need for the righteous to cast out this “den of inequity”. After ten minutes of intense fire and brimstone, the faithful were loaded back onto the buses to complete their journey.

Well, the walk around the “Crystal Palace” was anti-climatic to the guerilla like raid on the Boobie Bungalow“. The tour of the church more closely resembled an “Open House” with a realtor, than a congregation entering the promised land. While Channel 99 was denied another altar call, and a testament of faith, they were rewarded with being on the scene when news was being created. Probably for the first time ever, Channel 99 got to use the phrases, “Exclusive”, “And Only on Channel 99” in their lead ups to their news slots. The telecast ended with the faithful being loaded back onto the buses. The closing scene was bus number three leaving the parking lot, headed back to Nunsuch. It couldn’t have appeared more like a documentary if it had been directed by Michael Moore.

Clearly, the Reverend Helen Handbasket is a multi-faceted gem, 


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