Thursday, January 27, 2005

Post-Restoration Hope #8: The Religions of Good and Right

Once upon a time, Good was sitting with Lonely at the local coffee bar. Good spent over ten dollars for the two overly sweet and overly caffeinated coffees and a couple biscottis. They talked about how life is hard. Lonely was grateful because this kind of honest conversation was rare. Good was grateful to be considered adequate company. Although life is hard, the conversation was a break from the harshness of it all. When their conversation ended, Good asked Lonely if they could meet again next week. Lonely agreed, leaving Lonely something to look forward to.

Meanwhile, Right counted out, to the penny, the tithe for next Sunday’s contribution. It had to be precisely ten percent. Taking the time count it out twice was worth it since a mistake was not acceptable. This week precision was particularly important since Right was to speak at the communion table on giving. It would be dishonest to speak of the need of the tithe without being able to, in all humility of course, confess to the congregation that tithing was indeed what Right was doing and had been doing all along.

Good used to do church three times a week, but abandoned the Wednesday and Sunday evening portion of the regime to free up time to develop relationships. Good took a walk with Depressed. Depressed had a slough of troubles that Good had no idea what to do with, but somehow just listening to them helped Depressed. As their friendship took over the weeks, the problems Depressed had got worse, but Good introduced Depressed to Hope and things seemed to get a little better. Now the three of them meet together weekly.

Right, being ever so diligent, not only did the table talk on Sunday, but taught class on Wednesday night as well. Right taught about how people need to trust God in everything. People who doubt merely lack the faith in God to whoosh away their doubts. “Yes,” Right said, “people will have doubts, but those people just need to be encouraged with the truth. God is in control of everything. Everyone knows this, but people sometimes are too weak to really believe it.” People in the class gave their appropriate nods of affirmation, but Distressed had some secret self-doubt. God didn’t seem to be in control of everything. Distressed determined it was a faith issue that needed to be resolved. So, Distressed asked Right about it after class. Right prayed over Distressed that God would wipe out doubt. Right used some big words that Distressed did not understand, which gave Distressed another opportunity to feel inferior. Distressed drove home with three rowdy kids in tow to an apartment in a dangerous neighborhood. Rent was due in a week, but the money was already spent. Distressed parented alone.

Good and Right met Sunday after worship service for lunch. Right asked Good about Wednesday evening’s absence. Good told Right all about Depressed and their conversation. Good talked about how exciting it was to watch Depressed meet Hope and the relationship they are starting to develop. Right was not impressed and wanted to know why Depressed was not invited to church. Good tried to explain that Hope was a church member and since people are the church, that actually Depressed did experience Church. Right was disappointed in Hope as well as Good and is exactly not fond of the word experience since it conjures of relativistic theologies which are contrary to the pure orthodoxy of the ages.

“Why do you put so much stock in your experience?” asked Right while cutting through a steak.

“Which would you choose to have taken from you, your words or your actions?” asked Good.

“Your theoretical questions are meaningless. More relativistic drivel,” responded Right as he brought his fork full of steak to his mouth.

Good grabbed Right’s wrist, his bite of steak inches from his watering mouth, “Would you rather eat this bite or have me tell you what it tastes like?”

Right resisted Good’s hand for a few seconds, but then relented allowing the fork to rest on the plate. Right laughed with mouth closed - a little nervous, a little embarrassed. “You’re the Pied Piper, and many will follow you. It saddens me to see how little substance you have, yet how many will believe it to be weighty.”

“You almost sound interested in what I have,” said Good playfully.

“Are you threatening me with inclusion?”

“Is that so bad?”

“I can’t believe you would ever think I would be like you,” said Right sternly.

“I’m not so sure you can help it.”

“Do you not drive people mad with your banter?”

“Goodness does not create madness; it reveals it.”

“Enough of this! How am I supposed to enjoy this steak with you meddling with my mind?”

“Why eat the steak? Don’t you know enough about it without the experience?”

“Check please,” Right said waving down the Service.

“Too late, I already took care of the check,” said Good

“No, I can’t let you buy my steak,”

“I don’t think you have a choice. It’s already paid for and there is nothing you can do about it.”

Service comes to the table and tries to explain to Right that the bill is paid in full. Right insists on paying anyway. Service, caught in a bind, refuses to take Right’s money. Right becomes angry and attempts to stuff a wad of money in the Service’s shirt pocket. Service, now insulted, moves out of the way and lets the money fall to the floor.

“There, I’ve paid my bill,” said Right.

“What’s the matter with you, dude, the bill is paid. You’re kind of freaking me out.” Service said, now kind of afraid of Right.

By now Right has made such a scene that everyone in the restaurant was taking a look to see what was all the commotion. Right looked around, trying to be invisible. He stood there, money at his feet, a spotlight lit him up.

“Come on,” said Good reaching out with his hand trying to save Right, “let’s get out of here.”

Right brushed Good’s hand away and ordered Good to leave. Good left Right Alone.


David U said...

Dude, I am speechless! Maybe I need to make sure "Theatron" gets this material to perform. Is it copyrighted yet? :) It reminds me a little of the fictitious scene Max writes about at the beginning of "In The Grip of Grace", involving the brothers.
Ok, do you realize who's company that puts you in? :)

Great analogy, great lesson, great Savior!
Keep bloggin brother! Like maybe again today! :)

don said...

Great piece! I kept waiting for Right's brother Proud to walk in. But maybe that's Right's middle name.

Keith Brenton said...

I miss those coffee breaks with Good, even though I'm not Lonely anymore.

They made me want to be Good.

MaryAnn M said...

whoa! that was great!!
glad i met a I am glad to be a Good to others.

jettybetty said...

Are you saying that Lonely, Depressed, Distressed and some of their friends, Rejected, Confused, and Frustrated need to have someone be church to them, instead of going to "church" themselves? Then, Bless you Brother! But, don't you know your (attendance) numbers are going to be down? Wouldn't that be great???

Anonymous said...

my brother (in-law, but who's counting?)--dude, what an amazing story!!! I loved this! LOVED IT. Can I use it?

Love who you are. Love that we're family (spiritually and by marriage). Love your boldness. Love your compssion. Love you, my friend.

Shump said...

Is Donald Miller blogging under another name??? You are very talented, good stuff!!!

Fajita said...

Thanks for the feedback. A few of you have asked to reprint this or use it somewhere else. First of all, I'm flattered. I told my wife that I was going to be hard to live with because of your comments.
Second, yes, feel free to use it. I'm not going to do something dumb like charge you for this. I'll do something dumb like that if I ever get off my duff and write a book on this material.

All I ask is that you reference my blog. You know, my entire self-esteem hinges on the hits on my counter :-)

Really, if you think this is worth something to someone else, please share it. I know I've received benefit from stuff I have no idea who wrote it, and don't really care.

Stephen Bailey said...

Fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing your creativity. Since you don't know me, I'll just assume you would give me permission to use this :)

Morton Escobedo said...


Shump said...

Is Donald Miller blogging under another name??? You are very talented, good stuff!!!

Morton Escobedo said...