Catchy (Sitting 10) The Three Muster Tears … August 13th, 2017

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Randall changed his mind.

He came into the office on Monday morning, apologized for the legal maneuvering and explained that he was interested in being part of the project.

Matthew was suspicious. Perhaps Randall was just trying slip into the inner workings to find out if there was any money in play–to gain further ammunition for the court battle.

Matthew always hated himself for being cynical, regretting it even more when he was right.

Randall apparently sensed Matthew’s skepticism. “I suppose you wonder if I was visited by three ghosts, who spooked me into joining the club.”

Matthew said, “Well, I wouldn’t call you Ebenezer Scrooge, but you certainly might have attended one of his seminars.”

Randall laughed. “I was trying to explain it to Landy last night. She was pissed off at me. But you see, I’ve spent my life watching opportunities come my way, and analyzing them so much that they seem to run away from me in terror and leap into the lap of friendlier faces.”

Matthew got quiet, allowing Randall some space.

Randall continued, “I thought about it. Here’s an old man who dies who wants to give 250 million dollars to take an old religious icon who is known for loving and giving, and make the dude popular again. I thought to myself, what in the hell is wrong with that? Sure, I wish it wasn’t religious, or tied to some church, but when you need a cure, you don’t ask where the medicine comes from, right?”

Matthew just nodded his head.

About that time, Jo-Jay walked into the room and said, “I feel the same way. At least, I think so. I don’t want to miss out on something. I feel like I missed drugs and rock and roll. I never protested against anything. I missed civil rights. Gay rights. All rights. And by the way–what is heavy metal anyway?”

“It’s when you stack up a lot of light metal,” Matthew answered, chuckling at his own joke.

Randall added, “It was worse for me. I even missed Barry Manilow. My parents were very strict. It wasn’t all religion–part of it was our culture. But I wasn’t allowed to do much but study, go to school and attend church.”

Matthew sighed. “So you’re a church boy…”

Randall shook his head. “No–I went to church but I was never a church boy. I used the hour in church to quietly express my hatred for the Divine. While others sang praises, in my mind I asked God questions and then laughed at Him when He failed to come up with an answer.”

Jo-Jay stared in disbelief.

“So you want to do this because…?”Matthew posed.

Randall shook his head. “I don’t know. I know there are no answers in politics. Most of the law is mumbo-jumbo. Education just makes people smart-asses. There’s gotta be something else. I really don’t think it’s Jesus, but maybe we could at least get people to think.”

“Or maybe,” said Jo-Jay, “we just advertise the church and they end up ripping off more money from poor folks and spreading the message of doom and gloom.”

Matthew shook his head. “You know how sometimes the more you think about something, the better it sounds? I gotta tell you–the more I think about this the more it seems like a gigantic turd factory.”

“So you’re quitting?” Randall asked, surprised.

“Well, actually, I never started,” responded Matthew. “I just said I would check it out.”

“And here I came along to go on the magic carpet ride and Aladdin’s folding up shop.” said Jo-Jay.

Matthew squinted his face. “I would be Aladdin?”
Randall inquired, “And the magic carpet ride would be what?”

Jo-Jay laughed. “You guys are definitely over-educated, under-informed and without any natural feeling.”

“Part of me thinks I should say thank you,” Randall said.

There was a knock at the door. Matthew opened it to find a large man dressed in bib overalls and a plaid shirt, with a huge head of hair combed straight back. He reached out a big paw for greeting. Matthew placed his little hand into the acreage, shook it, and asked, “May I help you?”

The big, burly country boy responded. “Yes. My name is Prophet Morgan. I’m here to help you make my man Jesus, popular.”

All at once, Jo-Jay broke out in tears, which for some reason stimulated Randall to do the same, causing the recently arrived Prophet Morgan to sprout his own waterworks.

Matthew stared at the three of them in disbelief. “What in the hell is going on?”

Jo-Jay cleared her throat and managed a little smile. “I don’t know. But it’s neat shit.”
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Catchy (Sitting 9) A Given Inventory … August 6th, 2017

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It was good to have Jo-Jay along on the trip back to headquarters. She was energetic, funny and very generous. She wanted to buy Matthew a whole new wardrobe, but he settled for a black leather fedora, which made him look dangerous–in a goofy kind of way. Arriving in town, Jo-Jay took her leave so she could acquire lodging for what was more and more appearing to be a protracted stay.

When Matthew came into the office, he was greeted by Randall, Landy and a stranger. It was obvious that the stranger was a lawyer. (Matthew contended that barristers had a certain “sniff” about them.)

Randall and Landy asked Matthew to sit down, and then explained that they had no interest whatsoever in being a part of the project that Arthur Harts had proposed, to popularize Jesus. But they did want to sign an agreement that any money that came into the business or profits incurred would be equally shared among the partners.

“So let me get this straight,” said Matthew. “You don’t want to work on this promotion. But if the promotion does well, you want to be able to acquire your share of the profits. Is that about right?”

Comically, both of them turned to the attorney for approval before answering. He nodded his head, and they mimicked. Matthew laughed.

“Randall, Landy…” said Matthew. “It is a bit amazing to me that we have this great thing going together until we find out there may be some money. It’s like my old Grandpappy used to say. ‘Poverty has many friends because you have to huddle by the fire. But being wealthy allows you to purchase an island hut with central heat.'”

Randall and Landy stared at Matthew, bewildered.

I’ll tell you what,” said Matthew, picking up the document they had given him. “I’ll look this over.” He thumbed through it. “Fifty-seven pages long. And I’ll get back to you.”

“Don’t take too long,” said the attorney, minus expression but with a threatening air.

Matthew went into his office and pulled up his emails. There was an expected one from Paul Padwick, wishing him well but wanting no part of the endeavor. There was also a second contact from Michael Hintson, continuing to apologize for missing his airplane. Michael had only one question: was the Catholic Church backing the idea? Because he could certainly use the support from those in his district who favored a Pope.

Susanna–Soos–was thinking it over. Mary Rogers Kent (Mother) was now a Buddhist. Lydia Lars, otherwise known as Layla, said she would contact him the following week, after the woman who did her astrology chart weighed in on the possibility.

Matthew was suddenly overcome by an uncontrollable giggle.

He had been given an inventory. Now he had to decide what he could do with it.

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Catchy (Sitting 8) Cleanly Rich … July 30th, 2017

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Paul didn’t waste any time.

Before blankets could be spread, cushions situated and all snacks and drinks divvied among the three, he had already begun to drone out his story. It could have been a very interesting tale, but Paul seemed unimpressed with his own reputation.

He had married three years after college–only the fourth lass he had ever seen naked. They had two children who apparently were soldiering on to do their best with the process of growing up to join the ranks of those in file. Paul did not have many hobbies–actually, Paul had no hobbies that he shared. But as he sipped on a bit of diet root beer, he popped off a question.

“Don’t you think there are better ways to spend two hundred and fifty million dollars than propagating the myths of Bedouins who seem to have nothing better to do than kill one another in the name of their mythical gods?”

Matthew chose not to answer. After all, it wasn’t a question. It was a statement of disbelief. Somewhere along the line, Paul Padwick had consumed a sour communion wafer and was still wincing from the experience. Realizing that he was the killjoy of the little airport soiree, Paul rolled over on his Cornhusker cushion and went soundly to sleep.

That left Jo-Jay and God-guy–otherwise known as Joanna and Matthew. The two of them had briefly been a number back in college–a three-week period when neither of them was sexually ravaging or being ravaged–so they cast a glance each other’s way. They made it all the way to the bedroom and even to breakfast the morning after, but then, without any treaty, discussion or negotiation, the accidental collision was never spoken of again by either party.

So Matthew was curious about what would initiate their chatting and was relieved to discover that Joanna had planned all the dialogue, with most of the lines written for herself. She launched into her story.

Two years after college, she met a young fellow who showed great promise–except when it came to keeping promises to her. He had been a rather quiet student in college, but once he got married and realized there were many vaginas in the world, like Columbus of old, he launched his ship to discover new worlds.

Jo-Jay put up with it for a while and then asked for a divorce. She was a little disheartened that he immediately agreed. Because of his unfaithful status, she was granted alimony.

So she tripped along and cavorted for a couple of years, even considering trying to transform herself into a lesbian–but found the experience rather distasteful.

Four years ago she met The Duke. Duke was not his nickname, but rather, his title. He was a Duke of Something-or-other that she could not remember–but it came with much bearing and money. He was thirty-two years her senior. She said that she didn’t really marry her father, but rather, his father.

But he was gentle. He was kind. Generous to a fault, if such a thing is possible. And just about the time Jo-Jay’s hormones were beginning to itch for a scratch outside the mansion, he just up and died, leaving all of his earthly goods to a very earthly Joanna Lawrence. She was actually very surprised at how much she missed him.

She decided to play a game with herself. Every time she withdrew a stack of one-hundred dollar bills from the bank, she pretended it was his face instead of Benjamin Franklin’s.

“So you’re filthy rich,” said Matthew with a tinge of sarcasm.

Jo-Jay smiled. “Actually, I’m clean rich. The difference is, when you’re clean rich, you enjoy the money but you’re constantly trying to do penance by giving much of it away, to apologize for being financially over-nourished.”

All the time that Jo-Jay was sharing, it appeared that she was becoming more intoxicated (though she was gulping nothing more than club soda and orange juice). She was an exciting person. She had the quality of a young girl–the kind of little miss you know isn’t very attractive right now, but someday would be a hellcat.

Finally, Jo-Jay wound down. Or at least, Matthew assumed she did–because he passed out on his cushion in exhaustion.

The next afternoon, the Lincoln airport was opened. Matthew looked for Paul, who apparently had already departed.

So he reached over to hug Jo-Jay and asked, “Where are you off to?”

“San Francisco,” she replied.

Matthew crinkled his brow. “Well, that’s where I’m going.”

Jo-Jay jumped up and down like a little girl and said, “I know, I know. I bought the seat next to you.”

“Don’t you have somewhere to go?” asked Matthew.

“Now I do,” said Jo-Jay. “You see, one of the things about my Duke is that he had a fascination about the Galilean.”

“Galilean?” asked Matthew.

“Jesus,” replied Jo-Jay. “He never called him Jesus. He referred to him as the Galilean because most of his life was spent near the Sea of Galilee. The Duke believed that this Galilean had the solution to mankind’s problems because he refused to let us escape the philosophical juggernaut statement, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Matthew peered at her. “So you’re coming with me to. . .?”

“To. . .” Jo-Jay paused also. “To see where it goes.”

Matthew gave her a quick hug, then pulled back, admiring her like she was a kid sister. “So here’s to wherever the hell it goes.”

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Catchy (Sitting 7) Accumulating … July 23rd, 2017

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On May 8th, the largest blizzard in the history of meteorology in the state of Nebraska dumped nineteen inches of wet, slushy snow all over Lincoln, closing the freeways and the airport.

Matthew was at that airport.

He had cleverly put together a plan to meet up with three of his old college buddies from the “Leaven of Seven,” and explained to them in vivid detail some of his ideas about how to take the money from the eccentric billionaire and attempt to make Jesus not only the Christ, but popular again.

He had left messages with each, and they had successfully negotiated their air itineraries to have at least a two-hour layover at the Lincoln, Nebraska Airport–all at the same time. It was a feat of magic, only to be expected from those who had benefitted from higher education and had never had to be concerned about anybody but themselves.

When the announcement was made over the public address system that all flights were canceled and that the local motels were also filled, Joanna Lawrence (Jo-Jay) let out a tiny whimper that culminated in a miniscule scream. Yet it was loud enough to alarm people around her who already had experienced the danger of the sky falling.

“I can’t believe this,” said Jo-Jay. “I am going to need lots of alcohol.”

Matthew interrupted. “You always say that, Jo-Jay. You don’t need to be intoxicated. You just choose to be drunk. And if there isn’t a crisis, you’ll tip your glass to the threat of one.”

Jo-Jay paused and peered at Matthew with a surprised expression. “Wow. That was deep. I think you just changed my life. Why don’t we get a drink and celebrate?”

Paul Padwick thought that was hilarious. When he agreed to join them at the Lincoln airport, he requested they no longer use his college name, Pee Pee. (Matthew had texted him back and said, “If we call you Pee Pee, will it piss you off?”)

Michael was supposed to join them from Washington, D. C., but missed his flight, and in trying to catch a later one, discovered they were all canceled.

So after much inquiry and questioning, Matthew, Jo-Jay and Paul Padwick (never, ever to be known again as Pee Pee) discovered that they were going to be stuck overnight at the airport without the benefit of a shower.

Just moments later, poor Jo-Jay found out that the bar had closed at the establishment out of fear that cantankerous folks who were trapped in tight quarters might get along better without being totally sauced.

“I guess,” said Matthew, “we should find our corner in the airport, where we can bed down for the night.”

Bedding down had become possible because airport staffers had begun to circulate cushions and blankets, formerly the property of the “Cornhusker Airline” before it surprisingly went out of business. So the three of them, taking their cushions, blankets and a respectable supply of candy, chips and soft drinks, found a remote corner in the airport where the Cornhusker Airline had formerly dreamed of building a massive terminal.

It was quiet, it was pretty warm and it was just a little bit spooky–the kind of atmosphere which was ideal for old friends to catch up and discuss plans that might bring them together once again.

Jo-Jay had barely opened up her Doritos and begun to consume them like a starving woman when she croaked, “Can I get this straight? At least let me hear it from your mouth. Basically, from your message, you have an old man who died with some sort of religious compunction to leave behind money to make his God the Number One God in the world.”

Matthew corrected her. “Actually, it’s Jesus–but you are kind of close.”

“I guess I felt like the Jesus thing kind of maxed out a while ago. You know what I mean?” posed Paul, making his contribution. “Like, the ones who were really interested in it had already gotten on board and everybody else gave it a look-see and passed on it for their own reasons.”

“That is so true,” agreed Jo-Jay. “I mean, short of lying, cheating and fudging the figures, you either dig Jesus or you don’t.”

Matthew leaped in. “Well, I kind of dig Jesus, but I wouldn’t call myself religious–though I think it’s admirable to be Christian. So I might classify myself in that category…”

Paul laughed. “Well, it’s admirable to be a weight lifter, but don’t you have to actually lift something?”

Jo-Jay roared with laughter. “Yeah, God-guy. If you’re going to be a Christian, don’t you have to do a lot of Christian things?” She reflected. “Or maybe not, come to think of it. There seem to be a lot of those who claim the title who don’t pursue the agenda.”

At that point, they all just stopped speaking.

Maybe it was the darkness falling outside that left the room even more dismal. Perhaps it was the realization that the area they had selected for their resting space was a little chillier than they thought. Or maybe it was just the awkwardness of being back together.

But they didn’t hurry it. No one tried to make small chat or bring up the consistency of their candy bars. Just a moment to reflect on who they were, where they were and what the hell they were going to do about this “heavenly” issue.

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Catchy (Sitting 6) The Boat Ashore … July 16th, 2017

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Michael always hated the process of trying to get his ducks in a row. Unfortunately, if you follow a duck, it will eventually end up at the pond–but too often makes far too many detours.

Michael resorted to his logical nature. He decided to resign his position on the school board, and three months after Rachel’s departure, he sat down with young Alisa and Bernice and told them of their mother’s preference. Much to his surprise, the girls were infuriated with Mum, repulsed by the notion of the homosexuality and sympathetic to him for being treated so poorly.

Michael mused. What was he waiting for? It was time to share the story in the community, or at least leak it to the people who would do the gossiping for him. Let his conservative community draw their own conclusions, which certainly would be anti-lesbian and therefore, anti-Rachel. This would set him up for his next political adventure—senator in the state assembly in Columbus.

Sure enough, the good Buckeyes repudiated the actions of Rachel and Connie and sent messages of encouragement to the budding political Adonis.

Exactly three hundred and sixty-seven days after Rachel’s departure, Michael began to date a woman three years his senior. She was a handsome lady of means. She fell in love with his two young daughters, an affection they returned gratefully. Her name was Barbara–politically correct.

Two days before Michael and Barbara became the new Hinstons, he announced his campaign for state senator. Freshly married to a woman who showed little interest in her sexual similars, with two lovely daughters blooming with promise (on record with abstinence pledges), he was the H-E-R-O of O-H-I-O.

Toting his family and his Bible across central Ohio, he trumpeted his slogan: “Everyone Needs a Second Chance. Isn’t It Time for Yours?”

Michael was elected with a fourteen-point margin. He fulfilled two terms as a state senator, waiting for his dream job to open.

Then the oldest Congressman from the state of Ohio decided to retire for health reasons. Well, that’s one story. There was a rumor that he struck a deal with the District Attorney to step down instead of facing indictments for soliciting illegal donations for political favors. This was the reputation within the twelfth district–there were many industrial concerns in the borders–enterprises always trying to dodge federal regulations and desiring a champion in Washington to protect them.

So Michael Hinston ran for the Congressional seat and, in a very close race, lost. He was devastated in the grumpiest of ways. He threatened to quit politics until Coach Mack came along and reminded him of how many elections Old Abe Lincoln lost before gaining success. Michael liked being compared to Abraham Lincoln.

Meanwhile, the Hinstons started to have some marital problems. Barbara was like a 1974 Chevy Malibu that was just fine as long as you ran it, but when you kept it parked in a barn somewhere, it tended to wear out more quickly. Barbara felt that Michael had parked her in such a barn.

She felt abandoned. Michael had no interest in any other women, but had an ongoing love affair with his own aspirations. It had been months since they were sexually entwined and weeks since they had even touched. Barbara contended it had been a fortnight since he had even looked her way. She requested that they see a marriage counselor. Michael was terrified over the possible bad publicity.

He shared his dilemma with Mack, who said, “Go ahead and do it. Therapy and counseling are really ‘in things’ now. You know–uptown. People don’t look down on it anymore. It’s kind of hip and contemporary. Shows you give a damn. Just make sure you go to two different counselors—one a psychologist. And don’t be so stupid as to go to a psychiatrist. They’ll think you’re on medication. And you should also see your minister. Go through the motions, work it out, come to a resolution. It’s only gonna make points for you.”

Michael never advertised the conflict he was having with Barbara, but it was the state of Ohio and people do talk. Mack was right. The electorate expressed great admiration over the unfolding counseling sessions. Michael even found the interaction a bit more interesting than he had expected, and Barbara was greatly appeased.

Michael was grateful. Wife two was satisfied by some comforting words and book reading instead of lesbian love.

Then a tragedy.

Not really tragic for Michael, though propriety forced him to feign deep concern. The newly elected Congressman from the state of Ohio had a fatal heart attack on his way to Capitol Hill. A temporary replacement was put in the position. And at the next election, Michael ran for the office, and this time, on the strength of his previous campaign and his recent marital mending, won the seat handily.

He was a Congressman in Washington, D.C., from the state of Ohio, with a wife and two lovely daughters.

Two weeks later, while sitting at his desk, Michael opened an envelope from Caine Industrial, a prosperous concern from his district. The package was hand-delivered by courier, and contained a check for $50,000. Michael was breathless, bug-eyed and baffled.

The phone rang. Michael picked it up, still gazing at the huge amount printed on the face of the check.

“Mikey! This is God-guy!”

Michael paused for a moment, trying to reconnoiter the voice. It didn’t take him long. There was only one person who had ever called him Mikey. He hated the name. But he loved the man, so he tolerated it.

It was Matthew Ransley.

“Mikey, listen. I got this problem. I got a billionaire who wants to give me two hundred fifty million dollars if I can find a way to make Jesus popular. I need your help, buddy. Here’s what I want you to do. . .”Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Catchy (Sitting Five) Michael…Row — July 9th, 2017

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Michael Hinston was a first-term congressman from the state of Ohio, representing farmers, bankers, mothers, daughters and computer technicians.

He certainly had the background. Raised on a farm in rural Ohio, he had graduated in the upper twelve per cent of his high school class and ended up two years at Ohio University in Athens working and struggling because of a lack of scholarships and financial aid. He transferred in his junior year to Ohio State.

He always knew what he wanted to do–work in a business long enough to build up neighborhood recognition so he could enter politics. Therefore his major was business with a minor in political science. He purposely took one semester of graduate school so, in conversations, he could allude to pursuing his Master’s Degree. For a time, he worked as an investment consultant with D. R. Smithers—the one with the large moose in their ads—with the aspiration of making contacts with the more wealthy and elite, attempting to build a database of future contributors to his campaigns.

He got married at the age of twenty-five, fulfilling statistics without much of a biological urge, to a young woman named Rachel, who was the perfect political wife. She was smart, semi-attractive, well-educated, well-bred, doting, loyal, with a good business sense and willing to bear enough children to qualify as a family, which in this case, ended up being two daughters, Alisa and Bernice (A and B–easy for the electorate to remember).

It was a well-formulated plan by a well-organized man living in a time when well-meaning was … well, everything.

Michael carefully made selections for his life–the right church, the right clubs, the right car, and the right schools for his girls.

Mr. Michael Hinston worked a plan. He was a habit resembling a creature. He never went to the grocery store without a list and never started his car without knowing where he was going. Perfection was in sight.

That is, until his wife, Rachel, met Connie.

Rachel and Connie became fast friends because their husbands were men busy grinding away. They worked together, played together, laughed together and eventually made love together. Two women in their early thirties found out that they were more attracted to softer hands and softer lips and were willing to jeopardize the softer lifestyle.

When Rachel told Michael of her love affair with Connie, he just sat and stared at her. She looked for twinges of anger and signs of disappointment, but what she sensed in Michael was bewilderment.

Michael was dumbfounded. He had recently been elected to the school board—his first political venture, but this diddling by his spouse was not in the plan. He was stymied. Where does a lesbian wife fit in to the great scheme to be elected to the U.S. Congress?

“You really don’t care that I love a woman, do you?” Rachel was incensed.

“Oh, I care,” responded Michael. “I’m just trying to figure out how we could work it into the grid.”

Rachel resigned from being part of Michael’s master plan. She packed her bags and moved with Connie to California, where girl love is a thing.

Michael and Connie’s husband formulated a story. Their wives had temporarily moved to the Golden State to open up a coffee shop. They knew the tale would not hold up very long.

So Michael consulted with his campaign manager, who also happened to be the local high school football coach, Mack Johnson.

Mack offered a suggestion. “Now that your wife is with Connie, it will be no time at all before the public will know that Rach has become a titty-bobber.”

Michael nodded, not sure what a “titty-bobber” was. He was less pessimistic. Rachel was obsessive, having once eaten oysters for six days straight. Perhaps she would lose her taste for lady.

Mac continued. “I would suggest that you go ahead and run for city council before this story breaks, because people will be much more tolerant of a city councilman having a lesbo wife than a school board member.”

This made sense to Michael. He waited a couple of months and ran for city council, which he won handily against, ironically, a lesbian candidate campaigning on “equal pay for the gay” in the workplace.

 

 

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Catchy (Sitting Four) Ideas Are a Dime a Dozen… July 2nd, 2017

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The day arrived for the meeting of the minds. Landy rented a small conference room and catered in some delicacies and drinks. The three partners sat at the head of a table like a trio of judges at a Miss America contest.

The Shelley Corporation was the first to present. They had been given the job of producing three slogans. The first was a poster–a man dressed in a plaid leisure suit with his hair slicked back. The caption read, “But Jesus—He will never go out of style.” There was a grunt or two and a threat of applause.

The second poster was a close-up of a Jesus look-alike. The caption read, “Here’s lookin’ at you, baby.” Too commercial and might raise some objections from Hart’s estate (and perhaps from relatives of Humphrey Bogart).

The third one was a cartoon of Jesus playing soccer, kicking in the ball for a score. The caption, in large red letters, read, “Goal? He loves you.”

The partners liked this one least of all, finding it a bit confusing and reiterating to one another that soccer would never be an American sport, anyway.

Next on the chopping blocks came the “You Want to Know Survey Company,” with the results of a questionnaire that had been given to over fifteen thousand registrants. The ten questions were as follows:

  1. Would you enjoy eating dinner with Jesus?

The choices were:

  • very much
  • might be fun
  • never thought of it
  • might give me the creeps

Fifteen percent of the people said they would enjoy dining with Jesus. Fifteen percent said it might be fun. Sixty percent said they had never thought of it and ten percent said it kind of gave them the creeps.

  1. Do you think that Jesus is popular today?

Four percent said “Very popular.” Eight percent said, “Somewhat popular.” Eighty-eight percent said, “Don’t know” or “Don’t care.”

  1. Do you think Jesus would be more popular without his beard?

One percent said, “Maybe.” Ninety-nine percent said, “No.”

  1. Do you think Jesus would be more popular if he weren’t so religious?

Fifty percent said “yes.” Fifty percent said, “Don’t know.”

Randall stifled a yawn. There were six questions to go and he was already bored. If they couldn’t come up with an interesting survey, how could they ever come up with a campaign to promote Jesus to the marketplace?

The questions droned on as Randall began to think about his own experience. He was raised in a church environment, learning about the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and Jesus all in the same week. At four years of age, all three seemed equally plausible. By age ten the tooth fairy had fluttered away. At twelve, Santa Claus was “sleighed,” and at sixteen—well, at sixteen, girls came into the picture and Jesus got in the way.

So the crucifix was tucked under the t-shirt, the Bible inserted in the closet with the Scrabble game and the Ouija board, and he was off on the pursuit of hormonal surges, drinking binges and mandatory orgasms. After exhausting all known religions, he formed his own—a delicate blending of humanism, hedonism and Methodism.

Meanwhile back at the meeting, the survey was completed, rendering no results. The only thing remaining was the panel of theologians– four in all. There was one Catholic, one Protestant, one evangelical Christian, and, for some reason, a Jewish rabbi (who was possibly selected to avoid any hint of anti-Semitism).

The Catholic priest spoke first. “If by popular you mean the Savior of the world in conjunction with his mother, Mary, and the intervention of the Saints, then Jesus is already truly the most outstanding figure in all of history.”

The partners nodded an exhausted assent.

The Protestant spoke next. “I think we have to do something to make Jesus groovy to the young people. You know how they came up with ‘Rock the Vote?’ How about ‘Vote for the Rock’?”

This time there was no way Matthew, Randall and Landy could hide their disapproval. After all, he said “groovy.” Matthew, who had long ago lost the ability to disguise his disgust, groaned audibly.

The evangelical literally leaped into the moment. “I think you need to just let Jesus be Jesus, because He said if He be lifted up, all men would be drawn to Him.”

“He has been lifted up,” inserted Matthew. “And Arthur Harts, the billionaire, didn’t think all men were drawn to him.”

“All men who have a heart for God,” replied the evangelical.

Matthew winced. He hated religions jargon. He called it “the God-out.” When in doubt, religious people would always bring God into every situation, so you could never argue with them without seeming that you were trying to disprove the heavens.

Randall smiled and thanked the enthusiastic believer.

That left the Jewish rabbi. “Well, I don’t know why I’m here, exactly, because, you may have heard, we accept Jesus as a great teacher, but we contend the problem is, he’s really not the son of God. I mean, if I were promoting him to Jerusalem, I would just put up his picture with a caption that read, Hometown Boy Is Acquitted.

This brought some laughter throughout the room, but Matthew sprang up to terminate the meeting.

Even though it was a minor disaster, both Landy and Randall still wanted to pursue the project.

Greed. No other explanation.

They had pledged long ago that when two of the three partners were in accord on anything, they would do it. But it looked bleak. The slogans had been drab, the survey droll, and the theologians a drone.

Matthew had one idea. One wild and crazy notion. He got on his computer and looked up six names.

Michael Hinston, whom he knew as Mikey.

Joanna Lawrence, Jo-Jay.

Susannah Lacey, Soos.

Paul Padwick, who tolerated the nickname, Pee-pee.

Mary Rogers, who was now Mary Rogers-Kent, known by everyone as Mother.

And Lydia Lars, who loved Eric Clapton, and so was surnamed Layla.

Along with Matthew Ransley, whom everyone affectionately called, “God-guy,” they formed the Leaven of Seven.

They were his best chance at making some sense of this queer mission.

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