A Different Sort of Dead Orthodoxy

“He rocked back in his chair and stared thoughtfully at the picture of his family on the opposite wall, just above the sofa covered with multiple stacks of books, all of them written by men with fifty-pound heads. Most of them were now deceased, and John used to declare from the pulpit that being dead had done nothing but add to their orthodoxy. For her part, Cindi had often told him that he was the theological equivalent of a mad scientist and had added the corollary that sofas were for sitting on.”

Evangellyfish, p. 70

So He Looked Old School

“Pastor Mitchell had been in 2 Corinthians for two years now and was only in chapter 7. This, compared with his predecessors, made him a speed demon . . . He was a regular Tishbite—gray beard, bushy eyebrows, and slender build. And though he didn’t eat locusts or wild honey all that much, he still managed to look like a cross between Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and Gandalf. But for all that he was only forty-two and very spry . . . He looked severe enough that no one really noticed that he was not severe at all, and this meant that no one had a conscience attack or felt like they were going soft in their Calvinism because he always looked like he was being strict with them. So things were swell at Grace Reformed.”

Evangellyfish, p. 68

Baptist Bishops

“Grace Reformed was a small Reformed Baptist church, and Pastor Mitchell had been there for twelve years, which was something of a record for Reformed Baptist churches in that region. The previous three pastors had been there for about a year and a half each, and the last of the three had been the kind of fellow who typed long doctrinal screeds to errant fellow ministers, single-spaced, and with typing up the sides of the margins. Some thought that he had mastered the art of typing with his fists, and sometimes with his knees. Anyhow, his pulpit ministrations had left the congregation in an exhausted frame of mind, and parishioners would go home after the message, recline on the sofa, and pant. The sermons were of the ‘all grace, no slack’ variety, and more than a few worshippers were concerned about just how much more grace their families could take. But after the last of these three gentlemen imploded one Sunday in the pulpit, trying to fit infinite predestination into his thimblebrain and from thence into the sermon, the search committee decided to try something a little different, and went on the recommendation of a parishioner’s cousin instead of the recommendation of the bishop. Now, Baptists don’t have bishops—at least not that anybody admits to—but at any rate, the bishop was very angry and Grace Reformed was drummed out of the elite corps of regional churches.”

Evangellyfish, pp. 66-67

When the Wall of Sound Falls Over On You

“The assembled congregation began to sing, or so the two men guessed from the fact that words were on the screen, and people’s mouths were moving, but the amplified music from up front had all of them buried. Bradford had been one or two concerts like this in his life before, but Rourke felt like he was under an acoustical rock pile. There was no break between songs, each one moving aside when its time was done, and allowing another to merge flawlessly to take its place. The whole thing was like a superbly engineered six-lane highway with two lanes merging from the right. But after four songs, the screens suddenly changed, and the band fell suddenly silent.”

Evangellyfish, pp. 60-61

News Babe

“Every high profile case, there [News Babe] was with the truck, getting underfoot like a toddler on a rainy day . . . She walked briskly up to them, her blouse bouncing provocatively, as much as to say in stereo that we dare you to do anything but look at our forehead. She had a small microphone and tape recorder in a bag over her shoulder”

Evangellyfish, pp. 56-57