Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Visions and Testimonies

Waiting for the bus one morning on my way to a 3rd grade sub job, I found myself staring at the imposing solidity of the gray blocky downtown Fresno jail and its ominous window slits.  For amusement, because waiting for the bus is one of the dullest things humans do, I imagined myself to be a nitwit city planner who had convinced the powers that be to allow the jail to be "brightened" up by those "denied a voice"--artists and visionaries imprisoned for piddling offences.  I envisioned an unrolling of a giant "multicultural" mural down the face of the jail:  Aztec suns, ziggarats, Che, MLK, Maya Angelou, dolphins and unicorns flying amidst bubbles of oxygen rising from rejuvenated rainforests--all the usual suspects.

Actually, what I needed was a set of high-tech glasses that with a tap could convert Fresno into a dystopian fascist government with monumental dark buildings that spelled surveillance and huge squares built for marching and rallies.  Another touch and I could have a meadow prancing with Disney animals.   I settled for the silly jail fantasy and got on the smelly bus.
That morning a 3rd grader insisted she'd seen me "on a movie."  Pressing her further she told me it was one of the "Step dad" movies.  I was also puzzled by her grammatical construction until I realized that for kids these days everything is "on."  "On" TV, "On" the phone screen, etc.   So inside a real theater actors are "on" the movie, not "in" it.  Apparently there are a slew of evil step dad, stepfather, and bad boyfriend movies with sequels and spin-offs, so it isn't surprising that I would resemble one of them, because I've been a step dad (Since this incident I've been told twice more that I resemble one of these cinematic fiends.)
     "Aren't you afraid of me?" I asked Summer (like most grade school girls her parents chose her name from a menu that had Summer, Brittany, Megan, and Bethany at the top)
     "Are you sure I'm the guy on the movie?"
     "Yes, for sure."
     "But I'm okay now"

    "Yes, because then you were on the movie and now you're a teacher in a classroom.  "You wouldn't hurt me. I just know it." 

That night in chapel Conny, a rather feeble-minded young fellow with very tall hair bounded to the podium when that night's Pastor called for testimonies.  In the context of the mission this always means "This is what Jesus has done for me" and nothing else.  Conny began, "Hello, most of you know me I'm Conny and I love animals."   The guests murmured approval and a few bellowed "CONNY!"  They like him a lot.  Conny continued, "Tonight I want to talk about the Galapagos tortoise.  The Galapagos tortoise lives a long time, nobody really knows for sure how long because humans usually die before they do and don't always keep track."
He warbled on in this fashion about the tortoise until the pastor touched him gently on the shoulder and said,   "How about Jesus, son?"
     "I'm sure Jesus is doing many good things--miracles and tricks and things to people's minds."
     The pastor persisted.  "But maybe that tortoise is like Jesus . . . It just keeps living on and on . . ."
     "I don't want to talk about Jesus I just want to talk about the tortoise."  He seemed distressed and near tears.  Eventually he was persuaded to sit down.  The next testimony was about how Jesus procured a new set of guitar strings for a young musician when all hope seemed lost.

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