Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I was listening to a radio show this morning on the way to work and the topic of discussion was carrying guns.  The dialog was much the same as I've listened to for more years than I can count.  I, for one, happen to like guns.  I've used them primarily for target shooting and in my earlier years for hunting.  I find the study of ballistics interesting.  To me a gun is a tool.  I know;  you've heard this a hundred times.  A gun is made of iron, a calculator made of plastic and a pencil made of wood.  The pencil does not make the error on paper and the calculator does not add incorrectly unless the improper key is pushed and the gun does not cause destruction unless directed to do so.  The key element here is the human providing the input to all the aforementioned.  I am weary of hearing government agencies constantly and continually dreaming up new legislation for guns every time there is an atrocity committed involving guns.  Why is the common law abiding citizen of this country the focus of all the legislation on guns?  We are not the problem.  They can legislate guns till they're blue in the face and it won't change anything but make it difficult for a man to defend himself and his family.  Guns are used by sane people and they are used by insane people and criminals.  Period.  Regulate insanity and criminal activity.  Regulate the drugs coming into this country.  Anyone think of regulating the border to our South lately where drugs cross into the US from Mexico by the ton?   A lone gun man casually walked into the safest place on earth and started shooting police officers last week.  That was the Detroit Police Department.  There is no place safe from the gelatin heads and deranged minds who have access to a gun.  If they don't have a gun;  they will make one out of pipe.  A church is made of brick.  It is a gathering place to worship in.  Each member within himself is "the church."  Anyhow;  this leads me to the reason I wrote this little piece you will find below.  A popular radio host made a statement this morning on his show.  He stated "If I feel I have to carry a gun to church I'll stop going to church.  I don't have a problem carrying a gun anywhere else but a gun has no place in church."  Hence, the story below.  Put yourself in Mr. Smith's shoes as you read the story.
Cledith was thirty years old today.  The birthday dinner prepared by his mother was meager fare to say the least.  His parents were continually challenged to come up with enough money to pay the monthly bills let alone throw a lavish birthday dinner for their son.  But, the event was conducted at noon on Sunday, all holding hands around the small dinner table while Cledith’s father said table grace and thanked Jesus for what they were about to receive.  There was that word “Jesus” again.  Cledith was raised to praise Jesus and to fear Gods word.   Cledith never had a solid understanding of religion and in fact, was very slow in school, repeating two grade levels.  He never did receive his GED.  His teachers always said he had a low threshold of comprehension.  Sometimes at night he lay in bed trying to figure out what Jesus looked like.  He saw pictures of him in his mother’s bible and wondered how anyone today could know what Jesus actually looked like because his presence on earth occurred so long ago.  This put much doubt in his mind about religion and more doubt about the super human feats accomplished by Jesus.  At times he thought his parents were toying with his intelligence by continually confronting him with this invisible Jesus magician.  He was beginning to feel that mom and dad were humoring themselves by testing his belief in what obviously was a false premise.   He imagined hearing them laughing at him late at night when he was in bed.  They were taking advantage of him, thinking he would believe anything they said.

A radio personality whom his family listened to continually referenced Jesus on every program he hosted.  Cledith began to wonder how to test this Jesus concept.  How could he do it?  Cledith found out the radio host attended the Baptist Church on Eighth Street in Knoxville.  He and his family never missed a Sunday.  Cledith began to put together a plan to prove or disprove the existence of the so called Jesus who can create or alter any situation in relation to mortal man.  He formulated a plan that would leave no doubt in his mind about Jesus.   He would implement it next Sunday.  His parents would be so proud of his accomplishment of providing absolute proof or disproof of the unseen Jesus that everyone worships.

Sunday morning was bright and the congregation filed up the steps and through the tall, wide oak doors and into the church.  Cledith was among them.  He looked different today.  His head was shaved and he wore a white shirt and suit coat that was far too tight making him look as if he were stuffed into it, the sleeves three inches too short.   He did, however, wear his cleanest pair of blue jeans for this holy occasion.  Cledith walked down the outside aisle and sat down in the pew to the right of old 80 year old Emma Smith.  To his right sat Joyce Johnson and her three year old daughter Sarah.    He noticed heads turn and look toward the back of the church.  He swiveled his head around in that direction and saw the radio talk show host, Bill Smith, walk in with his wife and young daughter of twelve years old.  Beads of perspiration began to form around the too tight collar of his white shirt.  Cledith stared at the floor, his mind was blank.  Droplets of sweat fell onto the tops of his knees.   It was stifling in here, he thought.  The talk show host took a seat two rows back from Cledith’s.      Cledith was reassured when he felt the weight in both the left and right pockets of his suit jacket.    He suddenly realized he could breathe again and the perspiration stopped.  He found security in that bulky weight. 

The previous evening, Saturday, was a time of confusion for Cledith.  He pondered many ideas about how he was going to prove or disprove whether Jesus was real or fiction.  There had to be a way.  He remembered his father and mother talking only yesterday about whether guns should be banned from church.  They were referring to comments made by the talk show host Bill Smith who made the statement that if he ever felt the need to take a gun to church he would stop going.  A light bulb went off in Cledith’s head.  Indeed; why would one need to carry a gun into a church if Jesus lived there?  Surely Jesus would protect everyone within the confines of that holy place.  It was at that moment Cledith began to create his diabolical plan to end the question that had taunted him for years.  He practically ran up the steps to the attic, tripping over his own feet.  He remembered an old trunk that belonged to his grandfather.   Years ago his father opened the trunk and showed Cledith memorabilia from the Korean War; the war that his grandfather had fought in.  He remembered a pistol that his father had warned him to never touch.  Clledith’s hands trembled as he lifted the lid on the large trunk.  Therein lay a glass case filled with service ribbons, a military dress hat and a folded jacket with a blue braid.  A stack of old envelopes was lying on top of a faded blue sea bag that belonged to his uncle.  Cledith grasped the handle of the sea bag and lifted it out of the trunk and quickly closed the lid tightly shut.  He clutched the bag against his chest with both hands and left the attic for the confines of his own bed room.   He sat down on the edge of his bed with the bag beside him.  His fingers quivered as he pulled the zipper open and gazed in upon the contents.  He withdrew a rather wicked looking gun.  It was a Colt Model 1911 A1 Navy model, 45 caliber automatic pistol.  Further inspection revealed another automatic pistol.  This one was much smaller.  It was a 22 caliber target pistol made by the Rugar Company.  Cledith didn’t know about this pistol.  The bag contained three clips of ammunition for the Colt and one clip for the Rugar.  He held the Colt in his left hand and pulled the slide back.  It appeared to work fine.  A clip containing eight rounds of ammunition was loaded into the bottom of the gun, the slide pulled back and released.  The gun was ready for action.  Cledith did the same with the Rugar.  He was now prepared to put an end to the debate that went on constantly in his head about the existence of Jesus.   Tomorrow was Sunday.   He would put Jesus to the test.

The organist took her seat and began playing a piece that Cledith didn’t recognize.  The sounds emitting from the tall pipes of the organ irritated him.  Cledith preferred the smooth, silky sounds of an acoustic guitar.  He loved to listen to National Public Radio where guitar music was common place.  The longer he sat and listened, the more irritated he became.  His teeth clenched tightly together and his eyes squinted until almost shut.  The muscles of his neck stood out and his jaw line became more prominent.  Cledith could feel his face becoming red as the anger built within him.   He was about to burst.   He suddenly yelled;  “Jesus!  Where is Jesus?”

He quickly got to his feet; a gun was in each of his hands.  Cletus turned toward the aisle to his left but, stopped.  He looked down at Emma Smith and softly asked; “Where’s Jesus Maim?” as he put the muzzle of the Colt against the top of her head and pulled the trigger.   He suddenly paused as if he had forgotten something and pointed the gun in his left hand at Joyce Johnson and pulled the trigger twice ending her life instantly.  The congregation screamed and ran toward the doors in a panic.  Only a few people in the forward pews stayed riveted to their seats.
Once in the aisle; Cletus dashed back two rows and, pulled Mrs. Smith and her daughter out of their seats and told them to stand against the wall.  He kept one gun trained on Mr. Smith, who could do nothing but stand with his mouth agape and eyes wide open in terror.  Cletus again asked; “Where’s Jesus Mr. Smith?”
Bill Smith could not respond with the answer that Cledith wanted to hear.
“I’ll ask you again Mr. Smith.  Where’s Jesus?”
Bill Smith responded by pleading for the safety of his wife and child.
This further confused Cledith.  If Jesus could be counted on to protect these people; then why would this man be begging Cledith to spare his family?  It was confusing.  It made no sense to him.  He had to force this Jesus to show himself.
Cledith then took a position standing between Mrs. Smith and her daughter.  He raised the guns above each of them, bent his wrists and pointed the muzzles straight down at the tops of their heads.
Cledith locked his eyes on Mr. Smith who had dropped to his knees begging for Cledith to spare his wife and child. 
In a calm, even tone Cledith said; “Mr. Smith; I will allow one of these women to live.  One must die.  You choose which one dies.  You have ten seconds.  If you do not choose; then both will die.  I will count to ten.”
Cledith felt like he had solved the puzzle of Jesus.  There was nothing and no one trying to stop him.  He was in control.  He had the power.  He actually had more power than this Jesus fellow was suspected of having.  If Jesus was real; he would have intervened before now.  He was actually feeling giddy.  He couldn’t wait to get home and confront his mother and father with his proof that would discredit the existence of Jesus.  He could envision their faces as he explained in detail how he called Jesus out and he didn’t show. 
Then he said; “Mr. Smith; I’m at seven now”
A smirk appeared upon his face and the corners of his mouth curved up higher and higher  as he rejoiced in his accomplishment of proving Jesus a hoax.
“I’m at N U M B E R  n-i-n-e Mr. Smith.  One more to go.”  He actually spelled out the word nine instead of uttering the actual word.
Cledith tossed his head back and looked straight at the ceiling and yelled;   “YES!”
He then addressed Mr. smith in a soft, almost inaudible voice; “No Jesus Mr. Smith.  No Jesus.”
Cledith’s fingers tightened on the triggers of both guns and the appearance of anger and supremacy replaced the complacent look of a moment ago.  He had proven his point.  He had won.
Three loud shots were heard not two seconds apart and three neat holes suddenly appeared on the center of Cledith’s white shirt, high on his chest.  It was as if the fabric was torn in three places.  Three little holes that weren’t there a moment ago.  Cledith stared in disbelief and briefly thought to himself that his mother would be angry at him for ruining his only white shirt.
Mrs. Smith and her daughter ran to Mr. Smith’s arms.  He ran with them to the door; all three crying.

One man stood out from among the remaining congregation at the front of the church, a gun gripped in both hands pointed at Cledith.  The slightest wisp of gray smoke could be seen wafting above his head.  Off duty Detective Dan McGee had carried his service weapon to church this day.  He considered the gun part of his clothing when he dressed to go to work in the morning.  He didn’t need to carry it around but chose to do so.  Most of the time he didn’t even know he wore it.  He looked upon it as an insurance policy for him and his family.  He was prepared to defend his family if needed with his life; and the gun gave him an advantage if he ever needed to do so.   He saved the lives of Mrs. Smith and her daughter today.
Cledith found it difficult to stand against the wall.  His knees were becoming weak.  His head was heavy and he bowed it forward and looked at the floor.  Just then a lady screamed out:
“Praise Jesus!  Praise God! 
Cledith’s eyes opened wide in disbelief as he dropped to his knees. 
A sudden panic overcame him.  He realized a terror he had never imagined. 

He realized he was afraid of ----Jesus….