November/December 2011

Musin’s and Thinkin’s

A Monthly Stroll Down Folksy Byways

with Jack Pendarvis

Monday morning I happened to run into the local preacher, Brother Milt, at the grocery store. We were both picking up bouillon cubes, which was such a hilarious coincidence that we couldn’t stop laughing. We laughed and laughed until the store closed that night and they kicked us out. So we stood out in the parking lot laughing for a couple of hours, and then we stopped laughing.

Brother Milt is an earnest young newcomer in fashionable spectacles. He is fresh out of the seminary and eager to make a good impression, so I was not surprised by the tender, bruised quality of his quavering voice when he asked why he had not seen me in church on Sunday.

“Well, padre, I’m glad you asked,” I replied expansively. “Way I see it, a lot of folks think church is just a building.”

“It is a building,” said Brother Milt.

“You’re proving my point for me!” I exclaimed, pounding him on the back with amiable violence. I was all set for another few hours of laughing, but Brother Milt didn’t seem up to it. I could see that this well-meaning lad needed the kind of practical lesson they don’t bother teaching you in divinity school, so I cracked my knuckles and got started: “I’ll tell you, my boy, when I’m out walking around in a field, looking at butterflies and sunlight and whatnot, that’s my church. When I stare into the depths of a sparkling clear lake and see the little minnows flitting hither and yon, that’s my church. When a refreshing breeze stirs the tall grasses of the meadow, and there amid the leaves of the old sycamore I hear the chirping song of nestlings calling out for food, that’s my church.”

“But that’s not a church,” objected Brother Milt. “None of those things you’re talking about could be accurately described as a church.”

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Jack Pendarvis has written three books.

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