Preacher:  Old man, have you been saved?

Me: No, but I think that I've been well spent.

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Good one!

I had an encounter with a street preacher on Venice Beach in Calfornia in the 60s during the presidency of LBJ at the height of the Vietnam incursion. LBJ, you may recall, was fond of walking out on the White House lawn with two beagles, showing reporters his appendix scar and how he could lift the beagles by their long ears, and "it don't hurt 'em at all." Actually, the guy on Venice Beach called himself a "corner preacher." He was an African-American. He was telling us that marijuana was legitimized by the Buy Bull because "the books says 'man has dominion over all the animals and all the plants on earth' and what God has commanded, man shall not put asunder, so marijuana should be legal."

As he preached, a white guy from some cult came up with Buy Bull in hand. The corner preacher listened to him go on and on about how he had to be born again to be saved, you better git right with Jeezus, &c., and when he had heard enough, the preacher said, "Let me see that book. I can show you something in there you don't know nothin' about." He flipped to a certain passage and read: "He who passeth by and meddlith with striff not his own is like one who taketh a dog by the ears." We cracked up. The kid who brought the Buy Bull started asking for the preacher to give it back, but the preacher wanted to show him other passages. When exasperated, the newcomer aggressively grabbed for his Buy Bull, and the preacher let it go.

He said, "You see, you call yourself a Christian but here you are, threatening to harm me if I don't give you your book back. Don't tell me I better get right with Jesus." The cult follower strutted off, and we all laughed again. That corner preacher was one of the best men of the cloth I ever met. I would have gone to his church any time. Of course, since it was about 100 yards from my apartment, that would have been easy.

Mike, your story of your encounter with the African American corner preacher is really cool. It's awesome. I would like to meet a man like that. It would be interesting and entertaining. I could be friends with a man like that.

I'm sorry. I meant James, not Mike, unless the M. is Mike.

Last year in a small town I watched a street preacher giving out his "live forever" booklets and telling the people around him all about it. Finally he noticed me and came forward with a booklet. "How about you, do you want to live forever?" he asked. I simply looked at him and said, "no." He looked me in the eyes for a moment and then went on back to the others he was talking to there. My conversion was done!

Who the hell would want to live forever? Eternity never ends, so if given the choice to be mortal or have no choice but live through the eventual and unavoidable anhiliation of our solar system billions of years from now, followed by eternal existence in the vacuum of space, either all by yourself or with a group of other unlucky eternals, you would have to be an idiot to choose the latter.

Very cool




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