Stonework is published by Houghton College, a Christian liberal arts college located in New York’s rural Genesee Valley. Stonework seeks a diverse mix of mature and emerging voices in fellowship with the evangelical tradition. Published twice a year, the journal reflects the arts community at Houghton College where excellence in music, writing, and the visual arts has long been a distinctive.

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  • Issue 6
    Poetry by Paul Willis and Thom Satterlee. Fiction and interview with Lori Huth. Essay by James Wardwell, and student poets from Christian campuses.
  • Issue 5
    Poetry by Susanna Childress and Debra Rienstra. Fiction excerpt by Emilie Griffin. Art from Houghton's 2007 presidential inauguration and a forum on women writing.
  • Issue 4
    Matthew Roth--new poems. Diane Glancy--from One of Us and an interview. John Tatter-on gardens and poetry. The Landscapes of John Rhett. Stephen Woolsey--on the poetry of Jack Clemo. James Wardwell--on Herrick.
  • Issue 3
    Poetry by Julia Kasdorf, Robert Siegel and Sandra Duguid. Fiction by Tom Noyes. The portraits of Alieen Ortlip Shea. An anthology of Australian Poets
  • Issue 2
    Thom Satterlee - Poems from Burning Wycliff with an appreciation by David Perkins. Alison Gresik - new fiction and an interview. James Zoller - Poems from Living on the Floodplain.
  • Issue 1
    Luci Shaw — new poems with an appreciation by Eugene H. Peterson & Hugh Cook — new fiction and an interview

Sunday, April 29, 2007

One of Us

by Diane Glancy

It was in the news. A man had been arrested. He was responsible for ten murders. He had terrorized Wichita, Kansas, for nearly thirty years.

I was in Richmond, Kentucky, the weekend of February 25, 2005, when CNN announced the arrest of the man who called himself, BTK: Bind, Torture, Kill. I had wanted to write about a minister, and when I saw Reverend Michael Clark, the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita, standing before news reporters, stunned that BTK was a member of his congregation, the question for the novel appeared— How does a minister recognize evil and deal with it in his own congregation? What is the nature of evil? What is our resilience to it?

This book is a work of fiction, though based on fact. I have written this as an outsider to the event. It is a work of imagination for the purpose of exploring issues. What is the definition of a Christian? How far can a Christian go and still be a Christian?

I used the arrest of BTK as the triggering event. The method of arrest, a disk from the church computer, and the murder of ten people, are the same, but the novel soon departs into a story of its own. The circumstances of Reverend Michael Clark and his wife, Jan, of Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas, are very different from those of Reverend Mark Cabot and his wife, Grace, of Christ Church in Buckholt, Kansas.

It is a story I wanted to catch in a net between the first-person narration of Mark Cabot and the third-person narratives of Grace Cabot and Ralph Gheary, the assistant minister.


I think hell’s a fable.

Ay, think so still, till experience change your mind.

Dr. Faustus, Christopher Marlowe

Prologue: Mark Cabot, Senior Pastor, Christ Church

This was the question. Can a murderer enter heaven?
The answer is no. No murderer has eternal life— I John 3:15.
Yet Moses murdered— Exodus 2:12. He was in heaven. Surely he came with Elijah and was seen on the mount of transfiguration by Jesus and his disciples, Peter, James and John— Matthew 17:3
David murdered. Not directly, but he ordered Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, on the front line of battle so he would be killed— II Samuel 11:15. Yet Jesus is the root and offspring of David— Revelation 22:16.
These are these contradictions I face.
These are the difficulties of scripture.

Chapter One: What Day Is This?

I sat at my desk with sermon notes when authorities came into the office with a disc from a computer they thought belonged to the church.
“Why?” I asked.
“We recovered a list of church duties.”
“It looks like one of our discs, but they’re standard— ”
The men confiscated the machine.
I saw there was a van in the church drive as well as the sheriff’s car.
“Who used the machine for this list?”
I gave them his name.
There was something ominous in their presence.
When they left, I called Grace, my wife, and told her something was up, but I didn’t know what. The men had asked that I not say anything.
The authorities returned. I saw they were from federal as well as state agencies. How well did I know Thomas Faust?
“Nearly thirty years.”
“Did he have access to the church computer?”
They said they were certain that Thomas Faust had murdered ten people over a period of twenty years.
My secretary wept in a way I had not seen her weep in all the years I had known her, not even at the death of her parents.
I called the Bishop when the authorities left.
I called my wife on her cell phone. I told her not to answer questions— Not to let anyone in the house. Not to say anything on the phone. She wasn’t home anyway, she said.
I asked about our daughter.
“Clare’s at school, of course, then she’s going to a friend’s house.”
I drove to the Faust’s. The street was blocked. I’d never seen more state and city vehicles. Reporters and camera vans continued to arrive. People gathered outside the tape that blocked off the street. I could show them I was a pastor. The Faust’s pastor. I could get through. But I backed away.
I returned to the church and closed the door of my office to pray, but was interrupted with calls. One of them was my friend and member of my congregation, Roy Saith. I asked him to stay with Grace and Clare until I came home. Already there were calls from church members. Was it true? Yes. How could it be true? I didn’t know. I told my secretary to leave a message on the answering machine that I would meet with reporters after the authorities made their official announcement. I told her to call Ralph Gheary, the youth minister who also served as my assistant. He was in Elwood at the funeral of his wife’s grandmother. Then I told my secretary to go home.

The announcement was televised the next day. Families of the victims sat in the room hearing at last the murderer of their relatives had been caught. The police and agents were sure. They had felt sure the last time they arrested someone. But now they were sure again. This time they had DNA evidence.

The Bishop arrived that evening. We would meet the reporters at the church tomorrow afternoon.
Grace seemed to be holding up.
I called Ruth Faust all evening until I got through. A man answered, a relative I didn’t know. The family was gathering. A brother had been called from Iraq. Would they like for me to come to the house? No, Ruth was resting in her room. A doctor had come to the house because of the emergency.

We met at the church the next day— the bishop, the men’s prayer group, my wife, other members who wanted to pray with us.
The waters go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys to the place that you formed for them. You set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth. I held those words. The waters had come up to my mouth, but they would not cover me. I reminded them of their bounds. The waters could not cover us. In the name of Jesus. We stood from our prayer. I went to the door of the church and pushed it open. I looked at the news reporters— at the people that had gathered.
I saw the cameras— The microphones in my face. I heard the questions. Thomas Faust was a member of my church? The man arrested for murder? Yes. Yes. He had been president of the congregation. Did I know it was the church that led authorities to Thomas Faust? No, not at first. Faust had used the church computer to send a note to the newspaper. Yes, I knew it now. The investigators had traced it to the church. Faust had erased a list of what he had to do at church. The investigators retrieved the erased words on the disk. They found the church. I, the pastor, had identified the man whose list it was.
Had I seen him yet? The reporters asked. No, I hadn’t seen him yet, but I was going to meet with him soon. He had asked to see his pastor. Had I seen his family? Yes. I talked with them on the phone. Had his wife known? No. She was distraught.
I stood on scripture. It was what held me up that day. I kept hearing my own questions. Had the church brought him down? Had the power of the Lord expelled him from the church— had caught him— had said, this is the man who must pay for his crimes?
I had stood before the reporters. Yes, Thomas Faust was a member of my church. Not someone I saw once a year, but someone who was a part of my congregation. He was a leader of the congregation. He walked into church whenever he wanted. He had access to the office. To the computer. How could a man have been both murderer and member of my congregation? How could he have been an ordinance officer in Buckholt, Kansas, yet broken the law himself?
The reporters and more reporters came like water. We continued to pray in my office for strength. We went out to meet them again. The Bishop stood with me. I was caught with a murderer in my pocket. A wolf in my flock of sheep. Why had Faust not risen up on a Sunday morning and taken our lives? What moved in Faust’s mind as he sang hymns? As he listened to my sermons? My sermons? How freakish. He heard a sermon and went out and murdered. How could I live that down? Why was I thinking about myself? My secretary had been alone with him in the church. She had been at risk and had not known it. She had been endangered.
There was relief that the murderer was caught. He would not kill again. The mystery of what had happened to the man who had killed so many people was solved. But the relief was tempered with horror.
Thomas Faust had brought us to the knowledge of what we didn’t want. He was not separate from us. He was one of us.

Ruth Faust was on my mind again. What was she going through? I thought about her as I watched the repetition of news on television. She was with her family— they had moved her somewhere— even I didn’t know where— so I wouldn’t have to lie to the press, Grace said. Ruth had slept beside him all the years of their marriage. My thoughts jumped again to the children in boy scouts with him. Had my own wife and daughter been in the church alone with Faust? Had they come to get an early start on a church supper? What about the times I was at meetings while Grace and Clare were at home by themselves? No, Faust was at most of the church meetings with me. Was my congregation thinking the same thing? Did they go back and shake with fear he could have come into their houses? Into their bedrooms? Had he paused outside their houses thinking of murdering them? How had they survived?
How had we survived?— Mark Cabot, myself. Grace Cabot, my wife. Clare Cabot, our daughter.

Chapter Two: The Day We Sat Stunned

I went to the jail and met with Thomas Faust, the member of my congregation. He was in trouble. He wanted prayer. He wanted consideration. He had met with investigators. He had felt camaraderie. They all were corrections officers— he and they. He had confessed. Then the investigators were gone and he was alone. He was devastated. They had had an understanding. Then they abandoned him. Now he was an inmate. Now he was alone. He had asked if erased files on a computer disc could be resurrected. That wasn’t the word he used— retrieved, I suppose. They said, no. He sent the disc with more information about his murders. They found the erased files of his church duties. Thomas must have known. He wanted to be caught. Not convicted of his crimes and left alone. But he wanted attention.
He was behind a desk in an orange inmate suit when I walked in the room. I was awkward. I bumped my leg on the edge of the table as I sat down across from him. We looked at one another. Was it fear I felt? Who would speak first? We were waiting for the current to break— we were snagged. What was I trying to do? I asked myself. Why hadn’t I prepared myself. But how?
“Tom— we’re stunned.” I said. “We couldn’t believe it was you. We’re trying to understand. What did—” I stopped, not knowing where or how to go. “Did you?— ” I continued.
We were not strangers, but the meeting was the stranger between us. The room in which we sat could have been on another planet.
He had been caught. I was caught with him.
I did not want to be here. He did not want to be here either, now, anyway, now that the officers were gone and he was no longer the center of their attention. Now that he could not leave the building, let alone the room.
I didn’t want to be here, but as I looked at him, I wasn’t sure he didn’t, if he could be here on his own terms. It almost seemed that he had the authority and I was the recipient of his visit. He was the pastor in a perverse way. I had come for instruction for my ignorance. How could I meet this situation in which I was a stranger? I remembered people who had come to the church for help— Who had sat in my office overwhelmed.
“Should we pray?” I asked, then without waiting for his answer, because I realized it was my place, as the pastor, to decide, I bowed my head and began. “Lord, be with us. We come to you for guidance.” I’m not sure what else I said.
I knew Old Testament history. David certainly murdered, not directly, but he ordered Uriah on the front line so he would be killed because Bathsheba, his wife, was pregnant with David’s child. God was a murderer— of animals, certainly— for skins to clothe Adam and Eve. How many times did he call down fire on his rebellious people. Moses pleaded with him more than once for leniency. God killed his own son on the cross— it was necessary for the salvation of man— in the Christian’s opinion, anyway. God had to judge sin. Jesus became sin on the cross. He was judged and suffered death. Jesus rose again. God’s judgment on sin was satisfied. That was the crux of the Christian religion— for most Christians anyway. I was aware of unbelief. I was aware of the many who thought the Bible was irrelevant— Or tried to warp it to say something that almost looked like the message of the Bible— Or made a spirituality of their own construction. I was aware of the theories that try to discredit— to undermine— what for me was fact. If we believed Christ died on the cross and was raised, we were raised with him, our sins forgiven. What was so hard about that?
I was aware how tightly I held my shoulders as I talked— As I listened— As I thought— As I tried to reconcile— To resolve.
Thomas Faust felt betrayed. He felt hurt. He saw the murders as accomplishments. He thought the investigators wanted to talk to him, be involved with him as he led them on an adventure. They would be impressed with his skill. He thought they would remain in contact with him, not leave alone him in his cell. I was stunned. I tried not to show it. I had never seen him think this way.
I gave Faust what I could. I had to be honest.
There were awkward moments of silence. Did he see my nervousness? There were awkward moments of us speaking over one another, of interrupting without meaning to. You first— No, you— Go ahead. We were fishing. We were casting reels. We were not standing in the same stream. Had I seen his wife? Had his children come to Buckholt? Where were his brothers— the rest of his family?
How could I resolve what could not be resolved? It had torn our community— it had cut me— I didn’t want to see Thomas Faust. I wanted to leap from my chair, from this room, from this place, and flee. I couldn’t get far enough away if I drove for the rest of my life. The land was tainted with his acts of murder. The place itself wanted to flee from him, from what he did. I felt sick to my stomach. I felt sick in my spirit. I felt touched with a filth I couldn’t wash off. What else could I say? There were cities of refuge in the Old Testament for murderers, but those were accidental murders. Not planned and executed with precision. You carried a kit with tape and rope—
I want forgiveness, Tom said.
That’s between you and God. I cannot say, your sins are forgiven. I cannot even begin to think what you have done. You have implicated the church also. God’s salvation is irrevocable. Christ may be your city of refuge. He may accept you in his mercy. I can say, God forgives you. But right now, I, myself, cannot.
My head hurt. My shoulders were stiff. I was shaking. Did he see my shudders? Did he see my weakness? I could hardly get up from my chair. I felt like I was a stone. A huge, numb, cold, angry piece of rock. He would have kept me longer. He would have kept me prisoner. But I had to leave the room. I had to get out before I fell there.

Chapter Three: We Arrived at Night

The sky above us was smeared with moonlight.
I carried our luggage into the cabin. My wife, Grace, would unpack it. Our daughter, Clare, already was drawn up under a blanket in front of the television—
I often came to Orbson Lake to work. Ralph Gheary, the youth pastor, was back from Elwood and would be at the church. It was not my cabin, but my friend, Roy Saith’s. I liked the feel of tenant. That’s what I was on the earth. I did not want to get comfortable, to sit back and feel I had accomplished what I needed to accomplish. To say, this is mine.
I had come to the cabin to think, to write a report, to write a sermon that would reach out to my stunned congregation. To say what I could. To answer. To get my footing. What could I say? A member of my congregation had murdered ten people. Thomas Faust had been a boy scout leader. I thought of the members of the congregation whose sons who had camped with him. I thought of the members of the church who served on committees with him. We were traumatized. Evil had been with us. We had sat next to it. We had not come away clean. Knowing who the murderer was, was more fearful than not knowing. Now we knew the murderer was one of us. He was from us. He was among us. Many were still in shock. There had been a traitor in the congregation. We could not separate from it. It was there. The truth. How many would not return to church?
We lived in Buckholt, Kansas, a small town. We knew one another. But in knowing, we had not known. The authorities had come to the church. There was an investigation. I couldn’t believe they were asking about Thomas Faust. A murderer in my congregation? One of my flock. Was not Judas chosen to betray? But what was the purpose of this?
Later that night, I could see the shapes of the furniture in the room in the cabin. The smear of dim light— It was a night light in the hall in the cabin that served the same purpose as the moon I could see through the window, still spread across thin clouds. It was a lake house, I decided, more than a cabin.
I felt my depression returning. Even as a boy, I had heavy moods that weighed me down. I had taken medication. I had stopped the medication. My moods would plummet then lift from time to time. I would handle them with my will. I felt the heaviness that pushed me into the bed. I thought of scriptures written by others who had known despair. Out of the depths have I cried to you, O Lord. I wait for you more than they that watch for morning.
That old asteroid, Satan, thrown from heaven, hit the earth with a thud. That old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, who deceived the whole world was cast out of heaven and fell to earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Satan’s purpose was to damage— to take what he could for his own. He seemed to have access to dreams. To the depths of sleep.
I pondered scriptures again until the last, dim light of conscious thought turned off and I swam in the underlife on the other side of waking.
A disc floated somewhere like the rings of Saturn. But the rings had moved to Pluto and they had squared. I saw the rings had atmosphere. There was a sky. The sky had wings in it. The wings had hooks. The hooks caught the clouds that floated past. Then I saw the rings were an open mouth. The mouth tried to tell me something, but I could not hear. The mouth enlarged. It formed the whole universe. Something terrible was there.
In the morning, I sat at the desk in the cabin and thought about my dream. Was Pluto still a planet? No, it had been removed from the list of planets. What was a planet when it was not a planet? A meteorite? No, a meteor flew through the sky. Pluto orbited with the planets. And wasn’t there the discovery of a new planet? Facts were always shifting, always changing, just as Clare got them memorized for school.
I sat with my head bowed. A disc was a circle in a square. My secretary had ordered some transparent discs. I had noticed the circle inside like the rings of a planet— Not the disenfranchised planet that might not be what it was thought to be. What could I say to the bishop in his report? Thomas Faust was a member of my congregation who was not a member? Not a genuine member— he only looked like one? Or was he a genuine member in whom something was terribly wrong? Was he a man like everyone else, but had found evil in himself, and encouraged it, acted on it, thrived on it? Was evil in everyone? Was it like having a cabin one could choose to go to? Or stay away from?
Did I want to fish? Grace, my wife, asked. Sometimes it helped me think—
No, I didn’t want to fish. I wanted to work on my letter, and a sermon— my war notes, my manual of war. How could I face the fact I had a murderer in my congregation? I felt an anvil on my chest. It was warfare. Spiritual warfare. No, I wanted to stay in the cabin. I wanted to hear Grace moving in the kitchen, talking to Clare. I wanted to hear them laughing. Didn’t they know their world anchored me?
I believed there was a force of evil in the world, and in the heart of man. The destroyer had arrived in my church. I was a minister— the minister of Christ Church— the shepherd of a small flock. Why hadn’t I picked up on Thomas Faust? How could I have had a murderer in my congregation all these years? How could no one have known? How could it have been hidden so long? How would we get through this as a church? How had Grace and I gotten through our years of poverty years? Our years of uncertainty. The loss of a child. The disappointment over an appointment at another church that didn’t come.
I would get through this as I had gotten through it all— By faith. That’s how I had managed. That’s how I would continue. I was never sure of income because it depended on tithing, the giving of the congregation. I was never sure who was in my congregation— maybe a murderer— maybe someone was thinking of a criminal act while listening to my sermon. I could never be sure again. I felt violated— The way people felt when their house was broken into. I’d been caught off guard. I had been a buffoon by not picking up clues. But what clues had there been? I was duped. I was angered. I wanted to abandon Thomas Faust. Deny he was a part of my congregation. He brought home the reminder of what we were capable of.
Lord, you know my downsitting and my uprising. You understand my thoughts. You compass my path. You are acquainted with my ways. Where could I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there. If I made my bed in hell, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand leads me. You possess my reins. My substance was not hid from you, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being imperfect. In your book all my days are written.
Even this.
I knew also that Thomas Faust was fearfully made— But what had happened with this fearfully made man who turned murderer?
Did God know the terrible acts we would commit, but still chose to let us operate on self-will? Yes— we were free to act on our desires. Yes— God had to know. The terrible and even more terrible acts that we have done on earth were before him. Our history was full of horrors. That’s why it took the death of Jesus Christ on the cross to atone for the sin within us.
Depression was a polder. I was below sea level. In my sleep at nights in the cabin— in my uncertainty of the way ahead— I felt broken. But hadn’t the way behind been an indication of the way ahead? Had I ever been abandoned by God? Yes, when Tessa, our daughter, died.
Why couldn’t I write my report? How much more my sermon. I woke in the morning a ghost of myself. My idea of what I could be was more than what I was. My wife, Grace, was grace to me— keeping the house— being my emissary— my ambassador. Our daughter, Clare, in 7th grade. Only one child to worry about, someone told me once. A daughter who had not caused us trouble as yet. Who would not. Who saw that the love of order opened up time for more important things. Who brought books and puzzles and video games to the cabin. Who could be by herself. Who was so quiet I sometimes wondered if she was there. How would this impact her? What would the children say to her at school? What could I say to ease her way through this? Could I even help myself?
What was this job I had?— Ministry— Was it because I couldn’t do anything else? Manual labor? Accountant? I had no father to go into business with like Roy Saith. I had resented Roy’s ease into his father’s construction company. It was already there for Roy, while I had to plow the road. To go where it wasn’t clear. To work with Biblical architecture that could not be seen. No, I had been chosen for the ministry, and in turn, I had chosen to do it. I was doing the Lord’s work. I was in want. I was in uncertainty. The rectory in need of repair. The old car. The used furniture. The insecurity when I thought of my bank account. Then the message— preach the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved; but they that do not believe shall be damned. God often left no hard evidence of himself. Preaching would seem futile. It would be heartbreaking. It would be grace. He was. He is. He will be. There were times I would have done it differently than God. The I Am That I Am.
How could I explain the gospel more clearly? How could I explain it at all? I walked blind on the road where God led me. I even had difficulty explaining it to myself.
I had wanted another ministry— almost had been chosen for it— a position in another church. But I had been chosen to be here— in the middle of this. I got up from my chair. I sat down. I got up again. I walked down to the dock. I went back to the room. I paced.
Thomas Faust was president of the congregation. He was a compliance officer in the community.
Yet he had murdered and kept Buckholt under the siege of fear.
I wanted to say, had been the president of the congregation— but he still was, even as he sat in jail. There would have to be another election— soon—
Faust had murdered for years. Then the murders stopped. Had the murderer disappeared? Maybe he had moved away. Maybe he had died. Then, after many years, he re-surfaced. When he was caught, I couldn’t believe it was him. None of us could.
The investigators had traced him to the church. It was the church through which they found him. Maybe he had given himself up. Maybe he knew what he had done in secret could not be hidden forever.
What was the nature of man? What was the nature of his evil? Did everyone have it? Yes— according to the Bible no one was righteous, no not one. Why did Thomas Faust not keep his unrighteousness in check?— but let it out to prowl the neighborhoods— Why did he nurture it, develop it? Was it possible to understand the mind of a killer?— The evil that was in all of us? It could not be denied. Faust was an ordinary man who went into the houses of others and killed them. He invaded their homes and took their lives. Why had evil gone so far in him? Did his wife not ask where he was when he came in late? Did she not smell death on him? How does murder smell? The intent to murder? The release when it was over? Did he come home, shower? Had his pupils stopped enlarging. Was his gland no longer swollen? Did Ruth Faust feel his heart still pounding next to her? Did he kill calmly. No, he had ejaculated. He had known arousal. Did he talk in his sleep? Did he toss? Was there knowledge of something she put away like a towel in a drawer? Did their dreams meet at night above them and kiss? His wife, with things in her house he had taken from his victims. She never found them? Or suspected? Had I? How could she not have known? How could I? Had Thomas thought of killing Ruth, his own wife? Did his children dream of it in their beds? Did the parents of any of the boys in scouts suspect? Did Faust do anything that raised a suspicion we ignored? Some of his co-workers said he was arrogant, controlling. But most thought he was an ordinary man. No, it could not be. An ordinary man did not murder on his lunch hour and return to work. And how did he stop the murders after going so far? Did he step into an airtight compartment in himself, shut off from the part of himself that murdered? Did he just decide he could not do that anymore? How hard had it been to stop?
I was suddenly aware that the cabin was quiet. Grace and Clare were not there. Had they gone for a walk? Was I talking to myself? Had they overheard and left? Had Grace picked up on my wanderings?
God had made his will known in the Bible. He didn’t impose himself on us. In fact, sometimes, it seemed that he didn’t care what we did. Yet he took notes. Our lives would be written before us when we stood at the judgment seat. The book would be opened. It was in words. Who was doing this writing? By writing we are known. We had been given freedom. Yet we were bound in a book— Our will, our action, our decisions. We had to account for our words. Even the idle ones. Would there be instant replay? Was there a leniency in this toughness? I didn’t find it.
Heaven or hell were the choices. That was what the Bible said. I did not make it up. I was a minister. This was my territory. But the Bible could be bypassed. It could be ignored. It could be decided against as a conscious choice. The Bible could be left unread. But if it was picked up— If it was read and considered, if it was decided on, there was a world that opened. How could anyone argue with the evidence on the page? It was written by the author. The Author.
But what was said? Sometimes my sermons were wings tied onto my arms. Sometimes they were wings that grew from myself of themselves. If I could quiet my thoughts that were running everywhere. If I would not be preoccupied. But that was what religion was for— to puzzle, to face the question of evil head on. It was what Christianity was for.
To pin on wings was to feel the suffering of others. To grow one’s own wings was to know suffering itself. I felt the first wing start to grow— not the tied-on kind.
I wanted to follow Christ into the mystery and horror of life that I was at a loss to explain. Christianity wasn’t an easy out. I didn’t want to be disturbed by peace. I wanted the turbulence of high flight. A fool. A dreamer. A hound. Hounded and hounding. How often did I pray and receive no answer? Yet there was no doubt. I believed that God was there. I believed God had his own way that I could only know was there, though I couldn’t know it.
Thomas Faust called again for me. The second or third time? The message was waiting when I returned from the cabin. I couldn’t keep time straight. I couldn’t keep events in order. They seemed to run into one another and repeat themselves in different combinations.
The church had been smeared with Thomas Faust.