STOP THE PRESSES! STOP THE PRESSES!
Copyright (c) 1997 by David Ian
Documenting the Life of Jesus
Newsroom; Desk, reporter's and secretary's notepads, editor's visor, large bible
The editor of The Jerusalem Blaze is attempting to get the scoop on the most fantastic story of the century--or perhaps for all time.
(SCENE: EDITOR is putting together the latest publication of The Jerusalem Blaze. EDITOR directs the traffic like a captain aboard a sinking ship that's on fire; EDNA sits at a desk SR and calmly takes notes and memos; SCHLEMULOUS comes to and from SL at breakneck speed; he salutes with his fist over his heart as he enters and exits. COPY BOY/GIRL enter and exit frantically without a word.)
EDITOR: Edna, take a memo. From: Editor-in-Chief's desk, The Jerusalem Blaze, et cetera, et cetera. To: Throne Room Correspondent of King Herod. Text: "Lame angle on scandals at royal wedding: 'King Caught in Kissing Cousin Courtship’ it was all wrong--didn't you do your research? Everyone and their donkey knew that she was his brother's wife. Besides, the Dead Sea Scroll scooped us on the real story: "Herodius' Daughter Dances for Fun and Prophet"--subtitle "John the B. Gets Head Served on Platter!" Oh! I'd give my eyeteeth for a lead story like that!
EDNA: (aside) The editor was troubled and all Jerusalem with him.
EDITOR: Edna, take a memo. To: Religion Department. Text: "Where's my Passover piece? Who are you waiting on to get it out? Elijah? If I don't get it by the time you get this, you'll be disbar-mitzvah!"
Next! Schlemulous! (SCHLEMULOUS enters SL and salutes) Get me front desk. We've had riots in the streets and I don't see a single write-up on it. I want one, quick. (SCHLEMULOUS salutes and exits SL)
Copy boy! (COPY GIRL enters SR)
COPY GIRL: Copy Girl.
EDITOR: Local Events headline: "Religious Riots Rate Roman Ruin?" With a question mark at the end. (COPY GIRL exits SR)
Next! Where's our annual "Freed Prisoner" Profile? Copy Girl! (COPY BOY enters SL)
COPY BOY: Copy Boy!
EDITOR: "Barabbas Bailed By Brazen Band". I want a story from Human Interest within the hour, (COPY BOY exits SL, EDITOR shouts after him) which is ten minutes from now--
JERRY: Stop the presses! Stop the presses!
EDITOR: What's this? What's this? Nobody stops the presses but me. Edna, who is this young whelp? This pup?
EDNA: Star correspondent Jeremiah Ben Finn. He was covering the Jerusalem upheaval when the Romans placed him under arrest to silence him. He has gotten out only just now to file his report.
EDITOR: (to SL) Stop the presses! Stop the presses! Well, Jerry Ben Finn? Out with it, man, out with it!
JERRY: Boss, you'll never believe this story I've got.
EDITOR: Son, these eyes have seen more in my reporting days, heard more in my rough and tumble youth than you could possibly dream about. Who do you think saw the rebuilding of the great temple, the glorious victory of the Maccabees, the triumphant return from exile, the bold but dangerous rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls? Who do you think heard the cutting and fitting of stone while each worker carried a weapon in his hand in case the enemy attacked? And who do you think heard the fearless confessions of faith by Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Winnabagel before the great king of all earthly kings, Nebuchadnezzar?
JERRY: Gee, you, boss?
EDITOR: No, but I read the accounts. But let me assure you, boy, that I've seen and heard it all. Now, what have you got to report?
JERRY: (reads from his notepad) "To understand the scope of the recent events involving the most dynamic yet mysterious man to walk the stones of Jerusalem since King David, one must look back on the history of this man whom crowds once hailed as the promised coming king."
EDITOR: I like it! The kingship angle works great with our "Caesar Profile". Copy boy! (COPY GIRL enters SR)
COPY GIRL: Copy Girl.
EDITOR: "Coming King Conquers Crowds!" Page one. (COPY GIRL exits SR)
JERRY: (reads from notes) "From his first notoriety as the man who saved a wedding by turning water into wine..."
EDITOR: Beautiful! Copy Girl! (COPY BOY enters SL)
COPY BOY: Copy Boy.
EDITOR: "Water to Wine Wins Wedding" Lead story for Nuptials Section. (COPY BOY exits SL)
JERRY: (continues reading from notes) "...to his unbelievable exit from this world, this enigmatic teacher had the following of the masses and the enmity of traditional institutions."
EDITOR: This story just writes itself! Copy Boy! (COPY GIRL enters SR)
COPY GIRL: Copy Girl.
EDITOR: "Enigmatic Evangelist Earns Enmity of Establishment"--Business Section. (COPY GIRL exits SR)
Schlemulous! (SCHLEMULOUS enters SL, salutes) I want a human-interest angle on this: interviews from the man on the street, personal impact, social impact, the whole nine yards. (SCHLEMULOUS salutes, exits SL)
Next! Edna, take a memo to Religion Department. We need official statements from the entire Sanhedrin, high priest, Pharisees, Sadducees--Edna, did I ever tell you why the Sadducees don't believe in rising from the dead?
EDNA: "Because they're sad-d'you-see?"
EDITOR: Because they're uh--exactly. Next! Ben Jerry!
JERRY: Jerry Ben, sir.
EDITOR: Right! What else do you have? This stuff is exciting! Extraordinary! Earthshaking! Kid, I gotta get you jailed more often!
JERRY: (reads) "From his triumphant entry into the capital city, to his arrest, conviction and execution in disgrace, his roller coaster ride of fame eclipses even the great Elijah. And like a phoenix he rose from the ashes of his death and ascended into glory as the means of life for all."
EDITOR: (pause) Kid, I have no idea what you're talking about, but I love it. Schlemulous! (SCHLEMULOUS enters SL, salutes) Get me Obits, I need a write-up and a retraction at the same time. (SCHLEMULOUS salutes and makes to go out, but spins on his heel and salutes again when the next order is given. This bit is repeated each time EDITOR says "Next!" in this speech)
Next! (SCHLEMULOUS spins around and salutes) Get me City Desk. I want the triumph of this entry! A verbal parade! Adverbs, nouns, adjectives, the whole gamut! (SCHLEMULOUS salutes and makes to go out)
Next! (SCHLEMULOUS spins around and salutes) Get me OP-ED. I want an editorial: bold; challenging; how come it takes martyrs to die for causes we all deeply believe in--can't more of the regular masses give their lives too? (SCHLEMULOUS salutes and makes to go out)
Next! (SCHLEMULOUS spins around and salutes) Get me Copy Editor. Copy Girl! (COPY BOY enters SL)
COPY BOY: Copy Boy.
EDITOR: I want a special announcement about our obituary. Quote: "We stand by what we print and we will NOT retract our retraction."
Well? What are you staring at? Move it! Move it! (COPY BOY scrambles and exits SL, SCHLEMULOUS salutes and exits SL)
Two hundred editorial assistants and I gotta draw a war correspondent washout from the Roman Press Corps! What kind of training do they use in the Roman army, anyway? It's no wonder it took them so long to conquer the known world. Keep it coming kid, we're filling out our columns now!
JERRY: (reads) "Roman officials and religious leaders are attempting to suppress the truth about the fantastic story surrounding this man. Sanhedrin members are stoning believers of this new faith, and Rome views the growing conversions as a threat against their deified Caesar."
EDITOR: A cover-up! The crowning glory of a great story! This has got National Award written all over it, and we've got the scoop. Kid, you're a genius--
JERRY: Uh, boss--
EDITOR: I mean it, you're the greatest--
JERRY: Err, boss--
EDITOR: Yes? Yes? What is it?
JERRY: We, uh, don't have the scoop.
EDITOR: Tell me you're joking! Tell me quick! Edna, he's joking, right? (EDNA shrugs)
JERRY: (reads) "Four authors have gone on to document the story in-depth, with notations on his closest followers, with personal observations and historical commentary."
EDITOR: This is a disaster! We would have had the scoop if you hadn't let yourself get thrown in jail. Edna! take a memo. To: All field personnel. Text: "No field reporters are to get arrested without my expressed permission!"
Next! Schlemulous! (SCHLEMULOUS enters SL, salutes) Get me Human Interest again. Drop the man in the street nine yards--we need a new nine yards. A follow-up story, "How My Life Has Been Changed," before and after kind of thing. Move! Move! (SCHLEMULOUS salutes, exits SL) This is no time to take a bivouac!
Next! Edna, take a memo. National Desk. I want the dirt on what the Roman governor has done about all this.
JERRY: He washed his hands of it, sir.
EDITOR: All the better! Next! Edna, take a memo to the Editorial Cartoonist. I want a cartoon that depicts the big bad establishment against the common man, Big Rome steps on the Little Guy--
EDNA: The cartoonist is free lance. He draws his own opinions.
EDITOR: Of course he draws his own opinions, that's what I pay him for. Just so long as his opinions are what I tell him they are!
Next! Schlemulous! We are not going to lose out on this story. (SCHLEMULOUS enters SL, salutes) Get me Research. I want a full-blown history on this guy. I want his family background from BOTH sides, do you understand me? I want important historical information, everything. (SCHLEMULOUS salutes, exits SL)
Next! Kid, you're going back on assignment. I want you to put a profile out on his followers. "Where are they now?" "What are they doing?" kind of thing.
Next! Edna, I want to be the first to get in print where all this is leading. What's the purpose? What's in store for the future? Where will all this ultimately take us? Make sure the composers are primed and ready to go as soon as we get these answers. Everybody, shake a leg! Shake a leg!
EDITOR: Yes? Yes? Yes?
EDNA: Perhaps you'd better take a look at this, first. (EDNA hands EDITOR a thick book)
EDITOR: What's this? (EDITOR thumbs through book) Oh, no! (EDITOR looks through book some more) Oh, no! (EDITOR closes book and holds it out at arm's length) Oh, no! (EDITOR holds cover of book toward the audience so that they can read the title in big letters: "HOLY BIBLE") SCHLEMULOUS!
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