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The Safest Place on Earth Act Two
by douglas batson
09/23/13
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Act 2 Scene 1
AT RISE: (Alenka and Patrice are seated in Patrice’s cell)

ALENKA
Patrice, if I may indeed call you by your first name, I am sorry that you are feeling unwell. Thank you for seeing me today.

PATRICE
I’m doing better now. Let’s just say that pork and dumplings from a 3D printer do not agree with my stomach. You look troubled. Is there something wrong? Have you heard from Primož?

ALENKA
Yes, I have new informations, although not directly from him. But that is not the only reason why I came today. (pause) I never could have this conversation with my mother, and she is passed away now. (pause) Patrice, I want you to hear my confession.

PATRICE
Your confession? You mean like a Catholic priest?

ALENKA
Yes, like that. I respect peoples’ religious beliefs to include the Catholic faith of my mother. (disjointed thoughts) I have difficulty to fall asleep. (pause) You are American. (pause) For so long I have refused to think about what happened in Kentucky 10 years ago. But because of the conversations with you and Mr. DiFatta, and because of this little boy, Armando, I think about it now. (weeps) I will go to hell because, (weeps) because I murdered a child.

PATRICE
(pats Alenka’s hand, consoling). Oh, Alenka, that is your first name, right? (Alenka nods) You have a heavy burden on your heart. Please, tell me your story.

ALENKA
I have never told anyone before. Patrice, I am not a Christian, but I feel safe with you. My mother raised me conservatively. As a youth, I considered myself to be open, tolerant, a decent and moral person. When I went to study at Northern Kentucky, I had no problem that my roommate was lesbian. I was, however, surprised by the great number of gay groups on the campus. But seemingly there were not enough of them; my roommate’s girlfriend founded another group called GenderQueer. She was very aggressive and often tried to convince me that to be happy and modern, I must be multi-gendered. I was young, perhaps confused, but I fought against the idea that I am in any way lesbian.

In a moment of panic about my sexuality, I went to Cincinnati, had intercourse with many men in one wild weekend. This was to prove to myself that I am heterosexual. Despite using the prophylactic properly, I became pregnant. Well, what would my mother say? And a child was not welcome in my life with years of study in front of me. My roommate convinced me to have the abortion and to forget about it. I agreed. But something happened in the clinic. (pause) Something I have tried to forget. Patrice, I think my baby was born alive. I heard it crying. Now, look, (shows jittery hands) I am shaking and crying. Excuse me.

PATRICE
It is okay, Alenka. You keep crying, all you need to.

ALENKA
(sobbing) When I asked, the doctor said no, that I was dreaming under the influence of anesthesia. But I know what I heard!
(pause) Yesterday, I received documents from Mr. Oblak’s attorneys and watched an included videotape of people holding little Armando. I remembered how Mr. DiFatta described how the boy’s face shines and what happens to people when they hold him.

On the videotape I saw his face! Armando is probably the same age now of the child that I had killed. I had this strange thought, would my dead child also shake with joy and shine with love for me if we somehow meet in an afterlife? (cries, confused) Oh, where do these thoughts come from? The sounds Armando makes in the videotape reminded me of the cries I heard in the abortion clinic. Oh God! This child will not want to see me. He will not see me because I will surely be in hell. (cries)

PATRICE
(arm around Alenka) Alenka, you are a very brave woman to confide this pain to me, a stranger. It is what we at JJ call Soultalk. Confession brings healing to inner pain. I am so glad you shared this with me.

ALENKA
I have more to say, but cry too much to speak further.

PATRICE
That is enough for today; more than enough. Please know that you can talk with me at any time about this. (pause) I would like to pray for you. Would you want to pray, too?

ALENKA
(alarmed) Do you mean to pray out loud? Absolutely not! And you must not tell anyone about this, even if you think your sect’s prayers for me are helpful. I do not want this.

PATRICE
Understood. Be assured, Alenka, that this conversation is confidential between you and me---(smiles whimsically) and God.


Act 2 Scene 2
AT RISE: (Eli and Edward seated at a coffee shop)

EDWARD
How about if we continue our conversation about hell with a quip from Dorothy Sayers, a British essayist, who, a century ago wrote that dogs and cats don’t go to hell?

She wrote this to mean that hell is God’s greatest compliment to man; that dogs and cats don’t go to hell---only people do, based on their own choices. God made us His image-bearers with a great capacity for joy or misery. Whether we eventually, and eternally, experience joy or misery depends on how we view our soul and whether we feed it with Christ or with something else. This is true for everyone, believers and pre-Christians.

ELI
I get that, the narrow road of following Jesus or the broad path that leads to destruction, hmmh? Can’t you just tell me what makes JJ so different from the rest of evangelical Christianity?

EDWARD
Sure, as opposed to churches that manufacture inspiration and crowd-pleasing entertainment, JJ spiritual communities seek to do what the writer of the book of Hebrews admonishes us to do. Being redeemed by Christ, we can draw near to God and to each other in new ways: our new purity, new identify, new inclinations, and new power. When we come together in community, we stir the passions of the Upper Room to worship God, radically trust Him, grow in and obey Him. We at JJ provide a safe place where the good, bad, and ugly of life can be faced.

ELI
Again I hear about a safe place, a safe place for what, hmmh?

EDWARD
That’s actually the easiest question you’ve asked, Eli. You are young, so the answer may be harder for you to grasp: Safe enough to hit rock bottom! To give up on what we call a sin management mindset of good training and accountability partners, where the Holy Spirit is not even needed to deal with the evil still lurking in our Lower Room, or to develop our virtue.

But it is also a safe place to envision what the Holy Spirit can do through us to form Christ in each other. We learn to discern flesh from Spirit dynamics so we can touch each other with the power of the risen Christ that lives in us as worshippers. To experience the Upper Room, the group must be small enough for each person’s chair to turn toward the others, ideally 10-15 people. In a large group that cannot happen.

ELI
It seems to me like JJ manufactures Christian mystics set apart only by some special inner intensity, hmmh? Last question, which I really hope you can answer: how do you move from the Lower to the Upper Room?

EDWARD
Eli, I’m a straight-shooter, remember? So here it is: If we try to experience the Upper Room without first smelling the reek of our own Lower Room, we discover only natural virtue. If our Christian life is really only socialized, managed sin emanating from the Lower Room, we will be deceived by the effect of an air freshener liberally sprayed over garbage.

On every Christian’s faith journey there comes the fork in the narrow road to be either a manager or a mystic. Managers are believers who stop with head knowledge of the gospel and continue to manage their lives with their own resources. The reality of spiritual community is the Three-in-One Godhead relating in our midst. Managers try to explain this and call themselves theologians. Mystics experience it, enjoy it immensely; they feel safe, seen, and touched, and so become lovers. Only mystics experience the passions we just talked about, They find safety in spiritual community to hit rock bottom as well as the passion to celebrate and worship God there. Do you remember the three passions from my round-about way of introducing them?

ELI
You did slip them in on me, Mr. Greenhough, hmmh? But I remember: they are the passion to envision Christ in others, a passion to discern flesh from Spirit dynamics...and then something about touch and power.

EDWARD
Yes, to touch each other with the power of Christ now alive in us. Eli Fitzgerald, “go to the head of the class!”

ALENKA
(approaches table) Mr. Greenhough, Mr. Fitzgerald. Excuse the interruption, but I have important news regarding your colleague, Mr. Oblak. He has entered into a plea bargain and will be tried by a local court that will do no more than give him probation.

ELI
Ms. Dmovšek, I got news, too. Thanks to Mr. Greenhough, the slander and libel charges have been dropped! And Mr. Aslan is on the way here, next week, (looks at Edward) we think.

ALENKA
Is this so? Well, this changes everything. From the prosecutor, I learned of correspondence that implicates only Mr. DiFatta and Mr. Aslan in the child abuse charge. Mrs. Nuernberger, I believe, can no longer be implicated in the remaining charges.

EDWARD
That bit of news should have Patrice feeling better! How is she now?

ALENKA
She is improved. I will go to my practice now and petition her release from detention. We must all meet tomorrow and plan the defense. Mr. Fitzgerald, some of the documents sent to me are in the Farsi language. Do you think your embassy could have these translated?

ELI
With our new Polyglot 3.0 machine translation software, even idioms and legal terms are translated flawlessly with a 1-day turn-around!

ALENKA
Thank you. Well, I must be on my way. Until tomorrow. (exits)

ELI
Mr. Greenhough, about that passion to discern flesh from Spirit dynamics, I think I just caught myself. I was going to ask Ms. Dmovšek why she is here on her day off. I also backed off from asking if she had been crying. Did she look that way to you?

EDWARD
She did, and you showed discernment in not asking either question. Good move on your part, or better said, “Double A!”

ELI
Thanks! (pause) I feel I want to tell you something about my Aunt Sue and my parents. They are not on speaking terms. I find that so unbelievably sad, given that Aunt Sue was such an ardent backer of Dad’s when he launched his teaching ministry.

EDWARD
What happened, Eli?

ELI
Well, I don’t have all the facts, hmmh?, but Mom visited a ladies small group hosted by Aunt Sue and Mrs. DiFatta. There, a lonely and overweight woman confessed her doubt that God is truly good or something like that. Mom tried to encourage her by saying to just trust in Jesus and all will be well. Afterwards, Aunt Sue just lit into Mom telling her that it is easy for her to trust in Jesus---she has the body of a woman half her age, thanks to a personal trainer. And due to my Dad’s success, she can afford that and other luxuries and leisure; in sum, that Mom’s life is like a storybook fantasy!

EDWARD
That was a real jab, but it can’t be all.

ELI
No, it's not. Mom blames not Aunt Sue, but the influence of Linda DiFatta on her for that outburst, and for their falling out.

EDWARD
I see, and how does that shape your attitude toward Linda’s son, Craig, I wonder?

ELI
Toward Craig? I don’t see how the two relate. (pause) Well, I guess they do. Even though they knew each other 30 years ago, I was thinking about talking to my dad about Craig. But I sensed it might not be positive and backed off. (pause) Double A, Mr. Greenhough! Either you are some skilled counselor, or you are peering into my soul! But, I digress. Back to business; do you know this guy, Primož Oblak? What do you make of his seeking a plea bargain?

EDWARD
No, I don’t know him, and you, young Eli, are the legal guy here. But, I do have a check in my spirit, that Craig will be undone by this plea bargain. (pause, to himself) Brother Primož has appealed to Little Caesar and to Little Caesar he will go.


Act 2 Scene 3

AT RISE: (Eli on his cell phone near the same coffee shop)

ELI
Yes Sir, it is unbelievable! Craig DiFatta is the first American to be tried by the International Criminal Court! Talk about a high profile case! Mrs. Nuernberger? She was cleared of any involvement and released. The prosecution showed text messages between Mr. Hamid Ali Aslan and the national leader, Primož Oblak. Despite Mr. Oblok’s misgivings about allowing mobsters to hold Armando, the handicapped boy, Aslan told him to look at the results and to continue “to offer” the child. (pause) Yes, the same word was used in Slovene. Oblak then sent an appeal-type message to Craig who instructed him to do the same. (pause) Apparently, a local woman saw her mob money dry up when the crime family became Christians, so she started spreading ugly rumors about them abusing Armando.(pause) No, the attorney who represented him was competent enough, even sympathetic. When the prosecution questioned Craig, he said things like “it takes an Armando to build spiritual community” and that “sick people need a doctor, not healthy ones.” Believe me, that did not go over well with the ICC! He seemed not to care if he were convicted of child abuse or not! (pause) No Sir, he doesn’t’ strike me as one with a martyr’s complex. Why do you ask? (pause) No, I don’t believe that anyone abused the boy.

He was sure that the Iraqi guy, Aslan, would be here to testify. The embassy found out that a trio of Persian immigrants, a father, son, and the father’s brother, are behind it. They must have pull with the Iranian police because Aslan couldn't leave the country. Right, they are angry that their relatives left Islam and became Christians after touching Armando, and they have it in for Aslan, hmmh? (pause)

Well, that’s why I say things are crazy here! Concurrently with the ICC trial, the ECHR continues its hearings. Ms. Dmovšek, didn't like that at all so she stepped down from her attorney's role in protest! But get this, she will now testify as an expert witness in tomorrow's hearing on teaching creationism creeds! (pause) I know, I know, it's absolutely incredible! If it were not for what happened at today's hearing, I wouldn't be optimistic either. That Mr. Greenhough is something else! First, he disarmed the jurists with humor, and the slander charges were dropped. But today, well, I’ve never seen anything like it. (pause) I can’t do his testimony justice but it went like this:

[stage lights turn from Eli to Edward across the stage on the witness stand]

JUDGE
Mr. Greenhough, your fellow sect members are accused of indoctrinating juveniles with prejudices against multi-gender sexual orientations.

EDWARD
Your honor, I will speak to that alleged prejudice, and tomorrow, Ms. Dmovšek will offer testify concerning the alleged indoctrination of minors charges.

JUDGE
So we have heard from Ms. Dmovšek. This is very unusual behavior for a court-appointed attorney to resign from a case and testify for the defendants. We have, however, accepted this defense arrangement. Please begin.

EDWARD
I have lived long enough to explain how multi-gender sexual orientations are born. In my lifetime, Western society moved on the issue of homosexual behavior with the deliberate pushing of a Freidenker agenda, to use a European term for secular humanists. From being taboo and criminal, homosexuality advanced to toleration through Strategy #1, comedy in the arts and entertainment. If someone is funny in public, then regardless of one's morality, he or she is disarming. Under the guise of comedy, and later, diversity in the workplace, homosexuality gained acceptance; then moved from approval to normalization with state-sanctioned same sex marriage to today's protected and even preferential treatment by the State.

There is little agreement on what causes multi-gender sexuality, even among those considered to be experts. The differing opinions enable Freidenker Strategy #2. When the discussion begins that something inherently evil is really only controversial, ground is already won. Multi-gender sexuality is now put forth as a subject on which reasonable people disagree. A pedophile, for example, is someone who has sexual interest in pre-pubescent children, that is still taboo in the year 2041, but an ephebophile is different, you see.

JUDGE
We are sorry, Mr. Greenhough, but we are not familiar with that term.

EDWARD
Never heard that word before? I suspect that before long ephebophilia cases will become nauseatingly familiar to you, Your Honor. An ephebophile is someone with sexual attraction to adolescents. You will soon decide cases of sexual assault or consent involving 14-year-olds, and based on what criteria, I do not know, since a consistent moral code is incompatible with the Freidenker agenda. In the name of civil rights and freedom, they will seek to have crimes involving sex with minor children, even statutory rape, removed from your law books---just as the gay rights activists did with homosexual behavior.

Freidenker Strategy #3 is a taxonomy for normalizing evil.
Sophisticated terms, you see, confer an automatic legitimacy without having to argue for it. After all, it is claimed, you cannot have varieties of something that doesn’t exist. So, circularly, if there are varieties of sexual orientations, they are real, and if real, they are not to be condemned. Two eminent researchers from the University of Groningen and Harvard University testified before the European Parliament that ephebophilia should be classified as a distinct sexual orientation. The Freidenker will now label any public outrage at ephebophillia as emotional, irrational, and not justified by science. It’s the quality of the relationships that count, they claim. Just by dropping the words “Harvard” and “eminent researchers,” the take-away message is that these people are smarter than you. And how did the word “relationship” sneak in there without any debate?

Strategy #4 is elevating the domain of the professional. As with homosexuality before it, professionals will pretend to argue about an innate or acquired taste for polymorphous promiscuity. Then one says “You say potato and I say potahto, let’s call the whole thing off,” and no one will care anymore. Another place gained for multi-gender sexual orientations. Morality is increasingly unimportant when people are happily absorbed in their private lives. We may shrug our shoulders in apathy when a celebrity announces that he or she is an ephebophile, but it’s a different story when it’s our child or grandchild that catches the eye of one.

And many shoulders were shrugged when homosexuality was forced on the U.S. military and the Boy Scouts of America, the most iconic of American government and civil society institutions. At the time, the latter required a pledge for young boys to be “morally straight.” That pledge was attacked in a manner reminiscent of a whisper recorded in the Book of Genesis, about which you will hear more tomorrow from Ms. Dmovšek. The Freidenker likewise question moral absolutes by asking “hath God said?” Sparing no one's stance on the issue from scrutiny, celebrating homosexuality now became required, and no longer merely tolerating it as the Freidenker had originally demanded. Evil peddles tolerance until it is dominant, and then seeks to silence rectitude.

Pursuing a life of righteousness and holiness, which is the opposite of homosexuality, and not heterosexuality as commonly assumed, branded Christians as intolerant and out-of-step with society. So much for being a Freidenker! Showing tolerance for anyone holding a biblical worldview became a societal anathema. Hypocrisy is indeed the tribute vice pays to virtue when Christians were banned from the public square, even viewed as an enemy of the State, for not kowtowing to a never-ending parade of civil rights for this or that sexual orientation.

What is to keep the same pattern from repeating itself with other moral issues, I ask? Is it not true that in some parts of the EU, public officials are being applauded for the beauty and artistry of their lies? It stands to reason that the ability to lie may even become a qualification for public office. In concert with Strategy #1, comedy shows on both sides of the Atlantic have us laughing at mendacity because, so they claim, that's just who we are; so what's the big deal? Social issues often lack a clear right and wrong. Not so with moral issues like these. We human beings, as image-bearers of God, have a conscience. No matter how we disfigure it, trample on it, ignore it, modernize it, and violate it, we cannot eliminate the word wrong from our vocabularies; it always comes back to judge us.

JUDGE
Thank you, Mr. Greenhough, that is sufficient answer. Tell us now about the science pedagogy of Jacob’s Junction.

EDWARD
Jacob’s Junction makes the sacredness and beauty of human life, to include the pure, holy, and procreative sexuality in marriage between one man and one woman, a learning priority for the young. The One who created us male and female gave us a moral code that preserves marriage and family, and protects and treasures human life, especially children: born, unborn, and handicapped. With malice toward none, this historic Christian truth, protected by EU constitutions, is what we teach. Before you, Your Honor, are the facts and figures of the orphan care ministry, and the secondary school curricula, all of which speak for themselves.

(lights dim on Edward, shine on Eli, still on his cell phone)

ELI
Like I said, how he used the slippery slope analogy without the judges even realizing it was double A brilliant! The indoctrination of minors charge was dropped! Edward Greenhough is an officer, and a gentleman, a scholar and a saint, hmmh? I admit, I am very fond of that man.

(pause) What do you mean he is just a mediocre adjunct professor? (pause) I can’t speak to things that happened before I was born. Got to go! Even after a long, draining day, he still said he’d meet with me at this late hour. I have so many questions for him. (looks across stage) Oh, he is already here, poor guy, looks like he fell asleep waiting for me in the coffee shop. Well, he’s old, so I’ll have to cut him some slack. (pause) Right. (impatiently) Dad, I’ll update you tomorrow, now go back to sleep. Good night, Dad.

(Walks over to Edward, sitting hunched over a café’ table, and pats him on the back) Mr. Greenhough, you were double A today! (Edward slumps further) I told my Dad how incredible you...
Mr. Greenhough? (alarmed) Mr. Greenhough! Oh God!


Act 2 Scene 4

AT RISE: (Alenka giving testimony in court)

JUDGE
Ms. Dmovšek, for this ECHR hearing, please inform us about the sect Jacobs’ Junction’s creationism creeds that prejudice juveniles against multi-gender sexual orientations.

ALENKA
Your Honor, I am pleased to present the view of Jacob’s Junction about the origin of the earth. The theology of Genesis One is crucial to a right understanding of our identity in this world as human beings. It postulates that the Creator God of the Bible made a functional cosmos at an undetermined time past. This view is neutral in regard to scientific theories of the earth’s material origins. Namely:

• The biblical creation account begins with no functions rather than no material.
• The Hebrew word translated “to create” concerns assignment of functions.
• The first three days of creation pertain to the three major functions of life: time, weather, and food; days 4-6 pertain to functionaries being assigned their proper roles.
• The recurring comment “it is good” refers to functionality.

JUDGE
Are you saying, Ms. Dmovšek, that Jacob’s Junction does not teach that God created the material earth in seven literal days, and that only a few thousand years ago? This is what Christians typically claim, despite the much older dinosaur and hominid fossil evidence to the contrary!

ALENKA
Those fossil specimens, to include the anthropological ones, would be relegated to an obscure, distant, and unordered past. Chaos, the Bible calls it. At an undeterminable time past, God brought forth order out of chaos. He created a functional cosmos. For that reason, biological evolutionary theory is not the enemy of the Bible. It is superfluous to the Bible and to Christian theology.

JUDGE
Do the defendants not fear that science disproves their creationist illusions?

ALENKA
On the contrary, we may find the theories of scientists to be convincing or not. The creation account in Genesis is, however, not metaphysically neutral. It mandates an affirmation of purpose, but leaves the descriptive mechanism for material origins of the earth undetermined. We cannot, on the basis of Genesis, object to any mechanism they offer. Whatever science might propose, our response is “Fine, there is no reason that God could not have been involved in that process.”

We find our Christian theology affirmed in a functional cosmology. Just as with the origin of the earth, the origin of the species, of human beings, the Genesis account is insistent in affirming a set purpose with no possible neutrality. This view amplifies the late Mr. Greenhough’s testimony on the original intent of human sexuality. When God created human beings in His image, male and female, it indicates, among other things, that we are to function as pure and holy stewards over procreation. We find the Christian theology of human sexuality affirmed by the same creation account in Genesis, and thus protected by the EU constitution.

JUDGE
Ms. Dmovšek, if you continue to relate other human affairs to the Genesis creation account, you almost persuade me to become a Christian. You may step down. The European Court of Human Rights drops the remaining charge. However, the International Criminal Court's verdict on the child abuses charges will be decided tomorrow at nine o’clock in the morning. Court adjourned.


Act 2 Scene 5

AT RISE: (Craig and Patrice pray in a conference room the next morning)

PATRICE
Father God, we grieve over our loss of Edward. We thank you for his faithful servanthood and his testimony. Not just yesterday, but for the decades in which he labored with us to build spiritual communities of Christ-worshippers. Father, we pray that your people will not fear and complain when their freedoms are threatened. If freedoms are lost, Lord, we welcome it when salvation in Jesus is proclaimed.

(Alenka quietly enters the room)
Let us be people who glory in the privilege of giving up a gift we had never deserved in the first place.

CRAIG
Father, forgive me, I confess my doubt and fears that you are not in this ordeal with us. I pray for Primož, that he will stand strong in his faith and not fail you. Give me grace so that I don’t fault him for his absence. God, with my dreams about the three wise men from Persia, did you want to warn me about these agitating businessmen, who scheme against your lambs and hindered Aslan from coming? Lord, show me what I have missed; free me from fear so that I can hear from You…

ALENKA
(clears throat to interrupt) Good morning. Excuse my interrupting your prayers.

PATRICE
Alenka! (rises and embraces her. Alenka noticeably clings to Patrice, is emotionally moved, wipes tear from eyes) We want to thank you for your testimony yesterday! How did you---how is it possible that you conveyed so much of JJ’s teaching? And in such a compelling fashion that the charges were dropped?

ALENKA
Where to start? First, I offer my condolences on the death of Mr. Greenhough. This is a sudden shock after his testimony, which also affected me much. (pause) The last 48 hours have been the most unusual of my life! It requires more time than we have now to explain all. Where is Mr. Fitzgerald? I asked him to be here now.

(lights on Eli across the stage, animated in a silent cell phone conversation understood to be with his Dad, obviously angry from his facial expressions and body movements)

Craig, excuse me, I mean, Mr. DiFatta, I admit to have overheard your prayer. You are perhaps mistaken about your dream and the identity of the wise men.

CRAIG
After yesterday’s testimony, I’d believe that you, Ms. Dmovšek, can also interpret dreams. By the way, after yesterday, you can call me Craig, or anything else you want! We are so grateful. No, we have not seen Eli today.

ALENKA
And please call me Alenka. Oh, where to start? About Patrice’s question how I understand the teleology of the ancient cosmos. I did not want to use that word yesterday; teleology sounds too similar to theology and can confuse the judges. It means purposefulness or intention; in this case, of creation. At Northern Kentucky I studied physical sciences, but have never used that training---(smiles) until now it seems.

PATRICE
I was just thanking God that He operates with just-in-time provision. He gives us what we need to endure---and the right words in court---at the right time. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,”---but not for tomorrow’s bread.

ALENKA
I cannot disagree. The other day I learned where Mr. Oblak was and telephoned him. He agreed to see me and I drove to Zaklonišče in Zužemberk. Some visiting Kurdish families cared for Armando and other orphans. Teaching the older children were three Kurdish men, originally from Iran, but who are refuse collectors in the hotels around Lake Bled, so I learned. While I waited for Mr. Oblak, I picked up a Slovene translation of their Kurdish textbook. This translation was made by your friend, Mr. Hamid Ali Aslan! It is, perhaps, the most profound reading I have made in my life! This is the teleological text which I cited in yesterday's hearing.

CRAIG
Father full of mercy and grace, the three magi from the East are garbage men! They do bear gifts---and have traversed afar! (pause) Now, what about Primož? And is Armando at J2Z2? Did you see him?

ALENKA
Yes, I did see the boy---in very strange circumstances that concern Mr. Fitzgerald…

(Eli, noticeably huffy, abruptly enters the room, slams door)

ELI
Sorry I am late.

PATRICE
We were just thanking God for His just-in-time provision, Alenka’s testimony yesterday. The last charges were dropped! Wasn’t she wonderful?

ELI
(sarcastically) What’s so wonderful about the notion that God created a race of Neanderthals millions of years before He created Adam and Eve, hmmh? Did God breathe life into Peking Man and homo erectus, or just one of them? Why isn’t a literal reading of Genesis enough for you at Jacob’s Junction?

CRAIG
Young Mr. Fitzgerald, you sure are full of piss and vinegar this morning! What's gotten into you?

ALENKA
An accurate reading of the original text, the ancient Hebrew, better explains creation than a literal reading of any translation. In English and in Slovene, the meaning of the verb “to create” is very problematic.

ELI
What's gotten into me? Just a jot of orthodoxy and a tittle of common sense, that's all! I had almost bought into JJ's cotton candy theology. It sounds so spiritual; ooohhh, living in a mystical Upper Room and all. But Ms. Dmovšek is right! JJ is a sect, a cult that accommodates evolution! And you are thanking God for this, this blasphemy? Please!

CRAIG
Behold Fitzgerald, the next generation! (shakes his head in dismay) An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

ELI
You can leave my Dad out of this, Mr. DiFatta! You have done enough damage to our family already! Calling him a Judas, cussing him out; undercutting him when he finished seminary. An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, hmmh? Even your mother had to tamper with and alienate our dear Aunt Sue from us!

ALENKA
Mr. Fitzgerald! Your behavior is most unprofessional! Rather than speculate concerning what other people did years ago, please explain why I saw you at Zaklonišče in Zužemberk holding little Armando! Were you perhaps seeking a touch from God? (Patrice and Craig look at each other in amazement)

ELI
(stammering) Uhh, uhh. (indignant) Who died and made you St. Clare-a-Voyant? I gathered from your testimony yesterday how you constantly said “we.” So you are now one of them, hmmh? That’s crazy!

PATRICE
Eli, you were getting close to Edward, and God took him home when his work on earth was done. Perhaps you are acting out your grief. We grieve for him, too.

ELI
(sarcastically) All of you think you have some special Upper Room revelation and can peer into my soul, hmmh? (points to Craig) And you think I’m some kind of vile pornographer. Well, sorry to disappoint you. If you get prison time, good Sir, don’t think you are a martyr. There is no martyrdom for false teachers and child abusers! I’m done with the lot of you! (turns to exit)

CRAIG
Damn it! Answer the question, Eli. Why were you holding little Armando? And was that child abuse? (Eli does not look back) That’s right, like father like son, run away from questions that reveal what's behind your impressively intact facade! (Eli slams the door as he leaves) Come back when you grow a pair, you...

PATRICE
(firmly) Craig, watch your language! (looks at her wristwatch) And watch the time. We’ll talk about this later. You have to meet with the bailiff an hour prior to the ICC opening time. He’ll be here any minute.

Act 2 Scene 6

AT RISE: (Alenka and Patrice in the same conference room)

PATRICE
How much time before the court opens?

ALENKA
Forty-five minutes. (pause) Patrice, is it true that during my testimony yesterday that I said “we,” as if I also believe the tenets of JJ's teaching? I was not conscience of this at all.

PATRICE
(joyously) And my heart was smiling each and every time you did! You, young lady, have a lot of ‘splaining’ to do and (excitedly) I can’t wait any longer to hear every word of it. Out with it!

ALENKA
Yes, oh, where to start? In my entire life I never desired a religious faith. What was the point, I thought? Everyone has an opinion, and who can know whose is correct? But by listening to your spiritual conversations, I decided to read the Bible for the first time. Again, where to start? I looked in the table of contents and chose the Evangel of St. John.

PATRICE
Oh, why John’s Gospel?

ALENKA
For no other reason than because my mother had attended St. John’s Catholic Church. I read how Jesus treated all women with love and respect. His words are so beautiful: the Resurrection and the Life; the Bread of Life; The Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one comes to the Father except through Him. He is the Vine and spiritual communities are the branches. (surprised) I truly understand these things now! The Book’s first sentence: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” made perfect sense after also reading Mr. Aslan’s teleological treatise.

PATRICE
God is so good, Alenka! May I be so bold to ask, when you visited J2Z2, and saw Eli holding Armando, did you think about holding him, too?

ALENKA
Because I did not want Mr. Fitzgerald to see me there, I left very quickly. While driving home, I also thought about this question. My conclusion was that I had no need to hold this boy in order to believe. I believed already! I told you earlier that I never desired a religious faith. The fact that Jesus Christ is not a religious belief, but the Truth of the universe, became decisive for me. And also that I do not have to disbelieve science because the Genesis creation account explains functional earth origins, not material origins. This made it very easy for me to believe! I now confess Jesus Christ, the Creator God who died for my sins. (pause, weeps) Perhaps God in His forgiveness will allow me to see my child in Heaven; I hope so now.

Patrice, will you please teach me to pray like you and Craig do?

PATRICE
I can think of no other way to spend the next half hour than in prayer and praise! (heads bowed)


Act 2 Scene 13

AT RISE: (One week later. Alenka and Patrice are in a different, furnished room. Alenka has her back turned to the audience as she places a mannequin, representing Armando, in a crib/bed. Patrice sits in a chair, comfortably reading)

ALENKA
You should have that court transcript memorized by now! But read me Craig’s words after he was sentenced once again.

PATRICE
Ah-ha. I finally recognize it now, his paraphrase of C.S. Lewis in that last exhortation.

ALENKA
And who is C.S. Lewis?

PATRICE
I am certain, Alenka, you will soon be in the C.S. Lewis fan club after reading his Mere Christianity; it’s a very short, 100-year-old classic. I’ve ordered it for you in Slovene. (Alenka sits in opposite chair, leans forward expectantly). OK, I think I do have it memorized. Craig’s exhortation is another just-in-time divine provision to sustain J2Z2. (clears throat)

The dangers of spiritual community seem better to me than the dull safety of independence and personal freedoms. Only what is bad is endangered in spiritual community. To JJ: Don’t stop getting together, and when you do, turn your chairs toward one another, and think hard about how to stimulate one another to love and do good deeds. Becoming a true spiritual community is evident when the passions of God’s Spirit, aroused by the truth of the Gospel, flow between people as they relate.

The Church exists for no other purpose but to draw men to Christ. God became man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.

ALENKA
Those words indeed are very true. I understand now why Primož cried many tears when he read this. It is a pity that he cannot remain leader of J2Z2. And Mr. Aslan can never return here, or to any EU country, for that matter. Will God provide a new leader?

PATRICE
Alenka, that settles it for me! The answer is yes, He will provide a new leader. And I’m staying on here at J2Z2 until He does! Primož is very sorrowful that he did not stand with Craig. He is repentant that fear bested him and that, as a leader, others followed his poor example. After his probation, I believe Primož has a future with JJ somewhere in Slovenia.

ALENKA
Patrice, you are serious, aren’t you? That is a very good intention, but our Slavic tongue is terribly difficult for foreigners to learn, especially for Americans, sorry.

PATRICE
Dear, we have so much to learn about each other. No worries about that; I will be a quick study. I’ve never told you that nearly 50 years ago I was a missionary in the Ukraine. It’s anything but a just-in-time provision, and I’ll need a refresher, but no Slavic grammatical case has bested me yet!

ALENKA
And, with God’s help, no handicapped child’s needs will best me, either! Can I say it like that? I will ensure that Armando remains cared for and safe, as safe as he now sleeps. (walks to crib/bed) It is my penance, my restitution, for my sins from 10 years ago.

PATRICE
That is a very tall order for a young woman inexperienced with children, but I believe you mean what you say. And Christ will be pleased that Zaklonišče, like L’Abri before it, remains a place of refuge for weary pilgrims hungry for God, and a safe place for orphans, too. See, I recognized in Zaklonišče the root word for refuge!

ALENKA
You did; I am impressed. (returns to chair) Yet another question from a novice Christian, what is L’Abri? (pause) A French word for refuge or a safe place, perhaps? (Patrice nods, looks intently at Alenka, who takes her hands). Will you really stay here with us, Patrice?

PATRICE
Yes, I will. I was thinking how much Craig has done to encourage all JJ members. He and J2Z2 will need the encouragement now. (smiles) And, who knows, if Craig doesn’t learn to cuss in Slovene, he stands a good chance to get released early for good behavior.

ALENKA
You encourage me, and I have so much to learn from you. We share together the same passion for the Vine, and to make His branches the safest place on earth!



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