The familiar moons of his home planet were visible as Captain Didactic aimed his MetaCruiser on approach. Soon he would confront his vastly cunning foe, Major Minor. The psychological banter began with an innocent podcast: Didactic’s wife innocently suggested that their next briefing be a Kilrath-fest, with all the wives bringing their favorite dishes, frozen, then transmuted into a varietal repast. Major Minor issued a six page diatribe on why this would not be appropriate for their meeting with Dahan Nar, reporter for the Azure Herald, the informational blog that coursed through all citizens’ daily podcasts. Dahan was to cover their attempt at reaching local citizens for Christ by holding a retro Christian movie night. Major Minor insisted that they simply provide dehydrated pizza so that there would be plenty of time to show Dahan their video selection process. It was a thinly veiled attempt by Minor to corral Dahan for the entire evening and fill his four ears with hyperbole about the vastness of Minor’s “vision” to take their retro movie concept to far reaching galaxies. On the surface, it sounded like a fine outreach, but underneath was a desire to look powerful. In an effort to suppress all ideas, his letter finished with, “Please, no surprises.”
Everyone knew that to host a retro film simply required a player, movie screen and someone to press “play.” A once joy-filled ministry had become pure drudgery. Minor had successfully inhibited all ideas of the “core team,” as he called his appointed minions. However, Minor continued to send his verbose, inflammatory daily podcasts. He was, by his own description, “the point man” of the operation.
The toughest team position was that of the popcorn poppers, easily identified by the burn marks on their arms corresponding to the iron kettle that allowed them to serve up buckets of old-fashioned popcorn. Minor’s job consisted of strutting like a Pinou plumed whippet from planet Avion as he welcomed all terrestrial guests to his show. Finally, he would stroll up to the front and issue a formal welcome, basking in a spotlight that shown brighter than planet Citroucine’s fifth star. Meanwhile, the popcorn crew was to continue popping and were warned never to even stick their heads out to greet guests.
Didactic sat down at a table in the Cyber Cafe. Pushing a button, he ordered some black stimulant. The carafe popped up immediately. Within minutes, Minor sauntered in and, after pumping a few arms in greeting, slid into his seat.
“Minor,” Didactic began. “would you mind if we opened in prayer?”
“Heavenly Father, maker of galaxies beyond our comprehension, help our talk remain respectful and make us worthy of being called your sons. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
“What’s up, Didactic?”
“Minor, about your operation of the movie ministry….”
“Working in the popcorn concessions is very demanding. It’s hot and dangerous. All of us are burning out, almost literally. I suggest that we rotate our positions.”
“Didactic, let me make this perfectly clear: I will ALWAYS greet. I will ALWAYS welcome. I have instituted new procedures in the popcorn area. I want every box, every cup, every popcorn packet counted, all currency carefully recorded, and, when all is done I want four people to sign off on it, no two from one family.”
“You want us to count ice cubes, too?” Didactic joked, but Minor’s scowl silenced him.
“When we come to perform our “mission” each evening, I want to know that each position is covered, and who is there. There will be NO rotation.”
“Minor, certainly you don’t see this as the proper way to run a Christian ministry?”
“On the contrary: we have to be absolutely certain that everything we do reflects positively on our Church of the Blessed Consternation. We must be totally transparent and above reproach, hence my new procedures.”
“But, Minor, you’ve built a dictatorship…”
“Every group has to have a leader, Didactic. I am only fulfilling the vision that God gave me on that October night. Surely you’re not suggesting that I alter God’s vision?”
Didactic tossed some drakmas on the counter, then silently walked out. Gazing at the sky and the seven moons of Seldon, he wondered at the hopelessness of it all: a ministry that had been reaching many, with rottenness at its core.
“This would be a perfect time for the Rapture, Lord,” he said as he slid, once again, behind the controls of his MetaCruiser, wearily steering a path toward home.
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