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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hard and Soft (04/23/09)

TITLE: The Great Pew War of 1999
By Rick Higginson


Yep; come on in. This is sure a mighty solid, lovin’ church, and we got a whole load of good folk attendin’ here. If you’re lookin’ for a place to worship and grow in the Lord, you can’t ask for a much better church ‘round these parts to do so. ‘Course, it weren’t always that way. Why, it wasn’t that long ago that most of us wondered if we’d ever survive the Pew War.

You ain’t heard of the Great Pew War of 1999? Why, stand right here, and I’ll tell you all about it.

This here church building has stood since before the Great Depression, and we’ve been mighty blessed to have some families here for several generations. Well, sir, way back when they built this church, long wooden pews were pretty much a common fixture in most every church in this country, and this one weren’t no exception. It was kinda nice, ‘cause when more folks showed up, you could just slide over a bit and make room for ‘em.

Long ‘bout December of 98, the Widder Franklin passed away, and she left the church a big chunk of money in her will, on the condition that we replace the old pews. Seems she’d gotten a splinter or two in her behind from one of ‘em, and she musta figured it was ‘bout time to do somethin’ ‘bout it. So, in January of 99, the Rev’rend called a special meetin’ of the Elders and Deacons, and they began to discuss gettin’ some new pews.

Lord, have mercy; I was a deacon back then, and I ain’t never seen a better group of folks ready to declare an all-out feud so fast in my life. Well, sir, Elder Stern figured if the long wooden pews were good enough for his Pa and his Grandpa and his Great-Grandpa, then they was plenty good enough for folks today. He had a line on a bunch of brand spankin’ new, solid oak pews to replace them old pine ones.

Deacon Downs would have none of it, though. He said them hard, wooden pews just made the rheumatism in his back and hips ache for days, and he presented a brochure for some mighty nice padded chairs. He said they could set ‘em up in all kinds of different ways for different meetin’s, and if somethin’ happened to one, it could be fixed or replaced as needed.

Well, I thought Sister Olways was gonna pop a vein. She said she had a hard enough time keepin’ her husband awake during services, without him gettin’ comfortable in a nice, soft chair.

That was when Sister Willow said if she had as much paddin’ on her behind as Sister Olways did, she might not mind a hard pew.

Those of us who were just watchin’ up to that point pretty much all agree, that was the first real shot fired in the Great Pew War. The rest of that meetin’, and several more besides, all turned into a battlefield between the factions of hard wood or soft cushions.

How did it end, you ask? Well, if you look around, you’ll get a good idea how it ended. You see, long ‘bout that time, Rev’rend Sage was teachin’ through the book of Nehemiah, and he got to readin’ chapter 8. In Nehemiah 8, now, the priest gets out the Word of the Lord, an’ he gets up to read it to the people, and it says the people all stood to hear the Word of the Lord. The Rev’rend says they didn’t just read bits ‘n’ pieces of God’s Word, they read like the whole Law of Moses, and the folks stood for that whole time.

Well, Rev’rend Sage called us Deacons an’ Elders for one last meetin’, and he said he weren’t havin’ no more of this Pew War. He said if God’s people couldn’t come to agreement ‘bout somethin’ as simple as where to plant their behinds, then he was gonna make the decision for us right from the Good Book itself.

Yessirree, Bob; he took out all the old pews, and instead o’ new ones, he took the Widder’s donation and ordered us some nice, soft carpet to go over the old hardwood floors, and here we stand ev’ry Sunday to hear the Word of the Lord.

Just pick yourself a spot, ‘cause the service is ‘bout to start.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Mona Purvis04/30/09
Delightful! Aren't we all veterans of those wars? Just loved this piece...fun and creative.

Gregory Kane05/02/09
Wonderful writing with an unexpected and very fitting twist at the end.
I find that particular passage in Neh rather intriguing because when everyone prays, first they raise their hands, then they get on to their knees and bow down with their faces to the ground - not all that dissimilar to the way Muslims say their prayers. Somehow I can't see the rev'rend Sage getting away with introducing that, even with the nice, soft carpet!
Charla Diehl 05/02/09
I think all congregations have their share of "pew wars" even if they don't involve pews. When the focus strays from God, hearts become the devil's playground. My church recently lost members opposed to getting a new pipe organ.
Catrina Bradley 05/03/09
I love the pastor's solution to the war! I was wondering in the beginning why the narrator didn't ask his guest to sit, and now it all makes sense. The dialect has a nice rhythm and isn't over or under done. Great storytelling!
Emily Gibson05/04/09
Oh, this will become a classic, no question about it! This is truly the best take on the topic I've read yet!
Betty Castleberry05/06/09
I love the voice in this piece. I think I know some of your characters, too. This was fun!
Joshua Janoski05/06/09
That was when Sister Willow said if she had as much paddin’ on her behind as Sister Olways did, she might not mind a hard pew.

LOL! Hilarious! This piece was awesome. Had me laughing, because silly feuds just like this happen in churches everyday. I'm glad you were able to show the silliness of it all, Hoomi. One of my favorites that I have read so far this week.