First

Thursday trips to the library had a duel purpose: research into the secular world’s information pools and evangelism. Pastor Mace, the new young twenty-something pastor with sandy blond hair cropped short and a rather severe face, came up with this as a way of encouraging the congregation to commingle with the outside world.

“These are our neighbors, our family, our friends,” Mace had thundered from the pulpit on a particularly fiery Sunday.

In reality, it was a tactic of garnering acceptance from the new suburban church Mace had recently been transfered to. Back in seminary, Professor/Pastor Hemmle said it was a sure fire way to win hearts. “Come up with a project, a community outreach such-and-such that everyone can get behind. Nothing too complicated or extensive. Something tangible, repetitive. Doable. They’ll love you for it.”

And so, it was. Library Thursdays were born.

Mace, as a show of good faith in the concept, made a point of going religiously every week. Never missing not one, regardless of what came up. It has gone as far as missing out on an anniversary lunch. But, it had to be done. For the people. For Mace’s standing.

And yet, it couldn’t be accomplished alone. So, the elders were the first to be encouraged to come along. Elder Stash was the first to agree, amiable enough at least to the idea of a few hours spent on the internet at a public library. If evangelism could be so practical, sign Stash up for those extra jewels in that crown.

So, there they sat at two o’clock on a Thursday afternoon. Mace insisted on full dress – for God, naturally. Not to mention it would make the two, sitting unassumingly at library desks on computers like any ordinary brother or sister – stand out. To complete the impression, Mace always placed a Bible beside the computer, face down. It was a distinguishable book. And, Mace claimed, anybody who’d gotten lost and was searching for God should recognize the book from its back cover.

Stash, getting excited, had suggested they wear name-tags from last month’s “Stand up and Stand Out” series. Every member of church staff had one. The intention here was to easily identify one’s position in the church – for visitors, naturally. A true member would know everyone.

The name tag said one’s name and “I live to serve Jesus Christ, the one true king.” The only words large enough from a distance to read were, of course, “Jesus Christ”. The rest was a more personal message, saved for when the stranger approached. A conversation stater, Mace said.

Stash’s read: “Elder Stack.” So, someone couldn’t spell. Oh well.

At the moment. Stash was hard at work on tomorrow’s small group talk. Mace was, supposedly, hard at work on this Sunday’s sermon. It was to be given on man’s stewardship. Natural symbols seemed highly relevant. Research into the natural realm – of which Mace knew very little – was in order.

So, in go the headphones and up comes the first documentary Mace can find. It’s about owls, small barn owls to be specific. It’s interesting, but not exactly directly relatable to the sermon topic – How to Get Yourself Out of that Rut and into Jesus.

The internet, however, is this fascinating thing. You can go searching for one generally innocent thing and happen upon troves and troves of completely useless information. Mace has spent more than one Library Thursday lost in the annals of triviality. Today’s owl documentary is no exception.

A reference at the end of the film links to a video on owl birthing habits. That links to zoological studies on birth. That links to birth control. That links to Planned Parenthood. That links to resources on preventing STDs. That links to information regarding STDs. And before you know it, you’re watching porn of something.

This happens on the internet. The devil has a strong foot-hold there.
Mace is trying, while listening to praise music in stereo, Bible upside down atop a set of damp gloves, to confront this devil. It’s tricksy and slips away from you. So does your attention span. This next video is about kids sledding into a pile of trash–

Meanwhile, Stash is updating a private blog on the latest version of that recurring nightmare – y’know, the one where you wake up masturbating as your spouse walks in? Yes, that one.

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