Monday, August 21, 2006

Summer’s End

Well, Mouseketeers, I had a wonderful summer with you all, but my creativity is being called away from my blog. Starting next week, I begin my new job of teaching 7th grade and being the Sunday school superintendent and 5th grade Catechism teacher at church. I want to at least get my routine well established, so I’ll let out a squeak when I’m up and running again. Meanwhile, I’ll content myself with scurrying around your blogs now and then.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Chapter 7 - Flames and Names

I awoke with a start, still sitting in my car. The Hot-n-Taughts had gone, and daylight was about to as well. All that was in front of the Kirche place was the biggest clunker I’d ever seen, belching smoke and backfiring every twenty seconds or so. The driver shut off the engine and started toward me. It was none other than the freight master! He told me he’d been coming to find me. He’d spotted me snoozing in my car, and pulled in. I asked him if his car always did that.

“No! That thing isn’t mine. I wouldn’t give two cents for one of these CW Blenders! Look at it! Probably built from one of those do-it-yourself kits.” He said he drove a Walther, and that this bucket of bolts was his new “company car” given to him only an hour earlier. Just then the engine of the Blender burst into flames. I grabbed the fire extinguisher from among my brother’s purchases, and took care of it. I stood there looking at the extinguisher in my hand, thinking about that dream I’d had. The last thing I really remembered was something about Deacon O’Leary and a cow kicking over a lantern. The freight master cut the cord on my navel gazing.

“Thanks,” he said. “I was coming to ask if you’d like to have a partner.” A partner? It had never occurred to me. “You see, the Pinafore Captain had a little talk with the CEO after he got back from the Hot-n-Taught concert. They told me it was against company policy to criticize the changes they were making, and that they had a new job for me. I’m supposed to be keeping my eye on you a few days, and report back. The only reporting they’ll get out of me is where they can pick up their car.” I thought of my dream again. The hotter things got, the more back-up I’d need. “You’re in,” I said. “As you know, these are dangerous times, but you meet some good, solid guys now and then,” and we shook hands.

He helped me put the boxes on the front step, but I put the alb in the trunk. I couldn’t help looking. Nope. Concordia Publishing House. Polyester. As we got into the Augsburg, I started thinking about the partnership. (I’d been doing a lot of that lately.) Pastor and…..? I didn’t even know his name. So I asked him.

“Pastor,” he replied. “Juan Toby Pastor.” Now it was my eyebrows’ turn for a joyride. He laughed. I told Juan he’d need a good deal of training, but lots of guys like him start later in life. I pointed the Augsburg down the path toward Lern & Digest’s.

“And you?” he queried. “I know your last name is Pastor, but if we’re going to be working together after all…”

“I’m Luther N. Pastor, Private Eye”

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Chapter 6 – Dress for Success

“Wait!” I said. “If I have to do this, at least let me dress the part. I’ve got what I need in these boxes. I’ll just take them into the Kirche place and get ready.”

“Okay, but no tricks,” growled the captain.

Two of the boxes were from CPH, so I opened the one on top first. Something was different about this alb. The material was odd, and this wasn’t the way CPH usually shipped vestments. I looked at the packing slip. Conflagration-Proof Habiliments and what I was holding in my other hand was something called “the Albestos.” “We said ‘no tricks;’ what’s going on in there?!!” accompanied a loud pounding on the door.

“Keep your habiliments on,” was as polite as I could make my reply. Besides, it would give them something to chew on while I quickly donned the alb. I hid the fire extinguisher in the folds.

They all escorted me over to the optimitrist’s office, somehow packing themselves in. “Welcome! Here to test your Ablaze! vision? Have a seat!” cackled the doctor as he threw me into the chair.

He grabbed the knob on the ab-lazer Ecclesiastical Super-Vision 2004 and sadistically cranked it to “MAX.” “Ready….” he said.

“AIM…” they all said.

“Fire,” the captain quietly directed.

What happened next, happened fast. I whipped out the fire extinguisher and started spraying. My asbestos alb fended off the attacks of the ES-V2004 easily enough, and aided by the slippery foam, I squeezed my way through the crowd and out the door.

My trusty Augsburg IV didn’t fire right up! In stead, it actually back-fired!!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Chapter 5 – My Worst Nightmare

They sang something for the boomers: “Come on baby, light my fire. Gonna set the night on fire!” They sang something for the kids: “Ten nights ago, while we were all in bed, Deacon O’Leary took the lantern to the shed….” Would they never end?

At some point in time, I noticed Miss Oura standing right beside my car! Tears were rolling down her cheeks. “Miss Oura, come away with me,” I said.

“No, he’s got too strong a hold on me,” was her reply.

I begged and pleaded but could not convince her. What I hadn’t noticed was that the crowd was now around us. I was trapped. The captain of the Pinafore was there, holding a shot gun. “Time for your wedding,” he calmly said to me.

Miss Iona Ree Mindset tearfully pleaded with her brother, J.F., “But he doesn’t like me! I want Justin Stead!”

“Stauld,” I snapped. “And neither one of us wants you!”

Doc Knott grinned, “Don’t cry, Iona, honey. Just let me adjust his Ablaze! vision first. You’ll be okay.”

“I’ll perform the ceremony!” cried some woman.

“Ruth,” the captain snapped, “I’ve already told you; soon, but NOT YET! You can say a few words while I take a break during the ceremony.” She consoled herself with that.

“We’ll provide the music!” Con and Sharon Lovejoy offered.

“No, let us!” said the H-T/P-T choir.

“Think, Luther, you idiot, think!” I said to myself. Then I had an idea!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Fell asleep under the tree yesterday, so here's two chapters today.

Chapter 3 – Time to Go

“Got your stuff here,” the master said.

“Mind if I ask you a question?”

“Nope, go right ahead.”

“Do you like the new management?”

“Well,” he settled himself down on some of the crates. “It used to be that you could come here, drop your load, and wash up a bit. Oh, sure, they’d always remind you of the laws, but you’d always hear the good news, too. We’d sing the old songs, you could get a bite to eat and drink, and get back on your ship feeling rested and refreshed.”

“And now?” I prompted.

“Now,” he growled, “it’s like a Las Vegas floor show!” Look at those hoity-toity yachts. I’m telling you, there’s big money ‘round here somewhere. And those dancing girls all dressed in purple on the cruise ship decks… ‘liturgical’ they call themselves. I call them ‘Santa’s Reindeer.’”

I couldn’t figure that one out, so I asked. “You know,” he said. “Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen?”

I glanced at the Pinafore captain. He was looking straight ahead, stony faced, and all ears.

My friend continued, “Look.” He pointed and said, “There’s the place where you used to be able to wash up a bit. They’re building a band stage over it!”

“I take it you don’t like it much?”

“Some of my mates do, but I don’t. Well, I best be getting back to work. Do you need some help with your boxes?”

I declined. I could feel the Pinafore captain’s gaze burning into my back as I left the docks. I needed to drop these things off quickly, and leave.

Chapter 4 - I Feel a Song Coming On

My plan was simple. I’d put the boxes on Ms. Kirche’s door step and get outta Dodge. I pulled up. It would seem my simple plan wasn’t to be so simple after all. Apparently the entire Hot-n-Taught College of Pyrotechnics choir had decided to take their spring break together on a cruise. That explained the “H-T/P-T” shirts I’d seen. They’d been especially excited because one of their stops was the town of their favorite son, Doctor Trinabus Knott. The whole community had gathered for an impromptu concert. I decided to hunker down in my car and wait it out.

They started off with the Hot-n-Taught school song. Out came guitars and a banjo. The tune was familiar…was it Rocky Top?

“We all love our dear old Hot-n-Taught
College of Pyro-T skills.
Lots of firy smoke at Hot-n-Taught!
Lots of cash for the tills!
Baptists, Luth’rans all love Hot-n-Taught,
E-Frees, Methodists, too.
We tell folks the Spirit can be caught,
And keep track when we do.

Hot-n-Taught you will always be
Home, sweet home to me!
Good ol’ Hot-n-Taught;
Hot-n-Taught, Pyro-T
Hot-n-Taught, Pyro-T”

Then Trinabus stepped forward for a solo!

“Anyone can come to Hot-n-Taught;
Don’t need doctrinal skill.
There are no programs at Hot-n-Taught,
Only a test of your will.
We catch visions here at Hot-n-Taught;
See the flames leap and grow!
Even though the Spirit can’t be bought,
Please send us lots of dough!

The choir joined him: “Hot-n-Taught you will always be
Home, sweet home to me!
Good ol’ Hot-n-Taught;
Hot-n-Taught, Pyro-T
Hot-n-Taught, Pyro-T”

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Chapter 2 – What’s up, Dock?

The next morning I drove down to the docks. About a quarter mile from the gate, there was something in the ditch. I slowed down. I took a look. It was a sign, spattered with mud. “Ortho Docks” it read. At the gate, a new sign had been hastily hung in its place.

Under New Management
Shipping – Cruises – Yacht Club

I proceeded with caution. It was a busy place. The cargo ships were offloading goods, so I stopped to check in with the freight master. When I gave him my name, his eyebrows took an express elevator to his hairline. He gave me an odd look, but didn’t say anything. I told him I’d be hanging around.

I passed by the cruise ship LCMS Pinafore. There was the captain on deck, overseeing a group of tourists, all dressed alike, and making their way off the ship. The back of their shirts said, “H-T/P-T”. “There goes trouble,” I thought to myself.

I moved on down the docks to tour the area where the yachts were moored. People give them funny names. A man sunning himself on his Hip O’Crit glanced up from under the brim of his “I’m a Lutheran” hat, and addressed nobody in particular. “This Tappert guy’s a jerk!” I walked on.

The next yacht held the biggest sound system I’d ever seen. The Happy Clapper. Why was I not surprised?

Number three was the Biz Marks II. Looked more like a mini-battle ship to me.

The owner of number four, Ruthie K’s Dreamboat, apparently liked a challenge. In stead of a motor, she was outfitted with albs for sails and stoles for rigging. Now that just wasn’t right!

“Hey, Pastor!”

I was being hailed by the freight master. And carefully observed by the Pinafore’s captain.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Fun in the (shady) Sun

Everyone tries to cram in as much fun as possible during the waning days of summer vacation. The mouse is no exception. Since the oppressive heat seems to be broken (at least for a few days), I plan to spend every day this week sipping my tea and reading my new book outdoors under the shade tree. Oh, come on; you knew it had to be a trilogy, didn’t you?

Chapter 1 – Justin Case

It was a dark and stormy night. I liked it better that way. Just & I had been at Lern & Digest’s place for a couple of days now. I’d been thinking. A lot.

“Brother?” Just interrupted my thoughts. “Could you do me a favor?” I said I would.

“About a week before, well, you know, I place this order for Ms. Kirche. It’s not much; a shipment of Good News Magazines, a Gene E. Veith boxed set, a chalice to match her silver service, some furnace filters, and a new fire extinguisher. Oh, and a new alb for me. Guess I won’t need that now, though. Anyway, they’re due in at the dock tomorrow, and I am hoping you can pick them up for me and take them over to the Kirche place. Just drop them off; you don’t even have to talk to anyone if you don’t want to.”

“Sure, I’ll take your case,” I told him. “After all…”

“I’m Luther N. Pastor, Private Eye,” he finished for me with a smile, something I hadn’t seen since my arrival.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Peace, man

I went to a health food store recently and grabbed a box of maple pecan cereal. Sure the brand name was “Peace,” but you get used to that after strolling down a few aisles in a health food store. It is truly one of the tastiest cereals I’ve eaten, but to my surprise, as I sat at the table reading the back of the box and munching away, “Peace” isn’t just a brand. It’s an organization, and ten percent of my purchase now supports Yogi Bhajan. To add insult to injury, the stuff is only 70% organic! Oh, well. Considering the rest of my diet is only about 30% organic, I guess it all comes out in the wash.

Anyway, how can I, as a Confessional Lutheran, keep shoveling the yummiest cereal ever down my throat, knowing I’m also shoveling money into a really big crock of hooey? Practice, practice, practice!

My dollars have supported Thrivent, which in turn supports the ELCA. My dollars have supported LCEF, which in turn supports the Church Growth Movement. My dollars have supported my congregation, which has supported my district, which has supported my synod, which has supported an ecclesiastical supervisor, who has supported “Allah is also the true God.” Which brings us right back to Yogi Bhajan! He also wants to unite people of all faiths to pray for “Peace.” It’s okay to pray, right? And since many LCMS churches’ practice is about 70% Lutheran at best, I guess that all comes out in the wash, too.

Pass the milk, please.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Chapter 7 - (Mo)Surry with the Fringe on Top

… o’er to CURF right up the street;
You’ll find Luth’ran ortho-babes to meet!
When you’re there at Fort Wayne,
You’ll have a Scaer time, a Pless and Resch time,
You’ll have a Gaaaaard oool’ tiiiiiiime!!!

Welcome back to Car Talk, etc. I’m Fr.Ick…

And I’m Fr.Ack. We’ve been talking to our caller, Practicia, who’s been having a bit of Car Talk at her own house lately.

(Fr.Ick) Now, before the break you said it does make a difference if you’re purpose drivin’ down a new road or sticking to the old, historical paths, right?

(Practicia) Yes, that’s right.

(Fr.Ack) Practicia, what you preach is true for the whole family, and we heartily recommend you go ahead and trade your Audi off for a..

(Fr.Ick) For a vintage Augsburg IV!

(Practicia) Oh, most of my family wouldn’t be comfortable doing that, especially Adam.

(Fr.Ick) Ol’ Adam, huh? He’s your not-so-better half? (Fr.Ack laughs)

(Practicia, laughing) Something like that, yes.

(Fr.Ack) Well, there’s a bit of the ol’ Adam in all of us. We all like our comfort levels cranked up high.

(Fr.Ick) And I bet he loves his tunes played loud, and his engines ablaze!

(Practicia) That about sums it up.

(Fr.Ack) Practicia, we still hope your family will come to see the beauty and fine points of the Augsburg from UAC, and….

(Fr.Ick) Hold up there, Fr.Ack. Folks, you know Jerry, our big time supervisor, and we’re getting a signal from him that we need to be out of here.

(Fr.Ack) All righty! Tune in tomorrow when our guest will be Miss Elsie Mess-Chaos. She claims to drive a car that has a steering wheel, accelerator, and brake pedal not only in the traditional driver’s seat position, but also one for each passenger!

(Fr.Ick) Folks, Jerry’s givin’ us “the look,” so it’s time to go! We’ll just leave you with this last little market trend advice: Those that keep their eyes on UAC will have A. marked increase in foreign exchanges, and B. commodities here in the U.S. You’ve been listening to Car Talk, etc., on NPR.

(Fr.Ack) Both Car Talk, etc. and Nixon Pietism Radio are listener-supported, and we thank you for your support. You can visit us at

(Fr.Ick) Forwards or backwards, it’s the same…

(Fr.Ack) Or link to us from the NPR website at Bye-bye!

I turned off the radio. That Practicia dame was right. There was a difference. And Fr.Ick and Fr.Ack had given her some good advice. I turned my trusty Augsburg IV down the old, historical path to Reed Mark Lern & Ward Lee Digest’s place.

My brother had fallen asleep. He was muttering something. Be Justin…..dependent….Luther N…. Pastor….” Was he dreaming of himself, or me? Things aren’t so clear when the problem hits this close to home.

Even when you’re Luther N. Pastor, Private Eye.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Chapter 6 - That's the Way It Happens

“What am I to do?” came a mocking voice. “You can get outta my way.” I’d know that voice anywhere. I.M. Knott, here to “help” the situation, was standing at the bottom of the steps. He quickly placed a new name on the second mailbox, and left, grinning. We got a good look at it. We looked at each other. We looked across the street. We saw a man - no doubt the “Newly D. Claird, Deacon” we’d read on the box, already walking contentedly, arm in arm, with Uma. Her voice carried across the street. “Uma Stobay. Better than that fellow over there, I’m hoping you to be,” she said, pointing toward us.

I turned to the broken, singed man beside me. He’d avoided that prostituted Mindset dame, but he’d been burned by Knott’s ES-V2004. The wily ol’ false ‘Doc Trin’ had even managed to get his phone removed, so he couldn’t receive any more calls. “Brother, you probably feel like you’ve lost yourself, that you’re not Justin Stauld any more. But remember, you’re still a Pastor. Great-Great-Great Grandpa says so, and he knows what he’s talking about.” I helped him into my car. “Lern and Digest have invited you to stay with them. You get some rest. I’ve got some thinking to do.”

We headed away from the Kirche place. I turned on the radio.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Chapter 5 - A Real Nice Clambake

“Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, this Elsie-Em S. Kirche announces Sharon Lovejoy and Con can get married at her place, and I have to perform the ceremony! Of course, the ol’ Sir Kutt nods approval.” Again he looked straight into my eyes. “You know I couldn’t do that, so I told them all, as gently as possible, that even Grandpa doesn’t approve.” He fell silent, shaking his head.

Suddenly, his anger broke through. Up came his head, and out came, “Well, you’d think I’d ripped a loud one during silent prayer. Pure bedlam breaks out, and next thing I know, they insist that it must be a DOUBLE ceremony! Sharon and her Con man, and some ‘hot item’ from the All Blazin’ Lutherans Approve Evangelism branch named Miss Iona Ree Mindset and me! They force me next door, and Doctor Knott has the nerve to say, ““Welcome! Here to test your Ablaze! vision? Have a seat!” Suddenly, there are shouts and screams flying everywhere while mister ‘Reformed Doc Trin,’ being ever-helpful with his ab-lazer ES-V2004, tries to ‘correct my vision’ – yeah, RIGHT! - set me on fire is more like it, while Reed Mark Lern & Ward Lee Digest are jumping in to offer support and protection for me!”

As suspected, I had smelled Knott’s smoke on them when they came into my office. Then what?” I asked Justin.

“I run out the door and am in hiding until this morning. When I come back here, they take my name off the mailbox, and my hat & bags sit on the front porch. Then you come along. What am I to do, Brother? What am I to do?”

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Chapter 4 - The Lonely Goatherd

I nodded and he continued, “As the months go by, I meet more folks, but it’s strange. Ms. Kirche had said the community was well acquainted with B. O. Concord, because after all, he is their Great-Great-Great Grandfather, too. But every time I mention him, the elder Frank Lee Bellows, becomes agitated and aggressive! And every time Lern and Digest faithfully listen or say anything, here come dirty looks from Uma Stobay! She constantly dismisses everything Lern and Digest try to say, and even gets some guy, Arnie Clever, to say that my quoting Grandpa was like an ass braying.”

These words made me wince. I knew there was more. I gave him some time.

“Next thing I know, the Kirche family makes an appointment for me with some British guy, who they say will help me. His office is right next door to Dr. Knott’s, and sure enough, Sir Kutt, Counselor, is waiting to get his hands on me. The whole community packs themselves into his office, and he tells me, ‘Clever, Bellows, and Uma Stobay mean business.’ About dismissing Grandpa and Lern and Digest’s comments? I’m telling you, Brother, the pressure was really on.”

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Chapter 3 - Getting to Know You

I let my brother gather his thoughts. After a few minutes he began again, the flicker of a smile on his face. “Sharon Lovejoy merely winks and says, ‘Oh! I also want you to meet my fiancĂ©.’ She waves over a fellow sporting a spiky, pink do. ‘This is Con, Temporary Muse/Ichthyologist,’ she says.”

“‘Lovey, you’re so silly,’ he says and extends his hand. ‘Radley Conrad, actually, old chap. Transfer from the English District, you know. I write fishy songs by day, and I’m a stand-in for the local P.R.A.I.S.E theater group by night. Call me Con; everyone does.’”

“P.R.A.I.S.E.?” I ask.

“'Lovey started the “People Really Adore Insipid Song Experiences” theater group here about five years ago, and I joined after my transfer.' Then he offers me a couple of free tickets, but I tell him I'm more of a didactic kind of guy.

“Brother, I worry about the two of them. Con is nice guy, but doesn’t seem like one who would be able to put much meat on the table for himself and his Lovey. Unfortunately, it’s obvious her heart is “Conned,” and they only have eyes for each other.”

“Anyway, I turn to leave and run smack into a man I didn't know is behind me. I apologize, of course, and introduce myself. All he says is, ‘F.L. Bellows, Jr. is my name. No doubt you’ll be meeting my father soon enough.’ That’s it. No welcome. No how-do-you-do. Nothing. Of course, now, I’m wondering just what kind of situation I’d accepted, but decide to give it my all.” His haunted eyes looked straight into mine. “I know you understand, Brother. We’re Pastors, after all.”