By Tom Holmes
When Pastor Mitty arrived at the Main Café for the Wednesday morning men's fellowship breakfast, Ash, Eric, and Dominique were already in their regular booth and were gushing about the Blackhawks.
"Two games to one," Dominique gloated.
"The last time I saw you guys this excited was last month Sharissa brought her sweet potato pie to the pot luck," joked Mitty as he slid into the booth next to Dominique.
"We haven't had much to cheer about lately," Dominique replied. "The Sox are pathetic. They even lost three straight to the Cubs."
"Would have been four if it hadn't rained," said Ash as he high fived Eric.
"Hey, take it easy," replied Dominique. "I'm a minority here."
"No pun intended?" said Eric.
Dominique grinned and high fived Eric. "No pun intended."
"But as long as the subject of minorities came up," continued Dominique, undeterred by Alice filling their cups with Superior coffee, "I think the black clergy are getting a bum rap by the press."
"What do you mean?" asked Mitty, leaning forward to hear what his Republican parishioner was going to say.
"Well, I know you liberals are upset that the gay marriage bill wasn't allowed to come up for a vote," he began, "and that the liberal press is blaming the black caucus in Springfield for blocking it. . . ." Dominique paused and looked at each face sitting with him at the Main. He didn't sound defensive or argumentative, because he knew from experience that the three men would hear him out. "but what they don't understand is that the members of most of the black pastors on the south and west sides honestly believe that lifestyle is not God's will."
Pastor Walt felt some anxiety rise inside him when he saw that Eric was going to respond.
"Do you agree with them?" asked the man dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt, whose sexual orientation no one except his pastor and his wife knew.
"On the whole, I do," answered the man in the Brooks Brothers suit. "The Bible doesn't seem to have anything good to say about being gay."
"Do you know any gays?" Eric asked.
"That's my problem," Dominique replied. "My nephew Tavis confided in me. He said 'Uncle Dominique, you're the only one I can trust to come out to.' It was tearing him up. You think it's hard for a gay to come out in white society?! Tavis feels damned to ostracism if he tells and damned to not living authentically if he doesn't."
Eric put his hand on his friend's shoulder. "That's a tough one," he said.
Ash broke the silence. "You know, it's kind of like that with big stink being raised about the new concealed weapons regulations. The liberals say the law allows too much freedom to carry guns and the conservatives argue that it's too restrictive. No one even tries to understand each other. It's like my kids when they were little, sometimes it was like they picked fights with each other just because they felt ornery."
"I just realized that it seems to be that way in Syria, too," added Pastor Walt. "There you have Sunnis and Shiites—both Muslims—slaughtering each other in God's name. Just like Catholics and Protestants did to each other 400 years ago."
Alice brought their orders, balancing four plates on her right arm and carrying a pot of coffee in her left.
After buttering his toast, Eric continued the discussion. "This all made me think about the Boy Scouts."
"You mean the decision to let gay kids belong but not gay leaders?" asked Dominique.
"Yeah. I mean all the eastern liberals were on a crusade to liberate gays and the southern conservatives felt like the moral foundations of the nation were being threatened. So the Boy Scout board decided to make a compromise which probably kicks the can down the road."
The conversation then turned to drones, unrest in Turkey, the inability of legislators in Springfield to resolve the pension crisis, the tornados in Oklahoma and whether Obama knew anything about the scandals in the IRS and the attorney general's office.
As the four men got up to continue on with the rest of their day, Dominique turned to Mitty and with a grin asked, "Pastor, you got enough material for your sermon on Sunday?"
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