Charlize didn’t know what to expect when the Man from C.H.R.I.S.T. arrived at her Sydney home one fine winter morning. She heard the familiar ring from her door bell and she sleepily walked to the front door to open it. She half expected Terrence or somebody else but what she saw was a Man in dark long coat sporting a similarly colored fedora, quite atypical of the latest Sydney fashion, standing patiently in front of her house.
The Man reached into his pocket and dished out a card, turned upright so that Charlize could clearly see it from where she stood. It read:-
‘The Man – Evangelist
Congregation of Holy and Reformed Individuals Seeking the Truth”
“Oh Christ!” Charlize muttered allowed once she realized who that person was. She had heard of this group and had tried in vain to avoid them. This time, however, it seemed that the Man had caught up with her.
“Actually, Man will do,” the Man replied sheepishly, “I’m not divine, you know.”
“What do you want?” she asked as she rubbed her eyes, trying to have a good look at the fashionably impaired individual.
“I would like to ask,” he said animatedly, “if you have an intimate relationship with God?”
“Huh?” Charlize said, eyeing one of the many elephant-on-mouse statues that she had around her house. The Man followed her gaze towards those statues and he regrettably shook his head.
“Tsk. Tsk. Tsk,” he said through a pained voice, “There is no salvation you if you worship false idols and do not accept C.H.R.I.S.T.”
“What do you want?” she said again, this time with more force. Charlize was getting a little irritated. Her morning routines had been rudely interrupted. An ideal morning such as that day would be well spent if she had the comfort of lying in bed for another hour, surfing the food channels on TV, chatting with Terrence and then- well, back to bed again.
“Actually, I am here to introduce you to C.H.R.I.S.T,” the Man said, as a smile exposing his white teeth formed when he let the last syllable of his sentence hanged in the air.
“Are you selling something? Whatever it is that you’re selling, I’m not interested,” Charlize said as she prepared to slam the door on the Man.
The Man quickly replied, “But if you could just give me 5 minutes, I could share something with you that may change your life and the lives of the people that you love!”
Charlize heard the part about love and she decided, for herself, to give this Man a few more moments to make his point. Else, she thought, it was back to bed with the Naked Chef.
Relieved that he had been given another opportunity, the Man removed his fedora, confidently adjusted his coat and began to speak in a hushed tone. “The secret is that God loves you. You see, he created the world, together with you and I and the wonderful creators around us. He blessed us with abundance and the faculty of thought and intelligence. But as we grow intellectually, so too did we grow apart from God. I’m here to tell you that by accepting C.H.R.I.S.T., we can bring you closer to God again. Never again will you be lonely and sad. With C.H.R.I.S.T. we can help you develop a personal relationship with God! –”
“What does that mean, personal relationship with God?” Charlize enquired. She had heard a lot about that from people who are embraced C.H.R.I.S.T. She wondered if the Man knew that she was imaging the words “personal relationship” to mean a direct toll free line to God, or maybe an instant messenger ID, or maybe even a God that lives in your spare closet so that you can let Him out once in a while to talk about your problems.
“It means that anytime you want, you can talk to God and God can work miracles for you through C.H.R.I.S.T. No more sacred texts, no more yogic exercises, no more worries,” the Man continued without missing a beat, obviously oblivious to the deliciously wicked thoughts that Charlize had running in her head on what she can do with a personal God.
The Man now looked at Charlize, realizing that it was now Decision Time, the crucial 30 seconds after the end of a sales pitch. This crucial moment in time, static and electrifying at the same time, determined if a person had bought the argument or that it was time to move on to another prospect.
Charlize was looking at the Man, trying to digest whatever he had said. There were a lot of truths in what the Man shared, she realized, truth that she had somethings thought that she had glimpsed as bright light during her meditation sessions. Truth about nature and about her place in the world. Truth that was —
— interrupted by the Man, now brandishing brochures and saying, in his best Shopping Network voice:- “And if you accept C.H.R.I.S.T. now and sign up for a one year membership, I’ll throw in this wonderful Saviour Doll that blinks in the night! Also, membership now entitles you to a free CD called, “Lower Than A Mountain, Higher Than A Mould Songs” jam packed with the latest evangelistic songs from–”
“ENOUGH!” Charlize screamed at the Man, who was shocked into silence.
The Man was still clutching on to a membership form, brochures, saviour dolls and audio CDs when Charlize continued calmly, “I’m was a pacifist Buddhist before you came here but now, I am convinced of what to do.”
“Pacifist? You said,” the Man mockingly asked. “That is so meek and weak. Our God will make you powerful so that you do not rely on mysticisms and rituals and all that rubbish.”
“Meek? Weak?” Charlize repeated, her temperature rising, “I sort of guess that you say something like that to me and my beliefs.”
“So you’ll join C.H.R.I.S.T. ?” the Man asked hopefully.
“Nope. I’ll start my own outfit. It’ll be called the Songs of the Himalayans and I’ll market it well and market it big. Then, we shall he who shall inherit the Earth!” Charlize said with a tinge of satisfaction. With a wave of her hand, she slammed the door shut and the Man from C.H.R.I.S.T was not seen in the neighborhood again.
(The names of the characters had been changed to protect me)