"When I got that beautifully printed brochure from Reverend Devlin announcing the Easter Spectacular he was planning I just knew I had to go but I was pretty sure I'd have a tough time getting my husband Ed to come along. Oh Ed's born again and all but he just hasn't paid no heed to Reverend Devlin since they caught him with those two retarded teenagers and the collie that Ed says had to be trained to do what it was doing because no dog does that naturally.
But I mean anyone can stray and I reminded Ed of when we corresponded with Monique and Phil through the Swinger's magazine and what went on with them in Sioux Falls and how we had to use that Pyrex Liquid afterward and throw out our clothes. I told Ed God's love had cleansed me and that if the Lord could forgive us He could surely forgive Reverend Devlin who was doing His work so beautifully before he fell.
'Course I was also deeply and personally touched by the Reverend's repentance and I had a good cry right along with him when he exorcised his own devils right there on TV. And the Church's insurance company made a very generous settlement with the families of those girls and I personally didn't think the girls was smart enough to be damaged that much anyway if you know what I mean.
Well at first Ed wouldn't hear of making the trip and I wouldn't do it without him so I had to kinda sell him on the idea. I told him a Spectacular like this wouldn't come along but maybe once in our lifetimes, and it was a thing like Disneyland where we could take the kids without worrying about bad influences or unchristian values. I reminded him we'd been saving to go somewhere and I showed him the brochure, which said across the front in raised letters :
REVEREND DEMETRIUS (DIMMY) DEVLIN'S EASTER SPECTACULAR
* * *
RESURRECTION DRAMA INCLUDING ACTUAL MANNED SPACE SHOT
* * *
20 ACRE "HE IS RISEN" THEME PARK AND LAUNCH SITE
* * *
SUNDAY APRIL THIRD — BETHANY CALIFORNIA — $200 PER PERSON
'Course there was a lot more detail inside about the events of the day which started with a 7:30 AM prayer breakfast at Ascension Pavilion. Then at mid morning there was an Easter Preach-Off between Reverend Devlin and the Reverends Clement Slope and Billy Joe (Brimstone) Bates who were also well known for their Christian TV work. Each preacher was to speak for half an hour and everybody got a wireless head set that broadcast the sermons in four languages and also a little electronic keypad for voting on the best sermon. But all this was really just leading up to the Resurrection Drama at 2:00 P.M., which climaxed with the manned space shot featuring Garland Johnson at 4:00 P.M. And the Reverend who won the Preach-Off got to push the button that fired up the rocket engine.
Well Ed didn't think much of the Preach-Off 'cause he said Reverend Devlin would probably rig it up so he won. But the idea of a real space shot standing for Christ's ascension got Ed's attention 'cause in addition to being a committed Christian Ed's always been powerfully interested in technology. And Garland Johnson as everyone knew was a real astronaut who worked for the NASA program before he was born again and went to work for Reverend Devlin. The color picture in the brochure showed Garland with a beard and actual crown of thorns on his head wearing a beautiful white robe and standing beside the rocket that was gonna blast him into the heavens. The brochure said the engine developed 500,000 pounds of thrust which Ed pointed out was a lot more than Jesus needed 'cause he didn't have the weight of the rocket or the life support systems to worry about.
Now, the brochure also had a color picture of Robin Whitney, the TV actress who was playing Mary Magdalene in the Resurrection Drama, and to tell you the truth that got Ed's attention pretty good too but I can't hardly blame him for that. I mean she was really hanging outa that robe to put it crudely, but I guess that's the way you portray a fallen woman nowadays. Anyway, with Garland and Robin and the space shot and all I finally got old Ed to admit that the Reverend had put together a fine show with some first class Christian talent but he was still grumbling about making the trip to California which was at least two days drive from where we live.
Well I knew right off why Reverend Devlin chose Bethany California 'cause Bethany is the biblical town that Christ ascended from and it said that right in the brochure for folks that don't read the bible. I looked up Bethany California in my Hammond World Atlas and it said pop. 25 but it was a 1959 Atlas I bought second hand at a garage sale so I figured the town had probably grown considerable since then. Ed got ahold of the Atlas later and said hey look, there was a Bethany Minnesota pop. 35 in 1959 which was only 500 miles away and why didn't Reverend Devlin hold the Spectacular there since it was probably a real metropolis by now compared to Bethany California. He really got going on this Bethany stuff and was asking why not Bethany Pennsylvania pop. 148, or how about Bethany Oklahoma pop. 5,705, there was a real winner, 'till I told him to shut up his mouth. I mean Ed's born again and all but he can get some mouth on him when he figures maybe the Lord ain't listening.
But that's just a way Ed has of kidding me after he's agreed to something and he knew I was dead serious about wanting to go to the Spectacular. I told him he could kid around all he wanted but the fact was that Easter was a Christian holiday almost as important as Christmas and up until the Spectacular he had to admit nobody had really done much to promote it or make folks think twice about it.
On the back of the brochure in raised letters like the writing on the front was a quotation from the Gospel according to Luke which kinda said it all for me and which Reverend Devlin was planning to read over the loud speakers during the countdown and blast-off:
AND HE LED THEM OUT AS FAR AS BETHANY
AND HE LIFTED UP HIS HANDS, AND BLESSED THEM.
AND IT CAME TO PASS, AS HE BLESSED THEM,
HE WAS PARTED FROM THEM AND CARRIED UP INTO HEAVEN.
I wish my Momma and Daddy were alive to see it.