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The Cheesy Religion


(A short story by Steven R. Harrel)

Shana raised her voice to get over Daniel’s loud demands, “Mommy, what’s that cooking on the stove?  I want some too!  I want some, mommy.”

Nancy and Tom looked over and saw a very large pot steadily bubbling on their kitchen stove.


The Musicians and Choir were just finishing their last stanza of Steven R. Harrel’s, “You Lift My Soul”.

Today was Johnathan and Annika Cole’s first service at Shire Community Church on the outskirts of Williams Arizona.

Dr. Freddy Anderson was standing near the church’s lunchroom chatting with Pastors Tom and Nancy Redic.

“I have to say, Pastors,” Freddy smiles, eyeing his two friends, “That my colleagues, though quite skeptical, can’t seem to stop talking about Nancy’s recovery; they doubt she was ever truly sick.  They keep trying to convince me that sick people don’t just spontaneously become free of tumors or serious diseases overnight.  In the words of Dr. Julia Hess, ‘It’s unprecedented!’”

Nancy cuts in, “So tell us about this lovely new couple, Freddy; the Coles?”

A small group of woman abruptly pushed between Dr. Anderson and the Pastors, seemingly on their way to the church’s lunchroom.  One of the ladies was commenting to her group, “You’ll just love their fondue here. It is life changing girls.” Two of the ladies giggled as they passed.

Nancy indicated for Freddy to continue as the ladies walked down the hall.

“Johnathan and Annika are hard-working and honest people.  Johnathan’s family owns a small sawmill somewhere off of I-40; I think it’s between here and Flagstaff.  I believe they’ll make a splendid addition to our group.” Freddy leans in and smiles, “Annika is very sweet, her and Johnathan seem to be a very loving and stable couple.”

Johnathan and Annika Cole were the third couple Dr. Anderson had encouraged to come to Shire Community Church.

The first couple, David and Sheena Benedick, are longtime friends of Dr. Anderson’s and his parents.  David had been very sick for a very long time, dying of Leukemia.

The second couple, Harley and Jackie Webber, came to Shire Community about three months later, also at Dr. Anderson’s urging.  At that time, Harley was struggling with severe COPD and Jackie was in the throes of a sizeable glioblastoma.

Both couples are now happy healthy members of Shire Community Church.

Tom cut in, “I’m wondering what your professional friends are saying about David Benedick’s or Jackie Webber’s speedy recoveries?”

Freddy leans in again and whispers, “The same thing they have to say about any of Shire’s amazing recipients… nothing!  I don’t tell them or broadcast these miracles to anyone, Tom.  Look Pastor, my colleagues already knew about Nancy’s sickness because I didn’t know better than to say something at the time.  But that doesn’t mean we should broadcast what’s going on here at Shire, least not yet.  It might be a monumental mistake right now, especially telling any of my colleagues who are extremely anti-religion.  I’m telling you, we’re not ready for that level of scrutiny, guys.  Trust me, we’re not ready!” Dr. Anderson carefully punctuated the last five words.

Nancy spoke up, “We should head for the lunchroom, gentlemen.”

“Yep, yep,” Tom said and was off in a moment.

It was that time at Shire.  The bulk of the congregation had begun funneling into the cafeteria slash lunchroom.  The congregants were gently nudging the newcomers like Johnathan and Annika towards the front of the group.  By the time everyone had settled in and began quieting down there were seven new couples standing within reach of Pastors Nancy and Tom Redic.  Tom was strategically positioned to the right of the stove with its great “fondue” pot – front and center.

Both Pastors stood beside the bubbling pot and waited for the room to quiet.

Curiously Johnathan peeked into the great pot, “Hey, there’s a face in this stuff… and it’s smiling at me!”

And Shire grows…