I witnessed the most amazing thing on the train this week: two priests having a fight.
(For non-Capetonians, catching the train on the Simonstown line is safe, even for white people.)
We get them all the time in the carriages, these stand-up priests. Usually they prefer the third carriage down from the front, probably because there is more space in the Metro-plus section for pacing up and down as the Lord makes them His trumpet.
The professionals just step right off the platform and onto the train with a confidence suggesting they are the guest speaker at an important symposium. They will open with “Greetings ladies and gentlemen, today I am blessed to bring you the word of Cheesus and pray that you will be saved. Yes, there is gay on this train, sometimes sitting right next to us but they will not be part of the holy rupture, oh no. . .”
(I am not sure what part of God is going to be ruptured, but wait with anticipation to see.)
On the other hand, the learner stand-ups sit cowering in a corner, working up their courage to begin. They look like suicide bombers preparing for a mission, and only their Bibles give them away. Usually they seem to be regurgitating (badly) what they heard in one of those giant tents last Sunday.
I always feel a bit sorry for them, as invariably they will break into a stutter as beads of sweat run down their face. They have a fall-back habit of shouting ‘Hallelujah’ every time they forget their script, but will not be stopped from letting us know how they were saved.
What happened this week was that a newbie get on at Steenberg Station, and after a stop or two he got up and started rapping a religious tune about being saved. It was actually pretty cool in a way and he even had a little beat-box to accompany him.
But when the train got to Plumstead we had a Congolese or possibly Nigerian priest step on board and that is where the trouble started. Mr Confidence let rip with his ‘rupture’ only to discover that he was being accompanied by our friend on drums.
Unfortunately this was a one-priest carriage and ego’s were at stake, with neither man appearing keen to budge. Words were uttered, gestures were made. . .
(And for the first time the stand-ups had the carriage’s full attention.)
What. Would. Jesus. Do?
Well, why turn the other cheek when you can slap it? It was a bit like one of those wild life shows where the male lion fights for dominance. In the end the young gun retreated at Wittebome Station to lick his wounds.
But it doesn’t end there. The Lord works in mysterious ways you see. As the train left Harfield station our remaining priest had an epileptic fit right at my feet. I bent over him to see what I could do and instructed my fellow-passengers to clear some space so we could slide him off at Claremont Station.
He suddenly sat bolt upright, looking around in astonishment. Someone offered him a seat and he sat down confused, reading his Bible.
I don’t know what was going through his bald head then, but there was a polished circle on the floor where he had been writhing, not unlike one of those spot-light beams you find on a stage.
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