“Sin is a wound, not a stain. Forgiveness is not enough,”Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to Pope Benedict XVI in the movie “TWO POPES”
The movie is a fantasized conversation between Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio. Whenever there is a scandal in any church, the pope would transfer the accused priest and assume he has rescued the church out of trouble. Therefore Cardinal Jorge, in a conversation with the pope, says, “Transferring priest is like trying to wash his sins off. The priest will continue with his old sins in the new place. Sin is a wound. It is not a stain. It needs healing, not washing.” This dialogue inspired me to write this play, which you are about to read. We have derived parts of our play from the movie. We suggest our readers watch the movie. May God bless our readers by our small play!
They Key characters of our play are two pastors of TPM. One is the Chief Pastor of TPM and the other is our protagonist, the Centre Pastor of Riverdale faith home. Riverdale is an imaginary city in America. We will simply call the chief pastor as “Chief” and the centre pastor as “Pastor X.” Pastor X is a secret reader of the forbidden website (www.fromtpm.com). He has realized that the TPM system is flawed. He aspires to remodel the entire system. But he thinks, he doesn’t possess sufficient powers to demolish this old system and reconstruct a new one. Perhaps if he is made the chief then he might succeed. But it is doubtful whether he will ever become the chief? It is better to retire from TPM and start a new fellowship from scratch. At least few will get benefited. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Therefore X decided to quit TPM. But before saying goodbye, he will take the last dig at the pope of TPM. This is what our play is about. We have divided this play into five episodes.
We are inside TPM headquarters in IBR. We see a lot of workers running here and there. As we cannot find any believer anywhere in this premise, we speculate this must be the workers meeting. In the workers meeting, believers are banned from treading on holy grounds. There is a reason for this. Workers confess their sins in the workers’ meetings. Believers, therefore, must be kept at bay. White sins must never fall on the ears of the people wearing coloured clothes. Those who live in the fantasy land where it is believed that ‘saints do not commit adultery,’ must be eternally kept in the imaginary planet. The line drawn to separate saints from common folks must never appear to be blurred. Saints must always be seen as one level up. The foul smell of their dead works must be kept concealed within the white graves. The eleventh commandment, therefore, has been appended to the existing set of ten given by Moses.
“Thou shall not visit faith home when ‘workers meeting’ is in progress.”The Eleventh Commandment
We see pastors shaking hands with each other. Pastor X is whistling a tune which sounds unrecognizable to the great Mozart of TPM – the S Sundar.
Pastor Sundar: What song is that pastor X?
Pastor X: Never heard it before?
Pastor Sundar: Nay….
Pastor X: It is by Fanny Crosby. When she was young she wrote it.
Pastor S Sundar smirks at Pastor X. He knows it is to no avail, to remind X, that TPM forbids singing non-TPM songs. You may be wondering what’s wrong in songs that praise Jesus! But there is a reason for this ban. Words are powerful. Words can make people laugh, cry, and revolt. Words overthrow kingdoms. Hence great care must be taken in letting and blocking words, which fall on the ears of our members. We, therefore, keep composing new tunes with TPM lingo every year, to constantly bombard our ideologies and condition the mind of our followers. We also filter mainstream Christian words by banning the use of non-TPM songs. It stops their de-radicalization. Not only do we ban non-TPM songs, but we have also blocked non-tpm preaching, marriage with non-tpm spouses, communion in non-tpm churches, and so on – all to stop our sheep from going out of our control. But X! Oh, God!! Who will give him this pearl of wisdom? Who will enlighten him about the secret agenda of our founders in framing protocols, rules, and regulations that ban non-TPM stuff? S Sundar himself is ignorant of this top-level mystery. He cares little to know ‘why-and-how’ of what we do in TPM. He is more interested in politics. Yes, politics! A white bird keeps dropping spicy news about X regularly into his itching ears. He has a network of ladybirds who keep dropping white poop in his ears frequently.
It has been S Sundar’s age-old dream to be the next chief of TPM. But he is wise as sage to understand practical reality. Practical truth says that unless he is born again as a Malayali or Tamilian, he has no chance to sit on the throne of TPM glory. But does this mean he should stop dreaming? Irrespective of his bleak chances, he will leave no stone unturned to spoil the name of X. This is because every X and Y removed from his way, makes him inch closer to his dream, however impossible it may be. It is therefore that S Sundar is having an underground meeting with the chief. He has accumulated shreds of evidence about X, which he is directly uploading into ears of the chief. Then as he is finished with the task of being faithful to this organization, he reappears among his peers. He acts as if nothing has been cooked between him and the chief concerning X. He is very sure that no one will ever know the checkmate game he has planned for Pastor X. However he doesn’t know that there are others who can play the same trick on him, behind his back. There can be other underground meetings as well! Organizational politics is complicated. It is like a multiplayer chess game. Everyone knows that the present Chief was a master in this art and that is the key to success.
Finally, after two more days of workers meeting, everyone leaves IBR. They all return to their respective kingdoms. In a few months, Pastor X is transferred to the Riverdale faith home. This news of the transfer of X to Riverdale in America is a shock of 550 volts to S Sundar. It is like a bolt from the blue. “How come X is transferred to a foreign country? Isn’t he nickel and dime? Why X but not me? Can I not speak English? Am I not a graduate? Don’t I enjoy a large fan base? Did I miss any tithe to the chief? Am I not humble?” These are the questions which are haunting S Sundar day and night. He is greatly depressed! He has shut himself in his room for two days now. He didn’t even eat his food. People outside are thinking that he is praying and fasting. Little do they know that he is moaning the transfer of X to the American town of Riverdale! But the god of this cult is gracious and merciful! S Sundar soon through his network of ladybirds, gets the news that it was believers of Riverdale who had requested for X. Chief has not considered X over S Sundar! It was Brother Michael, who is perhaps the richest believer in TPM, who personally requested the chief to send Pastor X to Riverdale. Chief Pastor could not have refused the request of the man who owns gold mines.
The Chief was himself unhappy of this work of his own doing. He could have done nothing. Brother Michael had been requesting this for two years, since last time he met X at the international convention. Chief, however, played his trick. He secretly made a call to Sister Melissa at Riverdale faith home. He asked her to keep an eye on Pastor X and report all his moves. Centre Pastors usually asks sisters to monitor and report all the activities of suspected brothers in local faith homes. Similarly, Chief Pastors asks centre mothers and elders to monitor and report all the activities of the suspected centre pastors. Somebody is always watching somebody and secretly reporting someone in TPM. Did not I warn you earlier, that politics in TPM is a multiplayer game of chess? Somebody will checkmate someone from somewhere! No wonder why saints are so watchful and cautious about what they do.
We see Pastor X in Riverdale faith home. He is discussing something with Sister Mellissa. Sister Mellissa is the Centre Mother of Riverdale faith home.
For those of you, who are ignorant of the term of Centre Mother, let me inform you, that centre mother is a female captain of the female compartment of the ship sailing to Zion. There is a separate section of the building in TPM, where all sisters are kept bound together.
Bound with rules and regulations! Bound with rules of what to cook and what not to cook, where not to look, when to sing and when not to sing, what to sing and what not to sing, which dress to wear and which not to wear (half or full-sleeved), where to go and where not to go. There are thousands of rules to be followed (check this). Centre mother is like a warden. Her task is to punish sisters who try to talk with brothers.
When Moses found it difficult to manage all Israelites single-handedly, he divided his burden to 70 elders. But he didn’t appoint 70 females along with 70 male elders, in order to keep male Israelites stay away from female Israelites. When Jesus appointed 12 apostles to be foundational stones of the church, he never appointed 12 female apostles along with 12 male apostles, to ensure female disciples don’t talk with male disciples. Jesus wasn’t suspicious of Mary Magdalene and Martha, talking with Peter, James and John. When Apostle Paul asked Timothy to appoint a bishop or a deacon in assembly, he never asked Timothy to appoint male and female bishops. The need to appoint a female head to manipulate females is only found in TPM faith homes. It was never required in the Old and New Testament fellowship of godly people.
The lack of trust among Christ’s followers was never so low. Where there is no trust, there is insecurity. Where there is suspicion there is fear, secrecy, lie, jealousy, brokenness, anger and all evils. And TPM is home to all such evils. The Centre Mother is always suspicious about sisters, that they drill not the boat when she is not looking. Someone should tell her to look in the mirror. There she will meet the person that will betray her most.
Pastor X (talking to Mellissa): I wrote several letters to the chief pastor, but he didn’t reply!
Centre mother Mellissa knows what the contents of these letters were! She had read them by tearing them open and enclosing them safely back in the envelope. The boy robin, whom Pastor X had handed the letters to post, is a secret employee of centre mother. He would faithfully bring these letters to her, before dispatching them. She knows that the watchdogs of TPM would have thrown these letters into the dustbin.
Mellissa: Do you remember you wrote it to the right address?
Pastor X: Do I suffer from Alzheimer’s disease of forgetting things?
Mellissa stays silent.
Pastor X: I think, I know my next move.
Centre mother: And what’s your next move pastor?
Pastor X: Operation Rome!
Centre mother: Operation Rome?
Mellissa frowns. She thinks X’s gone crazy. She has no clue on what Rome means? Sure it is headquarters for Catholic Church. But what has it to do with X or TPM? She has no idea by Rome Pastor X means headquarters of TPM at IBR.
Pastor X: Tomorrow I leave for headquarters. I had asked robin to book my flight to India.
Centre mother (to Pastor X): Tomorrow …? Oh God..! You should have told me earlier! I would have bought some chocolates for the chief pastor. He loves the Vosges Haut-Chocolat of Chicago.
She quickly runs to get in touch with robin, to arrange for chocolates (if possible tonight). She has forgotten that she was asking X about his new developments. She actually knows all his developmental rubbish. She is more excited at the prospect of sending a gift to her commander. She has no time left to arrange for the gifts. By morning Pastor X will be gone. She must awake Robin from his dreams! Robin must then rush to the store! It doesn’t matter if it is midnight. Holy mother wants chocolates to please her pontiff. The entire city must be stirred from its sleep to arrange for her demands. This is the usual way saints reveal their demands to their devotees. Everything on time! There is no preplanning. Suddenly they demand and immediately they want it.