Jim sat down in Thom's living room.
He and Brenda had talked for a couple hours after leaving the planning meeting on Wednesday. She was sure he was wrong yet again.
That was starting to get old.
It's one thing to have another point of view, but he was sick of always being, "stupid" and "wrong." Why couldn't she just say what she was thinking? Why did it always have to be, "You can't possibly be dumb enough to believe Derek cares about Lacy. And he probably hates all women, too."
Jim cared about Lacy, and Jim cared about Brenda, and who Derek cared about was Derek's problem. What mattered was whether the church was disqualifying itself from the protective hand of God. If an aerocar's gyro was out of sorts, it was not going to be safe. If a church was not holy, it was not going to be safe either. If Derek was fixing the most important things, then Jim would get behind him. Jim's family was Jim's problem, and he could handle it, as long as the church was flying true.
Thom came back with a little java for each of them.
"So, you and Brenda had a bit of a tussle after the meeting?" Thom asked.
"Oh, it was nothing unusual, I guess," Jim answered. "We can handle that. I'm just curious whether you think Derek's right. Is the testimony of Christ suffering in our church because of our worldliness? I mean, he's really talking about a pretty big change, don't you think?"
Thom stared at the floor for a long time.
"Jim, you are asking me a hard question. If I was a younger man, I would shoot my answer off like I knew something, but I've made a couple too many mistakes in my life. I don't know whether Derek's right. I know that every house in the church is asking that question right now, though. You guys aren't alone."
Thom went silent again. It was a hard discussion for him, and it showed.
Jim was not having that problem.
"I think people are just scared. We all want to do the best thing. In our hearts we know what that is, and we want to do it. We want to exercise and we don't. We want to learn stuff, and we don't. We want to lose weight, and we don't. We are capable of amazing things, and instead of doing them, we turn on the vids. Instead of raising our kids, we go earn a paycheck, and let the daycares raise them.
"Why don't we follow our hearts? Why do we let our fear of pain stop us?"
Jim was well and truly on a roll.
"Derek isn't telling anyone to do anything they don't want to do already. He's just telling them to face their inner fears, and live out the life of holiness that's already burning in their hearts."
Thom looked back down at the floor again.
Jim slid forward in his seat and clasped one hand with the other. It didn't so much stop his wiggling, as internalized it. He started doing isometrics.
He could wait no longer.
"So, we get rid of our vid-players? What's the worst that could happen?" Jim queried. "We have a little time left over to spend with our family and to serve the Lord? That's a great thing! Who could be against it?"
Thom looked up. He knew he had to answer this time.
"Yeah, Jim. It's a great thing. It's certainly not a bad thing. But there's so much more to it than that."
Jim was too fired up to wait. "So, in your heart of hearts, you'd rather be watchin' a vid?"
Thom managed a little grin. "No. No, I'd rather be studying for a lesson or laughing with Karen. You're not wrong."
He fixed Jim with a soft stare.
"Look Jim, I'm the dumb one of the bunch here. I don't know theology or all those things that people study to get the truth out of the scripture. All I know is what I see, and I don't see it. Derek is calling for something I don't see my scriptures calling for.
"I can't tell the future, but I can tell you the past," Thom continued. "I've seen men call for 'commitment' before, and nothing good comes of it. Nothing good will come of this."
Jim was going to explode.
He'd figured that a little time with Thom would be an antidote to Brenda's negativity, not an echo. The light seemed to be a little funny in the room, because suddenly Thom looked much older than he had just ten minutes ago. And much weaker.
There's a little calculus that is a part of every man's heart. It doesn't have to be spoken to be real, and it doesn't have to be thought through to be performed. Even the little birds and fishies can do this calculation, and Jim could work it to a solution without even noticing he'd done it. Transformation of the church was Derek's idea, and the whole church was talking about it. Thom didn't have any idea at all.
In the blink of an eye, Derek took the alpha spot in Jim's mind.
And just like that, Jim didn't need to explode any more.
He finished his coffee, and walked the long way home.