The barnyard sat baking in the afternoon sun as the evangelist stood chatting with the old farmer. Farmer Joe, it seemed, had stopped attending the little fundamentalist church down the road and the pastor had sent the evangelist hither to ask the reason why Joe had left the flock.
“So Joe,” the evangelists said with the kind of studied casualness that always harbors a hidden intent, “I was just wondering if we’ll see you back at the church sometime soon.”
Joe said nothing for a minute, hooking calloused finger inside the strap of his overalls and squinting out over the sprawling farm that he called home.
“Well, sir,” he said at last, “I reckon there’s not much need to go all the way down to the church when I’ve got myself a fundamentalist farm right here in front of me.”
The evangelist paused in confusion for a moment then begged him to explain. And so Joe began…
“Right down the way from them you’ll see what I call my “churchy chickens.” They strut around all trying to be the most important one in the bunch and getting their feathers ruffled whenever somebody else tries to get in their spot. And if some poor unfortunately bird happens to get injured or sick those other chickens will gather around it and peck it to death just out of pure spite. I don’t need to go back to that church with them reminding me every day how it was.”
“If you’ll look down there to the hog pen you’ll see my pigs. I call them Potluck and Fellowship. They’ll eat and eat and eat until they make themselves plumb sick but they never seem to feel bad about it at all. No matter how much slop I throw in there they just can’t ever seem to get enough. Why seeing them every day keeps me from ever having to attend another special function or church banquet.”
“And down the hill there you can see my prize bull in the pasture. He spends all day stomping around, bellowing and trying to remind everybody who can see him that he’s the one running the show in these parts while spreading around enough manure to make it a hazard to even try to walk through there. In fact, he only ever stops the bellowing and manure spreading for long enough to try to mount every heifer in the place. With all that going on here every day it keeps me from missing my old pastor at all.”
The evangelist walked slowly back to his car and drove back to the church. “I guess he’s attending somewhere else now,” was all he could think say to the pastor’s inquiries about how the visit went.