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Christ Comes To Texas
by [?]

He did not reply, and the editor, remembering that his advice had not been asked, changed the subject.

“I’m not going to steer you against a first-class hotel. Jim I. Moore wouldn’t let you into his dining-room with your shoes off, even though you brought a letter of credit from the Creator. Jim loves you dearly, but business is business. There’s a place down here, however, run by a man who doesn’t trot with the sanctified set, where you can waltz up to the feed trough in the same suit you wore when you preached the Sermon on the Mount, and that without giving the ultra-fashionables a case of the fantods.”

“Ah, there we will doubtless meet with many of the good brethren who do not observe empty forms and foolish ceremonies.”

“Rather. But perhaps I should tell you that the church does not approve of the place where we are going. They er–sell wine there you know; also that amber liquid with the–er–froth on it.”

“And why not wine?”

“Damfino–I mean–Oh, you’ll have to ask Brother Cranfill. I s’pose because old Noah jagged up on it.”

“Noah who?”

“Why just Noah; that old stiff–I mean that good man who was saved for seed, when the overflow came, and who’s the great gran’daddy of all the niggers.”

“Is it possible that the church is retailing that wretched old myth which my Hebrew fathers borrowed of the barbarians. Noah? There was no such man. By the shifting of the earth’s axis about 16,000 years ago a portion of the Asiatic continent was overflowed.”

“But the Noah story is in the Bible.”

“So is the story of Adam and Eve, and many other absurdities which really intelligent people would purge it of. O will men be mental children ever!”

He ate sparingly, but scanned the visitors closely. At the next table a quartette of Texas colonels were absorbing mint juleps through rye straws. The Nazarene nudged the editor and inquired what the beverage consisted of. The latter explained the mystery, and would have placed one before his guest, but the latter insisted that a little wine for the stomach’s sake would suffice. Several entered into conversation with him and would have given him money, but he gently declined to accept it, saying that the good Father would provide that he was seeking to do good, not to lay up treasures.

“Are these people sinners?”

He was informed that, according to the theology of the Prohibs, they would occupy the hottest corner of Perdition.

“But they give to the poor, speak kindly to the stranger, even though he be clothed in rags. I am sure they would not lie or steal or kill.”

“But they will blaspheme a little sometimes. Just listen to those colonels. Didn’t you hear them say ‘damn’ and ‘Hell’s fire’ and ‘Devil’? O, according to our theology there’s no hope for ’em. A man may defraud a widow or swindle an orphan and make a landing; but when he talks about the Devil and Hell he’s sure to be damned.”

“Is Satan a sacred person, or Hell a place to be mentioned reverently? Blasphemy is speaking evil of God. The priesthood of every religious cult has manifested a propensity to magnify venial faults into cardinal sins and thereby bring worship into contempt by trifling. To Hell with those who make religion a trade and thrive thereby!”

We were on the street and it chanced that a well-fed, silk-hatted dominie, sporting a diamond stud, was dawdling by as the man of Galilee uttered this emphatic protest against gain-grabbing preachers. His face flushed with anger, and turning upon the ill-clad stranger, he said:

“Do you mean to insult me, fellow?”

The Nazarene faced his heated interlocutor and replied with quiet dignity: “Assuredly not. I did not suspect you of being a minister. You are not clad like one of the Apostles. Surely you are not one of those disputatious sectaries who wear purple and fine linen and fare sumptuously every day while countless thousands cry to their Father in Heaven, ‘Give us to eat and to drink lest we die’?”