No Exit

[Conversation Room. Bible Guy (William H. Macy) and a boy, approximately eight or nine years of age, with short medium brown hair and glasses, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and dirty socks but no shoes. The boy’s looks remind one of Alfalfa from the old Our Gang/Little Rascals films, but without the hair-sticking-up thing. The boy has a serious, somehow “adult” look on his face and in his manner, though he is clearly just a boy.]
Boy: Why am I here with you?
BG: [Looking at Bible in lap rather than at boy] I think someone decided that I should get to know you better or something.
Boy: Who are you?
BG: I’m you, only older; so you are me, only younger.
Boy: Yeah, I know that part. But who are you?
BG: I’ve been saved, for one thing; born again. [Looks at boy; realizes more is needed.] I am a Christian. You aren’t yet.
Boy: A kriss-chun. That has to do with church, right?
BG: Right. You’re not a Christian yet.
Boy: We go to church.
BG: That doesn’t make you a Christian. You need to accept Jesus as your savior.
Boy: Jesus. [thoughtful silence] He’s the guy that died on a cross, right?
BG: Correct.
Boy: I saw that in a play kind of thing at church. Matt’s dad was hanging on a cross, and only wearing something that looked like underpants, and I guess he was supposed to be dying. I asked mom who the guy on the cross was supposed to be, and she was really surprised that I didn’t know. She said it was Jesus, and I remembered some stuff from Sunday school about him. [pause] Why was Mom surprised that I didn’t know?
BG: I think it was because she thought that you would have learned about it in Sunday school.
Boy: It seemed really important. Had she told me about him before and I just forgot?
BG: I’m not sure. Mom and Dad thought religion… I mean church stuff; they didn’t think that church stuff was something to talk about a lot. They thought it was everybody’s own private business.
Boy: [nodding] I remember them saying that.
BG: They may have said something, but probably not much. They thought you would learn it in Sunday school.
Boy: [looking up at the toy space capsule, floating about halfway down the wall] Mrs. Jones, my Sunday school teacher this year, thinks I don’t pay enough attention. I pay attention, but not always, and I forget stuff because it’s kinda boring.
BG: Well, nobody will really tell you about Jesus in a way that you’ll listen to until you get to high school.
Boy: [more distracted by space capsule, then looking around room] I like this room. I’ve spent a lot of time here.
[BG does not respond.]
Boy: I learned to walk in this room, didn’t I?
BG: Or in one just like it.
Boy: I think it was this room. And I think I remember it. I remember it felt good once I was walking to walk all the way from the hallway over to the fireplace.
[silence]
Boy: What does that mean, to “accept Jesus as your savior”?
BG: Jesus died on the cross to save us. Accepting Jesus means that you confess your sins, receive forgiveness, and give your heart to him… You do what he commands.
Boy: Save us from what?
BG: From our sins.
Boy: That’s bad stuff we do, right?
BG: Right.
Boy: I guess I do some bad stuff. But I’d rather be saved from school.
BG: From school?
Boy: Yeah. Or from the people there, anyway. I like being at home a lot more than being at school. There are other kids at school who I think should probably die for their sins.
BG: Jesus died for everyone’s sins.
Boy: [looking at space capsule again and pointing] Why isn’t that clear up by the ceiling?
BG: Because it’s been there a while. The helium in it loses its… oomph, I guess. I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t last, and it’ll be down on the floor eventually.
[The boy is silent for several seconds, then looks at BG.]
Boy: So if those kids at school accepted Jesus, they wouldn’t be punished for bad stuff they do?
BG: That’s right. They would get to go to heaven rather than hell.
Boy: Even though they did the bad stuff?
BG: Right.
[silence]
Boy: I don’t think anybody should tell them about Jesus.
BG: We might not think so, but God sees things differently.
Boy: God sees everything, right?
BG: Yes.
Boy: Then maybe God will punish them anyway.
BG: [shaking head and looking at Bible again] You’re probably too young to understand.
[The boy seems to realize that this doesn’t call for a response. He begins chewing at a fingernail.]
Boy: So you’re supposed to get to know me?
BG: I guess so.
Boy: I’m not sure anyone knows me besides me.
BG: Well, God knows you better than you know yourself.
Boy: [frowning, still biting at the fingernail] How does he know me? Isn’t he up in heaven?
BG: Yes, but he’s here too. He’s everywhere.
Boy: That’s what Mom said once when I asked her about it. [long pause] If He’s everywhere, then why doesn’t he stop those other kids from pushing me around and making fun of me?
BG: He allows us free will.
Boy: Free what?
BG: He lets us choose, and we are free to choose to do bad things.
[BG expects the boy to go on with the discussion, but instead the boy looks at the ceiling for a while, saying nothing.]
BG: Do you know what I mean?
Boy: [meeting BG’s eyes momentarily] I don’t think I like God very much.
[BG tries to think of a good response, but nothing will come. More silence.]
Boy: We’ve been talking about Jesus and God instead of me.
BG: What?
Boy: You said you wanted to get to know me.
BG: I may be doing that. [pause] Here’s a question for you. What do you want more than anything?
Boy: [smiling] Chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream!
BG: I mean, if you could wish for anything, like if a genie granted you a wish, what would you wish for?
[The boy closes his eyes and leans back in the chair. He sits and thinks for a remarkably long time, given his age.]
Boy: Anything, huh?
BG: Yup.
[Another long silence.]
Boy: I guess I’d like to be by myself mostly.
BG: By yourself?
Boy: Yeah, so that I wouldn’t have to live with other people. Other people… [pause] Is it OK if I cuss?
BG: Are you gonna use God’s name or Jesus’ name?
Boy: Nope. My dad does that a lot. Sometimes he says “JEE-ZUSS H. CHRIST!”
BG: [wincing] Go ahead with what you were going to say.
Boy: [suddenly with eyes matching BG’s in their “haunted” look] Other people SUCK!
[BG cannot think of an answer. Long silence.]
Boy: You wanted to know me better. I guess you do now.
[Another long silence.]
BG: Maybe I do.

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