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Chapter 5

            Over the course of the next month, the number of church-goers at Kirche der Reichen Rucke doubled as Chris continued to preach his Calvinistic Gospel of wealth and predestination. You see, even as a teenager, Calvinist Chris was very charismatic. Everyone loved him. He had a certain confidence about him that made you think he knew exactly what he was talking about. Unfortunately, he had no clue what he was talking about. It was all just a show. Deep inside, Calvinist Chris was a very, very lonely young man.

            As Chris continued to preach his Calvinistic beliefs of favoring the rich and hating the poor, his soul began to grow empty. Sure, Chris became wealthier and wealthier with each Sunday that went by; in fact, Chris became one of the richest people in town by the end of the summer of 1948. But this wealth didn’t do Chris much good. When it came down to it, Calvinist Chris was entirely unfulfilled in life.

When Chris preached his Calvinistic messages, he didn’t quite believe in them. Something just didn’t seem right about them. Yet, Reverend Arroganté had shown Chris that the Bible taught in the belief of predestination and in God’s favoring of the rich and hatred for the poor, hadn’t he? So Chris simply accepted what he had been told, assuming it to be true, and he preached this same false message to thousands of people. After all, he had nothing else in the world at the moment to live for… or so he thought.

            Before he went to bed each night, Calvinist Chris tried to pray to God… but now… now prayer truly did not feel right at all for Chris. It was as if the presence of God had left him entirely. At times, Chris felt dead.

In order to combat these ill feelings, Chris simply tried to make more money… and more money… and more money. He attempted to bury himself in wealth in order to prove that he was favored by God. He thought that if only he could make just a little bit more money… maybe then he would be happy. But additional wealth never did make Chris any happier. In fact, it just made him more miserable. When he preached each week at Kirche der Reichen Rucke, he always hoped to make more money than he made the last Sunday. More money would make him happy, wouldn’t it? But it didn’t. He always ended up disappointed… and unfulfilled.

As Chris tried to chase the sense of fulfillment in life that he desired, he ended up chasing it all around the country. In the fall of 1948, Calvinist Chris left his hometown of Lutherstadt Wittenberg in order to preach at Protestant churches all throughout Germany. While there were certainly a handful of Protestant congregations who saw the error in Chris's ways, the majority of conservative Protestant churches gladly accepted Chris's message. Chris was a massive success, and his sermons were in high demand. As Chris travelled the country, he gained millions of followers. After all, his message was just what middle-class and wealthy citizens wanted to hear: only worry about taking care of yourself, make as much as money as you can, and don’t bother to help anyone else.

Calvinist Chris’s followers all ended up turning their backs on one another, competing with their fellow church-goers to make the most money in town. In order to thank God for their ‘blessings,’ Chris’s followers would give him tons of money, enabling him to continue to bring his despicable message to other Protestant churches in other towns… and of course, all of Calvinist Chris’s followers ceased to give any money to the poor or to local charities, and they quit any and all volunteer organizations that they were once involved with. After all, why help the poor? The poor were only poor because God hated them… that’s what Chris preached, at least.

Over the course of the next year, Calvinist Chris had become famous throughout Germany. In fact, it wouldn’t be a far stretch to say that he was the most popular preacher in the entire country. In late 1949, Chris was offered his first job preaching on public TV. It was then that Chris became a televangelist. Now, not only the country of Germany would be able to hear Chris’s abysmal message, but the entire world would be subject to it as well. Chris’s fame grew to unprecedented heights as people all over the world wished to follow Chris’s message of making themselves as wealthy as possible.

Chris’s new level of fame gave him an even bigger head. He fell in love with himself, amazed at his ability to make hoards of money while simultaneously being adored by his followers. His lack of fulfillment in life began not to matter so much to him anymore. Instead, he buried himself in fame, wealth and power.

In preaching about his ideas of the ways of God, Chris actually forgot about God entirely and thought only of himself. Calvinist Chris became his own god. He always knew better than everyone else, he always did better than everyone else, and he was always just plain better than everyone else. In Chris’s mind, he was the greatest preacher in the world, and he wouldn’t let anyone become a threat to his ‘authority.’ Chris was beginning to enjoy his self-absorbed lifestyle very much. However, it was a bad idea for Chris to get too comfortable, because as his fame grew, his greatest adversary would take notice. Calvinist Chris was just around the corner from meeting the man who would change his life forever.

 

 

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Chapter 6

In the spring of 1950, Calvinist Chris would finally meet his match. As Chris left his high-class apartment while wearing only the finest suit, he hopped into his limo and ordered his personal driver to take him to a megachurch in the area where he would give another one of his sermons on public television. Chris was running a bit late and didn’t get a chance to eat lunch, so he decided to pick up a cup of coffee on his way to the megachurch… oh, and another new Rolex. He was starting a collection.

As Chris got out of his limo, he walked toward the back door of the megachurch so that he would not be bothered with fans at the front door asking for his autograph. As he rounded the corner, a homeless man bumped into him, spilling coffee all over Chris’s shirt.

“Hey, WATCH it!” Chris shouted in anger. “What ze Hell is wrong with you?! Don’t you know who I am?!”

“S-s-s-sorry, sir, I am so sorry!” the homeless man exclaimed, apologetically. “I didn’t even see you coming around the corner, I just –”

“Good grief, you smell DISGUSTING! Are you… you must be homeless!”

“Well, I… I suppose you could say that, yes, I –”

“You filthy VERMIN! Get out of my sight before I get my limo driver here to run over your useless carcass!”

“Sir…”

“OUT,” Chris exclaimed, as he pushed the man to the ground, “of my way!”

As Chris entered the back of the church, the camera crew workers took note of his coffee-stained shirt and became horrified.

“Chris,” said one of the camera crewmen, “you cannot go on TV like ZAT! Your shirt looks terrible!”

“Yes,” Chris said, annoyed, “I know, you idiot! But it’s too late! We will be on ze air in less than a minute. Wait… wait a minute, I have an idea…”

At that, Chris walked out to the church’s pulpit in front of thousands of gathered followers and on live TV for the entire world to see. The deafening sound of tumultuous applause filled the church as Chris made his way to the front of his stage. But once he walked into the spotlight, the church quickly hushed down upon seeing his filthy dress shirt.

“Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking,” Chris said in frustration... and yet, there was a certain eagerness about his tone as he continued, saying, “You don’t know why one of ze richest men in Germany would be wearing such a dirty shirt, correct? Vell, let me show you why.”

Chris then left the church and walked out the backdoor. The audience began to talk among themselves in concern, clueless as to what was going on. Once outside, Chris spotted the homeless man he had bumped into only moments ago.

“Hey, you!” Calvinist Chris shouted at the man. “Hey, I want to apologize to you. I should not have treated you as I did.”

“Oh, well… thank you, sir, I appreciate that,” the homeless man replied, “but you don’t have to –”

“I would like to help you out and give you some food to make up for it,” Chris said, “so why don’t you just come into this church here with me?”

“Well, that would be awfully nice of you, sir, I… ow!”

Chris suddenly grabbed the homeless man by the shoulders and drug him into the back of the church and on to the stage. He threw the homeless man down on the floor as the loud echo of the man’s body hitting the ground filled the church.

“Zis man,” Chris said to his audience, “no, zis THING, is ze reason why I am late!”

“Sir,” the homeless man said, frightened and embarrassed, “I don’t understand, what are you… ouch!”

Chris pushed the man back onto the floor as he tried to get up. “You see, I was minding my own business when zis homeless sinner ran up to me and tried to mug me!”

“That’s not true!” the homeless man disputed, “I would never do such a thing! I haven’t – OUCH!”

Chris pushed the man back to the floor. “SILENCE, you good-for-nothing sinner! As I was saying, zis man tried to rob me. He knocked me over on my way into ze church, spilling coffee all over me. Luckily, before he was able to rob me, I used all of my impressive strength to kick him to ze ground… just like zis…”

Chris kicked the homeless man back to the ground, and the man’s lips began to bleed.

“Now,” Chris continued, “what does zis tell us about ze poor?! It further confirms zat they are rotten SINNERS! They are cockroaches! They cannot make a living for themselves, so they resort to stealing from hard-working Christians like you and I!”

“That is not true!” the homeless man shouted, “I was a very hard working man throughout my entire life! At least, until I came to this country… but I tried!”

“Oh, really?” Chris said, mockingly. “Then tell me, peasant, why are you living on ze streets?”

“I am from Palestine! My family and I immigrated here after the declaration of the state of Israel was made! Our homeland was no longer a safe place once fighting started to occur between the Israelis and Palestinians, so we came here to try to lead a better life! But I haven’t been able to obtain employment in this country because I am an Arab, and no one here seems to like my people! Now please, sir, let me –”

“Oh, you are an ARAB!” Chris said, in a patronizing tone. “Vell, isn’t zat fitting?! A poor Muslim… where do you all think zis man is going to end up?”

“In Hell!” the crowd shouted. Those sitting up close to the pulpit began to spit at the homeless man. It was like something out of a Ku Klux Klan gathering.

“Let zis just be a lesson to you all. I have told you time and time again zat ze poor are nothing but rotten sinners. Today, you have seen so for yourselves! We would be better off without them. Now, get off of my stage, you filthy third world parasite!”

Chris began to raise the back of his hand to give the homeless man one last slap in the face, when suddenly… a strong hand grabs the arm of Calvinist Chris with a firm grip that renders him unable to move.

“What ze Hell is zis?!” Chris exclaims.

The crowd begins to shout, unsure of what’s going on. As Calvinist Chris turns his head out towards the audience and into the blinding light of the spotlights to catch a glimpse of the person holding his arm, he sees the silhouette of a man dressed entirely in white, the color of purity and of all that is holy and good. As a warm spring breeze shoots in from the open backdoor of the church, the white cape in which the man is draped blows in the wind behind him. Chris’s attention then turns to the man’s shirt, which is covered by an image of the Vatican flag. But the most outstanding feature of this man is his eyes… they are determined, piercing, and true. This was no ordinary man… this was a legend in the flesh.

This was the Original Captain Catholic.

“Looks like your bright idea to abuse this homeless man wasn’t such a bright idea after all, was it, tough guy?!” the Original Captain says calmly but sternly, still clutching Calvinist Chris’s arm. “Leave him alone, Chris.”

“And I should listen to you?!” Chris retorts. “You will get OFF of my stage if you know what’s best for you! Let go of me IMMEDIATELY!”

Chris takes a swing at the Captain’s face with his other fist, but it’s no use… Captain Catholic grabs Chris’s arm with his free hand, and he pushes Chris away from the homeless man, causing Chris to stumble across the stage like a broken marionette. Captain Catholic then offers his hand to the homeless man, helping him up.

“You’re safe now, my friend,” the Captain says.

As Chris stands up straight and composes himself, humiliated at being pushed across his own stage on live TV, he walks over to the Original Captain Catholic and screams, “Who ze HELL are you and what do you want?!”

The Captain moves into the light and turns to face Chris as the camera crew get a close-up of his profile for the first time.

“Well, Chris,” the Captain says, his voice brilliantly booming with sheer power throughout the room, “I’m Captain Catholic, and I’ve come here to spread the values of Love, Hope, and the Catholic Way! Now listen, Chris, your abuse of this poor homeless man ends here.”

“Is zat so?” Chris says, patronizingly. “Vell, then you won’t mind if I give our little friend some help getting off of ze stage!”

Chris walks over to the homeless man, and he extends his foot backwards as he prepares to kick the man off of the stage as hard as he can. But before Chris’s foot even touches the homeless man, The Original Captain Catholic jumps in front of Chris and uses his shin as a pad to protect the homeless man, leaving a large black-and-blue bruise on the shin of the Captain for weeks to come.

“Why, you little –” Chris stammers in annoyance as he swings at the Captain. “I’ve had it with you!”

Chris’s right fist is furiously hurled towards Captain Catholic, only to be swiftly blocked by the back of the Captain’s left wrist. Chris’s left fist is then thrust toward the Captain’s head, only to be blocked by the back of the Captain’s right wrist. As Chris brings his right fist back again in a final attempt to knock the Captain off the stage, Captain Catholic pushes Calvinist Chris with all of his might, sending Chris’s failing body flying across the stage and into the nearest wall with a loud thud as he sinks to the ground.

            Captain Catholic walks over to Chris and extends his hand, offering to help him up off the ground.

            “Are you ready to start behaving like an adult, son?” the Captain says to Chris.

            Chris knocks Captain Catholic’s hand away and slowly stands up by himself, shaking from the shock of his fall. As Chris begins to walk toward Captain Catholic, he stumbles before falling backward against the wall, panting and trying to catch his breath. He motions toward the camera crew to cease filming. Everyone watching the TV in their homes suddenly see nothing more than the words ‘technical difficulties’ flashing across a black screen.

            The Original Captain Catholic holds up an old Italian Rosary composed of smooth black beads into the air as he turns toward the audience. As the Captain talks, he grasps the Rosary tightly as if he is ardently praying for everyone gathered in the room. “My friends, I’m afraid you have all been given false information about God and his ways. Unfortunately, Chris here has been teaching nothing but lies.”

            “Nonsense,” barks Chris as he catches his breath and staggers toward the Captain, “I am an established and respected preacher! I am an expert on Christianity!”

            “Is that so?” asks Captain Catholic. “Then perhaps you can tell us how you ‘know’ that God favors the rich and hates the poor?”

            “Vell,” Chris says, “it’s quite simple really. You see… uh…” Chris’s face suddenly sinks as he searches his mind for a response to the Captain’s question. “Vell… I mean –”

            “Chris,” the Captain interjects, “it can’t be that difficult to explain the basic rationale behind everything you’ve been preaching about for the past two years… but then again, I suppose it is pretty difficult since everything you’ve ever taught lacks all logic and proof.”

            “Zat is not true!” protests Chris. “Uh… look, I am right, the Bible says so! Chapter ten, verse ten of the Gospel according to John states, ‘I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly!’ There you go! God wants us all to have abundant lives of wealth! What do you say to zat, Captain?”

            “Chris,” the Original Captain Catholic says, “you’re taking that verse entirely out of context, which is regrettably a bad habit of yours and of many Fundamentalist preachers. In that passage of the Bible, Christ is discussing how he has come to save mankind by giving us an example of what it means to love others.”

            “What are you talking about, you Catholic heathen?!” retorts Chris.

            “In that passage,” continues the Captain, “Christ explains to his disciples that there have been many preachers who have come before Him who have been ‘thieves and robbers’ only looking to confuse humanity. The full quote is, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.’ In fact, Chris, you are an example of the thief that Christ discusses. You kill and destroy the souls of everyone you preach to, and you steal from the mouths of the poor!”

“Zat is preposterous!” Chris yells, insulted.

“Oh, is it?” the Captain continues. “After that part of the passage, Christ explains how he is going to lay down his life for all of humankind. Jesus discusses the noble sacrifice He is about to make for us, and He encourages us to live our lives with the same attitude of selflessness. Perhaps you would understand if you took the time to read the entire passage instead of taking one small quote entirely out of context.”

            “Vell…” Chris complains, “what does ze rest of ze passage have to do with anything! Jesus says he wants us to live abundantly! We are called to be RICH!”

            “That,” the Captain responds, “isn’t even remotely what Jesus is saying, Chris. The abundance that Christ is referring to has nothing to do with material goods or wealth. The abundant life that Christ refers to is a life filled with selflessness, holiness, and good works. It is only in living for others that one may live abundantly and find fulfillment.”

            “Bah!” Chris spits out, “you and your Catholic good works! They will not save you! You’re going to burn in Hell with all ze rest of ze poor sinners! It doesn’t matter how you live your life, it is through faith alone zat a man is saved!”

            “Is that so?” Captain Catholic asks amusedly.

            “Yes, it is so!” Chris carries on with great pride in his eyes. “As ze great Protestant reformer Martin Luther once said, ‘No sin can separate us from Jesus, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day.’ Simply have faith, earn your wealth and live as you like!”

            “You,” the Original Captain Catholic says forcefully as he bangs his fist down on the pulpit for emphasis, “have just taken the entire message of Christianity and shot it in the head! Faith is completely worthless if it is not lived out through acts of kindness and mercy. In fact, the entire idea of ‘faith alone’ lacks all reason in a Christian context.”

“Take zat back,” Chris says in protest, “you do not know what you’re talking about!”

 “Oh, I don’t?” The Captain confidently responds, knowing that Calvinist Chris is in error. “Luther claimed that the idea of ‘faith alone’ comes from the Bible, but the only time the phrase ‘faith alone’ is ever found in the Bible is in the Letter of St. James, chapter 2, verse 24, which states, “A person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

“Zat is not true!” Chris yells. “James was probably just a dirty Jew! Ze principle of faith alone is found all throughout ze Holy Bible!”

“Oh yeah?” Captain Catholic responds. “Tell me where it’s found!”

“Vell…” Chris hesitates, unable to come up with an answer. “Uh… in ze book of… vell…”

Suddenly, a man in the audience jumps out of his seat and shouts, “Hey, this Chris guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about! We’ve been had!”

“Face it, Chris,” the Captain says, once again speaking very forcefully, not with arrogance but with authority, “the principle of faith alone falls flat on its face. It claims to be derived from the Bible, but in reality, it is nowhere to be found in the Bible or in any of the teachings of Christ. As St. James also tells us in his biblical letter, chapter 2, verse 17, ‘Faith without works is dead.’ You, Chris, are WRONG, and I demand that you stop preaching your false messages IMMEDIATELY.”

            The entire audience stands up out of their seats and begins to clap for the Original Captain Catholic, fully agreeing with his explanation. The Captain wraps his Rosary up into the palm of his hand.

            “Sit down!” Chris screams, disgusted at the audience’s response. “Don’t listen to zis Catholic heathen! He’s going to send you all to Hell!”

            But Chris’s remarks are simply drowned out by applause for Captain Catholic.

            “It’s no use, Chris,” the Captain explains. “When people recognize the truth, they cling to it. God has a way for drawing people away from evil and closer to Him.”

            The Original Captain Catholic walks over to the homeless Arab and puts his arm around his shoulder, helping him out the door.

            “My friend,” the Captain says to the man, handing him a twenty dollar bill, “see to it that you use this to get something to eat for you and your family. Also, after you walk out this door, head down the street, take a right and you’ll find a little homeless shelter run by an order of nuns where you and your family can stay for the time being.”

            “Thank you very much, sir!” the Homeless man says with great respect and gratitude.

            “You’re very welcome,” the Captain says, “you’ll be in my prayers. Peace be with you.”

            As the homeless man walks out the door, Captain Catholic turns around to see Chris storming off his own stage in a hysterical rage. The Captain walks over to Chris.

 “Listen, Chris,” Captain Catholic says, “there’s still hope for you. You have much passion. The problem is that you’re passionate about the wrong message. Please, let’s talk.”

“You want to TALK?!” Chris barks back, “Go talk to your precious Pope if you wish to talk! But leave me alone and NEVER come near me AGAIN!”

As Chris shouts these words, he pushes Captain Catholic into the wall, bruising his shoulders. But the Captain is not interested in fighting. He only wants to help Chris. Captain Catholic extends his hand out to Chris, his Rosary wrapped around his fingers.

“Chris,” the Captain persists, “I just want to talk to you as a brother in Christ. Please, let’s just discuss this. Will you join me?

Chris pushes Captain Catholic one more time, this time into the edge of the brick wall that separates the backstage area from a tiny hallway, causing the skin on the Captain’s shoulders to rip open and bleed. He would later need stitches to recover from the wound.

“I said,” Chris roars as veins bulge from his forehead, “LEAVE me ze Hell ALONE!”

Chris turns his back and begins walking away.

“Chris,” Captain Catholic says as he stands up, gripping one of his bleeding shoulders, “I can’t force you to change your ways… but I know that you recognize the truth that lies within Catholicism. I am genuinely concerned not just for the people you preach to, but for you as well. Please, Chris… for your own sake, pray over this.”

“Look,” Chris says as he slowly turns around, “I already TOLD you –”

But as Chris looks behind him, he realizes that he is only talking to himself. The Original Captain Catholic is gone.
 
 
 
 
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