Dream of: 17 February 1995 (2) "Great Expectations In The Church-Like Courtroom"

church and state are two rooms in the same house

Venable (a Fort Worth, Texas attorney) was giving me a ride in his car to the federal court house in Fort Worth, where we both needed to register to continue practicing law in the court. Once we reached the courthouse, we walked into a room and sat down. When Venable stood and walked into a side room where the registration was taking place, I sat and waited.

Only gradually did I realize I was sitting in the bankruptcy court room, even though the room didn't look like a courtroom. Instead, it looked like a large ornate church with gothic arched ceilings perhaps 30 meters high. I recalled that I had attended a service once before in this church, and that Massie Tillman (the bankruptcy judge) had been the preacher. I had liked Tillman very much, and I had enjoyed listening to his sermons. I thought I would even like to start attending church here on a regular basis, just so I could listen to him. But how much should I give as offering each time? My mind raced along trying to calculate what 10% of my income would be. I thought $500 a week sounded like too much; I concluded $250 would be closer to 10%. Since Tillman was also a judge and would have some idea of my income, I would have to be accurate.

After Venable returned and was standing to my right, I slowly realized a service was about to take place. Tillman walked out in his black robes and stood at the front of the church. As I waited to hear his sermon, I remembered that after the sermon, there would be a church school. I didn't want to go to the church school, and I thought if I did begin coming regularly, I would try not to stay for the school.

Tillman finally began his sermon. Although little registered with me, I did hear him talking about the formation of a baseball team. Seeing several young fellows in the audience dressed in baseball gear, I realized that Tillman intended to form a church-baseball team. I thought I might want to join. I had never played much baseball, and I doubted my skill, but I thought I should give it a try.

When the sermon ended, someone passed around an offering plate. I hadn't expected the plate, and I didn't know what to put in. Other people seemed to be putting in five's and ten's. I watched to see what Venable put in. He put in a five, but it looked as if there might be another bill folded under the five. I decided to just put in a five and I pulled some bills out of my pocket. When I dropped the five into the plate, I suddenly saw a twenty lying in the plate, and I thought I had mistakenly dropped it in also. I started to reach for it, but the man holding the plate kept moving, and I pulled my hand away. I didn't want to look foolish trying to take money out of the plate, especially since I wasn't completely sure I had dropped it. I just shook my head, feeling stupid, and I accepted it. When the man had finished, he walked back over to me and asked me if I had been trying to get back a quarter that I had dropped in the plate. I thought maybe I had just dropped a quarter instead of a twenty; I indicated to him that it didn't matter

As the congregation walked out of the church, only five or six of us were still left when Tillman walked back to talk to us. Only now did I remember something else: I was living in Dallas in a large house with Tillman's elderly mother. Tillman had hired me about a year ago to drive his mother's car for her. I knew I had seen that same kind of scenario somewhere else (Driving Miss Daisy). Tillman's mother didn't use my services as a driver much anymore, but she did depend on me quite a bit for company and conversation.

I slowly realized that all the people remaining here with me also worked for Tillman's mother, and that we were expecting some of us to be laid off our jobs.

When Tillman saw me, he called out "Pip." I hadn't heard that name in quite a while, but I remembered that when Tillman had first met me, he had referred to me as "Pip," comparing me to the main character in Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations. I walked over and talked with him; he seemed surprised to learn I was still working for his mother. I explained that he had hired me as a driver, but lately I had become more of a companion than a driver for his mother. He seemed quite interested in everything I said.

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