“Lent at the Hippo”: A One Act Play

by Joshua Carney


  • Reverend Dr. Leslie “I AM” King  of 1st Presbyterian Waco, hereafter LK
  • Her trusty sidekick, associate pastor Dee Dee Porter Carson, hereafter DDPC
  • Erin Conway “Twitty,” pastor of 7th and James, hereafter Twitty
  • Tim Jarrell, pastor of Austin Ave. Methodist, hereafter TJ (of course)
  • Sharron “Bobby” Cox, Assistant Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal,  hereafter Skipper
  • Austin Nickel “Back,” SAWL at First Lutheran, hereafter Saul
  • Josh Carney, amateur theologian and licensed Baptist or to quote A River Runs Through It backwards, “a Methodist who can’t read.” hereafter JC


A rainy November day at Dichotomy, the surprisingly swanky post-post modern coffee shop located in the cultural epicenter of Texas, Waco.

DDPC has called a meeting of Waco’s finest downtown religious zealots to hash out what the ecumenical bunch will do with Waco and Lent, everyone’s favorite Christian holiday ever since they collectively read Kafka on their pastoral getaway.

DDPC: Thanks for coming everyone.  Did you get a drink?  Do you want a drink?
Skipper: I already ordered, a 30-30 with a dash of Commonwealth, skinny, with a side of caviar.
Twitty: Wait, what did you order?
Skipper: You’ll read about it in Harper’s later this month.  It’s all the rage with the Anglicans.
JC: I see they do alcohol here as well.  How much do you suppose a Miller Lite is?

LK rolls her eyes visibly irritated by JC, tries to recall who invited him in the first place

DDPC: So let’s start by talking about what we liked about last year.
LK: It was great.  It was all great.  Carney was suspect, but other than that it was great.
Twitty: Remind me what we did last year?
TJ: Rotated pastors at churches.  Small liturgy and lunch after.
Twitty: Oh yeah, the food trucks.  Did people like that?
Saul: Yes, the ones that came did.
Skipper: Yes our people liked it, but we were hoping to have Diamondbacks cater this year.  Dee Dee, look into that. will you?
LK: We need something big this year.  Something Waco!  Something the kids have never seen before!
Saul: Something like Chip and Joanna big.
LK: No, not that big, we can’t afford that.
TJ: How about Steve Martin, isn’t he from Waco?
Twitty: I’m not sure he’s religious.
LK: Twitty, good.  I like what you’re thinking.  More of that.

Twitty surprised at how well his contribution is received.

Twitty: Oh, well in that case, what about RG III, or Jessica Simpson she’s from Waco … or was that her Grandma?  I can never remember.
LK: Too much.
Saul: What about Jennifer Love Hewitt? We could do Hewitt comes to Hewitt.
JC: What is the point of this again?
DDPC: Carney, good question.  Let’s revisit that.  What are we trying to do?
Skipper: I thought we were trying to connect downtown Waco people with Lent on Wednesdays during their lunch hour.
LK: Yes, we want to make Lent relevant again.  Someone make that a hashtag.
DDPC: So let’s start with place.  Where are we going to have this?
JC: Let’s rent McLane Stadium.
Saul: Someone already did that.
Twitty: What about Scruffy Murphs?
LK: Wrong side of town.
JC: They do Miller.
DDPC: Is that still open?
TJ: What about Barnett’s?
LK: Too small.  I’m expecting millions.
DDPC: Hippodrome?
LK: Bam! That’s it.  I’ll get my guys on that.
DDPC: What about speakers?
Twitty: What do we want the speakers to do?
TJ: Well, I’ve recently heard of this program called The Moth.  It’s a podcast.  People tell their stories.
LK: Good TJ, I like this.  Tell me more.
TJ: Well they tell their stories and people love it.  The kids go crazy for these stories.
Twitty: These stories.  What’s so great about them?  Are they about sex, drugs and rock and roll?

Pensive look crosses TJ’s face as he recalls his experience with The MOTH podcast

Slowly TJ: hmmm… for instance … one story was about a blind guy at a rattlesnake convention in TX.
LK: I love rattlesnakes, and the text from the second week of Lent is that one about snakes biting Israelites.  This is predestined.
JC: I didn’t think PCUSA was that kind of Presbyterian.
LK: Dee Dee, make a point to take Carney off the email thread next year.
Saul: So, The Moth @ the Hippodrome on Wednesdays during lunch.  What time will this start?
JC: I don’t think you can use The Moth, you’ll get sued for copyright violations.
DDPC: Yes, Wednesdays at noon.  Get there before noon and you get 10% off of your lunch order.  The speaker will speak for 10-15 minutes and we will rotate who does the short reflection after.
Skipper: Reflection?  What kind reflection?
DDPC: I’ll send you something to look at.  Something on silence.
Saul: What dates?
DDPC: Ash Wednesday is March 1st, but everyone will be gone on the 8th for spring break.  So let’s start the week after.  The dates will be March 15, 22, 29 and April 5.
Twitty: We still don’t have any speakers.
TJ: Who can do Moth type stories?
LK: Who do the kids love over at Baylor?
JC: They all love Tran.
LK: Who?
JC: The religious/ethics guy.  He’s from Duke.
LK: Good, let’s do Tran.  Who else?
Skipper: What about the lady who does toddler time at the public library?  She is the storytelling guild.  Vivian someone?
DDPC: Miss Vivian? My kid loves her!
JC: My kids love her!
Skipper: All kids love her.
LK: Good, let’s do Vivian.  Who else?
Twitty: I’ve got this guy at 7th.  Listening to him tell stories is like skating on butter.  Bob Darden.
Saul: Skating on butter?
LK: Tell me more.
Twitty: He mentored Garrison Keillor and he was a pioneer of narrative theology.
JC: Wait, who is this?
Twitty: Just go with it.
LK: Good, let’s do Darden.  Who else?
DDPC: What about Lyndon Olson?
LK: Good Dee Dee.
Skipper: Who’s Lyndon Olson?
DDPC: Ambassador Lyndon Olson brokered the Geneva Convention, defeated Hulk Hogan in WrestleMania 7 and nailed Jell-O to a tree.

LK: And that’s just the stuff that wouldn’t fit on his C.V.
Saul: Sounds like a winner.
DDPC: We need to market this.  Carney your church is full of young hipsters.  Do you have anyone in the design department?
JC: Yes, Nathaniel Mosher of peopletownart.com.
LK: We need to advertise this.  Where do people look to get Waco info?
Twitty:  What about that Act Locally Waco blog?  I think Ashley Bean Thornton does that.  Does anyone know her?
JC: I know her.  I’ll ask her.  What should I say?
LK: Just give her the information.
JC: That’s too much noise.  I need something creative.  Something people will read.  What about a mock up of this conversation?
LK: No one will read that.
JC: Yes they will.
LK: OK smart ass, why don’t you do the write up then.
JC: Maybe I will.
DDPC: OK, great meeting.  Carney when you do the write up, make sure you include the flyer.

Lights Fade

Josh Carney is the lead pastor at UBC in Waco.  Under his leadership attendance has gone down.  Josh has not written any books and no one has ever asked him to speak.

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