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One no-fees, traditional publisher for:





A money-hungry televangelist and his jealous sidekick pull a prank which sends both of them tripping down the Time Travel Highway.  Ben and Sam  encounter realities which shatter their canned illusions about favorite Bible characters they have exploited for personal gain. 


Scenes from:

Beam Me Back To Bible Days



Televangelist Ben Buck just “got stoned”.  After recuperating from a rough sojourn in the wilderness, he’s time-tripping in style!



Ben found himself lying on a cold marble floor. A gruff voice boomed out: "You dare bring THAT weakling into my presence?  Will you call THAT a fitting tribute to your king?"


Ben opened his eyes.  Two scruffy-looking men in rough robes stood on either side of him.  Fearfully they fell to their faces and whimpered: "O Lord King, we present this man to you as just we found him lying in the wilderness.  We swear by the light of the moon that we did not first strip him of booty."


A guard rushed over to the two brigands and held a sword up to the neck of one of them.  "You BETTER not have taken anything from him!  From the looks of this poor specimen, his adornments are worth far more than he is!"


"We swear he is worth his weight in gold, and he came with all the attachments," one of the brigands whimpered.


"FOOLS!"  the angry voice reverberated. "It is bad enough that you Bendonites are forever stirring up rebellion against me, and my wives are nagging me about the latest teen idol craze.  But do you think presenting your King with a weak, middle-aged slave you scraped up off the side of the road is going to placate my wrath, or  settle past due accounts? You must still make up what is lacking in the tribute your tribe owes!  And you'd better have it by this time next week!  GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!"  The King’s secret service hustled the bedraggled brigands outside.


Once Ben's head cleared, he sat unsteadily up.  The sight took his breath away.  This was the mother of all audience chambers, in the mother of all palaces.  Las Vegas looked like a convent by comparison. Why, this was an archaeologist's paradise.  Porcelain columns sparkled with gold trim. Gorgeous oriental tapestries adorned walls inlaid with intricate mosaics. Ben saw twelve golden lions, one on each end of six carpeted marble steps which ascended to a dazzling throne of gold-plated ivory.  Seated upon it was a stern-looking monarch with jet-black curls cascading to his shoulders. It must be Solomon, thought Ben, the richest king in all of history.  At least Ben had got that part of his prosperity preaching right!  Solomon's bejeweled crown was so massive Ben wondered if his head ached from its weight.  The King wore a richly embroidered robe of red scarlet adorned with rows of precious stones. He held a diamond-tipped scepter. Liveried attendants stood on either side of him, holding ostrich plume fans. Fair young maidens knelt on the floor, softly strumming harps for his pleasure. Hundreds of handsomely decked people stood in silent wonderment before this most glorious of earthly sovereigns.


"Who are YOU!"  demanded the King.  He stared down at Ben as if he were a bug.


Ben’s brain whirled.  This was David’s son, and surely he would have been told about Ben Buck being run off from David’s camp.  Weakly he sputtered,  "I am ah… Ben Balaam, sire.  I come from a city called El Dinero.  It is many miles from here.  I am from the future.  I will not be born for another 3,000 years, sire.”


The whole court guffawed.  The King only grew angry.  "You are either the basest of fools or a total madman. If you knew what the penalty is for lying to your king, you would not play the jester before me.  But I will put you to the test to see whether you are a liar or a fool.  If you truly are from the future, then surely you would know what shall befall me and my house in the coming years.  Will my dynasty continue?"


"It will, Your Majesty." Ben swallowed hard.


"And who shall succeed me as king?"


"A son called Rehoboam, sire."


"Will he be a wise man, or a fool?"


Ben blinked.  He desperately hoped that Solomon would not make him reveal the future rebellion of ten tribes of Israel against Rehoboam, or the rise of Jeroboam to rule over the rebel tribes.


“WILL HE BE WISE?” the king thundered.


“Ah…sire, we are all mortal men.  It is not for such a lowly worm as myself to sit in judgment on the Crown Prince as being a wise man or a fool.  Even the wisest of men do foolish things, and even a fool can redeem himself and become wise.  Your son Rehoboam will show himself to be a decisive man of firm leadership who does not cave in to the whims of weaker men. Rehoboam will be a man of iron will who will make solid decisions and carry them out. Others will try to change him, but he will not bend like a reed in the wind. Rehoboam will bow to no man and what he starts he will finish. Such an admirable trait in a man, sire.  You really should be proud of him."  Ben hoped against hope Solomon would not press the point about whether his dynasty would continue, or some spear point might press him!


The king nodded, satisfied.  "Have you any other words of wisdom for me, Ben Balaam?"


"Your Majesty, I just happened to overhear your lamentation about how your wives want some new teen idols constructed.  Perhaps I can be of some service.  Where I come from, I amassed a large fortune by mass marketing religious paraphernalia. Religion is big business in my land, sire."


The king raised his bushy eyebrows. "You are not of my nation Israel, I presume? Your beardlessness and strange apparel testify of foreign origin."


Ben rubbed his face, riddled with nicks from the flint razor he’d shaved with  in past weeks. "I am from America, a land which will not even come into existence for 2700 more years. If it please the King, I can present evidence for that."  Ben reached into his jacket pocket and withdrew a laminated card.  "This is my state driver’s license, with my name and picture on it, and the date of issue." An attendant handed it to Solomon.


"I cannot decipher that strange script," said Solomon.  "Care to explain it to me?"


Ben did so, further elaborating on the meaning of the date as reflecting the number of years since the birth of Christ.


"He is the One I preach about," Ben casually said. "He is My heavenly King. I serve Him well, and the rewards are great. See the ruby ring on my finger, and the watch on my wrist?  It tells me the time of day, and in my country, only men of means wear these elegant adornments."


The ruler studied Buck's hands and frowned.  "I am not so sure about the purity of your heart, only that you are a shrewd man of high ambition.” Solomon turned Ben’s hands over and felt them.   “Hm-m-m...your hands are smooth except for a bit of a callus where the left thumb meets the forefinger, and calluses at the joints of the right fingers.  You are quite unused to heavy toil, but I surmise that you might have been an archer at some stage in your life.  Am I correct?”


“Yes, Your Majesty, but a third-rate one.  I did not get this beautiful watch or this ruby ring through the wages of manual labor.” Ben swallowed hard.  If he didn’t grease some influential palm fast, he might be dispatched to the salt mines.  “Sire, my fingers are pudgier than yours, so my rings wouldn’t fit you, but the watch ought to adjust nicely to your wrist.  Would you like to try it on?”


The King slid it on his left wrist.  He stared wonderingly at the platinum gold band and all the futuristic features of the timepiece.  “It is magic!”  cried the King.  See how the little arrow circles round its  tiny face!”


Ben grinned.  “Oh, yes, your Majesty. And notice the little crown logo.  This watch was made specially for men of distinction like you!  I came back in time just to present it to you and to learn all about your great wisdom, and how you got so rich!  But as you know, I was waylaid by brigands on my way here.  That is why my clothing is so  rumpled and dirty.”


“It is clothing such as I have never seen,” said Solomon. “Coarse in texture compared to mine. It reminds me of a gray owl with a ribbon of scarlet adorning  its breast, and it is sober compared to my own attire.”


“A gray owl, you said?” Ben grinned.  “In my land, sire, owls are reputed to be birds of wisdom.  So I wear the garments of wisdom when I cater to my people’s religious needs.”


“Whatever,” said Solomon, “but wolves can appear in sheep’s clothing, and a jackass   can feign himself to be an owl. You say your name is Ben Baalam.  That means ‘son of Balaam’.  Balaam was a wizard who got the children of Israel into hot water with God.”


“Oh, no, your Majesty, that Balaam’s not MY dad!”  cried Ben.  “You’re talking about some other Balaam.  I come from a different country than that crumb did.  I don’t lead people into hot water with God, I lead them to  still waters in green pastures!”


“Your attire  IS dirty from your travels.” said the King.  “We shall remedy that.  We have plenty of clothing in your size, and your raiment shall be appointed unto you, since you will remain here in my service indefinitely.  You’re a bit unpolished around the edges, but  I like you, Ben Balaam.”


“And I have so much talent to offer Your Majesty,” said Ben.  “My skill in marketing religious paraphernalia made me rich enough to buy Rolexes and ruby rings. I also had a horseless chariot which moved faster than a bowshot!”


“That is remarkable,” said Solomon.  “I cannot yet dispense with my horses, but my fleet of chariots are on the cutting edge of technology and they’re the envy of every other king on earth.  What else did you possess, Ben Balaam?”


“I had three elegant mansions loaded with hi-tech mod cons...but, of course, they were all tar paper shacks compared to your pad.  But I had a happy home. And a happy home is a beautiful home.  Speaking of keeping your home happy, I would remind your Majesty of my expertise in all things religious. If your wives need me to  design a few religious icons for them, I’m at their...ah...your service, sire.”  No problem, Ben thought, I saw some weird-looking totem poles in Alaska, so I can draw blueprints for some scary images.


The King struggled to stifle a chuckle. “You certainly are a heathen rogue, aren’t you, Ben Balaam, wanting to be of service to my harem? You’re really offbeat,  too.  When my father was in the wilderness recruiting men of war, they came from all walks of life. Some were fools, yet only a few were wise.  Others were barking mad.  One madman in particular incurred my father’s displeasure because he kept saying things which lowered the other men’s morale. That man had the easiest MOS in the army.   All he had to do was watch the baggage while the others fought.  That, in itself,  was no disgrace, since my father considered it an honorable calling to guard the baggage if you were too weak to fight.  But this particular chap was so cowardly he would hide under the camel furniture whenever he heard the approach of distant hoofbeats. One day he laid low while a few foxes invaded the chuck wagon and made off with a few legs of mutton. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he let his comrades know they had fallen out favor with the Almighty because why would they always be broke and on the run,  unless their ways were not pleasing unto the Lord? The other men got tired of giving that babbling fool  the benefit of the doubt, so they chased that jackal out of the camp in nothing flat.”


Ben’s heart was in his mouth.  “If I may inquire, Majesty, what was his name?”

“Ben Buck.  My father told me that man’s vain babblings were so foolish they were unworthy of being repeated to me. I believe he was an itinerant sorcerer with a bagful of magic tricks trying to con an easy living out of others because he was too slothful to get a real job. But all my father cared to tell me was  what an ungrateful, arrogant jackass the fellow was, the way he cast aspersions on my father’s relationship with God.   But what do you expect?” sighed Solomon.  “Envy is the rottenness of the bones and that rotten rogue envied those brave enough to go into battle.  But don’t you think it’s a bit fishy that both of you are ‘Bens’ and both of you claimed to come from the future?  I hope you aren’t lying about your true identity.” Ben heard a sword being drawn.


“Oh, no, sire!  There’s a multitude of time travelers tripping on the highways and byways, and I definitely am not Ben Buck!  I swear it on a stack of Strong’s Concordances!”


“I am a king of judgment and justice and I do not condemn a man until his guilt is firmly established,” said Solomon. “Besides,  our country teems with colorful characters with odd monickers.  There’s no end of  Mahalaleels, Mephibosheths and  Maher-shalal-hash-bazes  running about.  And our land abounds with Bens.  Ben Judah, Ben Ammon, Ben Hadad, and countless Bens of Belial.  But there’s only one Ben Buck, and you’re much too prudent and intelligent to have been the babbling brook of idiocy my father’s men drove into the wilderness.”


“That is true, Majesty.” Ben was very relieved.  “Others always underestimate me, and had I been such an idiot, I would never have been so clever at money-making in my own land. Where it concerns prying money out of tight fists, I have few equals.  And religion is my specialty, sire.”


“Your religion, such as it is, has served your own purposes well,” replied Solomon. “Even heathens from far-off lands need to get their daily dose of religion.  Just ask the Queen of Sheba. But I will let some other heathen carve a few idols for my wives.  You say you are not that same coward my father’s men drove from the camp.  Well, I shall prove you to make certain you are not lying to me.  You shall be put to work collecting my tribute  from the disgruntled populace.  If you  survive the ordeal it will prove you are a prudent man with a persuasive tongue.  If you are killed in the line of duty you will prove you are no coward.  But if you tuck tail and run, you will show yourself to be that same yellow jackal who called into question my father’s friendship with God.  No other assignment I could give you demands so much courage as the post of royal revenue agent.  Daily my tax agents face hostility and stones.  Are you prepared to prove yourself to your king, Ben Balaam?”


Ben gulped.  "I can charm money out of a Scottish Scrooge, Majesty.”


“Very well, then.  You shall be shown to your quarters, fed your dinner, and shown the hospitality of my palace.  Tomorrow you shall be briefed on the minutiae of your mission. Dismissed, Ben.” Liveried servants led Ben away.


And so it came to pass that Ben Buck lived off the fat of the land. His apartment in the palace was most luxurious. Whenever it got hot pretty slave girls fanned him. Miranda could wait. What more could a man want?  Ben didn't go hungry. He dined on the most exquisite kosher cuisine and  dressed in the finest silks. Every day except the Sabbath Ben would be ferried about in a royal chariot to visit towns and villages to collect the King's tribute. 


Ben’s entourage stopped off at one farm where a haggard-looking woman was hauling bundles of hay  on her back.  She looked cross and miserable.  Ben got no warm welcome, though she had to show him respect.  "I suppose you're here to collect straw for the King to feed all his fancy horses!" she grumbled. "No matter that ours will have to starve this winter!"


 Her husband stood nearby.  He, being more timid than she,  gasped in horror.  "Bridle your tongue, Miriam! Show respect to the King's ambassador!"


Her eyes flashed. "I will not! Our animals are wasting away for want of what is taken from us!  I'm sick of slaving all day under a hot sun while Solomon's heathen wives prance around in luxury at our expense!"


By now dozens of hired hands were milling about, ears wide open.


Ben tried to placate her.  "Sister Miriam, I'm not here to hurt you, only to teach you the principles of sowing and reaping to make you richer.  Cast your hay upon the wagon and it will come back to you on every amber wave of grain."


"You lie! Just like all the other money-grubbing bureaucrats who plague the Lord's land!  We were liberated from Pharaoh only to become slaves of Big Government!"


Ben got mad.  "If you guys would learn how to confess prosperity and dress prosperity, it wouldn't be long before YOU sat on the throne too! Lady, if your husband would shave that fur off his face, he’d see a new man staring back at him from the still waters!  Get yourself a wardrobe consultant! You won’t get far looking like a skid row bum!  It's a sin to be poor and hungry, so repent of your poverty right NOW!"


Miriam yelled that she made her own garments, real men wore beards, and  it was the rich who’d kept her family poor.


“You know I’m right, lady!  And if you’d take that bed sheet off your head that you threw on it to hide your bad hair day and go get an image makeover, you could climb up the social ladder a little! Solomon's dad David was poor as a church mouse but he got up off his duff and got rich!  And now his son Solomon is the richest go-getter in all human history! You're all poor because you've got no faith and can't see past your next bowl of porridge!  Serves you right!"


Miriam spat at Ben.  Immediately she was seized by Ben's attendants.


The boldest of the hired workers raised a pitchfork and cried: "Save our mistress!  We are free men, not slaves!"


The royal chariot got stormed by a mob of furious farm workers.  One of the peasants got nicked by a spear and retreated to doctor himself, but the others capsized the chariot, making the horses stumble and squeal. The peasants pummeled the king's men with pomegranates they owed as tribute. In the confusion Miriam broke free and ran to safety. The workers held no swords, but they vastly outnumbered their aristocratic foes.  They picked up handstaves and other implements and attacked the king's servants, whose hearts melted with fear when they saw a squadron of angry country folk fanned out over the horizon, rushing toward them and making war whoops


Someone set fire to the king's hay wagon. Stones began to fly.  Ben got hit in the head as he hobbled away, followed by panicky wagoners who deserted the flaming tribute.


After so many years of sad, nodding surrender to their demands, Ben’s royal guard wasn’t at all prepared for this.  Even if they picked off a few of the peasants, they were hopelessly outnumbered and would get killed anyway.  So they tucked tail and ran, leaving Ben to fend for himself. But Ben was far more afraid of Solomon’s wrath than anything the peasants could do to him.


 Before the crowd could seize Ben to tear him limb from limb, he vanished before their eyes. His last lucid thought was amazement that a common TV preacher like himself had actually sparked off the mother of all civil wars.  One which would  cost David’s dynasty ten of the nation’s twelve tribes  and would end the Golden Age of Israel.  Ben had saved rude, reckless Rehoboam the bother of doing it himself.


* * * * *

Bugs in Ben’s Beg-a-thon


Ben preached prosperity, but he didn’t look like an office fixture.  His tousled auburn  hair covered his ears and brushed the collar of his “salvation suit”.   Balding Sam was rather jealous of Ben, whose longish hair was so expertly styled, conditioned and high-lighted. Ben often made the excuse that his hairstyle helped hide his “elephant ears” which he didn’t really want to have surgically pinned back.


But Brother Buck didn’t want the real reason he hid his ears leaked to the press. For the final two hours of each miracle service Ben would prance around shouting ‘hallelujah’ and calling out names of afflicted people, “received by revelation”.  Miranda and her staff of “hospitality hostesses” would circulate around the door and vestibule of the auditorium, “getting to know”  those arriving for the four-hour-long service. No one suspected the real reason Miranda carried a big purse with her wherever she went. Her nifty little recorder missed nothing which could fatten Ben’s data base, or his bank account.


Nestled in Ben’s left ear was a barely visible pink radio receiver which gave “supernatural” insight into Sister Parker’s pains, or Brother Gus’s gout. Info from the control room would be transmitted to Ben’s bug over a low frequency, telling him where Sister Slater was standing in the crowd, what she was wearing, where she lived, and how she was worried sick about her sinuses. Guided by the high-pitched voice on the transmitter, Ben would slowly make his way down an aisle and pick out that precious one who languished under a heavy load.  Ben would “pray the prayer of faith” over selected sick people, with “catchers” standing nearby to help lower each one gently to the floor as Ben bestowed a “power touch” to each forehead.


Ben would reassure each supplicant that the “healing” might take time, and meanwhile, a little leap of faith on their part sure wouldn’t hinder their heaven-sent blessing from coming. Time after time he’d hear such comments as, “Praise the Lord!  How on earth did you know who I was, Brother Ben?  You even knew where I live!  You’re the real thing, man, I can tell!”


It took a mini-miracle for Ben to get out of one trap set for him by a skeptic who was on to his tricks.  A broad-shouldered lady wearing a long floral skirt, jewelry and thick makeup stood in the healing line one evening, after being screened by the personal workers.  As usual, the “special cases” were discreetly rounded up and herded to a backstage room so Ben could concentrate on those he had a “personal word” for. People cried out in ecstasy as each one received reassurance that God was on their side, and the answer to their prayers was just around the corner. His eyes tightly shut, Ben blessed the miracle seekers and panted under the hot lights.


Ben laid hands on the lady in the floral skirt.  “That’s Sister Dusty Thompson,” the ear bug revealed.  “She’s got severe PMS, so bad it gives her mental problems.  She lives at 333 Jefferson Drive, in Hodgetown.”


Ben approached the lady, his eyes glazed in a faraway look. “Precious one,” he breathed, “the Lord knows your affliction, and truly I say unto you that you  shall never again be plagued with PMS…”


The sick man sitting next to the lady abruptly rolled his wheel chair back to give her more room. The wheel caught the lady’s voluminous skirt in its spokes. “Eeeek!” she shouted in a squeaky voice. Her slip was showing, but so were her legs.


A warning blared through Ben’s ear bug: “Get away from that woman, Ben!  It’s a set-up! He’s a stooge! His legs are all hairy!”    Before Ben could break free, his  arm was seized in an iron grip.  The infiltrator whipped off a  platinum blond wig, revealing a crew cut. He  yelled as loud as he could: “Just thought everybody should know! Brother Ben just healed  a transvestite of his PMS!”


People gasped, then laughed.  But instead of freaking out Ben put his arm around Dusty’s shoulders and shouted: “Can you praise the Lord, everybody!  Dusty here’s  just gotten healed of PMS!  Pulmonary Mandibular Shingles!  Hallelujah!  Sudddenly a rainbow cross appeared on the breast of  Ben’s jacket, which turned a brilliant white.


“Hallelujah!”  many called.  “It’s a miracle!”


Beneath the jubilation Ben whispered not-so-softly and tenderly to Dusty: “Better not try any more tricks, sugar, or I’ll punch your lights out after the show!”


To Ben’s relief, most everybody was wowed by his “supernatural” knowledge of their names, addresses and distresses.  Surely they’d get their miracle here.


Usually the ‘healing segment’ of Ben’s long service would be put off until after the green sheaves were safely garnered into the big buckets. Today Ben used this pitch: “At this time I would remind you that Green Manna Ministries is reaching out to the community in its continuing crusade against drug and alcohol abuse.  There are many desperate, hurting men out on the streets who need a helping hand. Brothers, and sisters, please prayerfully ponder the message you are about to witness before your eyes on our overhead screens.”


A video of a homeless man taking refuge under a drippy doorway appeared on monitors strategically placed above the stage area and throughout the vast auditorium. Ben appeared  in the film, bending down to give him a sandwich and a word of encouragement.  After five minutes of Ben strolling through littered alleyways and past rowdy bars, asking drug addicts if they knew Jesus,  Ben closed with a cry in his voice:  “These men need to be saved! You can make a difference by contributing to our  “Aid for Addicts” program. Please provide badly needed nourishment for precious drug and liquor addicts like these. God bless you!”


 Ben thanked the crowd for their attention and said, “Our ushers will collect the offering now, as I perform our ministry’s theme song.  Inside the buckets you’ll find some yellow cards. Please take one of these cards and prayerfully consider filling it out. On this ‘Share With Those in Despair’ Card you can divulge your bank details, should you wish to make a standing donation to be deducted monthly from your bank account. Our ushers will go round, then return shortly to your section to collect your completed cards.


“Besides regular contributions we also welcome one-time donations by debit card, credit card, cash or check. Perhaps many of you have felt led to tithe faithfully to the work of the Lord.  And what better ground could you sow some of your tithing seed into than Green Manna Ministries, one of the few ministries which offers help and comfort to  those in bondage to beer, wine, whiskey, or drugs?


“At this time we are offering a very special love gift to those who give sacrificially to the work of Green Manna Ministries.  Brother Sam’s gonna tell you all more, and, there he is coming onstage now, so now I’ll turn the mike over to him.”


As the crowd cheered, Ben asked,   “Brother Sam, what have we got for our extra special love gift this month?”


To swelling applause Sam shouted with a cheesy smile, “Praise the Lord!  Praise Jesus!”  Sam was holding a twin-handled porcelain jug embellished with ornate figurines.  “Brothers and sisters, we want to show our appreciation for all our very special friends who give a sacrificial gift of $100 or more this month: this Mighty Miracle Oil Jug. Each  jug, hand-crafted specially for you in rare Grecian Alabaster, is nine inches high, with scalloped handles and a tapered spout. Each jug  is individually hand-glazed and adorned with mother-of-pearl.  Each one is patterned after the earthenware used by aristocratic families in ancient Biblical times.  It will be a perpetual reminder that like the widow whose supply never ran dry, you were faithful to pour out your most sacrificial gift unto the Lord.  Ushers, come forward for our offertory prayer, please.


Seeing the crowd was in a buoyant mood, Ben motioned for the orchestra to play the intro to  his ministry theme song.  Triumphantly Ben waved his jeweled and Rolexed hands and began to sing “See Me Wear This Ring”:



That devil’s been givin’ me trouble

Since I’ve been born again

But since I read my Bible

It showed me ways that I could win

God took this  sad-faced sorry son of a gun

Made me one of His chosen sons


See me wear this ring

I’m a child of the King

And the devil can’t get me down


And the devil can’t get me down!


* * * * *

So many folks a-moanin’ and groanin’

Only faith can set them free

To get out of a jam

Open wide your hand

You’ll attract prosperity

Oh, won’t you come share a blessing with me

Plant a money seed to meet your need


Plant a blessing seed

Be a child of the King

And the devil won't get you down


And the devil won't get you down!


* * * * *

If you're down to your last penny

Sow a seed and you'll receive

Go out and borrow more money

Make a vow out of your need

Just mail more mites like the widow

And your blessings will overflow


Make a vow of faith

And you'll make no mistake

And that devil won't keep you down


And that devil won't keep you down!


* * * * *

Ben belted out this refrain, in an operatic tone:


When old Sluefoot comes a-callin'

To pinch my dollars and dimes

Get your hooks off my dollars I HOLLER-R-R-R

You dirty rotten bucket of slime!


I’m a-buildin’ a mansion in glory

With bricks of gorgeous green

The ritziest palace  is a-waitin’ for me

That eye hath ever seen

No devil in hell can stop me

From livin’ like a king


See me wear this watch

I've come out on the top

'Cause no devil could keep me down


'Cause old sluefoot can't keep me down!


* * * * *


Ben danced and sang to synthesized bagpipe chords and a throbbing drumbeat:


You’ll feel so good if you give like you should

Cast your wampum on the waters now

Don’t you grumble just hustle

Make them dollars rustle

Toss ‘em into the bucket now

Better stop and think

Don’t you  make a clink

Only birds oughta go cheep cheep!


See me wear this ring

I’m a child of the King

And the devil can’t get me down


And the devil can’t get me down!


* * * * *

A swirling harp intro launched Ben on this verse:


I got a great big piece of blessing pie

You can see before your eyes

I got a great big castle in the skies

In a land where no one dies

I got cars and stars in my glory crown

You’ll never see this feller frown


See me wear this ring

I'm a child of the King

And the devil can't get me down


And the devil can't get me down!


* * * * *


A gentle o-o-o-o-ing aria from the choir, a muted twinkling of blue stage lights, a somber reflective look on Ben’s face, then he earnestly sang:


Faith gives me showers of power

To shout and dance and sing

If ya got a need

Just plant a seed

The buckets  are a-comin’ round

Make a joyful noise

All ye girls and boys

Get a star  in your glory crown


And you'll get the ring

Of a child of the King

And the devil won't get you down


And the devil won't get you down!


* * * * *


An abrupt brightening of the lights, then a  rolypoly man, dressed in a red-striped shirt and straw hat skittered onstage. He bowed to the audience, then  strummed a ukulele to Ben’s frantic plea:


If you’re in a pickle

Don’t fiddle with nickels

Take a tenner from your wallet now

If ya wanna have plenty

Just toss in twenty

And I don’t mean peanuts, pal

Write a big fat check

Go to heaven, not heck

Put your money where your mouth is now


See me wear this ring

I’m a child of the King

And the devil can’t get me down


And the devil can’t get me down!


* * * * *


Ben’s voice swelled up into a brassy  refrain:


When ol’ sluefoot comes a-callin’

To cause commotion within

Get your hooks off my dollars I HOLLER-R-R-R-R

You dirty rotten sack of sin!


I’m gonna sing and shout

Cast the devil out

With a mighty cry of victory

Gonna tell the story

To the saints in Glory

How I left a life of poverty

O won't you come and join with me

In the great glad jubilee


Plant your blessing seed

Be a child of the King

And the devil won't keep you down


And the devil won't keep you down!


* * * * *


Ben scratched his head and said:  “Honest Injun, folks, I'm tryin' to stop, but I absolutely swear I’ll shut up after I share just one more secret for successful livin’...


A banjo player rushed onstage strumming at top speed as  Ben belted out:


If ya wanna be a winner

Don’t be a sinner

Cast your wampum on the waters now

Pass the buckets round

Make a joyful sound

Be a joyful jolly giver now

Bring all your cares to the man upstairs

And he’ll shower you with your fair share


See me wear this ring

I’m a child of the King

And the devil can’t get me down



Ben whirled on his heel and boomed out  his finale with a blast from his big brass band:


And the devil can’t get me dow-ow-ow-own

Down! Dow-ow-ow-own!  YEAH!


* * * * *


Some in the crowd grumbled about why should Ben fish for funds when he bragged he was already so rich, but even more people just shrugged and  figured that even if Ben had a few screws loose he was good entertainment and well worth his pay. Ben wasn’t a bad singer, and his nasal  New York street twang  was perfect for the carnie lyrics he sang.  Some said Ben should have been born back in the days of the traveling snake oil circus act.


* * * * *

Ben and Sam Team up with Sorcerer Simon Magus


The Magus the Magnificent Show was getting underway.  “Step right up, folks!” Sam cried, as he stood on the portico.  “Admission is free! It’s the spaciest spectacle on earth!  There’s fire-walking, levitation, teleportation, and self-esteem seminars, all here under one roof in the Crystal Coliseum!  Get your Fig Fantasies, Honey Halvah, Date Delights and Pomegranate Pops at the food fair in the lobby!”


Ben set up one of Sam’s Kazuki Music Blasters on a tabletop draped with a voluminous tapestry.  Ben and Sam wore star-spangled caps and coats of many colors almost as garish as Magus’ own outfit. Ben bowed as the opening bars of “Wind Beneath My Wings”  boomed out of the little Kazuki.


Swaying to the music, Ben shouted, “How many of you want to see the supernatural in your own life?  How many of you want to soar higher than an eagle?  Look!”  Ben pointed at Magus, who was already levitating high up above his head.


“Faith puts the wind beneath your wings!” Ben cried.  “Faith in the creature God created you to be!  You’ve gotta believe in yourself!  You’ve gotta believe there will be a harvest for every single seed of faith sown!  Open your hand wide to show the faith that’s inside!  Give to those who provide you with spiritual nourishment!  Hear the Scripture! Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn!  Don’t muzzle us, folks!  This is a free show, but we depend on your faith offerings to help us to help others!”


After thunderous applause and clamors for more, Ben scrolled the Kazuki down to ‘Everybody Hurts’.


“Everybody hurts!” Ben cried.  “But you can stop hurting tonight!  There’s victory in the air!  I can smell it right now!”


Up in the high portico where tall torches illuminated the crystal ceiling, Sam had instructed a few assistants to wrap a coating of cannabis around each torch with a layer of burlap.  The torches released spicy fumes which lent an air of mystery to Magus’ meeting. Enhancing the heady fragrance was frankincense burning in a few  urns scattered above the heads of Magus’ adoring devotees. At Sam’s direction, tapestries had been hung over the open spaces between the columns at the entry to keep the fumes in.


“Ah, this is delightful!” one after another shouted.  “My problems seem so far away!”


“I feel as if I could fly!” a happy woman cried.


“These men are gods!” several avowed.  “See how Ben makes music come out of the magic amulet.”


“Better not storm the stage  to steal it,” an old man cautioned.  “Those three men are Roman citizens!”


When the crowd was firmly in a good mood, Ben began his sermon on tithing. “All God asks for is ten per cent,” he said.  “I think tithing’s a good deal.  After all, you get to keep the other ninety per cent, and Scripture promises you’ll never have to do without if only you’ll dare to take God at His Word and prove His Word is true.”


To zithers and trumpets Ben began to march round the stage with Sam and Magus, singing:


I confess

That I’m blessed

Time to put God to the test

Pay your tithe

Pay on time

And your faith will do the rest

There’s a million miracles a-waitin’ there for you

If you’ll only believe what faith can do

Just confess

That you’re blessed

And you’ll always get the best!


* * * * *

Ten per cent

Put it in

Lots of loot will come to you

Tithing pays

And you’ll save

Tons of trials and trouble too

There’s a million miracles a’waitin’ there for you

If you’ll only believe and sow seeds too

Just confess

That you’re blessed

And your stones will turn to bread!



* * * * *


Ben and Sam visit Farmer Micah in the future Paradise Earth.


Sam pointed to two packages on the ground. “Oh, Micah, is it okay if I keep those sinus capsules?  They’re not the bad junk that got me and Ben high.”


 Micah picked up one of the packages and scrutinized it. “Can’t even pronounce those ingredients. Interesting.  This stuff just isn’t made anymore.  Why would you need it anyway?”


“I get migraine headaches from pollen and air pollution,” Sam said.  “My nose runs like a faucet, and I can barely breathe sometimes. I’ve always been like that.  It runs in my family. Pre-Trib bodies were glued together with lots of coffee and convoluted chemicals.”


“And don’t forget prayer, Sam,” Ben said unctuously.


“You say you were televangelists back in the Old World?” Micah queried. “Didn’t you believe in divine healing?”


“Sure we did, Micah,” Ben said. “But old sluefoot hindered our prayers.  Remember how hard Daniel the prophet had to wrestle in prayer before his answer reached him?”


“Yes, Daniel did have a pretty hard time of it, Ben.  I imagine he’s full of jubilation that he doesn’t have Old Scratch running around loose in this big province. But people still struggle with their sin nature, and a very few get in trouble with the law.”


“Daniel?  You mean Daniel himself is ruling over this country?” Ben gasped.


“Yes he is, in our particular province, and it’s a mighty big area.  Even during his lifetime he governed a huge empire comprised primarily of Gentiles. We’re a good piece from his beloved Jerusalem, but Prince Daniel loves most of his subjects, and most of us love him. So he’s happy to serve the Lord here throughout the duration of this Millennium.”


“What was the year again, Micah, and what do they call this country now?”


“We’re in the year 2320, and this is the province of Gan Nesherim, which covers over a million square miles of this continent.  We’re just outside of Joystar, which used to be called ‘Wanderstar’.  Prince Daniel rules over all of Gan Nesherim.  Its capital is Joystar.  But Joystar, like all other cities, also has its own Royal Mayor, ruled over by an immortal saint.  Our mayor is called Lord Stephen.  He is a martyr of the Church Age.  A wonderful, compassionate, caring man, now living forever in the perfection of immortality.  And furthermore, our particular region of Gan Nesherim has a governor serving directly under Prince Daniel.  His name is Governor Lucas.  He was a physician during his lifetime, and he likewise is filled with the wisdom of the Lord. If need be, I could consult him to see what is to be done about your malady.  If you guys went to a Bible school, I guess you know that the Bible teaches about the sin associated with ‘pharmakaea’, a Greek term denoting drug abuse.”


“Oh yes,” Ben said, “that has been a major stumbling block for us both…one we hope to overcome.”


“I guess you’re glad old sluefoot is penned up for a thousand years,” Sam said, eager to change the subject.  “It sure would have been great if he’d been taken out during my lifetime. When I think about the stupid wars that got started by birdbrain world leaders fighting over a few barrels of oil, it makes my own sins look whiter than white!”


Micah looked agitated again. “That’s proof conclusive you’re from another era and that you weren’t educated in our schools and meeting houses! I was smaller than those children you met when I was taught about how all sin, great and small, stinks in the nostrils of God!  And I was shown how terrible God’s remedy for sin was!  How can you fellows claim to be preachers of the Word and still  belittle sin and its consequences?”


“But we do believe sin is bad, Micah!” Ben cried.  “It’s just a matter of perspective!  Here you are talking about cherry bombs and game boards, while I’m fresh from a bloody world where hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians got wiped off the map in the name of regime change! And some of those who waged this war of aggression passed themselves off as born-again believers!  How can anyone claim to love Jesus and carpet-bomb innocent people in His Name, especially little children and women asleep in their own beds?  It’s those ballot box butchers  lying  about being holy I just can’t stand.  I’ve sometimes acted like a crooked snake, but I never claimed to be a divinely appointed hitman on humanity!  Who’s more hopeless, Micah, the preacher who admits he’s a basket case  or the power-crazy politician who spins away his sin and  rides shotgun over the earth to get the oil?”


“If those counterfeit Christians did all that,” Micah said, “you can rest assured they aren’t among us now.  But be that as it may, keep your own accounts clear with God, Ben. Your neighbor’s sin can’t whitewash your own sin.”


 “True, Micah, but even if we did bait old ladies’ mailboxes with appeals for bread we didn’t bomb their bedrooms for oil.”


Micah raised his eyebrows.  “Bread?”


“That’s an old-fashioned hippie term for money, Micah,” Sam said.


“It just beggars belief, fellows,” Micah said.  “Blood for oil.  And those who held that belief claimed to be saints of God.  It’s a wonder God was so patient with them.  So oil was  the Baal idol worshipped by world rulers of your day.”


“Amen to that!” Sam said. “In our day, oil was the god of  the rich multi-national kingpins who pulled the puppet strings of world government. Puppet politicians were installed through rigged elections and crooked voting machines.  But they made a show of allowing the democratic process to go on.  It was all just a smokescreen to divert people’s attention from what the big boys really were up to.  The best way their puppet politicians could wheedle votes out of salt of the earth Christians was to claim to be one themselves.  You know, the caped crusader who tells the populace that a higher power has decreed that a billion bombs  be dropped on a cluster of tents out in the desert.  And it mattered not if the other country never had designs on attacking your own. Their unforgivable sin was YOUR oil happened to be trapped beneath their sands and you had to blast their dusty red earth to bits  to get at it.”