Convergence: A Parable by Michael D. BoboBooks, Essays — By Michael D. Bobo on July 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm
A stranger appears in Greenstone, a small mid-American town, whose presence evokes images of Jesus in first century Nazareth. Could this be another Messiah? Is this stranger worth listening to – even following? Inevitably the religious establishment struggles with his miracle working power. The stranger presents another way outside of the contemporary Christian trappings.
John is a young adult whose encounters with the stranger drive the novel’s storyline. As he journals and contemplates the nature of Christ he transitions in his faith to a genuine adherent. Despite his parents’ concerns, he sees Jesus more clearly in and through this new teacher than he has previously in his local church.
Convergence grapples with the concept of Christ in the 21st century. Just as he was rejected two thousand years ago, the American churches in Greenstone fall prey to similar temptations of exclusivity and spiritual hubris.
Excerpt from Convergence: A Parable
That was our plan, but we never got that far. A rather unexpected turn occurred in front of the liquor store. We don’t have any homeless people in Greenstone. It’s not an easy place to be on the streets. Everyone gets in your business. Sheriff Howard made sure that no vagrant types lasted more than a few hours. He was tough. Sheriff Taylor took it up a few notches being newly elected and all. So there was not much of a chance for the Teacher. As I approached the store front I was abruptly addressed by a middle aged man who looked a little ragged. I assumed he was a drunk since we were in front of the only liquor store in town. I wanted to get some snacks for our time hanging out. Mr. Moore owned the store and he made sure that no minors got cigarettes or alcohol under his watch. He was tough as Sheriff Taylor when it came to that.
“Excuse me,” he began.
“I don’t have any money for you. I just graduated and I’m gonna meet my friend Thomas.”
“I don’t need anything from you. But I want to warn you,” he continued.
“What do you mean? This is Greenstone. We’re a very comfortable community. If you need help you should make sure to visit Pastor Kim at the Presbyterian Church. He’s a Korean man. The only one in town. He will help you if you need a place to stay. I would stay away from Sheriff Taylor. He’s the new man in town and he doesn’t take well to strangers.”
“I know these things. I don’t need anything from you. Please be careful. You have something special. Don’t waste your life. You are a thinker and I want you to use your mind for good. For change in Greenstone.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I just graduated. I don’t know much. I’m a B student or B- student. I don’t really have plans for college, maybe community college, but nothing much more than that. I don’t really think much about stuff that’s lofty or intellectual.”
“I chose you to tell my story.”
“What the …? Your story? Who are you?”
“I am. You will see. You will share. This is just the beginning.”
With that bizarre exchange he walked away behind the store. I quickly ran in to talk to Mr. Moore and ask if he saw what just happened.
Michael D. Bobo has lectured and taught in numerous African countries, England, Mexico, and South Korea. He often writes for Burnside Writers Collective and Emergent Village Voice. His freelance work explores the intersection of faith and social issues. He lives in southern California with his beautiful wife and precocious son where he also teaches Humanities.