We wandered into The Holy Land Quickee's, thinking we'd have maybe some chili fries or maybe a Mississippi Mud, or maybe both.
DinkyDau Billy was in his favorite spot, tapping away on his laptop. He was back to wearing his AFDB, this one made of heavy-duty Reynolds foil.
"Hey Billy, what's up?" Leece cheerfully asked our stalwart pal.
"Hey! Hey! I gots scripcherul confirmation that aliens is in fack behind all them livestock mutilations," he revealed.
"Really?" Tookie was greatly interested.
Leece looked at me and raised her eyebrow in not-so-desultory fashion. I took the cue.
"Hmmmm ... would you mind explaining, Billy?" I asked.
"Sure. Sure. Here's th' deal," he replied, "Yestiddy I snuck inta one a them churches in town, to kinda eavesdrop on the sermon."
"Go on, Billy," Leece encouraged him.
"Well. Well. On the perjekter screen behind the preacher they had some scripcherul references that tied inta the sermon," he told us.
"Well indeed, Unca Billy," Tookie noted, "will you share the rest with us?"
"Yeah. Yeah. So it read '5Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.'," he explained, "so it was pretty clear to me that there's these 5 aliens doin' sheepherder and other livestock husbandry work. God tole me so, cuz it's right there in the 1984 version of the NIV, which lots a churches use."
"Yes, in fact, our church uses the NIV," Leece agreed.
"So I figger it's 'The Arcturus Five' who's doin' all the mutiliations, but they's not really mutilations. It's just 5 poorly trained aliens tryin' ta discharge they's heavenly assigned duties in animal husbandry. They's tryin' to do neuters and artificial insominations and suchlike, and they ain't familiar with the biology ... being aliens an' all ..." ...
"Yeah, I get it, Unca Billy," Tookie interrupted, earning a scowl of disapproval from both Billy and Leece. I didn't much care; I was ordering some chili fries. Besides, the story 'resonated' with me.
"... so's I was sayin'," Billy went on, in a bit of a huff, "they ain't familiar with the biology, so they kinda botch it a little."
"But Billy, other bibles use 'strangers' or 'foreigners', not 'aliens'," Tookie objected, "and Cita's heathen bible, the New Revised Standard version, uses 'strangers'."
"Yeah, but that NRSV is like you say, a heathen bible. Them fundamentalists an' literalists say so."
"The NRSV is used by serious biblical scholars," Leece objected, also somewhat huffily, I thought.
"You mean like them perfessers in the Naz'rene universities?" asked Billy.
"They's all heretical New Agers, and prolly read all that crazy stuff like Rob Bell and T.J. Oord and Thomas Aquinas. Ask them Concerned Nazarenes. They'll straighten ya out."
"So how do you explain the difference? 'Aliens' in one bible, and 'strangers' in another?" Leece asked.
"Easy. 'Strangers in a strange land.' That's our Arcturus Five. How biblical can you get?" Billy sat back, somewhat smugly, and slurped his diet Dr. Pepper.
"Really. And tell me, just where do you get that 'Arcturus' thing?" Leece asked, even more huffily.
"Oh, c'mon. It's right there in the KJV: '... Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.' See? It all ties t'gether."
"Unca Billy! You can't just mix and match versions of the bible!" This from TootSweet, who was trying not to giggle.
"Sure I can. Literalists do it all the time, 'speshully when they's tryin' to be really selective literalists. It's the easiest way to bludgeon people with the bible," Billy objected.
"You mean like beating an Al Qaeda suspect over the head with a New York phone book?" Toots asked, seeking clarification.
"Eggzackly. Well, maybe, you know, not quite literally."
Billy put forth a convincing argument.
We sat there, absently snuffling chili fries, while contemplating the whichness of what and the thisness of that.
"I'm thinkin' a applying for at least adjunct instructor status at NNU," Billy shared.
We ignored him.
"I'd hafta git me some a them Rob Bell glasses, though ... " Billy mused.
We continued to ignore him.