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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bartimaeus and the Outreach Committee

Like most other things in this world, when committees are good, they're really, really good. And, when they're bad - well, you know how it goes. In light of that reality, I thought you all might enjoy this little piece (if you haven't seen it before). It's slightly adapted from the original by Andee Zetterbaum, which someone posted on the PresbyNet computer network some years back...

So, herewith, the missing and corrected verses of Mark's gospel. Or, as it should more properly be known, the story of Bartimaeus and the Outreach Committee.

46. They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside.
46a. "There's no need to pay attention to him," advised several of his disciples. "We already support the Center for the Preservation of Blind Beggars, so we're doing our share for the community."
46b. "If you have to say anything to him, just direct him to the CPBB--they're the agency that can best deal with his problem," said another.
47. When Bartimaeus heard that it was of Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
48. Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
48a. Jesus turned to his disciples. "That man needs me. I want to pause for a moment in our travels to help him."
48b. "Sounds like exactly the kind of project that should fall under our Outreach Committee," said a senior member of Jesus' band. "Go talk to them, and they'll help you."
48c. "Outreach Committee?" said one member. "We're in the middle of a journey to Jerusalem, and that's got to take precedence. Maybe when the journey is done, we can think about doing something for the blind man."
48d. Other committee members pointed out, "We have only limited resources, so we need you to focus on healing only the members of your own band. Maybe someday when we're richer and have several healers, we can look at helping outsiders."
48e. Finally the committee chair suggested, "Why don't you put your proposal in writing so we can take it up at our next meeting?"
48f. Jesus grabbed for a piece of bark, and with a stick, scribbled on it (in words of one syllable), "I want to stop and help that man." He handed it to the committee chair.
48g. Three weeks later, the committee chair found him and said, "We REALLY liked your ideas, but because we're all too busy to help with the project right now, we'd like you to come to our next meeting in a month, to talk with us about it. Then the liaison can present it to the Session the following week. And, oh, by the way, would you like to serve on the Outreach Committee?"

Scholars' notes:
Jesus, having accepted that invitation, was swallowed up in committee work, and disappeared from sight forthwith. The entire remaining episodes of the Gospels are mere fantasy and writers' inventions.

Bartimaeus was hired by the Outreach Committee chair as its public spokesperson, and later became a consultant in organizational communications, pioneering the science of obfuscation and procrastination. Unfortunately, his supremely important role in history was lost due to a scribal error in the late 2nd century. However, echoes of his story surface from time to time in folk wisdom, where his name has been transformed from Bartimaeus into Murphy (as in Murphy's Law).

No other records of the committee chair or its members survive, and the character "God," who is mentioned earlier in the annals of Jesus and Bartimaeus, is still trying to figure out how to get Session approval and support for various projects. A good course in memo writing is recommended to enhance God's career development.

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