The Reverend Arbogath Justus preached at the Drive-in Church of
Christ in God in Heldratch, Michigan. His congregation arrived in their cars on Sunday mornings and received a blue flyer with the day's scripture, and a note to tune in to AM 1620 in order to hear the good reverend when he took the pulpit-formerly the snack bar, when it was a movie theater. I would have ridiculed this, but his flock was six hundred strong, which led me to believe that there were enough people in this world who wanted to tuck their prayer requests beneath windshield wipers to be collected, and to receive Communion from altar girls on roller skates.
I suppose it wasn't a big stretch to go from the movie screen to the small one, which is why Reverend Justus ran a television ministry site, too, on a cable station called SOS (Save Our Souls). I'd caught it a few times, while I was flipping through channels. It was fascinating to me, in the same way Shark Week was fascinating on the Discovery Channel-I was curious to learn more, but from a nice, secure distance. Justus wore eyeliner on television, and suits in a range of lollipop colors. His wife played the accordion when it came time to sing hymns. It all seemed like a parody of what faith was supposed to be-quiet and heart-settling, not grandiose and dramatic-which is why I always eventually changed the channel.
One day, when I went to visit Shay, my car was stopped in traffic leading to the prison. Shiny, scrubbed Midwestern faces worked their way from car to car. They were wearing green T-shirts with the name of
Justus's church on the back, scrawled above a rudimentary drawing of a
'57 Chevy convertible. When one girl approached, I unrolled the window.
"God bless you!" she said, and offered me a slip of yellow paper.
There was a picture of Jesus, arms outstretched and palms raised, floating in the oval of a sideview car mirror. The caption read: OBJECTS IN