The God Wars
Brief Story Treatment
© 2012 Gene Cartwright
God’s pre-eminent messenger was dead.
On Palm Sunday night, 2013, The Reverend Jonathan “Jon” Paul Crystal, 33, the world’s most-renowned, and most celebrated Mega-Evangelist, was found brutally murdered. In better days, he bore a striking resemblance to Brad Pitt, and took full advantage. His ghastly pale, nude body was discovered by housekeeping, laid out in a crucifix position inside a master suite of the nine-story, Dallas luxury hotel, ‘Mansion On Turtle Creek.’
A four inch long, silver cross, bearing a 24kt gold Christ figure was clutched in his outstretched, perfectly manicured right hand. Another cross, one measuring four inches by six inches, was apparently surgically carved into his shaved chest. His once shoulder-length blond hair was left in uneven patches.
Next to Crystal’s outstretched left hand was a hardback copy of The Da Vinci Code, bookmarked at Chapter 2. Except for a half-dozen tiny, crimson droplets, very little blood was evident, even around the chest carving. It appeared most, if not all The Reverend Crystal’s blood, had either been drained and removed from the scene, or flushed down the toilet. Dallas CSI certainly had their work cut out for them.
Despite the late night hour, Dallas Police, who arrived on the scene within fifteen minutes, followed closely by crime scene investigators and the coroner, could not contain news of the stunning murder for even thirty minutes.
Top officials of Reverend Crystal’s “Crystal Worldwide Ministry” appeared within ten minutes. They immediately found themselves in an angry, explosive confrontation with Dallas Homicide’s lead investigator, John J. Feare. The Ministry officials, led by Crystal’s Chief of Staff, George P. Duryea, insisted upon being present with the Reverend’s body, to “pray and meditate,” before any ‘unclean’ hands were laid upon the ‘Prophet.’ Detective Feare prevailed.
Local reporters arrived almost as quickly as Crystal Ministry officials. Within minutes, national commercial and cable networks interrupted programming with ‘Breaking News’ bulletins.
In an unprecedented move, even paid programming was pulled from several Independent networks to facilitate live coverage. Not since November 22nd, 1963 had Dallas found itself the center of such intense focus regarding a murder.
By early Monday morning the nation, and tens of millions of the Reverend Crystal’s followers worldwide, would awaken to the horrific news. It was the lead on every network’s morning show’ Secular and religious programming contained little else. The elite of TV evangelism weighed in, expressing their profound shock and sadness.
First among them was The Reverend Billy Ray Rose, of Dallas—a Jack Nicholson double if ever there was one. Rose, an evangelical giant in his descending professional years, compared to Crystal, would quickly find himself in media crosshairs. All of them made impassioned appeals for the faithful, worldwide to pray without ceasing…to contact their ‘prayer partners,’ and encourage them to do the same.
In the following, tumultuous days leading to Easter Sunday, Crystal’s followers were calling his death “a crucifixion.” They vowed that both Heaven and Hell would be moved to solve the crime. However, very powerful forces far beyond the State of Texas would fight like hell to prevent that from occurring.
Matthew 7 New King James Version
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Matthew 19:24 New King James Version
“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter heaven.”
Archer City, Texas—Six Months Earlier
Pastor Earl B. Freeny, sixty-five going on fifty, had no agenda, except truth. The affable, rural Texas preacher, former Marine, and Robert Duvall look-alike, was risking his reputation and his life. Unwilling to ignore what he passionately believed to be the triumph of “false biblical doctrine,” he and his rag-tag group of young believers reached a fateful decision. They would infiltrate the organizations of two, warring Mega-Star Evangelists: The Reverend Jonathan, “Jon” Paul Crystal, 33, and The Reverend Billy Ray Rose, 63. Their goal: expose the truth about their internal operations; the ungodly underbelly.
The two, towering evangelical leviathans were on dueling, corporate-sponsored road tours, determined to secure dominance, and each other’s destruction. Their unprecedented traveling crusades, labeled “The God Tour” by secular and religious media observers, were the last straw for Pastor Freeny and his “band of brethren.”
Freeny’s fifty-six member, five-year old congregation—‘New Birth Non-denominational Church—was all that remained of a once burgeoning membership of over three hundred and growing. More than eighty percent were now devoted followers of either the Crystal, Rose or similar movements. The appeal of these and other “prosperity ministries” proved irresistible to Freeny’s flock, as it had to tens of millions. The struggling congregation was on the verge of eviction from their facility, and would likely soon be meeting at what remained of 'The Royal Theater,' made famous in the film, The Last Picture Show, starring Cybill Shepherd and Timothy Bottoms.
Pastor Earl B. understood, but was not willing to go quietly into that ‘good night.’ His army of twenty-somethings—who loved his unassuming, homespun personality, and his bible-based teaching—needed no urging to fight back. Many, who were college students, and active 99 per-centers, appeared more put off by what they saw as greed and hypocrisy, than was Pastor Earl B., if that were possible... Read Prologue