After attending Lancaster Bible College in Pennsylvania, I registered at Robert Schuller's Pastor School, Chrystal Cathedral in Orange County, California. Pastors from all over the world were taught by a distinguished lineup of instructors. One such professor was Paul D. Borden, author of "Hit the Bull's Eye," a book that looks at principles, strategies and tactics that can bring positive change.

Bright and early one beautiful California morning, Borden introduced a very effective model for us to use to decipher a situation. He took any verse from the Bible and pointed out how it would appear on a marquee if it were a movie or play. Who is the star of the movie, the co-stars, the cast, is there a cameo appearance, what costumes are used to enhance the actor's image, does the actor's makeup give them an angelic look, what is the plot?

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Since that class, I've enjoyed picking apart Bible verses to pinpoint the story strategy. One such amazing Bible story appears in John 5, in which Jesus is the star. In this dramatic scene, we find Jesus witnessing sick people (the cast) around the pool called Bethesda near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem (the setting). We see that Jesus has focused his attention on one man (the character actor) who appears to have been there a long time (costume, lighting, makeup). We see a stern look on Jesus' face as He asks him if he wants to get well. The sick man gives Jesus a rambling excuse. Jesus, with a new look on his face, replies in a no-nonsense manner: "Get up, take your bedroll, start walking. The man was healed on the spot" (The Message, John 5:8).

When I was a kid, I loved the double feature cowboy movies on Saturday afternoons. There was a set pattern that was easy to grasp (even for a kid), and happy endings always left me in a good mood. The costumes and makeup for the troublesome people were dark suits and black hats. The peace-loving people had uplifting looks on their faces and were dressed in light colors and white hats. The story was simple: bad guys sought land, water and belongings the good guys owned, and they devised strategies to steal the good guys' property. Sometimes, the bad guys' leader was a seemingly respectable official of the town. But, not to worry, we knew the bad guys would end up in jail after their true motives were detected.

I'm surprised by the disconcerting deception still rampant in our political arena today. Why can't people see the simple cowboy movie pattern playing out in real life? Are they in denial? True, there are no black or white hats to warn us.

In past elections, we labeled a deceiver a "waffle-mouth" because they would say whatever they could to get votes, rather than voicing their true thoughts. Jesus spoke against hypocrites who only did good in public. They crucified Jesus. St. Paul wrote Ephesians after he had to "run for his life" after cutting short a speech in Ephesus that would ruin the manufacturing of idols business. Like Jesus and St. Paul, let us courageously look at the real truth during these current times of transition.

The Rev. Ellin M. Dize is executive director of nonprofit NRS Inc. and facilitates A Course in Miracles spiritual discussion group at St. Paul's UCC. She can be contacted at NRSsolutions@yahoo.com.

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