Science vs. Religion... Darwinism vs. Creationism... Chaos Theory vs. Intelligent Design. The debate is endless and often extreme. But what if there were another option?
Evelyn Chadwick is a brilliant, complex woman, just 28 years-old. Her father was a renowned Evangelist. In rebellion, she became a quantum physicist. Then she rebelled against that, too. Now, in trying to find herself, she contructs an entirely new way of thinking - and with all the spin of the modern media machine, she becomes a global icon.
“Good morning friends and welcome to another edition of ‘Sunday with Merle Chadwick,’ brought to you by this station and our fine sponsors. Hi, I'm Merle Chadwick and for the next sixty minutes I'll be here with some special guests and our live studio congregation to help you restore, redeem and rejoice. So let’s get the show on the road with Bernie Taff, the Merle Chadwick choir and ‘I’m gonna let it shine!’”
Adam Olmstead is late. He should already be there at the Ministry but has to make do with listening to the broadcast on his car radio.
Fatigued, he pulls over to squint at the spidery lines on the roadmap, then wipes the steamedup windshield so he can peer out yet again. But the autumn rain mist is even heavier now than it was earlier and there’s little to be seen beyond the immediate vicinity. Is he near the exit? Has he gone past it? There’s no reference to the Ministry on the map and he’s really got no idea where he is.
For an experienced world traveler, his poor sense of direction has become something of a joke over the years, yet even he has to admit that getting lost on a toll thruway in upstate New York takes some doing.
The Merle Chadwick choir ends with a flourish and veteran bandleader, Bernie Taff, baton in hand, beams modestly at the appreciative studio audience seated before him on blond wood pews. Adding to the churchlike effect is a radiant golden light from filtered arc lamps, carefully positioned behind what appear to be solid stone walls with stainedglass windows but which are, in fact, made of polyurethane.
Joining in with the applause is the aging figure of the Reverend Merle Chadwick, dressed today in a gray cashmere threepiece over a starched white shirt and red tie. But while his presentation is impeccably manicured, his populist charisma never fails to make the staging look easy as he makes his way to the pulpit, an imposing structure decorated with the show’s longestablished logo: a stylized cross inlaid with his own scripted monogram. Taking his time, he opens the leatherbound Bible in front of him to a bookmarked page. The silence of the dead air, interrupted only by a stray cough, is calculated to allow for a complete mood change and his broad smile has now been replaced by an expression of earnest sincerity. It’s time for prayer.
“Today’s passage from the Good Book,” he says solemnly, “comes from the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter five, verse one… ‘And when he saw the multitudes, he went up on the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he began to teach them, saying that blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth…’”
Here he comes to a halt, not because he’s changing the mood this time but because his eyes are closed, his mouth is open and he’s trying with short, gasping breaths to take in more air. He appears to sway and instinctively he clutches at the lipped sides of the lectern in front of him, causing his wedding band to flash briefly in the light. He still wears it even though it’s been fourteen years since his wife passed away.