Al had a secret and it was killing him. He was certain he'd be ostracized if his habit ever came to light. It was like living in a closet, because he could not openly admit the things he'd been doing. He'd heard the word "thief" used to describe others with the same habit.
It wasn't as if he'd ever taken very much, or very many things at any one time, and the items he'd latched onto simply put him on a par with what most others had in the way of this world's goods. By a stroke of luck Al learned about a small group of fellows who'd had much the same problem. They, too, felt they'd been hiding their true selves lest folks would turn against them. But one member of their group, with more daring than the rest, convinced them it was time to come out of the closet and declare to everyone that they were different and proud of it.
A patriotic parade had been planned, and they decided to be in that parade. Walking with a large banner that read "Kleptos United," each member carried and waved at the crowd one or more of the articles they had acquired. Amidst "boos" from spectators, they proudly marched on. Later someone suggested Kleptos was not such a good name, so they decided on a new term and called themselves "Execs," which made them even less popular with most people in executive positions, who beleived they had labored hard to acquire the goods which this new minority had simply requisitioned without benefit of contract or sales slip.
Within a few years the execs became involved in many do-gooder organizations. They were helping the homeless, calling for gun control, marching for health foundations, espousing racial harmony, urging peace initiatives, and advocating world governmet. Some of these civic organizations, in turn, began asking that special "rights" be extended to execs. And, despite their disreputable proclivities, they were gaining seats on various church councils, and beginning to have influence in political life.
It made headlines and plenty of magazine coverage when a study was released suggesting that a gene anomaly had been discovered which made a carrier much more prone to acquisitiveness and less bothered by sanctions than the average human being.
One of the biggest flaps came when a government employee was fired for what the prosecutor called "sticky fingers." Amazingly, a jury found him innocent of the charges because the twelve panelists concluded the man could not help what he had done and could not be held accountable. Besides, he had been a loyal American, had a great personality, always kept a neat desk, and was never late for an appointment. Major media editorials pointed out that it was no longer politically correct to call anyone a "cheat."
Almost every denomination has been struggling with whether or not "execs" should be ordained and placed in ministerial positions. It started as a trickle, but now that thousands regard themselves as belonging to the exec community, the drum beat is at fever pitch. The question is not about ministering to these indiviiduals (the church is called to love and seek redemption for everyone, regardless of their peculiarities). Nor is it a question of giving authority status after they have been freed of old habits and become converts, but whether, in their present condition, they are suitable role models for leadership. History is replete with the glorious record of lost souls who have been saved, and were then able to lead segments of the human family to new horizons of righteousness and peace. For such conversions hope springs eternal, the door is never closed.
by Charles F. Cooley
United Methodist Pastor, Retired
The above is from a collection of writings in a booklet authored by Pastor Cooley. The booklet is titled, Sex and Non-sex, and is available for $3.00 plus .75 for mailing cost. Pastor Cooley's address is: 4922 Honeysuckle Blvd., Columbus, OH 43230.