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Trials and Tribulations

          Storyteller

In the weeks that follow, remarkable changes are reported among the 400 families of Medjugorje. Each day they open their homes to pilgrims who flock to the village from all over the world. Each evening they gather on the hill to pray while the visionaries commune with the Blessed Mother. Medjugorje seems transformed, a living experiment in Faith and Charity. Naturally, the authorities are alarmed…

          Police

We’re proud to be the guardians of Yugoslav security,
We battle crimes against the state with great aplomb and surety.
But though we have procedures aimed at ev’ry sort of dissident
There’s nothing in the manual on how to handle this event!

We infiltrate and operate with maximum acuity,
We always get our man (unless we get a small gratuity).
And this is our analysis, though premature and cursory:
It seems we’ve been assigned to be the keepers of a nursery!

And oh, for the good old glory days
Of Russian counter-plays
And Yankee plots that we could countermand.
Oh, for a nice assassination,
Perhaps a small invasion
By an enemy that we can understand.

We meet the visionaries, our intention to interrogate
To get them to recant or else to prove that they prevaricate.
But when we play the bully and we say we’ll put each one away,
The children won’t cooperate – they cry and then they run away!

We make a map and outline ev’ry possible trajectory,
We chase the children through the fields and chase ‘em through the rectory.
We call for reinforcements and we tighten the perimeter
And still the children get away – it’s really very sinister!

And oh, for a murderer to shake
Or a gang of thieves to break
With shouts and threats and blows about the head.
Oh, we are baffled by this voodoo;
So there’s only one thing to do.
This is women’s work! We’ll send them in our stead…

          Social Workers

Memorandum to Directors of the Federal Committee
Overseeing Social Workers in Western Herz’govina:

Greetings, Comrades!

We went to Medjugorje
Assuming, a priori, a
Disturbing mass euphoria
Could be cured with tact and skill.

We found our adversaries there,
The so-called friends of Mary’s there.
We took the visionaries where
They could not climb the hill.

See Appendix A for a log of destinations where we went that day.
See Appendix B for receipts of all expenses listed in Appendix C.

With choc’late, then we baited them!
With games we captivated them
As we re-educated them,
All according to our plan.

We quoted Marx and quoted Mao
So cleverly we noted how
We’d surely be promoted now!
And then their prayers began…

          Visionaries

Zdravo Marijo, milosti puna,
Gospodin s tobom…

          Social Workers and Chorus

Suddenly a ball of light
Brighter than a thousand suns
Became a blinding wall of light
Surrounding us, astounding us
As the ground beneath us swayed!

          Social Workers

We thought it was the End of the World!

Who knew that civil service work
Could ever be such nervous work?
From now on don’t reserve us work—
    To wit: that’s it, we quit!
    Signed: Yours very truly,
    Bewildered and Afraid.

          Chorus

We are modern men and women
How we fear what we can’t figure out!
When we are sorely vexed, for explanations
We put our faith in science and we shout:
Is there a doctor in the house?

          Doctor

I am a well-renowned M.D.
I only trust what I can see
I stare and I ogle and I poke and prod
And I’ve seen a lot, but I’ve never seen a god.

I’m always careful and correct.
With ev’ry body I dissect
I put all the pieces in a great, big bowl
And I count ‘em twice, but I never find the soul.

          Chorus

On these mystics, did you run an EKG?

          Doctor

I could find no sign of abnormality.

          Chorus

Are they lying? Did they take a polygraph?

          Doctor

Yes, of course, but all my questions made them laugh.

          Chorus

Are they high then? Did you check for drink or dope?

          Doctor

Nothing showed up underneath my microscope. Nothing!
I have an awe-inspiring brain.
When there’s a thing I can’t explain
I hem and I cavil and I look askance
Then I call the press and I do a little dance.

          Chorus

Now here’s the doctor’s dance!

          Doctor

These children pose a problem of theology
Ill-suited to the test of scientific methodology.
I can’t commit, then, to commit them or acquit them.
My results are inconclusive and on that much we can all agree.

          Chorus

His results are inconclusive, so what are we to think?

          Police

When we have failed in all attempts at treachery and trickery
Then we accept defeat and simply claim it was a victory.
And to that end our figures show a fortunate anomaly:
The pilgrims bring in dollars that are boosting the economy!

          Chorus

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
What matters is the miracle is good for the economy!

And still the congregation grows
And grows and grows and grows!
That’s what happened on the hill!