Is Your Pastor or Priest a Man of Action? Check Out Pastor Stephen Grant in, for example, WINE INTO WATER: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL, MURDERER'S ROW: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL and THE RIVER: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL by Ray Keating

Pastor Stephen Grant?

Stephen Grant is the pastor at St. Mary’s Lutheran Church on eastern Long Island. Grant is one of the more unique second-career clergy around, as he once worked for the CIA. Besides theology, his interests include archery, golf, writing, classic films, the beach, poker, baseball, and history. Grant also knows his wines, champagnes and brews. Oh yes, he generally dislikes politicians, and happens to be an expert marksman with a handgun and a rifle, while being pretty handy with a combat knife as well.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Excerpt from An Advent for Religious Liberty: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel - Chapter 14

Religious liberty is under assault in the world of politics. It’s also under attack in the latest exciting thriller from Ray Keating titled AN ADVENT FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL.

Read Chapter 14 of this page-turner, with the focus on characters, friendship, football, faith and ... interior design?

Stephen Grant, Zack Charmichael, Ron McDermott and Tom Stone decided to try something new during the NFL season. Schedules permitting, the plan was to get together, along with family and friends, for Sunday Night Football.
It was supposed to be down time to enjoy each other’s company, a few snacks, drinks, good discussion, and hopefully, an exciting game.
Ten weeks into the season, they’d only managed to gather five times, which was better than probably any of them expected, given their many activities.
It was Ron’s turn to host. All four clergy members were in attendance, along with Tom’s wife, Maggie, and Jennifer Grant.
St. Luke’s rectory was a large, white Victorian, which sat across the parking lot from the church building and across the street from St. Luke’s school. Everything in the house was big, from the staircase to the high ceilings to the expansive rooms.
Stephen’s only regret with the games being at Ron’s was the furniture. It was uncomfortable. Of course, he never mentioned this to anyone, not even Jennifer.
But when Ron’s guests entered the living room in the back of the house, each looked stunned by the transformation.
The dull, cream-colored walls had been transformed by a light blue on two walls and yellow on the other two, and a 60-inch flat-screen television hung on the far wall above an entertainment center. A darker blue, deep, plush sectional couch, with two matching chairs, replaced the hard armchairs and sofa.
Zack was the first to enter, and proclaimed, “Ron, sweet.”
Stephen followed and his mouth fell open. “Ron, this is great! When did you develop taste?”
“I’d been planning it for a while, and had it done this past week.” The normally reserved Ron McDermott seemed a bit giddy. “I don’t care what these three guys think. I want to know if it meets the approval of Jennifer and Maggie?”
Maggie Stone had a way of making people generally feel good. Her smile lit up an already bright face, with blue eyes framed by shoulder-length strawberry-blond hair. She declared, “Ron, I have to say, knowing you, this is a bold, unexpected step. It works very well. I love it.”
Ron’s smile grew, as he turned to Jennifer. “It’s wonderful, Ron. The wall colors really enliven everything.”
As Tom sank into the new couch, he sarcastically added, “Yes, Ron, I love the way the yellow pops. You’ve made quite a statement with your newfound decorating skills. Perhaps we should watch HGTV rather than the game tonight.”
Maggie gave him a slap on the back of the head before she sat down next to him.
Stephen chimed in, “Ron, perhaps another time on the HGTV thing. We’re not missing Bengals-Seahawks tonight.”
“Darn straight,” added Zack, who had claimed one of the new reclining chairs for his thin, five-foot-seven-inch body.
“Oh yes, we have the only two people in the state of New York who care about this game tonight,” said Ron. “It’s a battle of the St. Mary’s pastors. Have you guys made a wager?”
Stephen grew up just outside Cincinnati, and Zack came from Seattle.
Stephen replied, “Absolutely.”
Tom asked, “Care to share?”
Zack answered, “Loser covers the other guy’s Confirmation classes for the month of January.” He smiled, pushing his rectangular, brown-rimmed glasses up on his nose just a bit.
Ron whistled. “I like that. Dumping Confirmation on a football bet.”
Stephen said, “Thanks for making it sound so unsavory.”
Ron laughed. “No problem.”
Tom added, “Zack seems to have the full team spirit with the Seahawks jersey. Why aren’t you in Bengal regalia, Stephen?”
Jennifer cut in, “He’s still moping about the Reds being knocked out of the playoffs early. The sulking has extended to football as well.” Stephen was wearing a black polo shirt and jeans.
Ron noted, “Oh, right. How long is this going to go on, Stephen?”
“Until spring training, I would imagine,” Stephen answered.
The food options were a varied presentation of cookies, nachos, pretzels, chips, dip, soda, coffee, beer and wine. Given it was a Sunday night in the clergy world, by halftime, the energy level in the room had fallen considerably, except for Zack, whose Seahawks had stretched out a two touchdown lead.
On the way back from the refrigerator, as he handed cold Heinekens to Zack and Ron, Tom moved the conversation off football. He asked Ron, “Hey, have you heard anything official from your bosses on the response to the Pritchett hate group thing?”
“Nothing official. Just rumors.”
Stephen said, “Actually, I got a call early this evening from Dr. Matthews. He got the scoop from Cardinal Capriano on what will be announced tomorrow morning.”
Ron smirked. “Why am I not surprised that you have better contacts with the Catholic Church hierarchy on this issue than my own?”
Both Ron and Tom were aware, but knew little of Stephen’s previous career with the CIA. However, they knew just enough to understand that he wasn’t a pure CIA desk jockey. They also had seen the man in action on occasion in recent years, including in the case when Stephen worked to protect Pope Augustine. That being the reality, when it came to Pastor Stephen Grant, they were rarely surprised by things that would otherwise be out of the ordinary for any other clergy member.
Stephen said, “Cone of silence?”
Jennifer and Maggie rolled their eyes. Ron nodded. And Tom said, “Of course.”
But Zack queried, “Cone of silence?”
Tom asked, “You don’t know what the cone of silence is?”
Zack shook his head. “No.”
Stephen followed up, “You know, Get Smart.”
Zack replied, “Oh, I never saw the movie.”
Tom feigned outrage. “Movie? Please, no. We’re talking the classic 1960s sitcom here, with Don Adams.”
Zack shrugged his shoulders.
Tom continued, “Okay, Pastor Charmichael. There are certain pop culture references you need to be aware of if you’re going to survive with this group. Your mission after the holidays, especially since you apparently will have a bit of free time due to Stephen picking up your Confirmation classes, is to watch a nice selection of Get Smart, including episodes with the cone of silence. Do you accept this assignment?”
Zack chuckled. “Yes, Tom, I do.”
Tom smiled. “Good. Now, Stephen, proceed under the secrecy of the cone of silence.”
Stephen gave the rundown that Matthews had given him on “An Advent for Religious Liberty,” focusing mainly on the prayer services led by different churches each night throughout Advent near the tree at Rockefeller Center.
Ron sat back in his chair. “Cardinal Capriano is the type of leader who can pull this off. He has this infectious good nature about him. He seems to get along with everyone, even the media. At the same time, he is clear as to what the church teaches. He’s the right man at this critical juncture.”
Tom seemed to be thinking out loud. “Right after the announcement in the morning, I’m going to contact my bishop, and make sure that we’re in on this.” Tom’s parish, St. Bart’s, left the U.S. Episcopal Church due its journey away from traditional Christianity, and eventually joined the Anglican Church in North America.
Stephen responded, “Good. We’re certainly onboard. It’s also going to be interesting to see if any lefty churches get involved, given that Pritchett’s been unfriendly to religion, especially Christianity, across the board, no differentiating between liberal or conservative, when it comes to pushing them out of the public arena.”
Zack commented, “Hey, in this case, the more, the better.”
Ron added, “Absolutely.”
The relative quiet of their discussion was broken by Stephen bolting upright on the couch, disturbing Jennifer’s head that had been resting on his shoulder. “Go, yes, go!”
Everyone in the room turned to look at the television screen that had captured Stephen’s attention. The Bengals kick returner found a hole, faked around two members of the Seahawks special teams, and now was sprinting by Seattle’s helpless kicker to return the second half kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown.
Stephen declared, “Ha! Maybe, you won’t have that extra time on your hands, Zack, to get caught up on Agent 13.”
Zack calmly advised, “Don’t get too excited, Stephen. You’re still behind.”
Zack’s calm was rewarded, as that was the last time the Bengals would score, while the Seahawks added another 17 points.

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