“Listen to the new theologian. Tell me, old buddy, howndo you square all this magic with yourself.”n”I’m just doing a little archaeology. Can’t hurt anything.nBesides, I still get Monica,” he grinned, raising his eyebrowsnlike Groucho Marx, and tapping his imaginary cigar.n”Just a little empirical reconnaissance, huh? Trying to getna little certainty, is that it? You’d be better off doing yournscience if certainty’s what you hunger for.”n”That’s getting to be a laugh and you know it. You shouldnhave learned from your boys Poincare and Godel thatnscience rests on assumptions like everything else. Thesenassumptions are just convenient, just conventional. Ofncourse, we can’t go around telling the uninitiated that.nThey’d find out what charlatans we are.”n”So you’re ready to substitute the blood of the Lamb fornthe axioms of mathematics, is that it? You’re a queer one,nHawkins.”nThe closer Hawkins drew to the actual performance, thenmore the part of Jesus occupied his thoughts. He wasnnot used to doing serious parts. Irony, cracking wise,nimpersonation had been his strong suit. Besides, he hadn’tnhad any professional training. In college he had practicednwith a buddy for their comic routines. His timing wasnmeshed with the other’s response. He could give tips to hisnpartner and vice versa. A hand gesture, a drooping clown’snmouth of sadness, a double take. But here he was alone.nPart of Hawkins’ difficulty was getting into the head of hisncharacter. Judas had been a lot easier. He just put himself innthe place of the Mafia stoolie and went from there. But howndid you get into the head of God, or half-God, or whatevernthis mysterious combination was. Soon he was pouring overnthe conflicting accounts in the Gospels in the evening withnMonica. Like many who had grown up in the church,nMonica knew the general story, but she had a hard timenanswering the questions Hawkins was asking. For her, thenstory was not a mental problem, something to be taken apartnand looked at in pieces. The story was as much a part of hernas the sounds and smells of the church sanctuary, of Easternand Christmas. He was pursuing this like research at thenmedical school. He wanted specific details about background.nMonica borrowed several biblical commentaries,nand soon Hawkins was over his head in abstruse argumentsnabout the text.nWhat did Judas actually do? Did he identify Jesus to thenpolice or had he given the Sanhedrin inside dope aboutnJesus’ secret claim to be the Messiah? Was the Last Supper anday before Passover? Hawkins was swamped in minutiae. Itnhappened that way in his school research sometimes. Henhad to back off and try to remember where he really wantednto go.nHe focused on this group as oriental men who had beenntogether through hard times and who were meeting to breaknbread in an upstairs room. This tight circle would breaknapart within hours. Hawkins tried to think of instances ofnbetrayal in his own life. Like when his wife and he betrayedneach other but nothing was said, nothing was acknowledged.nJesus knew that Judas was going to turn stoolie on him, andnthat his good friend Simon Peter would take a walk whennthey accused him of being a friend of Jesus’. Hawkins begannpracticing his face, a face that would carry all the sadness innhis eyes.nBesides this Hawkins concentrated on the garden scene.nDuring the day, Jesus had been preaching in town, but atnthe end of each day he liked to get away from the noise andncrowds to a place on nearby Mount of Olives, a small gardenncalled Gethsemane. After supper on this last night, he didnthe same, and it caught Hawkins’ attention that he anticipatednwhat was going to happen back in town, that he was tornnbetween what he might have to do, and the hope that therenwas some other way. That he was not sure. There was realnanxiety here. Hawkins could get into that. Jesus dreadedngoing ahead, because he was not absolutely certain that thisnwas what he needed to do.nMonica had in the meantime made her version of what anPalestinian would have worn during the time of the play.nOne evening she had asked Hawkins to let her pin thencut-out material on him in order to get the right fit. As shenmoved around him tucking here, pinning there, he began tonbe aroused as she touched him. He forced himself to thinknof something outside Monica’s room, which was becomingnclose, even warm. He focused on the red hibiscus he couldnsee out Monica’s window that faced the gardens of thenPleasure Dome. With his attention on the red flower, he feltnwarmth move up from the base of his spine and travel to hisnneck, suffusing him alternately with small chills and andelicate feverishness. He needed to get back to his apartment.nSoon the week before Easter came. Hawkins was surprisednhow fully this play had taken over his time, how hennow focused on this above all things day and night. Whennthe disciples gathered for the dress rehearsal, he noticed hownhaving all the men dressed in the old way caused the wholenaction to take on more power.nAnother change had been more subtle. Since the ministernwas merely filling in for the director and had no pretensionsnabout his theatrical calling, the actors had to work mattersnout themselves. Gradually, Hawkins came to guide theirngestures and speeches. Being Jesus had something to donwith it, since he was the main player, but because Hawkinsnhad been reading all the Bible commentaries he filled in anlot of background and at the same hme lent a sense ofnfreshness, even urgency, to how they were to play theirnparts, how the play was to go.nThe big night came and the large sanctuary was filled. FornHawkins, by this time, all the murmuring people hadnbecome the citizens of Jerusalem just before Passover. Thenfront of the sanctuary had been completely darkened, andnwhen the lights came on the disciples were in their places fornthe scene of the Last Supper. There were soft “ooohs” andn”aahs” from the audience. Then the scene settled down tonthe dialogue between disciples and to questions addressed tonnnDECEMBER 1989/27n