After leaving Israel Hellanback didn't know what to do next. At loose ends, he vaguely decided to wander westward, toward the U.S. He walked to Damascus, where he caught a ride with a British trucker through Turkey and all the way to London. In London he slept rough, and spent his days in the library at the University of London, still seeking meaning.

Dictionary to encyclopedia to reference work to biblical commentary, and back, again and again. After several eighteen-hour days he had discovered some simple concepts about the meanings of much-used words.

First he discovered that the "Word," as used in the first chapter of John (English language version), had been translated from an ancient Greek symbol, "Logos." According to the Oxford English dictionary Logos meant "the creative force of the universe; reason, logic, discourse, and judgment" -- which exist as human functions only because of "words." Cross-referencing revealed that "Logos" had become an English word with both its original Greek meaning, and the fabricated theological meaning of "Jesus." "Theology" meant "speaking of God."

During their speaking, theologians had transmuted "Logos" to "Word" to "Jesus," and engaged in earnest disputations to determine such weighty issues as the precise difference between "soul," "spirit" and "conscience," and how many angels might dance on the head of a pin.

The dictionary gave several definitions of "God," but one seemed particularly practical: God is that "to which one devotes one's time and energy." By that definition, even the "God" of an "atheist" might be identified merely by observing his actions.

Hellanback remembered that hundreds of millions of "god-fearing" Americans spend an awful lot of time and energy chasing little scraps of paper for the purpose of gratifying their flesh, the flesh of those they cherish, and maybe, as sort of an afterthought, to ease their conscience. The scraps of paper might say, "In God we trust," but "God" is to conscience as "Satan" is to flesh.

It seemed likely that when a people paying lip service to a God of Spirit serve a god of flesh in their actions, and, as sort of an afterthought, toss crumbs to conscience, a logical God would have a prophet write "These people worship Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me." Most terrifying to Hellanback was the thought of being far from God.

*** ***

After leaving the library one night Hellanback stopped at a Pentecostal tent revival. Kenneth Copeland, the visiting American preacher, said that anyone who wasn't baptized in the name of Jesus would be forever cut off from God.

Still hoping that no one would be cut off, Hellanback considered that he might be wrong. It would be unfortunate to be cut off from God for the technicality of not having been ceremoniously dunked in the water.

"What is your name?" asked the pastor of the Battersea Baptist Church, where Hellanback went to be baptized.

"Why?" asked Hellanback.

"So we can know what to put on your baptismal certificate."

Baptism, spiritual rebirth. Hellanback thought. He remembered hearing that it was customary among American Indians to name a child at birth, but, when the child grew to maturity it was free to chose a name for itself.

While in England Hellanback had spent most of his time going to organizations -- Krishnas, Scientologists, Moonies and the like -- where he spoke with members professing the organizational truth. Invariably someone would call him "doubting Thomas."

The more he considered it the less it seemed that skepticism was a bad thing. "Bill" never had any meaning for him, and "Hellanback" was kind of a tongue twister, but "Thomas" had some significance. "My name is Thomas."

On July 15, 1979, after his baptism, Thomas decided to eliminate the easiest aspect of his own hypocrisy. He tossed his United States passport, social security card, seaman's papers, and assorted driver's licenses into a lake in London. Believing all governments were the same to the extent they would be corrupted by power, Thomas began to think of himself as a "stateless person." Even if America was the best country in the world," the best of the bad still wasn't good. No longer would he rely on one of the world's corrupt governments for protection. He would trust God for his security.

Roaming through London, Thomas came upon Hyde Park and stopped to listen to a man on a box speaking to a small crowd.

"We need only believe upon the magic name of Jesus," the man contended, "and we shall work greater miracles. I testify to this truth. I myself have cast out demons in His glorious name."

"Yer a bleedin' fake." Positioning himself between the speaker and his audience a trollish-looking man began to dance about and shout obscenities.

The soapbox evangelist tried to continue his sermon but the dancing troll proved too great a distraction.

"This man is possessed of a demon," the evangelist announced to the crowd.

"Fuck you an' God too," the alleged demoniac responded.

"You said you could cast out demons," a large red-bearded man joined in. "Why not cast the demon out of him?"

"When Jesus cast out demons He sent them into a herd of swine," the evangelist explained.

"You said we shall work greater miracles," Red-beard rejoined. Gesturing to the crowd Red-beard said: "Jesus turned water into wine, why not turn this bovine crowd into swine."

"Cast out me demon, cast out me demon," the troll jeered.

People were amused. The evangelist picked up his box and left, dejected.

Judging from his posturing and obscenities the troll's only interest may have been in drawing attention to himself. But Red-beard, who identified himself as "Alex," seemed calm and deliberate, not so interested in the crowd's attention as in something more serious.

"You appear to be an intelligent person," Thomas said to Alex. "Why did you help the clown humiliate that man?"

"I'm an atheist and I don't like hypocrites," Alex said. "Okay. But I wouldn't think an intelligent person belittles another just because they don't believe the same things."

"That's not what I did. I've known that man for years, he comes to this park regularly, constantly spouting 'the name of Jesus.' Some people believe him, but I think he's a menace," Alex said.

"A menace? If he had been urging people to do violence to others I could see him as a menace, but he was just talking about Jesus," Thomas protested.

"That's not all he was doing. He was telling people that he could cast out demons. Some people believe that tripe and that chap is particularly charismatic. Three years ago he convinced a young woman that he had these magical healing powers. He tried to exorcise a demon. After his first incantations failed to work he tried other methods. Finally he began jumping up and down on her stomach, all the time calling out to Jesus. The woman died of a ruptured stomach. He was tried, convicted of manslaughter, served two years. Now he's back out here talking the same rubbish. I'd call him a menace," Alex insisted.

IN THEORY ==============>>