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Sunday, Jan. 20, Grover Heights — The parishioners of St. John’s faced mass impoundment of their cars Sunday morning for parking them after the village snowplow had cleared the surrounding streets, but before the snow-clearing parking ban had officially expired. Feisty church lady, Cheryl Knapp, began a heated argument with Marl Burlon, the traffic cop on duty, once she realized his intention was to ticket, then tow, parishioners’ cars for “obstructing a snowplow” that had already been through.
Knapp cited 1 Corinthians 10:23, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say — but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ — but not everything is constructive,” conceding that the village was within its rights to tow the alleged offending cars. But, she added, “Where is the benefit in ticketing cars for obstructing a plow they are not, in fact, obstructing, since the plow has already cleared the streets where St. John’s parishioners park?” Burlon countered that the village of Grover Heights benefits from ticket revenue, and that it’s not constructive for supposedly law-abiding citizens like churchgoers to be seen flouting even the letter of the law. “When a scoffer is punished, the simple become wise,” he quoted, adding, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s — including lawfully-impounded cars.”
Knapp replied that, by Romans 13:3, rulers should hold no terror for those who do right, only for wrongdoers. Surely, attending church on Sunday morning should not count as wrongdoing, so why was village parking enforcement so hellbent on terrorizing churchgoers? “‘Take up your cross and follow me,'” Burlon shot back, demanding, “Are modern Christians really so weak as to consider parking inconvenience too great a cross to bear?”
Eventually, the local sheriff, Vernon Jones, was called to the scene. By the time he arrived, siren blazing, Knapp and Burlon were deeply embroiled in an argument over whether parishioners’ cars ought to count as the modern incarnation of the “multitude of camels” in Isaiah 60:6, camels which “bring good news, the praises of the LORD”, and whether the streets of Grover Heights were blessed or cursed to be covered by this multitude when they park. Jones conceded that he found it difficult, relying on reason alone, to establish who had the better argument, Knapp or Burlon. “But,” Jones added, “Isaiah 60:6 is my life verse, and I take my arrival here as a sign from the Lord that these camels — er, cars — are blessing our streets with their presence, and since the plow has already been through, they can stay.”