Josprel's Articles of Faith - The Agnostic Violinist

Writer Author  Josprel (Joseph Perrello)
Christian Column : Other  - Fiction  No

Christian Author Writer Chapter One

Broszi Lombardino and Paul Perrello grew up like brothers. Their Italian immigrant parents met at Ellis Island and settled almost next door to each other. Shortly thereafter, their sons were born, only two days apart. Like twins, each had no personal history unrelated to the other.

Both boys studied music and developed into superb musicians. Broszi became a master drummer who referred to himself as a "percussionist."
Paul was a virtuoso of the violin. He bragged that no one could "percuss like Broz." Brosz1, on the other hand, boasted that the Paul "invented the strings."

Broszi continuously prodded Paul to form his own orchestra.

"I don't have the patience to lead one, Paul, but you do. I'll be your percussionist, and I'll help any other way I can."

Finally, The Paul Perrello Orchestra was organized. Orchestras usually employed "wind" leads, but Paul's violin led this group. The orchestra's sound instantly captivated ethnic Italians, expanding to general audiences until it was in demand throughout several states, and much of nearby Southern Canada.

Though he never used the term, the Violinist was an agnostic. He claimed no one could know that a God existed. He unsuccessfully attempted to
prevent his wife, Sara, from attending church. Only through her
perseverance was Joey, their infant son, christened.

Six-foot-three Broszi did attend church. An irrepressible jokester, he often kidded Paul about his anti-religious views. It was a liberty Paul
accorded only to him. That is, until an altercation about orchestra
affairs arose.

“You stubborn heathen!” the Percussionist shouted, “I hope you burn in hell!”

The slim, five-foot-seven, normally mild-mannered violinist erupted!

"You impious hypocrite; your lucky we're friends! You’re worst than a heathen! You act holy in church, but I see what you do on the outside.
If Grace knew what you do when we’re out of town, you wouldn’t have a family left!

"If there’s a God, He wouldn’t let you make a fool out of Him, the way you do. If one does exist, you’d be in your grave right now; He would
have struck you dead long ago! I'll tell you this, you big fake; if I
was sure that there’ s a God, I would serve Him the right way, not like you pretend to do."

Turning to leave, Paul added, "And don't you mention religion to me again! Not ever!! Is that clear!?" Then he stalked away!

Taken aback, Broszi feared he had destroyed their friendship. He and Paul had argued before, but never like this! They were just brotherly spats. And Paul had never reacted this way – eyes blazing, fists clenched, voice ominous.

Broszi knew Paul's charges were true. Out of town with the orchestra, he partied excessively, gambled, and was not above easy flirtations, things his wife, Grace, didn't know.

A good family man, Paul did none of these. Moreover, he always was ready to help others. It was a matter of honor for him never to renege on his word. His friends claimed that Paul's word was "like money in the bank."

Though Broszi apologized almost immediately, for weeks they conversed only when absolutely necessary. Eventually, the gulf closed. The old camaraderie resurfaced and their mutual concern for each another was restored.

It was that concern over the percussionist's two inexplicable absences from rehearsals that now brought Paul to Broszi's door.
***** *****
Chapter Two

Home alone, the Brozit was excited to see his friend. "Paul! Come in!
Come in!
I've been expecting you!"

Surrendering his hat and coat, the violinist noticed that Broszi appeared well. "You've been expecting me?"

"Yes!! Yes!! I've been praying for God to send you, so you could hear what happened to me!"

Paul groaned in disgust, "Oh no! I'm here because I’m worried about you, and you make jokes.
Get my things; I'm leaving. Be at rehearsal tomorrow. WITHOUT THE JOKES!"

Broszi sought to placate Paul's. "Please Paul, I beg you; don't leave.
It's no joke. I have been praying. Let me tell you what happened."

Gradually, Paul's indignation melded with curiosity. He had never heard Broz begged before. He seemed different, somehow. Accepting the proffered chair, he responded apprehensively, "Okay, Broz, but, this better be good."

Over coffee, Broszi began, “I’m born again, Paul. I’m going to a church that teaches right from the Bible and the church services are all in the Italian language.”

He told of the things he had learned at the church. Then he exclaimed, "Paul, I never knew these things were in the Bible! I'M SAVED!

Unfamiliar with the terms "born again," and "saved," Paul grunted incredulously.

“What in the world are you talking about? You’ve never even held a Bible! You sure never read one! Broz, I don’t know what in the world you’re talking about. Either you’re drunk or this is another one of your nutty jokes. And, believe me, when I say “nutty,” I mean like a FRUITCAKE!”

"Wait, Paul. Just hear me out. I know you’d love the music in this church. It has a big orchestra – all the winds and strings, two pianos, an organ, accordions."

Then, in a tone bordering on awe, he added, "And percussions, Paul.
This church has percussions in the orchestra! Can you believe it?"

A look of sheer scorn contorted Paul’s features. “Now I know you’re pulling another one of your practical jokes. Do you really expect me to swallow your line? Churches never use drums.”

Broz was about to respond, but Paul lifted a hand for silence.

"Enough, Broz! So this IS another one of your sick religious jokes.
You know what I told you about this garbage."

"But it's all true, Paul. The meetings are so happy. The people sing and they even clap to the music. And the prayers just beautiful! You should hear the people pray. They talk to God like He's standing right front of them."

The earnestness on Broszi's face baffled Paul. It shouldn't be there.
This was a joke.

Reaching across the table, Broszi gripped Paul's wrist, his voice reverent, "Paul, I know you won't believe this either, but the preacher asks people to get saved. He prayed with Grace and me. We’re saved!
You and Sara should get saved, too! Grace and I have been praying for you both to get saved.”

This was more than Paul could take. Now Broszi was "saved"!

“So now you’re saved. How are you saved - in a trunk - a bank maybe?
How about Fort Knox? Now there’s a good place to be saved. I think
all the banging on your drums finally drove you batty. What you really need to be saved from is your nuttiness. That’s what I think.”
***** *****
Chapter Three

Rising to his feet, Paul asked for his things. Slipping into them, in a voice filled with concern, he said, "Broz, at first I thought you were
kidding. Now I'm not sure. I don't know what you’re talking about, and
neither do you. For once, I really hope this is one of your dumb jokes.

“But, if you really believe this malarkey you just fed me, then you’re bonkers. You really need to see a shrink! I’m serious about this. If you make an appointment with one, I’ll even go with you. Anyway, I’m leaving before you drive me as wacky as you are.”

Paul aimed for the door. Instantly, Broszi blocked his path and gripped the knob.

"One more thing, Paul, I'm leaving the orchestra."

Paul was stunned! Broszi never threatened this before. At a loss for
words, Paul stammered,
"B... B... But, w... w... why? We've disagreed before. The orchestra’
s as much yours as mine. Even though you’re nuts, no one can "percuss"
like you. Just don't talk to me about religion. I’ve told you that before. That's not too much to ask, is it? Be at rehearsal tomorrow.
Just leave all your religious talk home."

"No, Paul, I won't be there. Really. I've given up that kind of life!
You know what a hypocrite
I’ve been. You’ve told me often enough.”

"Aw, come on, Broz; those were just words."

"But you were right. Anyway, I'm quitting because my talent belongs to God, now."

Paul felt bile surging. "Look, just let me leave!”

"Will you visit the church?"

"I said, let me leave, Broz!"

"You can't leave until you promise to go to church with me."

Now Paul was certain Broszi's mind was gone. "OPEN THIS DOOR, BROZ!"

“Not unless you give me your word you’ll to church with me.”

Paul didn't know what to do. He could never really strike Broz; they’d been friends too long. Anyway, his friend was a lot bigger than he was. He tried prying Broszi's hand from the knob. Broz’s grip was too strong.


"Not without your promise that the next time we meet, you'll go with me."

Seeing no other alternative, the flabbergasted violinist finally surrendered.



And the door swung open.

Then, with brutal detachment, Paul spoke the words neither of them ever thought possible.
Face hardened into a scowl, he spaced them deliberately, punctuating each word with a finger jabbed in Broszi’s chest.

"From …now …on … our …friendship …is …ended. We …are … no …longer … brothers.”

And feeling as though his heart was torn from him, the violinist stepped through the door.
***** *****
Chapter Four
When he arrived home, Paul paced the floor absorbed in thought. Sara surmised something had happened, but asked no questions, waiting for him to speak.

Finally, Paul told her everything.

"If he hadn't quit I could have overlooked everything else. Friends always have their differences. We always got over them before. Sure he teased me; but I teased him, too. What really makes me mad is his quitting.

"Now he's religion crazy. He's so holy he can't play in the orchestra anymore. 'I've given up the kind of life I use to lead,' he told me.
Like he's joining a monastery. Like all of a sudden, his God’s going
to strike him dead for playing in the orchestra. Can you imagine that?"

Then, waggling a forefingers at his wife, he declared: "Believe me, honey, if his God wanted to strike Broz dead, He has more reasons than I can count. He doesn't need the orchestra as a reason.”

Lowering his hand, he continued, "You know, if he had stayed, he would have pestered me to visit that church with him, and nincompoop that I am, I’d probably have gone, - just to make the nut happy."

Sara looked up from her ironing with a scowl. She was devoted to her church. It shocked her that Broszi and his family had "changed religion." According to her view, what their former friends had done was unforgivable.

"I’M GLAD HE QUIT! Don't you ever go to THAT church, even if you do see him, again."

"Don't worry. I told him it has to be an accidental meeting. In a city this size that’ll never happen."
***** *****
Chapter Five
The new drummer was working out fine. The orchestra was doing better than ever. Yet, for Paul things weren't the same. A malignant tumor had developed on Sara's neck. The doctors wanted to operate, but refused to offer assurances.

As Paul had assured Sara, the chance of an accidental meeting with Broszi in a city of some two million people was remote. He hadn't seen the drummer for several months. Though still angry with Broszi, it felt strange not to have him as his confidant. He knew the big man and his wife would have been as concerned for Sara as he was. Paul missed them.

Like now for instance; before the rift, he would have asked Broszi to drive downtown with him to help purchase orchestra equipment. They would have consulted together on the best quality. And possibly, they would have picked up Sara and Grace for dinner.

Instead, Paul went alone.
***** *****
Chapter Six

After making arrangements for the delivery of his purchases, Paul entered the parking lot. He noticed a new bookstore across the street.
An avid reader, he entered the well-stocked shop. Several other persons also were there, but Paul paid them no mind. At the rear, he noticed shelves and bins filled with hundreds of old books. Old books were his hobby.

He had browsed for a while when someone brushed against him. Making an apology, without looking up, he moved to clear the passage.

"Hello, Paul!"

Paul tensed, but kept his eyes glued to the book. That voice was unmistakable!

"Hello Paul; How have you been?”

This time Paul turned. Broszi’s was extended for a handshake, but the Violinist did not reciprocate. Remaining silent, he noticed Broszi looked well. The season was warm; like Paul, he wore slacks and a sport shirt.

Broszi withdrew his hand.

“Grace and I heard about Sara. Our whole church is praying for her to get well.”

Paul's continued silence created an atmosphere of awkwardness.

“There he goes, talking about religion again,” he silently mused.

At last he spoke. With cutting sarcasm he asked, "Did your God tell you I was here, or did you sniff me out on your own?"

"This meeting’s completely accidental, Paul. You know I’d never lie to you."

Paul knew that was true. Broszi had a lot of faults, but lying wasn’t one of them - if deceiving his wife wasn’t factored into the equation.
At any rate, Sara was the only one who knew he had gone out. More to the point, he had not known about the new bookstore, so how could Broszi know he’d be there?

"I suppose now you expect me to visit that church of yours," he stated bitterly.

"No, Paul. What I did was wrong - totally out of line. It's a wonder you didn't hit me. I had no right forcing you to make that promise. I release you from it."

"Oh! You were wrong? And, you release me, yet? Now aren't you the generous one?"

Ignoring the orchestra leader’s dripping sarcasm, the drummer responded, "Yes, I was wrong. I have no excuse, Paul, except maybe my ignorance.
Please forgive me."

Paul went slack jawed. To his astonishment, Broszi’s eyes were brimming with tears. In all the years they had chummed together, the only time Paul had ever seen his former friend cry was when he and Grace almost lost their son to a swimming accident. Even then, the brawny man hid in a corner.

But these tears were flowing openly - in public!

The violinist felt uneasy - plagued by vague sense of cruelty. His sarcasm dissolved.

Again, the percussionist’s hand was offered and this time it was grasped. Pulling the smaller man to him, Broszi embraced him, and Paul could feel tears welling in his own eyes.

Releasing him, Broszi stated, "Grace and I really miss you and Sara.
Can we visit you?"

"I don't think that's such a good idea. Sara wants nothing to do with you since you changed religion."

Broszi sighed, nodding his understanding.

"Broz . . . about . . . that . . . promise. I . . . I . . . just . . .
I just . . . Well, you know I’ve never broken a promise in my life. I just wouldn’t feel right not keeping this one,” the Violinist finally
blurted out. “I've been limiting the orchestra to local gigs because
of Sara's treatments. So I have a few open nights. When's your next mass?"

"Our church is having services every night for three weeks. They start at seven-thirty. I’d really like you to attend, but not because of the promise."

Paul’s eyes blinked with disbelief. His voice practically exploded from him!


With a quizzical look, Broszi answered, "Yeah, Paul. Can you imagine?"

Bewilderment, Paul shook his head.

"Give me directions to the church. I'll meet you there tonight, so I can get that promise out of the way."

Broszi wrote out the directions. "I'll be waiting in front of the church."

And with a final handshake, the two separated.
***** *****
Chapter Seven

Paul left the house without informing Sara of his destination. His evenings usually were occupied with the orchestra, so she thought nothing of his leaving. Still, he felt a twinge of conscience. He and Sara never kept secrets from each other; this was a first.

The spacious church parking lot already was filled to capacity when he arrived. So were the near-by curb spaces, forcing the violinist to park a distance from the church - a fact that surprised him. He had held a vague concept that Broszi was involved with a small cult.

He found him waiting expectantly. In front of the church - up the steps
- even in the foyer - with exclamations of joy, women hugged women and men embraced men. Never - not even on the orchestra’s most festive gigs – had the violinist seen people who appeared so happy to see each other.

Broszi also hugged his way toward the sanctuary, often pausing to say, "This is my best friend, Paul Perrello. We've been like brothers since we were kids. Please continue to remember his wife, in prayer; she needs healing."

Paul was overwhelmed by the solicitude these strangers voiced for Sara.
Several even promised to pray daily for her healing. None of his other friends had ever voiced such concern.

"Thank you. Thank you," he graciously responded, "I appreciate your concern."

Paul took the seat Grace had reserved. Broszi joined the orchestra.
Kneeling worshipers filled the alter rail, others knelt at their seats.
Myriad voices, seemingly in rogation, undulated through the sanctuary.
Then, the muted majesty of the great pipe organ softly blended in, reverently harmonized by the orchestra, Broszi's feathery metallic swishes whispering their rhythm.

Arms raised heavenward, a small man moved to the pulpit. The singing multitude stood, many clapping, others with arms lifted high. And, as the glorious worship music saturated the building, Paul understood what had drawn Broszi here.
***** *****
Chapter Eight

At first, the sermons confused Paul, but the music drew him back.
Broszi gave him a Bible, marking several passages for him. Romans, chapter one, stunned the agnostic; it seemed to refer to him! He had often struggled with the concept that the complexity of the universe evidenced the existence of an infinite intellect. Comparing it to the impossibility of an intricate orchestral arrangement existing without a master arranger, he had pushed the troubling thought from him, but there it was in the Bible. Once, the minister even preached on the chapter.
Paul thought Broszi asked him to do so, but he hadn't.

He feared telling Sara about the church. He read the Bible in secret.
Then one night, he returned from a gig feeling a profound emptiness.

“If there isn’t a God, there should be one,” he mused, “Life makes no sense to me without one. This crazy world has no meaning without a God.”

He had read in the Bible that the fool says there's no God. He remembered the minister preaching that God hears sincere people who want the truth, even those with hard questions. Paul knew that meant him. He could no longer live with his agnosticism.

He went to his knees. If God existed, he wanted to know Him, to serve Him.

"Please God, if you really exist, help me to know you, so that I can serve you. Please let Sara go to church with me. Please heal her and our daughter, Laura. I pray to you, through your holy Son Jesus, just like that minister said we should do. Amen."

Their infant daughter, Laura, was sick with a high fever. Medication wasn't helping, and the doctor recommended, "waiting it out." When Paul asked Sara to take Laura to the church for prayer, to his amazement, she agreed.

“The only reason I’m going is to have the baby prayed for. Just in case it might help her. But, I’m not going to that church after that! Is that clear?”

Paul nodded.

As always, the enormous sanctuary was filled to capacity, but Sara thought nothing of it. Her own church was just as large; moreover, as the wife of a musician, and as a woman who loved to party and dance, she was accustomed to large gatherings. It was the service that bewildered her. She couldn’t relate it to anything she had ever before experienced. She found the music and singing exhilarating, realizing now, that Paul did not exaggerate when he told her that the music in this church was “fantastic.”

Mostly, it was the kind of praying these people did that puzzled her.
It was a strange kind of praying. Sara had been told that this was an Italian speaking church, yet some of the people in the congregation were speaking in languages she knew were not like any Italian she had ever heard. Sara thought that was terrible. Her religion would never put up with that!
***** *****
Chapter Nine

Though Sara was American born, her parents had always spoken Sicilian.
So had her uncles and aunts. Nevertheless, some of the speaking she heard at the church stunned her. At times it sounded like gibberish, but so did some of the non-Sicilian dialects she sometimes heard her Italian acquaintances speak. Often, she had tried following their conversations, but could not. Still, she knew it was some kind of language they were speaking. Maybe these strange people WERE speaking a language, and not just gibberish.

She whispered to Paul that a voice in her head kept saying she would be saved, healed, and baptized by the Holy Spirit that night, and she didn't understand that meant. Paul eyes widened. He only had mentioned healing to Sara, nothing else!

The healing call was given. The minister progressed down the long line of supplicants, finally reaching Sara, Laura cradled in her arms, Paul and Grace standing behind them.

Addressing her in perfect English, the minister asked, “Are you saved?”

“I believed in Jesus and all the holy saints,” she responded.

“But are you saved? Have you received Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior?”

“I really don’t understand what you mean. I said I believe in Jesus and all the saints.”

The minister explained, “You must receive Jesus Christ into your heart and life, personally. You must believe that He died to save you from the power of sin, and that He rose from the grave to give you eternal life.
When you confess that, He will save you from your sins.”

“But I already believe all those things. My own religion taught me them to me when I was only a little girl. Anyway, I’m not a bad person. I’m not a sinner.”

“Do you read the Bible?”

Sara shrunk back in horror. “Oh, no! Never! I could never understand
that book! My husband reads it, but I don’t want him to. I try to
stop him, but he won’t listen to me.”

The minister prayed for her, lightly touching her brow. Instantly, Sara’s legs buckled, and Grace grabbed Laura.

Covered by a blanket, arms lifted, eyes closed, Sara sang in a language so soul stirring, that other worshipers wept. Not Paul! Stunned, he watched Sara’s tumor diminish, and then vanish! Informed by Grace that Laura's fever was gone, he just gapped! But, oblivious to time and surroundings, Sara continued her song.

When she finally opened her eyes and attempted to speak English, for several days that melodic tongue was all she could utter. When the phenomenon ceased, Paul and Sara visited their physician with Laura, to inform him of the miracles. Having no alternative, the doctor was forced to pronounce Sara's tumor gone, and Laura healed.

Now Paul knew God existed, and that He answered prayer. Telling his orchestra he was leaving, he gave all orchestral rights to Frank, his second violinist and consecrated his own music to God.

Paul and Sara zealously witnessed of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
They gave their testimony to all who would listen. They held street meeting in Sara’s hometown, witnessed to Sara’s former religious teachers, gave glory to Jesus Christ, who redeemed them and who answered the prayers of a former agnostic violinist.

© Josprel (Joseph Perrello)

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