Joan of Arcadia . Joan gets suspended from school, for bringing a Bible to class
|Inside Arcadia High School, the bell rang in Ms. Morris' 3rd Period History Class. Her Students were in their seats. Joan Girardi and Adam Rove, sat beside each other. Their Teacher, Ms. Morris stood at the blackboard, writing.
Adam looked at Joan's books.
He said, "You've brought a Bible with you to Class?"
She told him, "Somebody I keep running into, told me to 'Let the light that is in me shine forth.' Do you have any objections?"
"No. Not really."
Ms. Morris stood beside Joan's desk.
She said, "The Supreme Court has objections, even if Mr. Rove doesn't. Having this book in School, is a violation of the Constitutionally mandated separation of Church and State?"
Joan told her, "That's not what the Constitution says Ms. Morris. What it actually says is: 'Congress shall make no Law, respecting the establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free practice thereof.' Banning the Bible from school, isn't 'mandated' by the Constitution. It's prohibited."
Ms. Morris picked up the Bible saying, "Well I'm mandating it here. This Book promotes fundamentalist religious bigotry and insensitivity to other beliefs, and I won't have any of that in my Class."
"That isn't true." Joan told her, "It tells us how to do good to others."
Ms. Morris walked to her desk, and held the Bible over the waste basket.
Joan was horrified.
"Don't do that Ms. Morris!" She warned, "There's gonna be more trouble than you can imagine."
Her teacher said, "Be quiet Ms. Girardi."
Ms. Morris dropped the Bible into the wastebasket.
Joan covered her eyes, and braced herself.
The entire classroom began to shake.
Adam shouted, "Earthquake!"
The terrified students ducked under their desks.
The shaking stopped.
Ms. Morris spoke. "You can return to your seats everyone. It's over."
The students got out from under their desks, and returned to their seats.
"It's not the wrath of God." Ms. Morris assured them. "Just a frequently occurring natural phenomenon, here in California. Isn't that right, Ms. Girardi?"
"I don't think so Ms. Morris." Joan told her, "This might be just the beginning."
Third Period ended. Students moved along the corridors, changing classes.
Joan stood beside her locker. The "Dreamiest looking Guy in school" came up beside her. She recognized Him. He was God in disguise; and she was peeved with Him.
He said, "I like the way you handled that Joan. You let the light that is in you shine forth."
"Well I don't like the way you handled it. Things are gonna get really bad for Ms. Morris; aren't they?"
"Like you said, this is just the beginning."
Her voice was worried. "You're not gonna send Ms. Morris to Hell, are you."
"That's up to her." He said, "I'm never the one who makes that decision. 'It is by your words you are justified, and by your words you are condemned.''
She asked, "What words do you want Ms. Morris to say?"
"That my Word is a lamp unto her feet, and a light unto her path to Salvation."
"You want Ms. Morris to read the Bible? For guidance in life?"
"Like you said, this is only the beginning. I want you to give her the Bible you brought to Class."
"The one in the wastebasket?" She protested. "You don't want me to go back in and fish it out, do you? It's gonna be all gross and stinky."
"There are only papers in that wastebasket. It has no stench. My Word doesn't stink."
During 1st Lunch Period, Ms. Morris' classroom was unoccupied. Joan entered, and went over to the Teacher's desk. She reached into the wastebasket, and removed the Bible.
Ms. Morris entered the room.
"Ms. Girardi!" She said, "I dropped that in there, so it would be thrown out with the trash, where it belongs."
"You have no right to do that Ms. Morris." Joan told her, "You're violating my Constitutional Rights; and you're committing sacrilege and desecration; and you're in danger of going to Hell."
"Ms. Girardi. Going to Hell, is not just an antiquated notion, based on ignorance and superstition. It's also hate speech and a threat, which will lead to your suspension. Come with me."
Ms. Morris took the Bible away from Joan, and escorted her out of the Classroom.
Several minutes later, they were both in the Office of Mr. Price, the Principal. Joan's mother Helen Girardi, who worked in the School Office, was also with them.
She asked, "So what did my daughter do Ms. Morris?"
"She brought this into my classroom."
Ms. Morris held up the Bible.
Helen said, "A Bible?"
The teacher said, "Every educator in this district has been instructed by the School Board, to hunt down and dispose of all hate literature."
Helen Girardi laughed. "Hate literature? A Bible? You can't be serious."
"She also threatened me."
Helen Girardi looked at her daughter. "Joan threatened you?"
"It wasn't a threat Mom. It was a warning. She threw my Bible in the garbage. That was just before the earthquake happened. That's when I told her, that she's in danger of going to Hell."
Now the Principal asked, "You said that Ms. Morris was in danger of going to Hell."
The girl's mother said, "It sounds to me like a warning that Ms. Morris should definitely heed."
Ms. Morris told her, "It sounded to me like hate speech, and a threat, for which I'm asking that Joan Girardi be suspended."
Joan spoke sharply. "Which might lead to you getting attacked by a plague of locusts Ms. Morris!"
The woman said, "You heard that. More hate speech, and another threat."
Helen said, "A 'threat'? Are you serious? Does Joan have the ability to send anyone to Hell, or to have you attacked by locusts?"
Mr. Price now spoke. "Unfortunately Helen, she has the ability to influence other students to believe and behave as she does."
"Then she'd be a good influence."
He told her, "Good or bad doesn't matter."
"The facts are, that Joan Girardi brought hate literature to school. Then she threatened a faculty member."
Joan's mother said, "I think that anyone who tells High School Students, that the Bible is hate literature, is an ignorant bigot, and attempting to corrupt their morals."
"What Ms. Morris or I believe isn't in question. I'm suspending Joan for three days, beginning now."
Joan said, "Mom?"
The Principal went on. "She will not be allowed to return to class, until after I've had a conference with you and her father."
Helen answered, "If good or bad doesn't matter now, it will; when we've had that conference, which will be attended by our lawyer."
Joan added, "Then you'll prefer locusts."
An hour later, Joan was heading home on a bus, seated behind the rear exit. Her books, including her Bible, were on her lap, and she was very dejected.
A Man in his mid forties, sat in the seat behind her.
He asked, "Why is your heart downcast Joan?"
She knew He was God, in one of His many disguises.
"Why?" She told him, "I've just been suspended for three days, because I did what you said. I didn't ask to be made a martyr."
"Open that Bible Joan." He told her, "Read Matthew Chapter 5, verses 10, 11 and 12."
Joan searched through the Bible, and found the place.
She read, "'Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
God and Joan read together, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."
Then God quoted the Scripture alone. "'Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
Joan grouched, "Well whoop-dee-do. I still didn't ask to be made a martyr."
He asked, "So what do you think I should do about Ms. Morris? Do you really want me to send locusts? How about hail that burns with fire? Darkness that can be felt? How about boils?"
"How about all of them?"
"Never! I repeat never, ask me to harm anybody."
"Hey. You know I didn't really mean that!"
"I forgive you. Now how about you, going a little further in Matthew? Verses 44 and 45."
Joan found the place and read, "'But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
God quoted the next verse. "'That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."
She asked, "You want me to love Ms. Morris?"
"I don't expect you to develop any strong feelings of affection. I mean you should bless her, pray for her, and do good to her."
"After she's had me suspended? You're asking too much."
"Joan." He told her, "As I have forgiven you, you should also forgive Ms. Morris."
"I know. This is all about keeping Ms. Morris out of Hell."
He said, "You may never have feelings of love for her Joan, but I always will."
The following morning, Ms. Morris was seated at her desk. The bell rang while Students entered the classroom.
Adam Rove entered. He came over to Ms. Morris, and placed an apple, along with a package in a plain brown wrapper, on the teacher's desk.
He said, "Good morning Ms. Morris. This is for you, from Joan Gerardi. She asked me to bring her, all her homework assignments, while she's suspended."
Ms. Morris spoke with amusement. "Is it a bomb?"
Adam told her, "She didn't say."
Ms. Morris opened the package. She found a Bible with a handwritten note, taped to the cover.
The note said, "God loves you Ms. Morris!"
It was signed, "Joan Girardi".
Ms. Morris was not amused.
"Mr. Rove." She said, "Tell Ms. Girardi, that I do not appreciate this sarcasm. Along with her regular assignments, she is to also write: 'There is no place for God in School.'
"She is to write that 100 times."
After classes ended that day, students were leaving Arcadia High, and boarding the School Buses, to go home.
Joan and Adam stood across the street from the School. He held the Bible with the note taped to the cover, and handed it back to Joan.
He said, "At least she didn't throw it in the garbage this time"
"I suppose that's some kind of progress."
Adam stepped away from her, and headed for the Buses.
God disguised as the "Dreamy Guy" stood beside Joan.
He said, "So Ms. Morris didn't appreciate the peace offering you sent her in my Name."
"No. According to Adam, I now have to write 100 times, 'There is no place for God in School'."
"Then you should get on with it." He told her, "And after you've written that 100 times, I want you to add: 'Wherever God isn't welcomed, the Devil rushes in, and brings all the evil he can along with him. Look at the conditions of American Schools, for proof."
"You want me to do extra work, on top of the extra work?"
"Rejoice and be exceeding glad. Great is your reward in heaven."
"Well I'm not in heaven yet, and with all this extra work, I don't have time to party!"
He told her, "This is about more than you and Ms. Morris Joan. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
"I'm involved in genuine spiritual warfare?"
"I am your strength, your shield and your fortress."
"No." She told Him, "No. I'm too young to be drafted."
"Joan. Draw near to me, and I will draw near to you. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Put on the full armor of God, to resist all the attacks of the evil one."
"That's what Joan of Arc did, and I know what happened to her; and I'm thinking, 'Fire hurts'."
"She took up a sword of steel." God told Joan, "I want you to take up the sword of the Spirit,"
God touched the Bible in Joan's hand.
"which is the Word of God, and trust me."
Then God the "Dreamy Guy", was gone from her view.
She thought, The sword of the Spirit, is the Word of God? God's Power is in His Word!
Joan opened the Bible, and began to read.
That evening in the Girardi house, Joan sat with her parents in the living room.
Her father Will Girardi said, "Who is this Ms. Morris anyway? She sounds like a former Campus Radical from the sixties. They've all become Commisars of Political Correctness."
"Oh Will please." His wife said, "You're not gonna get started on that again."
"Why not? She got my daughter suspended, so I am gonna get started on it. She probably belonged to one of those Subversive Organizations, who taught that a Communist revolution was inevitable, and it was her generation's duty to help bring down the Country."
Joan asked, "But Dad, Communism collapsed around 1990, didn't it?"
"Yeah. Officially, but people like this Ms. Morris don't know how to stop. They're continuing to be subversive, just out of habit. Why do you think that our educational system, is in such a bad shape?"
His daughter said, "Because they've taken God out of the Schools; and wherever God isn't welcomed..."
On her first day back in school, Joan was in Ms. Morris' Class. The other students were in their seats. Joan stood before Ms. Morris, who was seated at her desk, reading Joan's extra work assignment. Joan held her Bible.
Ms. Morris read aloud, for the entire Class to hear, "Wherever God isn't welcomed, the Devil rushes in, and brings all the evil that he can along with him. Look at the conditions of American Public Schools, for proof."
Then she said, "Ms. Girardi. If you say that I'm in league with the Devil, it's just another form of hate speech."
The girl told her, "You threw my Bible in the garbage. If that's not working for the Devil, what is? 'If the light that is in you be darkness, how great that darkness is.'"
Joan stepped up to Ms. Morris. She placed her Bible on the teacher's desk.
"Let it be a lamp unto your feet, and a light unto your path to Salvation."
"Why did you do that Ms. Girardi," the woman asked, "when you know it's going straight in the garbage again?"
"'God makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. I'm doing all I can, to keep you out of Hell, Ms. Morris."
Ms. Morris addressed the entire class. "Everyone. Tell me. Are there any among you, who also believe, as Ms. Girardi does, that I'm in league with the Devil?"
The students looked at each other uneasily.
Joan told her quietly, "I know I'll never love you, but God always will."
Ms. Morris looked troubled by Joan's words.
She said, "Please return to your seat Ms. Girardi."
Joan went back to her desk, and sat beside Adam.
Ms. Morris spoke. "Now everyone, your essay assignment for last night was; 'In what ways is the Constitutionally mandated separation of Church and State, being violated, in the United States today?' I think we're all anxious to hear what you have to say about that, Ms. Gerardi."
Joan stood up, holding her essay, ready to read.