Across the street from the Biograph, where The Last Temptation of Christ attracted such eloquent placards as "Stupid Show, Don't Go," the Jury Room Bar was doing a respectable business satisfying the thirsts of various policemen, journalists, and curiosity seekers. Toward the back of the bar were two men, both in their mid-20s, identically and inconspicuously dressed in beige shorts, blue T-shirts, and gym shoes. They were sipping Old Styles as they alternately agonized and philosophized over the evening ahead. The more voluble of the pair--for some reason his intensity and his well-trimmed beard made him seem the adventure's mastermind--was putting his quieter friend through some tough verbal hoops.
"What did your mother say when you told her you were going to the movie?"
"Nothing. She just looked kind of sad. She didn't tell me this, but I think she's praying for me to change my mind. But I talked it over with the Lord and everything's all right. What about your mom?"
"Well, she was upset. The other night she was crying and said she never wanted to drive by the Biograph because she couldn't stand thinking about the Lord up there on that screen in pornography."
I mean, she doesn't really mind, she just thinks the movie's a cheap shot."
"And that there might be trouble. You know, at the church meeting Bob told me there were people talking about ripping up the screen with knives or throwing red paint on it."
"That's pretty scary."
"Yeah. 'Cause no matter whether I agree with what a person says, I'll defend their right to say it."
"Definitely. I think Jesus wants it that way."
The guy with the beard suddenly leaned forward, looking annoyed.
"Before you got here," he said, lowering his voice a bit, I was watching those people out there, and I could just tell from the look in their eyes that most of them got their faith from TV."
"I know, I know, I could tell that, too. They've just got this real gone look."
"Yeah. The whole thing just seems like it's something that should be happening in the 60s. It's so regressed. You know, nobody ever got this upset about Jesus Christ, Superstar."
"My family wasn't even Christian then."
"Only my mom was. Actually, I wish Last Temptation had been directed by Coppola."
"I don't know. If he handled it like he did The Godfather, a lot of people would get turned on to Christ, like the way everyone wanted to be a gangster after seeing Marlon Brando."
The quiet guy whistled softly.
"I'm going to have to think that through and get back to you. I'm not sure where I stand on that one."
Just then, several media people came into the bar and greeted one of their own who was sitting alone at a nearby table.
"The Nazi party is out there," announced a fat fellow with a camera.
"The Nazi party? Really?" asked the guy by himself.
"Well, only one Nazi," laughed the cameraman. "But you know how the press is--the more action, the better."
The two Christians looked at each other in alarm.
Their voices dropped, and as if on a cue, they quickly clasped hands under the table, whispered a prayer, and finished their drinks.
"We should go," said the bearded one, getting up and reaching for the check.
"Yeah," replied his friend, also rising.
"Listen, do you want to hear something weird?"
"Think about how in a few months you'll be able to go to the video store and Last Temptation will be sitting on the shelf next to things like 'Crocodile' Dundee II and I Spit on Your Grave."
The quiet guy didn't have to think about that one for very long.
"That is weird."