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THE ADVENTURES OF CLOTHMAN
THE ADVENTURES OF CLOTHMAN

Peace on earth, good will toward property owners

"We're going to trespass and vandalize your property. Peace, baby!" - The Vandals of Peace.

For a quarter of a century, my hometown has been mired in the Peace War. The opposing armies? The powerful Telephone Company and a tiny guerrilla warfare unit I call the Vandals of Peace. (I've never knowingly met a Vandal of Peace, nor do I know anyone who has.) The field of battle? A 0.23-acre plot of land overlooking our city. The prize? A telephone communications relay tower.

Actually the goal is not to control the tower itself, but what is on the tower. You see the tower's flat surface of several hundred square feet originally was designed to transfer telephone calls, but it also turned out to be the perfect billboard. Herein lies the origin of the Peace War.

Long ago, the Vandals of Peace accepted the dangerous mission of ensuring that the tower would perpetually display a giant peace sign regardless of personal cost or risk. As a result, the tower has collected countless layers of paint, as well as telephone signals, over the many years of the Peace War.

Every single countermeasure deployed by the Telephone Company to keep the tower graffiti-free has been thwarted by the highly dedicated Vandals of Peace. Warnings? Meaningless. Fences? Useless. Barbed wire? Painless … almost. Even when the Soldiers of the Smile secretly aligned themselves with the Telephone Company, the Vandals of Peace prevailed. Whenever a massive smiley face took over the tower, within a week it too succumbed to the giant peace sign.

But recently, the Vandals of Peace experienced a devastating blow. The Telephone Company, despite passionate objections from Vandals of Peace supporters, dismantled the now obsolete tower. The Telephone Company cited liability concerns, but everyone knew it ultimately just wanted to win the Peace War. So the Vandals of Peace finally had been painted into a corner that even they couldn't get out of - or so everyone thought.

Only days after taps was played over the razed relay tower, the Vandals of Peace struck again. They infiltrated a downtown building under the cover of night and used their patented guerrilla warfare techniques and somehow converted a sign secured atop the tall building into, you guessed it, a giant peace sign. The Peace War lives on.

Why the Vandals of Peace think trespassing and vandalism promotes peace is as mysterious as their identify. Frankly, thanks to them, peace signs around here have become as much of a misnomer as slumber parties. It would seem the only place we'll ever find true peace is in the dictionary, which incidentally defines peace as "an agreement to end a war; law and order; harmony."

Have no fear, Clothman is here. There is a source of peace beyond painted symbols and dictionaries. Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you peace as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27). If I could convince the Vandals of Peace to trade in their defacing brand of peace for Jesus', I know we'd see an end to the Peace War, and we could finally say to each other, without paint-stained hands, "Peace, baby!"

Clothman coaches Missoula's High Point Church. You may reach him at gmoyer@montana.com or P.O. Box 3561, Missoula, 59806.

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