Back in the late 1990s, I volunteered with a local theatre company whose productions were in a Methodist church in the city of St. Louis. The church itself was a sprawling, multi-story castle that had a kitchen, a couple of chapels, a gymnasium, offices, strangely spaced bathrooms, and vast storage spaces. There were often a couple of different groups having functions there, so it was not uncommon to run into strangers in the kitchen washing dishes or something. And the minister mentioned that he’d had a problem with homeless people unlocking doors while the front door was open so they could come in and sleep there.
So I got to thinking about a novel about a young man in the mid-twenties crisis who meets a man who has, unknown the the church, moved into just such a church and lives on the premises gratis through some trickery and even receives some mail under the name John Methodis. I was going to title it The Gospel of John Methodis and study how this older fellow went off the grid and why that appealed to the boy in transition from the immediate post-collegescence to growing up–or not.
I didn’t get too far into writing that because it seems a bit thin of a plot to hang a whole novel on and the incidents within the book never materialized or connected themselves. Also, I’m lazy and have managed only two novels out of a couple dozen novel ideas.
Somewhere I must have read the story of Chheng Guan Lim, who for several years in the 1950s did just that.
The world is far crazier than my imagination.
(Link seen on Instapundit.)