It had been a while since I had time to spend an afternoon in the cigar shop, but all the usual suspects were there last Thursday.

Big Vince was there in his brown coveralls, sitting in a leather chair and puffing on a big, fat Dominican. Paul, who knows it all, was standing at a round, high-top table, wearing his purple silk smoking jacket and cradling the bowl of his pipe. Chuck, a 40-something businessman, was hunched over his phone with a cigar clamped between his teeth.

Ronnie came in and found Chad sitting in his preferred chair. Chad promptly stood and moved to a chair next to Preacher Dan.

I was in the chair next to Ronnie’s, which I had selected knowing that Ronnie would sit there if he came in. Although we have very little in common, I findRonnie to be the most reasonable one in the bunch. I find the shop to be much more relaxing in the company of a reasonable person.

Pretty soon, the room went quiet as everyone started eavesdropping on Chad and Dan, who were having a conversation about the rules specified in Leviticus, especially as it relates to the treatment of foreigners.

Dan is a staunch conservative and all-in for President Trump. Chad was trying to rile him with scripture. He was trying to convince the preacher that Trump’s immigration policies run contrary to the teachings of the Bible.

It was pretty obvious that Chad had recently read a little of Leviticus as the discussion included eating rare meat, wearing clothes made of different materials, planting a field with two types of seeds and the subject of haircuts and beard trimming.

Dan’s no slouch, of course, when it comes to quoting Bible verses. He went into a spiel about how the Bible was written, who it was written for, the politics of the day and so forth. You can’t take one chapter, book or verse out of the Bible and use it as a catch-all without considering the scriptures as a whole, he said.

Chad accused him of “picking and choosing” his beliefs.

Chuck, another Trumpster, looked up from his phone and said to Chad, “Yeah, but you’re a Democrat.”

Chad objected, saying the comment was dismissive and inaccurate.

“I don’t vote straight-ticket,” he said. “I’m not against guns or the death penalty, and I don’t support the minimum-wage increase, so if I’m a Democrat, I’m not a very good one.”

“That’s the trouble with you Democrats,” Vince chimed in. “You spout your liberal bull hockey, but you’re ashamed to admit that you’re a Democrat.

That shifted the conversation away from religion and toward political doctrine.

Chad opined that downstate liberals tend to shy away from the Democrat label because it automatically links them to Chicago and a host of ideals that they don’t necessarily agree with.

“Why can’t people believe in one thing or another without having to choose a team?” he asked.

Paul weighed in on the origins of the two major political parties. The boredom in the room became palpable as he droned on.

“Speaking of teams, is there a game on?” Ronnie asked as he reached for the remote. The door swung shut on politics and religion as the chatter turned to sports.

I don’t care much for sports, but I was happy to see the temperature in the room drop a notch. See why I like Ronnie?

© Copyright 2019 by David Porter, who can be reached at It would be good to have some of these conversations, but open mouths attached to closed minds is futility.