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'Money Walks': The L.A. Times fiction serial, Part 2

April 7, 2009 | 10:45 am

Thoushaltnotsteal

In Part 1 of "Money Walks," author Mary McNamara introduced us to the Rev. Franco Laguna as he found out that his church's money was gone. But it wasn't just his collection plate that was empty -- the news was beginning to spread that money was disappearing everywhere. In part two, the reverend -- is he a good reverend? -- considers his plight.

As a young boy, Franco had liked all of the Ten Commandments, but his favorite was "Thou shalt not steal." This was because he believed it rendered several of the others redundant.

Thou shalt not murder clearly admonished the ancient Israelites to not steal a life. Thou shalt not commit adultery? This was God saying don't steal a wife. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's oxen? There is a consensus among biblical scholars: Coveting is a gateway to larceny.

Franco kept thinking about this because he didn't want to deal with the dark place toward which he found himself reeling. The money might be gone, but the church work could not stop.

This chapter is by Seth Greenland. Like the other 15 contributing authors, he will be at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, April 25-26 at UCLA. Tickets, which are available from Ticketmaster beginning April 19, are free.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Seth Mazow via Flickr

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