March 29, 2007 – TN to MS
Favorite bumper sticker ever: “MILITANT AGNOSTIC — I DON’T KNOW AND YOU DON’T EITHER”
Memphis trailed off in the rear view yesterday. We came down to Mississippi, to see Mamaw and stay at our awesome cousin’s family’s house. Both family and house are awesome, but … in general, religion down here is insane. Or should we say, the level thereof.
We grew up soaking in it like a two-headed calf in a mayonnaise jar of formaldehyde, so we don’t know why it’s shocking us so. Bet if Jesus were to come back right now, not only would He be smacking the foreheads of the self-righteous until His hole-in-the-middle palms were blue and purple, He’d also probably be embarrassed about all the attention — or rather, the displacement of attention from His words and actions and onto far more vengeful ideas.
Most Christians are very nice people, and many of them are even very smart and warm and responsible and respectful and funny. Exhibit A: Our whole family.
We’re not talking about them, the way when they talk about liberal wingnuts they’re not talking about us, but about the douchebag in Berkeley with no pants on, carrying around a big sign that says “DON’T” and hollering chants with terrible breath about freedom of expression and trying to give out free patchouli-scented hugs.
Here, we’re talking about the anti-liberal wingnuts.
With the worst of His followers, it’s like we’re all at the same mind-blowing free concert, but while the band’s playing, they’re spending the entire time running up and down the concession lines outside, bragging to everyone about how they’re on the list.
The most unthinking ones remind me of how goldfish forget where they are every 15 seconds. What?…PRAISE JESUS. I should prob…PRAISE JESUS. Hey, someone left the stove o…PRAISE JESUS.
Watching a sermon with our grandmother’s caretaker two nights ago — on WBUY, the Christian TV channel (yes, those are the call letters, insert any number of sarcastic remarks here) — it pretty much sent us sprinting to pack our things and head South the next morning:
Some fat, polyester-clad windbag with a face like a potato in bifocals and a combover was thundering imperiously about 2007 as a “year of destiny” — meaning we were all going to Rapture, really, for real this time, any minute now. We can’t remember all the points of his rant, but some of them went like this:
There are four horsemen of the apocalypse (which we knew, but please don’t quote us on the rest of this because we’re not even fact-checking it). One is white, and is the Antichrist we think … One is red and carries wheat in one hand and OIL in the other (and the preacher didn’t even say SHIT about the oil thing!) … One is black and carries scales … and one is “pale” (which, we didn’t know, actually translates from the original Greek “cloros” or something not as off-white, but a sickly decaying zombie-green color).
The pale one is responsible for the death of 1/4 the world’s population. When we took a break to run to the phone to get some empathy from our best friend in the middle of being as fascinated with this sermon as we would be an eye-surgery program, she pointed out that — if any of Revelation were true and not the product of some Biblical-times beat poet who ate the funny mushrooms he found in the pasture and got crazy with some stone tablets one night — the pale horse might very well represent methamphetamines. Or heroin. (Don’t ride the white horse?) …
Anyway, the point is, the preacher said, there’s a lady in Revelation. Who is this lady?, he asked rhetorically. Why, she symbolizes Israel, and that’s how come we as Christians have to get behind whatever Israel does. Fuck everyone else.
We’ve got to support Israel because they’re the only folks in that part of the world who are on our team. It’s us versus them, people. This all was followed closely by a commercial for a gathering to that effect — something about Christians for Israel.
It started to feel like the middle of an X-Files episode, with us staring into a crypt or an ancient text, or the heart of freaking darkness itself, about to figure out something big. But alas, it was just the same old revelation (get it?): THESE PEOPLE ARE CRAZY.
Then the angry potato talked about how during the Apocalypse, Jesus is going to come down and Rapture all the Christians, and then when the Jews don’t believe he’s Jesus, because they haven’t believed that Jesus is the son of God for years and years, he’s going to raise up his shirt and show them the stab wound in his side and go “neener neener neener! It’s me, SUCKERS!”
… and all the Christians get to float in the air and watch while this is happening, and then their homey Jesus says “let’s ride” and they all fly up to Heaven and sing praises and space out and pass out some more crazy pills. While the rest of us are consumed in fiery pits and blah blah oooooh scary. Now we’ll say whatever you say and sit here quietly until we die, we promise.
Hi. THESE ARE THE PEOPLE RUNNING OUR COUNTRY RIGHT NOW.
THEN! THEN. Then the preacher told a pointless story about how he and his wife encountered a woman in New Orleans in the lobby of a hotel … she came up to him and said “I know you!” … “Who is this woman?,” angry potato’s wife demanded. “I’ve never seen this woman in my life!,” he said. “But I love you,” said the strange woman. And she turned tail and fled.
The preacher did well to note at this point that the “young, attractive blonde woman” was “clad entirely in black clothes, and wearing a pentagram pendant around her neck.” So he “knew she was demonized, and I told my wife, This woman is obviously demonized, and the demon within her recognizes me and is calling to me.”
We couldn’t tell at the end of this story if the man was kidding or not. There was a little bit of laughter from the audience, but not enough to really tell. Our first instinct, and our best friend’s, too, was — he fucked her, right?
He goes to her strip club every time he’s in town, and his wife has no idea. Demonized woman realized his wife was standing there and bounced before her trick got in any more trouble. And now he’s telling this story in public to nip something in the bud. Wethinks he doth protest too much, etc.
Maybe it was a joke. But if this was meant to get laughs from his flock after laying such a heavy trip on them about how they’re the winners and they get to watch the whole planet go to Hell, then he’s a terrible comedian. Or his audience was too frightened of their version of the truth, and too believing of their spiritual leader’s every word, to be able to figure out whether or not he was joking either.
They say those with the most self-importance are the most easily offended. In our religion, if you take yourself or anyone else too seriously, you lose.
Also, if you stand at the velvet rope with your clipboard and tell certain people they can’t get in — EVEN THOUGH NOBODY HIRED YOU TO STAND THERE WITH THAT CLIPBOARD, SO STOP ACTING LIKE THEY DID, AND YOU BROUGHT THAT ROPE YOURSELF — then you are the first in line for Hell, friend.
All the times we’ve been looked at in the past two weeks down here, in country gas stations and podunk thrift stores, were we considered to be “demonized” because of something silly and black we were wearing?
Of course, when we look at a dude like the angry potato, we think we see a demon, too. So who’s right?
We’re going to Hell this weekend. It’s called New Orleans, and it’s awesome.
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