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Slouching Toward Zion, Part II

Added: Wednesday, May 14th 2008 at 8:19pm by robertflynn
Related Tags: religion
 When Thurston and Elaine met Brother Jerry in Tel Aviv he was exactly what they had expected.  Thurston expected he would be ponderous as befitted a Senator, CEO, college president, or preacher.  Elaine expected he would be fulsome as befitted a Senator, CEO, college president, or preacher.  Israel was not what they expected.
Chillicothe is dry, yea, verily, arid.  Bereft of water, devoid of alcohol, more familiar with droughts than drams.  In Chillicothe gobbles were more popular than gulps.  For an orgy, Thurston and Elaine went to the “all the spaghetti you can eat” fund-raiser for the Lion’s Club.
Thurston was surprised that he could buy wine in the Holy Land.  He could buy beer, whiskey, vodka, Blue Nun, Ron Pope, and Lagrima Christi.  What kind of religious country was this?  Thurston took a photograph of the minibar in every hotel they stayed in.   
You could buy anything in Israel, including small explosive devices, unless you looked Palestinian.  To Thurston everyone in the Holy Land looked Palestinian but he learned to recognize the differences.  The Israelis had tanks and airplanes.  The Palestinians had rocks.  The Israelis remembered what a boy could do with rocks.
Every day with Brother Jerry began with prayers, Bible reading and teaching.  Brother Jerry said that the entertainment industry had replaced the church as the conscience of the nation but that God had not destroyed America because he had promised Abraham “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you.”  That meant Israel, because Israelis were Abraham’s children, and Israel existed only because of the protection American Christians gave them.   
Elaine, who studied every night while Thurston watched soccer on TV, said that Arabs were also Abraham’s children.  Brother Jerry told her that she had no right to dispute with a man, particularly if he were a preacher or her husband.  He said that she was responsible for keeping Thurston awake during Bible lessons and Thurston was responsible for seeing that she knew what she needed to know.  
“If you want a Christian marriage then shower this man with gratitude,” Brother Jerry said.  “Shower him with praise.  Shower him with honor.  Shower before he comes home.”  
When he was awake, Thurston learned that Jews were a bunch of Baptists who didn’t want to get baptized because the Arabs had polluted the Jordan River.  They were embarrassed that the Messiah had come and they had missed him.  Like the preacher coming while you were in the bathroom.  Rather than admitting they were caught with their pants down they pretended they were still waiting.  
They also didn’t believe Mary was a virgin.  Brother Jerry said Mary and Joseph were not sexually active before Jesus was born and they were not sexually active after Jesus was born.  That’s why they were the ideal Christian family.
Brother Jerry believed that both Joseph and Mary were conceived immaculately.  And without pleasure.  Like Mary, Joseph bodily ascended to heaven.  The idea that Joseph was spiritually inferior to Mary was feminist heresy.  
Nevertheless, Brother Jerry said the similarities between Jews and Baptists were striking.  Both were always fighting among themselves over who was a real Jew or a real Baptist and who wasn’t.  The Romans liked to see Christians fight lions because they were Jews who had become the first Baptists.  Some of them were so tough that not even lions could make them confess they were not the only authentic Jewish Baptists, hanging on to their unique orthodoxy while lions ate their liver. 
Both believed in one nation under guns.  Both agreed that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible.  Both preferred the classic versions.  The Jews had Jerusalem.  Baptists had Lynchburg.  Jews wept at the Wailing Wall.  Baptists wept at the First Amendment wall.  
Another thing you could say about Baptists and Jews, and Brother Jerry thought it wasn’t said often enough; they knew which side of the church women should sit on.  The service side.  
Jews had their Ten Commandments.  Baptists had theirs.  The words were the same but they meant different things.  When Jews said, “no other gods,” they meant Jesus and Mohammed; Baptists meant guns and Elvis.  
 Jews thought it was wrong to make graven images of holy things; Brother Jerry, and other true Baptists, thought pictures of Jesus were okay in Sunday School books for the young.  Maps were better for adults.  Lambs were okay for stained glass, as were fish, donkeys and doves.  Angels were inappropriate.  Brother Jerry believed shepherds were okay if accompanied by sheep but not halos.  Stars were okay but not Mary, Joseph, Jesus.  John the Baptist was okay over the baptistery.  Wooden crosses were okay as long as there was no representation of a human figure.  Gold crosses were prideful, silver showy, aluminum pretentious, bronze brassy, nickel flashy, chrome tawdry, tin garish, pewter practical.  Stainless steel was preferred for outdoor crosses, being more expensive but longer lasting than wood.
  Both Jews and Brother Jerry agreed that taking the Lord’s name in vain meant swearing.  Both believed God’s name was their private property.  Baptists believed they hallowed God’s name by writing “Jesus Saves” on bridges, overpasses, railroad crossings, and restroom walls.  That was holy graffiti.
Baptists also believed God’s name should be used on coins, when reciting the pledge of allegiance, or to increase the church budget, impeach the president, sell wholesome products or bomb those who opposed God’s will for America.  Or Israel.
To Jews the Sabbath meant Saturday.  Brother Jerry knew it was Sunday, but Sabbath didn’t mean you couldn’t go to the cafeteria after church or watch football or movies on TV.  Sabbath did forbid going to movie theaters on Sunday where you could be seen because that might tempt someone less devout to do the same.
Honoring your parents didn’t prevent Jews from making jokes about their mothers; it did Baptists.  Baptists could, however, tell jokes about Jewish mothers.  
Jews, Brother Jerry, and other Baptists thought it was okay to kill someone for a good cause.  Hate was natural, especially hate for someone who thought they knew more about God than you.
“Slow murder”--killing people by selling cigarettes, polluting the air or poisoning streams--was a heresy of socio-economic environmental terrorists.  “Accidental murder”--knowingly creating products that were deadly was also a heresy.  As the Supreme Court said, it wasn’t murder because they didn’t intend your death when they sold you the product.  And it wasn’t accidental because if you used their product your death was expected. 
Jews and Brother Jerry agreed that adultery was always wrong.  Baptists believed adultery included fornication, oral and anal sex, and especially referred to homosexuals.  Gays didn’t marry; therefore, whatever they did was adultery.
Jews, Baptists, and Brother Jerry believed Moses knew more about divorce than Jesus.  Brother Jerry did not choose Darleen, she chose him, a clear violation of biblical prerogatives.  When he was a youth, Darleen led Brother Jerry to the altar.  Women could not be pastors because that would make them equal to men, but women could be foreign missionaries because foreigners were by definition inferior.  Brother Jerry assumed Darleen was volunteering to be a missionary and wanted him beside her at the altar for moral support.  However, she was volunteering for the missionary position and wanted him beside her for financial support.  The pastor, her uncle, married them on the spot.
His second wife was disobedient.  Rather than graciously supporting his theological education by selling AmWay products she pursued her own theological education.  His third divorce was because of incompatible degrees.  His degree was in Religious Broadcasting.  Hers in Christian ethics.  
Jews didn’t believe it was stealing to take land from someone else if God said they could have it.  Baptists didn’t believe it was stealing to bomb somebody until they lowered the price of oil if God said the price of oil should be $10 a barrel.
 Both Jews and Brother Jerry agreed that false witness was usually wrong but unusually effective.  Especially if done in the name of God about politics, theology or private matters, and if it was slanderous enough to make the network news.  
Both Brother Jerry and Jews agreed that it was okay to covet something that was rightfully yours like the inheritance that God gave you that the Palestinians or liberals were trying to steal. 
Brother Jerry said both Jews and Baptists believed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem must be destroyed and the temple rebuilt.  Jews believed the temple had to be rebuilt before the Messiah could come.  Baptists thought a new temple would signal Jesus’ return.  
That would lead to Armageddon, a cataclysmic war between the forces of good and evil of terrifying proportions with unbelievable suffering and death.  Women who had never given birth would thank God that they were barren.  Mothers would mercifully kill their children.  Men would kill, rape and pillage.  Blood would rise to the level of a horse’s bridle.  It was God’s will.
Vengeance belonged to the Lord, but He couldn’t do it all by Himself, Brother Jerry preached.  That’s why He gave us nuclear weapons.  Just as God couldn’t be omnipresent without an act of Congress, He couldn’t be omnipotent without the Pentagon.
“Yee-hah, bring it on,” Thurston shouted.  The study of theology always made him feel patriotic.
From a book of the same nameby Robert Flynn - www.robert-flynn.net

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