Saturday, January 14, 2006

Heaven Is a Theme Park

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Pick a god. Any god. Now look at your god. Okay, put him or her back in the pack.

I'll shuffle them really well. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap.

All right. Is this your god?

It isn't? You're sure?

I've got to work on that trick some more.

It's getting close to the anniversary of my peerless father's death, and that's got me thinking about his awesome funeral.

Dad attended one of those boring mainstream churches for 55 years, taught Sunday School for 50 years, sang in the choir for 25 years. Of course he tithed all that time too.

Imagine this. Dad comes floating belly-up, and his church wants to charge to serve lunch at his funeral. Cheeky, eh?

So dear Sis and I sat down to consider alternatives.

I wanted to put Dad on a barge surrounded by dry brush, float him into the Potomac, and have archers shoot flaming arrows at his bier. That's how highly I thought of the man.

Sis suggested her church. The mini-mega with the handsome young pastor. (It was Sis who called him handsome, and she was right.)

Mind you, these good church folk friends of my sis have been praying hard for me at every service. It's no secret there that I'm a dread witch, following some Satanic religion that slaughters little kittens in pentagrams.

But I caved and let Sis plan the funeral at her church. Because after all, Dad didn't see Jesus at his bedside when he was dying, he saw Peter Pan. Ah, the solace of that!

An aside: My many hometown queer friends refused to attend the service, knowing how this church feels about them. They stopped to pay their respects and moved on.

So, morning of service, I arrive arrayed in all my Celtic glory, and I've made sure that there's a huge flower arrangement with a fairy sitting right under the pulpit.

Could say I asked for trouble, right? Not the first time, not the last.

So the long funeral proceeds, with sparse testimonials and a slide show to a dirge of a hymn. Last but not least, young handsome pastor gets up to preach.

Yikes.

This man of God had met my dad exactly four times. But he wasn't there to talk about Dad. He had another agenda.

He said that heaven is like a theme park. I am not lying to you.

Now, we all live near theme parks. Hershey Park is one of the closest to me, but having lived in Michigan I will forever have Cedar Point first in my heart where theme parks go. If you ever get to Michigan or Ohio, you've gotta go to Cedar Point.

However, young handsome pastor used Hershey Park as his example. There aren't many theme parks in West Virginia.

I quote now:

"Heaven is just like Hershey Park. You know, you have to pay an admission fee. If you go up to the gate, and you don't have any money, they aren't going to let you in. No matter how you beg and plead, no matter how you cry, they won't let you through that turnstile.

"So if you live a life of sin, you're going to come to that gate, and Father God will be standing there. And think of this. Web might be right behind him, among the angels."

(Web being my dad, of course.)

"You will beg and plead with God to let you in. And Web will cry out for you, but he'll understand. Because God is a father who has to be obeyed, and if you didn't obey him in life, if you didn't follow the commandments in his book, if you didn't accept Jesus as your personal savior, you are not going to get through that turnstile."

Readers, did I mention that I rarely attend amusement parks? I have motion sickness really bad, so pretty much all I can do at those places is eat cotton candy and watch the trained parrots.

So I'm sitting there, staring at a stunning flower arrangement with a gorgeous Appalachian Fairy Ball suspended over orchids and moss, and I'm thinking the following:

1. If heaven is a theme park, do they have Disney parades at night? If so, does Tinker Bell attend?

2. What exactly is the policy at theme parks regarding people who can't afford them? Maybe a nice person at a turnstile would quietly let the poor sod sneak in and enjoy a day. Does that make this earthly theme park employee more compassionate than God?

3. If my dad is standing right behind God, and God won't let me through the turnstile, I am 100 percent damn well sure Dad is gonna tell God to stuff it and come to hell with me. Nothing came between me and my dad, and God's not going to be the exception to that rule.

4. My dad would never have turned away a poor person if he worked at a theme park. I watched him stop his car once, get out, and give the shoes and socks on his feet to a barefoot street person.

5. That pastor is handsome and charismatic. Did I mention that? A real cutie pie. It sure softened the sadistic message he was aiming straight at me at my own father's funeral.

So, to make a long post shorter, just remember the next time you go to a theme park, don't forget your wallet. They might not let you in.

FROM ANNE
THE UNREPENTANT MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS

9 comments:

Athana said...

Oh, I am so sorry this happened to you, Anne. I can't imagine it. I haven't gone through the death of a parent yet, but to have that occasion marked by something like you went through must have been almost soul freezing.

As I've said before, these crazy wingnuts are a plague on the earth and on all of us. I try to separate the religion from the person, but sometimes I don't quite manage it.

Well, you have a compatriot. My born-again, mega-church sister has just found a new mega-church mate; the wedding's in April -- eight months after her former mega-church mate's death by car crash. I don't think these mega-church women can take more than a day or two without the strong arm of a man to lean upon.

Athana said...

Whoops. Hit the wrong button by mistake. Wasn't finished yet. I wanted to say that your father sounds like a one-in-a-million Dad. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone giving his shoes, right on the spot, to a person in need.

Anyway, keep on truckin, Anne! Remember our beloved King Arthur, who challenged the idea that Might Makes Right. Did you know that some think Arthur was a made-over part of Goddess history? Made-over, of course, by the phony war gods that our sisters have been smitten by.

CM Edwards said...

I hate them kind of funerals. one of my best friends died of a heroin overdose about five years ago and after they said a few kind words about him they proceeded to tell us about the joys of heaven and how we could get in if we wanted. My friends and I walked out in the middle of this, which was probably disrespectful as hell. All us Appalachians have had to deal with religion on some level, haven't we? I dropped out of my church (a Church of Christ) when I was about 14 and couldn't tolerate another hour of their bullshit.

Arthur said...

You have to pay to get into heaven? hmm....my little mind is spining with all kinds of nasty coments. I will keep most of them to myself. Glad I'm not going to heaven. That is tarrible and dispicable thing to do! The christian god sounds more like an evil theocratic dictator to me, like say, Sadam Husan, or oh the bin ladin guy! I think I would rather go to neverland with peter pan.

Anne Johnson said...

Thanks for the great comments! They help, believe me.

Chad, I bookmarked your site on the spot. It is righteous!

-the Juan- said...

Hello.

I was reading your material here, and found it rather artsy. Sorry about your father's death. Anyways, i like your writing style and dark humor. If you want to check mine out, go to http://juaneurysm.blogspot.com

have a nice day,
-J

J Hearne said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
J Hearne said...

Not all Christians are this cold.

Megachurches are a bad representative, usually, of Jesus' teachings.

My condolences.

Peace and Love,
Joshua

Anonymous said...

Luckily, Jesus isn't this presumptuous, pompous, know-all condescending, religious p***k that some of the mega-church pastors are.

Whatever He knew honestly, He expressed it matter-of-factly. I acquit him of endorsing theme park tickets at discount rates in his office's in-house mail room front desk.

I also share in your grief, having lost my handsome man at his 80th. And psst...I will admit to you secretly that none of the pagan gods he worshiped attended his funeral. Not even the ship, horns and flaming arrow variety with golden hair-locks, just to humor him on his way to heaven.

Like all others before and after him, my dad simply left a grieving family.