Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm Pastor Annie, and tonight we're havin' a good old-fashioned Tent Revival Meeting! Spread out your blanket, or pull up one of those nice folding chairs! We greet you in the name of the Goddess!
And I'm so very glad to see so many young people out there in the crowd! We learn from the world around us, don't we kids? And what you're learning is that the One God Model is melting down! Can I get a "So Might It Be?"
Crowd: SO MIGHT IT BE!
Pastor Annie: We'd like to open tonight's Very Special Service with a prayer by Scott, from Citizens of Planet Earth Academy. Give a warm, nurturing welcome to Scott!
Crowd: You go, Scott!
"Lying on my bed of hay
I listen to the peepers.
They sing so sweetly, they seem to say
Awake, ye drowsy sleepers!
Come with us, fill the air,
The singing is everywhere,
There's nobody listening!
Come with us, fill the air,
We'll alter the thoughts you wear
And set the night glistening!
"Wake up while the night is sweet
And warm as Christmas candy!
We'll sing our song, and have no fear,
The tune is very handy!
It comes from the edge, you see
We know all the harmony
We sing it quite nightly!
We sing in the nursery
Our children grow up to be
Singers, quite rightly!
Crowd: SO MIGHT IT BE!
Pastor Annie: What beautiful sentiments! Thanks so much, Scott. And since that prayer was clearly inspired by the fae, let me take this opportunity to welcome all the faeries!
Faeries: SEW MIGHTY BEES!
Pastor Annie: And to warn you worshippers that, if you come here with preconceived notions, a sense of religious superiority, or just because you think we slaughter kittens in pentagrams, watch your step! You can't fool faeries. They'll take your bad intentions or your snide remarks and turn them into flat tires!
Crowd: SO MIGHT IT BEEEEE!
Pastor Annie: Okay, all you pagans out there! What's the cornerstone of tent revivals?
Crowd: TESTIMONIALS! YEEE HAAAAA!
Pastor Annie: And we have some awesome, awesome testimonials to hear tonight, my friends! I know you'll appreciate hearing our speakers tell you how they came to the Goddess! So, with no further ado, let's give a warm pagan welcome to Zoryaneli Garcia-Lopez!
Crowd: WELCOME, ZORY!
Zory: I have a new name now. It's OneEarth.
Crowd: YOU GO!
Pastor Annie: Tell us your story, OneEarth!
Zory: Well, it's like this. I've been a good Catholic all my life until now. And I've raised six children and taught them right from wrong. My oldest son, Carlos, enlisted in the Marines because he couldn't find a job where we live. He got sent to Iraq and was killed in a roadside bombing attack.
You know how it is with your oldest child. Not that I don't love all my kids, but Carlos was special in so many ways. He helped me so much! He was a good kid. And I supported the war because he did. I bought a frame for the letter President Bush sent me and everything.
On the day of Carlos's funeral, two things happened. The parish priest was arrested on child abuse charges and hauled away in handcuffs. Then, just as a deacon was stepping in to perform the service, these people came out of nowhere and cheered because my Carlos was dead!
Zory: These cheering people, they call themselves the Westboro Baptist Church. They said Carlos died because God Hates Fags. And they called St. Bridget's Roman Catholic Church a whorehouse! And they said that all of America was going to burn in hell because the government isn't killing all the fags! They yelled out how happy they were that my son got blown up by a bomb!
Zory: Not that it matters, but Carlos was straight. He was engaged to a nice girl. And it was her idea for us to turn our backs on such a hateful religion as the Westboro Baptist Church and such an untrustworthy institution as the Roman Catholic Church. And so, here we are! I never thought I would be a pagan, but you know, a grieving mother can only take so much before she flips.
Pastor Annie: And the Goddess loves you, OneEarth. You'll never find it written in a book that the Goddess hates fags. Or Catholic priests, for that matter, even though they can be mighty mean sometimes.
Crowd: SO TRUUUUUE!
Pastor Annie: Now give a warm and nurturing pagan welcome to Ben and Jerry! No, faeries, sorry. They aren't the ice cream guys. But don't steal their car keys, okay?
Pastor Annie: Ben? Jerry? What would you like to say?
Ben: Well, Annie, it's like this. Jerry and I have been partners for 18 years. We were both good tithing members of the Unitarian Universal Church in our community. One day we decided to participate in a Gay Pride Parade. Not on some outrageous float or anything ...
Faerie: I could go for a root beer float this very instant.
Pastor Annie: Quiet, Puck! I told you these aren't the Ben and Jerry.
Ben: We were just walking with a group from our church. And up come these God Hates Fags people with bullhorns and placards, telling us how we were going to burn in hell and take all of America with us. You know what? The Unitarian Universal Church is probably the most liberal Christian denomination out there, and it lost a dozen gay members in ten minutes, just from that one incident! Jerry and I feel much more welcome in the pagan community. Don't we, Jerry?
Jerry: We sure do.
Pastor Annie: Can I get a So Might It Be?
Crowd: SO MIGHT IT BE!
Jerry: Can I add something?
Pastor Annie: By all means.
Jerry: Ben and I were kind of waiting for some Christian denomination, particularly the Baptists, to issue an official statement against the God Hates Fags demonstrators. Not one denomination has stepped up to counter-protest that message. You want to know what I think?
Pastor Annie: By all means.
Jerry: I think it's because all of these denominations, even the Unitarian Universalists, are afraid of losing tithe-paying members if they speak out against the Westboro crowd.
Faeries: WILD WILD WESTBORO!
Ben: Jerry and I gave much prayerful thought to changing religions. We decided that Goddess-based faiths are more friendly to the earth, less burdened with dogma, and more open to humor and individuality!
Crowd: YEAH, THAT'S US, ALL RIGHT! OPEN HEARTS, OPEN MINDS!
Pastor Annie: Yeah, that slogan didn't last long with the United Methodists. It works better here. Now please welcome our final testimonial. Please be patient while he makes his way to the front. It will take him some time.
Crowd waits while a wounded Iraq veteran is slowly wheeled to the front of the tent. He's missing two limbs, and his head is swathed in bandages.
Pastor Annie: Are you game for this, Clyde Ray?
Clyde Ray: Absolutely.
Pastor Annie: Citizens of Planet Earth, please welcome PFC Clyde Ray Huckin, of Charles Town, West (By Gawdess) Virginia. Company F, 93rd Regiment, Enlisted. Be patient with Clyde Ray. He's in a lot of pain.
Clyde Ray: I have some good days and some bad days. The people at the National Naval Hospital are very helpful. I'm lucky to have their support.
Pastor Annie: Tell us why you're here, Clyde Ray. And be sure all those teenagers hear you. They're still forming opinions about praise and worship teams.
Clyde Ray: I was the chief of a bomb squad in Sadr City. About the best I can say about what happened to me was that none of my buds got hurt when the unit exploded in my face. But I'm pretty F****ed up. Oh. Sorry about the language.
Pastor Annie: No problem, pilgrim.
Clyde Ray: Sitting around like I do all day gives you time to think. And I'm wondering why we have to fight for oil when it's going to run out anyway? In West Virginia, when crops start running out, we plant them over. Can't do that with oil. But anyway. That's not why I'm here. I'm here because I just converted to paganism!
Crowd: YEEEEE HAAAAAAA! HOORAY!
Faeries: WHO RAY? HE RAY! HE CLYDE RAY AND WE LOVE HIM!
Clyde Ray: I'll tell you why I've changed my heart. It's because I look around me in that hospital, and I see people suffering, dying, brain damage, maimed forever, the worst kinds of agony you can imagine. People with families. With children to raise and bills to pay. With wives that will never be intimate with them again. With grieving parents. Wishing they had been killed so they wouldn't have to go through rehab. Wondering how they're gonna get through life. Can't even look in a mirror and see themselves so busted to pieces.
And you know what I found out yesterday? I found out that the God Hates Fags Westboro Church is going to demonstrate outside the National Naval Hospital because they say we got what we deserve for not killing every fag in America!
Pastor Annie: Are all you teenagers getting this? Here's a religion practiced by 99 percent of Americans, allowing its ugliest fringe contributors to behave like demented Ku Kluxers. And not one itty bitty bleat of protest from the Jesus crowd. Sorry, but in my orally-transmitted iconography, that gives the One True God a big fat black eye.
Faeries: BLACK EYE, BLACK HEART, BLACK MIND. And we're not proposing titles for a new James Baldwin novel here!
Pastor Annie: It's really, really hard for me to criticize any god, bored or otherwise. But if a certain Judeo-Christian deity gets misquoted, or rightly quoted, by hate-spewing psychopath dimwits, it just proves to be a magnificent teaching tool for praise and worship teams with more of a big, broad, flexible outlook.
Say what you will, but the Westboro Baptist Church (a.k.a. God Hates Fags) brings out the H. L. Mencken in me.
H.L. Mencken: It's about time you mentioned my name in this column, you ungrateful channeler, you!
Pastor Annie: Seriously, folks and faeries, you don't want to judge a whole wedding cake by the fly stuck in the icing. But when the bride and groom cut the thing up and serve it, fly and all, you've just gotta wonder.
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS
Tonight's offering will pay for Zory's health deductible ($1000 per person, she has five kids and herself) plus the $98 per month she has to pay every month for her Wal-Mart health insurance (herself and five kids). Give till it hurts: This woman earning poverty wages could conceivably be stuck with $7200 a year in health costs!
As long as the brimstones are falling tonight, might as well lob one at a deserving target like Wal-Mart.