Sunday, November 19, 2006
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where teamwork wins games! Go ahead. Ask your local Pee Wee football coach. Can one kid get the whole job done on Saturday morning?
Okay, maybe that's not the best analogy we've ever scraped up at "The Gods Are Bored." Because if the Pee Wee football coach's kid is on the team, he's gonna say, "You betcha. Watch my boy Biff."
Generally speaking, however, victory is a matter of teamwork in the Here and Now. So why not in the Great Beyond? Pursue Polytheism for a Purpose-Driven Life!
Those of you who have never attended a fundamentalist Christian church might not understand the protocols of prayer circles.
These differ from prayer chains, where one person has a tragedy and tells someone over the phone, and the phone caller relays the call to prayer out over the lines like ripples in a pond.
We at "The Gods Are Bored" heartily endorse prayer chains, feeling them to be nurturing of life and limb.
Prayer circles work a little differently. These are usually undertaken by small groups of folks who meet together socially at least once a month to study the Bible and to support one another.
Again, nothing objectionable in the principle of prayer circles, according to the official by-laws of "The Gods Are Bored."
But the sticky problem in prayer circles is this: What do you pray about if everything in your life is coming up roses? Why, the answer is simple. You pray for the sinners who have stuck their noses up at your particular brand of piety. The farther said sinner has strayed from Deuteronomy, the better. And if it's into some realm of bored gods (say just for instance, Druidism), then you've hit the jackpot. If you've got a sibling in an alternative praise and worship system, you roll snakeyes at every meeting.
I don't need proof that my sister and her cohorts at the LuvGawd Pentecostal Church pray for my redemption regularly. Proof was supplied in abundance when my dad died and we held his funeral at her church. The preacher used Dad's passing to rail against sinners. The preacher compared heaven to a theme park, and sinners to those who try to get through the turnstile without a ticket. Those who, just coincidentally, turn their back on the Bible during their lifetimes on earth.
Gee, do ya think he was talking about me?
Maybe I'm being a bit touchy. Or maybe Sis's pastor had just been praying for my pagan soul for so long he couldn't wait for an opportunity to have at me in the flesh.
It's this flesh part that I'm thinking of today.
About two weeks ago, my sister paid an unexpected visit to my house. She hadn't been here in 15 years. And when she walked up to my modest altar to Queen Brighid the Bright, which contains my magick wands, a candle, and some crystals, well. All hell broke loose.
My smoke detectors are hard-wired. That means if one goes off, they all do. And just as Sis rested her gaze on my shrine, those doggone things started squealing like they might if I'd forgotten to take the fricasee off the stove.
No smoke anywhere in the house. I checked thoroughly, I assure you, because I knew the batteries were all fresh in the detectors.
After about a minute of ear-splitting early warning, the smoke detectors stopped. They haven't peeped since, except when I deliberately lit a match under one of them to see if they were functioning properly.
This is one of those stories where you get to choose your favorite ending!
Ending #1: Sis at Prayer Circle
"She has a shrine set up to a pagan goddess of some kind, with wands and crystals! Oh, how it breaks my heart! As if those crystals could get her into heaven, without being born again!
And here's the scary thing. When I came near her devil's shrine, all the smoke detectors went off! It's like God Almighty was telling me to get away from that sin!"
Ending #2: Anne at Home
Whoa, dudes, I believe in karma and all that, but wow. It's like when Sis approached Queen Brighid the Bright, the faeries in my house just went bat-shit! They just freaked out at her very presence. They must have been channeling energy from innocent people burnt at the stake. Hence, the use of smoke detectors. They were warning me to keep my distance from this Grand Inquisitor.
The smoke detector thing was way weird. I love my sister, and I would never try to change her beliefs. The last thing I'd ever think of doing is going to a Druid circle and having everyone pray that she find her way to the bored gods. But I have my beliefs too, and at the moment of the Great Smoke Detector Rebellion, I believe the bored gods were alarmed by her presence.
For you scientific rationalists out there: Yes, it's true that an insect crawling across a smoke detector can set it off by mistake. And yes, it could be purely coincidental that my sister was staring at my shrine at the time. Yes. Fine. I'm not going to try to tell you what to believe either. It's against my religion.
PS: I allowed my father's funeral to take place at the LuvGawd Pentecostal Church because the Environmental Protection statutes in the states of West Virginia and Maryland would not allow me to set Dad on a barge made of dry tinder and float him down the river as archers with flaming arrows shot at his bier. Yeah, but they can post the Ten Commandments in front of a courthouse. I say, no fair.
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS
Image, "A Little Mischief," by Seitou, for use only with permission of "The Gods Are Bored."