Having lots of better things to do this afternoon, I took a break and toddled over to the Left Behind web site, where authors Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye hawk their Armageddon novels. They're up to 16 volumes now, and they're showing signs of running out of steam.
At their site you can read a sample chapter of their latest tome, Kingdom Come. In the sample, Jesus's angels separate people into groups. The group on the left, quite to the surprise of its members, goes plunging into a chasm toward the center of the earth, presumably into that great satellite office known as Hell. Of course a certain amount of screaming, weeping and wailing accompanies this sudden shift in the Earth's crust and sudden winnowing of the human population. The screaming, etc. is done by those who got stuck in the left lane. The folks in the right lane are just motoring on past, smiling and congratulating themselves on finding Jesus in time.
If I had been raised on Bora Bora and had never heard of the Bible until now, I'd be asking: "Who is this Jesus, and why does he want to throw me into a chasm? That's not very nice."
Sadly, Jesus hasn't changed with the times. When his vice-chairmen were writing the Gospels and the Revelations and all that charming, inconsistent literature, the world was a very small place. You could picture all the good people getting raptured and all the bad people staying behind, because, well ... there weren't as many people. Nowadays, Jesus (or someone who works for him) will have to knock off six billion human beings to get this Rapture thing done.
Gosh, that puts Stalin in a whole new perspective. Hitler and Mao look like pussies. Whoa. Hold the phone! Jesus might rank right up there with malaria as a mass killer!
People talk about how the bored gods don't have any official literature to back up their claims. I think that's a good thing. Because the Bible is asking me to root for a god who's gonna go after nonbelievers like a toothbrush goes after plaque. Swish, swish, celestial Scope, kills millions of little microbes in one fell swoop!
With all the updating of language and syntax these Bible editors do, you'd think they'd re-assess the tone and tenor of the manuscript and institute some modernizing influences. Either that, or we should just accept what the Bible says as wholeheartedly as we accept the deeds of King Arthur.
If you want nice modern, up-to-date religion, just drop on by "The Gods Are Bored." Ten Commandments? Naaah. How about Ten Polite Suggestions? And instead of carving them in stone, we'll carve them onto a bar of soap that we're gonna use in the shower.
When the collection plate gets to you, please remember that it's the holiday season, and give accordingly.
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS