Thursday, October 10, 2013


By Teresa Beem

  “Who was the greatest capitalist in the Bible?” Pastor Sleepy questioned his congregation that Sunday morning. 

     “Noah!” the pastor shouted back answering his own question, “He was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation!” The praise group drummer played a rimshot as a new wave of laughing erupted from the worshippers. The down-home southern fundamentalist pastor continued:

   “And who was the female capitalist in the Bible?” The audience paused and dabbed their eyes from the tears spilling out with amusement.

   “Why it was Pharaohs' daughter, o’course! She hightailed it down to the Nile and drew out a little prophet!’ As the roar crescendoed he tried to calm them down with his hand.

   “Wait! Wait! I got one more: Who was the greatest comedian of the Bible?” Sleepy himself was now chuckling so hard he could hardly finish. 
   “It.... it,” he caught his breath, “It was Samson. He brought the house down!” 

  Sleepy was Pastor John Whitewasher’s nickname. After graduating from The Opti-Mystics Seminary (known for their rose-colored glasses), Sleepy and his wife had settled in the nice little Christian village of Berea. Their town’s quaint slogan was “K. I. S. S.” (Keep it Simple, Stupid.)

       Every house was freshly painted white with a big, bright welcome mat on each threshold. And nary a discouraging word was uttered by those in the town, for they had such simple faith in Christ. They joy of the Lord was their strength and each family wanted to prove how strong their faith was. Their smiles were their proof and their talisman against the wiles of the devil.

   The pews were always packed in Sleepy’s church. Each sermon was flanked with upbeat songs about eternal safety in Christ. “God is good all the time. All the time He is good” was repeatedly chanted until the upraised hands fell from the exhaustion of such glorious feelings.

   Sleepy’s sermons made the congregation feel they were all in an airplane going to heaven. Each Sunday they would mentally buckle up in their imaginary overstuffed leather first-class seating, turn up the celestial air-conditioning, put on headphones and watch the inflight movie, which of course was the entertaining sermon part.

    To close the program, Pastor Whitewasher always told them to keep their eye on the prize--heaven--and don’t worry too much about what happens on earth in the meantime. Be good, but remember that believer’s good works would never be anything but snow-covered dung hills. Faith-imputed justification without any actions on their part--"so, fellers and gals, no worries! If we really wanted to win the world for the gospel don’t get caught up in dead works, Christians should follow the formula of the three p’s: be positive, be at peace and be righteous partiers!" 

     Will B. Simpleton and his wife Ima, smiling and swaying to the music that morning, were appreciative that the pastor kept the service relevant, inclusive and non-judgmental. Oh don’t misunderstand, they were New Covenant Bible-believers and had daily devotions (Ima called them her “snuggle time with Jesus.”)

     But the spiritual terrorism from the dark forces were never actually spoken of by any balanced Christian in Berea. It made them uncomfortable and above all Jesus would never want anyone to feel uncomfortable. It just wan’t nice or polite to make people feel bad or guilty or humble. And talking about the growing evil sometimes started arguments which gave them negative feelings and after all, genuine Christianity was about feeling warm and cozy and good about ourselves and others. Arguing wasn’t nice. The sermons really needed to stay upbeat and positive in these troublesome times. 

    And the times were troublesome. Just last month the slashers had taken out another Christian. And even Will’s wounds were becoming infected. But no one spoke about it because he tried to keep his slashes covered with high collared necklines and long sleeve sweaters.
       It made people feel uncomfortable when they saw the slashes. They didn’t make any big deal about it. Everyone has slashes, right? It was written, “No one is without slashes, no not one.” So rather than focusing on it, they had all learned to keep themselves busy with the best medicine of all: laughter.

     Laugher didn’t stop the slashings, but it helped the pain. Everyone everywhere was arming themselves with sarcastic jokes and entertaining quips to anesthetize themselves and others. They kept their iPhones next to them to tweet a link to a funny Youtube video or episode of the newest sitcom. 

   A few days after the Sleepy’s sermon, the Whitewasher’s teenage daughter walked into her parents bedroom after having been up late facebooking with her boyfriend.

   “Daddy, there’s one in my room,” she whispered, her white body shaking with terror as her parents pretended to sleep. They didn’t want to know.

      “Daddy.... daddy,” she sobbed pleadingly, “it’s standing next to my computer!” The room was silent.

   Pastor Sleepy figured his daughter was exaggerating the situation. She was a high-drama teenager, after all. Mrs. Whitewasher didn’t want to make waves. A confrontation between her husband and the slasher could get violent. Violence wasn’t nice nor Christian.

    “Be real sweet to it and say a prayer,” her mother whispered back. “Trust Jesus.”

    The girl stood for the longest time trembling, too afraid to return to her room. Then she curled up on the floor next to her father. Even there, she awoke with some deep slashes.

    Mr. Simpleton had a quip he would say with every new slash his family received, “Cheer up, it’s only going to get worse!” And he laughed to lighten the mood.

    When people saw the girl they felt so badly for her, but they didn’t want to say anything. They prayed a quick “marana tha” and tried to stay positive. This was the new normal for the town and they figured the new normal for the world.

      When Will B. Simpleton was hospitalized with sepsis from his slashes people came to see him and they sang happy praise songs bringing handfuls of jokes and funny iPhone videos.

       A male nurse came in and told the family that they needed to keep their doors and windows locked. The only way to keep the slashers out was to take action and keep their homes safe.

       “Mine came through my iPhone, not through a window.” Mr. Simpleton whimpered.

    “Then get rid of your iPhone,” the nurse replied.

      One of the visiting church ladies was offended for the Simpletons and scolded the nurse for being judgmental.

    “We are not that kind of Christian. You just don’t understand the slashers, they mean well. I think they are sincere in what they believe.” And the church lady meant it. She had a few slashes herself and it was normal, normal, she told herself.

   “We don’t worry about the slashers.” Ima Simpleton retorted to the nurse trying to keep the conversation light and positive. “Jesus died so that we all can live with each other in freedom.” She nervously giggled, “No worries!”

     “I am pretty good about keeping the doors and windows locked but the dang things are gettin’ in through the TV or phones. Whadam I supposed to do? Live in the 18th century?” Will Simpleton took up for himself as he lay there in pain squeezing his wife’s small hand.

     “You’re making it too complex, darling.” Ima Simpleton soothed her husband’s brow. “All our methods of keeping out the slashers is of no use, no merit. We have to have faith in Jesus to save us from the really bad slashers.” She spoke confidently, “Jesus paid it all.”

     The nurse looked at the family like they were insane. Then added, “Well in any case, if the slashers got to you, they can get to your family too.”

      “If we could just get rid of Obama." She began and then restarted...."We are saved! We all have a relationship with Jesus and are born-again!” Ima cried.

     “Glad to know it ma’am. But while your still on planet earth, I suggest you bolt the doors and windows and if the slashers are coming through other things, get rid of them. Mr. Simpleton, don’t be naive. Have courage and don’t let the slashers slip in.” The nurse left to the indignant mutterings of the friends and family who then sighed and began watching American Idol.

      Mr. Simpleton died. 

     It grew. It grew worse in the darkness of the nights in Berea. The adults thought they were more immune and convinced themselves they could even have a bit of a relationship with the slashers, that their cuts didn’t run so deep. But the children were being silently terrorized and mutilated as a general hysteria of laughter and silliness echoed in each home. Instead of barring the doors and windows or at least staying awake at night armed for battle, the Christian families slept and were slashed. 

     At church as the congregation bled, the songs of faith from well-dressed, smiling Christians became happier and the dance of joy more frenzied. 

     Pastor Sleepy was sitting in front of his computer one Sunday evening watching Arrested Development on Netflix and his wife was sitting next to him texting a friend about what a good time the women’s spiritual weekend had been--with the young girls coming for the edgy Christian music.

   “Where is the first tennis match mentioned in the Bible?” Mrs. Whitewasher texted to reminded her friend of the joke told by the main speaker at the women’s conference. She finished the text,       “When Joseph served in Pharaoh's court” and giggled.

     At just the same second her husband burst into laughter when on the sitcom he was watching, Michael’s brother, Buster said “Hey, hermano.”

      In their 8-year-old son’s dark room, just off where they were sitting comfortably enjoying the amusing relaxation, a Youtube video of Miley Cyrus was being watched and a deep gash was being carved in his soft youthful flesh by a demonic slasher.

No comments: