Good morning, y’all. In news that we should all be concerned with, on a level that runs much deeper than our obsession with presidential politics, it is revealed on Youtube that today is the start of the “End of Days”. According to some religious seers, the AntiChrist will be unveiled today and Armageddon is just around the corner. While I do mental gymnastics with all of the possibilities of the Rapture, I wonder how the AntiChrist will be revealed. I’m imagining the Donald’s normal stylist is replaced by someone who had not been pre-warned to cut around the two prominent horns hidden by the Donald’s coiffure. I could be wrong, it could be a really strong wind that unsettles the coif, or perhaps a fall. Those “Make America Great Again” hats aren’t just for advertising, you know.
Speaking of making America great again brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Bud rushed back to TackyToo to attend to the two pork shoulders he had cooking on his Big Green Egg. Bud popped the top on the Egg and gave the shoulders a good basting of his “special sauce” before double checking the temperature. A quick check revealed that the temperature would be good for the hour or so it would take to watch the recording of today’s telecast from the Crystal Palace. Satisfied that all was going well with his cook, he made a couple of Vienna sausage and mayonnaise sandwiches to eat while watching the DVR’d telecast from Blairsville. As fragile as Mulva was, Bud didn’t want to force her to watch the recording after she had experienced it live, particularly if there was something unsettling in the footage.
Bud glanced at his Big Green Egg remote temperature gauge and saw the temperature was holding steady. “Like a fine wine, we will serve no pork before its time”, Bud thought as he settled into the Barcalounger in the office of the Rec room.
This week’s telecast from Channel 99 in Blairsville started differently than previous telecasts. The production team had used canned footage to give an “artsy” feel to the lead up to the interior shot of the church. The scenes were mainly nature scenes of waterfalls, deer in a field and Cardinals building a nest. The background music to the intro was an all instrumental version of “Faith of Our Fathers”. Bud felt the music was a little heavy for an intro, but overall he liked the new look. It was a much more professional start to the telecast than the shot from the truck showing people streaming in the door. Bud appreciated the fact that the new intro was very calming for the viewer. Previously, the viewer felt like they were late to church and were rushing to get into their pew before the services started.
“Kudos to the production team”, Bud thought as he started his second sandwich, “Whoever is responsible made good use of their Psychology 101 class”.
As in their previous telecasts, Channel 99 cut to the interior of the church, and then “poof”, Reverend Helena Handbasket was on stage framed by a single spotlight. She was attired in a navy blue or black robe this Sunday, with her customary white sash with gold trim. Bud surmised that the robe was navy blue since he didn’t think that Reverend Helena held too strongly to the “clergy dressed in black” philosophy.
As Bud opened his second Mountain Dew, his mind began to wander, “I wonder how many different robes she has”, he thought, “technically, the robes are her ‘work clothes’, and the female of the species does like to show up to work not wearing new outfits.”
Bud paused the telecast as he took a quick bathroom break. He was struck by the thought that Reverend Helena, though a young woman, didn’t have a lot of room to show her fashion sense in a robe.
“She probably feels that mixing the colors is the way to present a fresh look”, Bud thought as he restarted the DVR, “I bet there’s a group out there that is attending services just to see what Reverend Helena will be wearing next.” Was that as good a reason for attending services as any other? Bud preferred not to judge, except when it came to the Kardashians. Bud was thankful that Reverend Helena was the anti-Kardashian.
This week’s sermon was, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. Reverend Helena did her dead level best to keep God from appearing too angry to the congregation. It was Bud’s observation that the Reverend also tried to make the “sinners” less sinful. It appeared Reverend Helena was giving a little more hope to the “backsliders” than what usually came through in an “Angry God” sermon.
“Religions don’t like to compare themselves to other religions, except to point out how they’re better and the other guys are worse”, Bud thought as he was opening his third pudding cup, “But, I think Catholics have got a good thing going for them with that absolution at the time of death thing”. “The weekly tuneups, confessions, are a good idea too.” “Get the sinners to reflect on their deeds, give them some silly penance, and then forgive them.”
“Easy peasy”, Bud thought.
Bud was now completely lost in his own revelry and was merely “watching” the telecast, not absorbing it.
“Keeping the sinners in the fold as long as possible just makes good business sense”, Bud thought, “A sinner who gets the impression that they can never be forgiven will quit trying after a while”. “Or at least I know I would”.
Bud’s self identification as a sinner left him impressed by the Reverend’s recognition that casting folks into the fiery lake was not going to keep attendance up, or the tithes.
“The Reverend Handbasket appears to be playing the long game”, Bud thought, “and I have to admit it, it is quite refreshing”.
“Evangelicals are generally a judgmental, ‘my way or you’re going to Hell way’ lot”, Bud thought as he switched the TV to a rerun of Naked and Afraid.
“Who knows what could happen if a little mercy was thrown in the message”, Bud refledted as he checked his Big Green Egg’s temperature. Satisfied that his pork butts would be okay for another hour or so, Bud let the sight of two blurred naked people pretending to survive unaided in a hostile environment lull him to sleep.
“Could there be anything more unreal than a reality show”, was Bud’s last thought before slipping off into dreamland.