All Creatures of Our God And King XLIII

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Well, I haven’t complained about the heat in a while, please allow me to do so. It’s HOT!!!! Popup thunderstorms just seem to create a sauna like effect to further punish our frail bodies. It’s easy to see how the cradle of civilization was in Africa, and then everybody moved to colder climates. Using my reasoning, the Scandinavian countries should be leading the world in education and quality of life. I bet there’s some mighty smart Eskimos, too.

Speaking of hot temperatures bring us back to our retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. The Elders were seated at their new favorite table at the IHOP for their Wednesday morning meeting. Elder Diggum was trying to decide whether to get the mixed fruit bowl, or another stack of pancakes for dessert. He had already devoured his steak and eggs and felt like he needed something to satisfy his sweet tooth.

“Jed called me last night and said the phone has been ringing off the hook at Channel 99.” Elder Diggum said as he buttered a biscuit.  “Folks are asking if it’s real, and if it is, how can they get to the church.” “He says they’re thinking about making it an option on their phone menu until the interest dies down.”

“Good, good”, said Elder Wiley, “I watched the DVR when I got home.” “It wasn’t like being there, nothing could match that experience, but I imagine for a shut-in that the show would be pretty compelling.” “The camera crew did an excellent job of capturing everything.”

“Yeah, I thought so too, said Elder Cheatum as he handed that week’s copy of the North Georgia Gazette to Elder Wiley. “Our celestial reporter has decided that comedy isn’t his strong suit, or his editor has decided for him.” “He’s got an interesting take on things this week.”

The weekly column by Howard Doohan read:

This week I’d like to talk about what comes after death. Man has been wondering about what comes next since before he was able to put one stone on top of another one. In my brief survey, it seems that each religion approaches the afterlife differently.

Is belief in the afterlife a binary decision? Think about the consequences of there not being an afterlife. If folks didn’t believe in Heaven and Hell would they behave? If you view, Heaven and Hell as the carrot and the stick, would we donkeys continue on the right path without the proper motivation?

From what I read, Jewish folks are devoid of the concept of life everlasting. They reject the notion of walking the streets of gold, or being cast into the fiery pit. For our Jewish brothers and sisters it’s about the journey, not the destination. I like this system for its simplicity. Live a moral life and the afterlife will take care of itself. Sounds good to me.

A slightly more complicated view of afterlife is the concept of reincarnation as espoused by the Buddhists and Hindus. You get to keep coming back until you get it right, at which point you join with the “universal consciousness”, which I guess is their God. In reincarnation, life on Earth is Hell, which you keep repeating until you attain the required spirituality to attain Heaven. In my opinion, this is a decent enough concept, except that part of the repetition process is that you are reborn into the same family group each time. You keep being reborn with these same people until you get all of your issues resolved. People with “Daddy issues” might make a hundred rebirth trips to attain nirvana.

There are some religions, like the Catholics, that believe in a middle state between Heaven and Hell called Purgatory. Purgatory is a nice catch all for the question of what happens to children that die before they’re saved, or adults who don’t receive the last rites. It gives hope to the faithful that even if they die without being in a state of grace, there’s still hope for a heavenly reward. The Baptists refer to Purgatory as “Hell’s Waiting Room”. The Baptists are pretty adamant about attaining grace before dying. It is my observation that the Baptists don’t want any souls wandering around without a final destination.

One group that believes in souls or spirits in transition are the Spiritualists. Many years ago, my Mom and I happened into a Spiritualist church while traveling down in the Orlando, Florida area. It seems that Central Florida is a hotbed for mediums and circus performers. Anyway, Mom was still struggling with the loss of her mother, and was impressed by how the Spiritualists handle what many denominations would call the “altar call”. Spiritualist leaders give “readings” for the people in the congregation that raise their hands.

Mom was so impressed that we setup an appointment with a private medium who was highly recommended by the folks at the church. Ever the skeptic, I inquired of the medium how the process worked. She told me that when she went into a trance, her “spirit guide” would take over and handle the contact to Mom’s mom for us. I asked about the “spirit guide” and was told that it was a Cherokee Indian named Blue Flower that had passed in an untimely death. By the way, Native Americans are the de facto standard for spirit guides.

Well, the medium closes her eyes and the next thing you know the medium is speaking in a slightly different voice, identifying herself as Blue Flower. At this point I say, “Otahitsu” to Blue Flower and wait for a response. “Otahitsu” is “how are you?” in Cherokee, which I just happen to know because of my great great grandma Doohan. The normal response is “Hawa”, but Blue Flower only wants to know who we want to contact.

Probing questions from the medium get Mom to reveal enough information for the medium to give a “reading” and twenty minutes later we were done. A forty dollar “donation” was left in the basket as mediums can not charge for their “gift”, lest they run the risk of losing said “gift”. I’m sure taking remuneration as “gifts” is a lot easier than filing for a 501c deduction for tax purposes.

For some strange reason, Mom felt better. Maybe forty dollars was a bargain for Mom’s piece of mind. Meantime, I’m wondering if mediums go to Purgatory.

“Well, I don’t know that he’s totally turned his back on comedy yet, but I’d rather him make fun of the Spiritualists than the Pentecostals,” said Elder Wiley as he handed the paper back to Elder Cheatum.

“Yeah, I didn’t know that bit about the Jews, no heaven, no hell?”, Elder Cheatum said as he picked up the check. “How on Earth are you going to get kids to behave if there’s no rewards, no consequences?”

The Elders nodded goodbye as they got in their cars and headed off to carry out their normal functions. In just eight hours they would be gathered again doing church business.



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