A DAY OFF FOR LIFT-OFF
“Up, up and away !” “We have Lift-Off !” Only 5% of French men and women know why today is a Public Holiday. Because it is a Holy Day. Everyone knows it is Ascension Thursday, but few have any idea what that means. Don’t tell them. They would die laughing.
One of the most outrageous, and certainly most entertaining, send-ups of religion I have ever heard is a song on the C.D. “Travelin’ Band” (1997, Sierra Records, P.O. Box 5853, Pasadena, Ca. 91117). Outrageous but, different from much that is written here, not at all offensive, even to pious ears, at least to those that belong to believers with a sense of humor.
Its preface introduces this cautionary tale by describing what follows as “a little story about what happens when you get religion ahead of the Lord, instead of the other way round”. (Even redneck fundamentalists could not quarrel with that).
The song tells the story of a member of the congregation who arrives at the church, in advance of the service, on Sunday, only to find it on fire. He rushes to tell the “leading deacon” who assures him that his is “a point well put and a timely suggestion”, which he will bring up “at the very next meeting of the Board of Deacons a week from Tuesday”. “I don’t know why”, says he, “it’s just church policy at the First Nazametha, Baptecostal, Seventh Day Orthodox, Luthereterian, non-denominational Church of Our Lady of the Mind”.
The satire gets better (or worse). The following Sunday, in a tent “paid for by the building fund”, the same parishioner announces that a tornado is on its way : “Everybody run !”. The leading deacon duly takes note for the meeting a week from Tuesday. Finally, at the tent-less open-air service the next Sunday, our hero announces that the congregation should lift up their heads, “for the Lord has come today !”. The deacon once again puts the fact on the next meeting’s agenda.
All beautiful, original, harmless parody. But there is a cruel truth in the humor. Believers are not necessarily unintelligent. Just blind. Church traditions, no matter how out of touch with reality, must be observed and never questioned.