- Religion and Philosophy»
- The Role of Religion in History & Society
The Sky is Falling!
A Short Satirical Story
We are in Normal, Illinois. A town as insignificant as the name implies, and yet in the very nature of calling a town Normal; a suspicion arises. What is normal but a reflection mutating atop a quiet surface? A façade to hide the intricate details which when weaved together create a distillation. Normal, IL; a small town with small people who clutch desperately at big ideas and peer curiously into the glass of reality.
A woman sat naked on the sofa in front of the television carelessly shoving an assortment of chocolates into her mouth. One, two, three at a time; her eyes transfixed to the drama on the screen before her. The chocolate was oozing and globbing around her hurried lips creating a brown terrain in the cracks of her mouth. Her husband was off to work and the children were off to school.
Across the street a group of boys and girls pointed, laughing as they stood gazing in at her. She didn’t think to see them from her windowless room. Her naked body continued falling in rolls around her.
A man down the street threw the wooden rolling pin at his wife. It came crashing down upon her head and blood poured heavy like honey from the gash displayed in broad view upon her forehead. Beyond the kitchen, beyond the hallway which connected them from the outside world stood a crowd of spectators leaning into the three dimensional view as they witnessed the malady of a simple baking utensil. Police arrived well before the wife could come up with a story for her pathetic husband; this time.
In the basement, a teenage boy sat on his bed flipping through magazine pictures of men and women engaging in sex. The rapid stroking with each page turned was seen by all, including Grandmother who nearly fainted in the sitting room above.
Many a crowd gathered outside the supposed haunted mansion. Old Mrs. Weatherby could be seen kneeling on a rug, shrouded in black funeral attire and clasping a picture of the late Mr. Weathersby who had been dead for nearly five years now. The onlookers felt extreme remorse realizing the once thought reclusive, crazy witch, was merely broken hearted and not a soul had set out to lift her spirits. The no longer eerie old lady could be seen sobbing desperately; the picture hugged tightly to her breast.
These occurrences were seen on this day by a chance event. Some mystical transcendence perhaps picked this town and had turned every structure within to crystal clear glass. There were no longer walls which could hide a single figure. No secrets could be easily kept. The hysteria rose up and swept the town with a song of naked transgressions and a town meeting was called promptly.
The town hall was filled with throngs of people yelling and fighting with one another before being called to silence. The Mayor stood solemnly before them; his head bowed for he had been caught that very morning engaging in a rather awkward act with his newly revealed mistress. The crowd booed him as he held up his hand to be heard.
“Quiet! Quiet!” he yelled over the cacophony. “I have only one thing to say…”
The hall grew still. He cleared his throat nervously and avoided the piercing glare of his wife in the front row.
“As we have witnessed today,” he said with great effort, “A terrible devastation has been brought upon us. It is my belief God has sentenced a judgment upon us for our corruptuous lives.”
More booing and hissing could be heard and someone from the back yelled,
“You’re the Corruption!”
Again the Mayor raised his hand, “Wait!” he pleaded, “Let me continue. What I mean to say is something is upon us. All of us! There is no escape for our transgressions, not even my own.” And he looked sadly then at his wife.
“Therefore, I have determined a solution. I will resign my position as leader of this town and will pass the torch to the only man seen fit to reside. Perhaps his wisdom will guide us.” He then stepped dejectedly from the podium and a buzz of whisperings spread the room with,
“Who?” and “Resigned?”
Finally a large balding man stepped forward and a hush filled the room. It was then the people understood.
Reverend Thomas Sharpe took the stand. His arrogance spread across the room like a wave of locusts but no one questioned his authority. He was a large man with a bulbous nose which hung out from his face like the knob of a door. He had reddish skin which covered areas of his face in splotches, often flaking and dry. The children were fearful of his scary, sinister face. The adults considered as a man of God he must have looked upon or perhaps endured the flames of hell (for that’s what his face looked like). Reverend Sharpe was a loud talking, bible banging man everyone knew well. His messages of hellfire and damnation were so fearfully delivered; the parents often sought the comfort of their children upon waking from a demonic nightmare. It made sense of course. It must be a man of God who can lead us to salvation they thought.
The Reverend began a sermon that day filled with difficult symbolism and phrasings regarding the last days, atonement and reckoning. He twisted and turned the texts of the bible such that it would seem he was simply a genius because no one really knew what he was talking about. He compared the glass which had befallen them to many things. The glass of their hearts. The empty glass in which they cannot drink. The window of their soul and the shattering of Gods covenants.
Men, Women and even children were sobbing throughout the hall. Fear was instilled in the parents and shame was bestowed on the innocent children. Rules were then drawn forth. The commandments plus many other mandates were printed on leaflets and every household was forced to hang them in clear site, (which was anywhere in their home now.) Sexual activity was forbidden until God gave the Reverend the okay. For now, he wished to protect the innocence of the children. Clothing was to be worn at all times, even in bed. Only certain television shows which were considered Godly were allowed. Reverend Sharpe condemned the entire town and the rules were seen as a form of repentance. Everyone was required to wear large hooded cloaks and made to keep heads bowed when walking through the streets (unless suspicion of a neighbor in sin deemed otherwise.) Church would be held every night and all must attend without fail. If you did not own a bible, the church would provide you with one. No one would be allowed to leave the town as everyone was considered sinful and degrading and the preacher did not wish for them to contaminate the rest of the world with their corruption. And finally, due to the costs of running nightly worship and supplying bibles, everyone was required to contribute half of their weekly earnings to the church. The Reverend would arrive on the Friday of the week to collect these donations, escorted by police officers just in case there were any difficult circumstances.
Many changes had to be made in order to carry out these new laws. The local clothing stores suffered as no one wore anything of uniqueness save for hooded robes which were inexpensive by design. Reverend Sharpe had recommended that women be required to serve God by learning such tasks as sewing, cooking, cleaning and other female mandated ordinances. This enabled them to eventually sew all the robes for their families further collapsing the clothing industry. Thus women with jobs were sent home to learn these skills regardless of their trade. This was seen as the way of God. Television became a thing of the past since there was no longer anything interesting to watch. Eventually all books which contained the words, sex, desire, hate, sin, hell, devil, and so forth (other than the Bible of course) were burned by the strongest of believers. Gun shops failed and guns were seized from the viewable racks of backyard sheds and garages after an incident where a man refusing to pay the Reverend half his weekly salary, arguing his child was sick and hungry, pulled a gun and if not for the police would have most likely killed Reverend Sharpe. Manufacturers of chocolate and sweets, sugar and syrups, cola and root beer all went out of business for no one wished to be considered a glutton. Cars were banned because they were not made of glass and therefore the wicked could hide within the private interiors. The Reverend and police officials alone were allotted vehicles said to be blessed by God to do his work.
All of these changes took place. Soon there began to be problems among the people of Normal, IL.
Teenage boys and grown men began growling and picking fights of aggression and jealousy based entirely on unfed sexual desire. Girls were found raped behind trees in the nearby woods. Children ran starving and cold in the streets and mothers could no longer afford milk since they were not working. Depression lurked like a wet blanket on a winter night; covering the town in its oppressive coldness. Shivering, the people mindlessly continued to trudge up to the church for what warmth could be taken. The hot swell of hell talk and eternal flames was enough to ignite their cold and tired minds. Everywhere the economy fell. Men no longer desired to work and committed suicide either from financial angst or the shame of being unable to rise above “normal” in the Normal town. Women began to secretly spy on one another; each running to Reverend Sharpe with tales of this ones crimson slipper provoking the thoughts of men or that ones extravagant cooking when no one could afford even the cloves for the ham.
And this was what happened in the town of glass. All was falling yet all were looking to God by day and to each other by night. The more the town crumbled, the louder the voice of the Reverend condemning them for causing such misery.
But one day a stranger came upon the town of Normal, Illinois and upon sensing the envious stares at his loud attire and noticing the unconventional robes with hoods worn somberly there, he asked a child what had transpired. When the child told him of the glass houses and structures brought forth by God, the stranger laughed loudly and said aloud to all the onlookers,
“Surely you don’t believe this nonsense! Why look around you, the only glass is in the windows! All is well, why do you look so somber?”
Whispers rose up from the people looking on at the strange man. The child insisted it was all so and went further to tell the man he would be punished by the wrath of God for disbelieving.
“Oh Phooey!” the man waved away the idea and handed the child a liquorice twist instead. “Go, run and play! Do not be so sad. Leave behind these silly ideas and do not listen to the idiocy of your elders for they preach only for power.”
And so the message of the strange man spread through the town. There began to be stirrings and something sparked within the hearts of the men and women. But soon this spark too, fell away when the man left. It was like a flame in the wind and they could not contain it. Their weary souls were too busy surviving to consider any other way.
And as the old town fell away and poverty spread, the glass structures remained open to the eyes of an unseen force. The church was the only thriving entity having been built and rebuilt several times; its gleaming richness overshadowing everything else. People were drawn to its splendor and it was also the only structure not entirely made of glass for the windows had been stained with pictures and mosaics which represented Gods will. The stains reminding all of each transgression, a stain upon their lives. When Normal, Illinois finally collapsed from the tight fist of the governance and the empty pockets of the poverty stricken families; someone, a child perhaps, looked up from the streets to the Golden fortress of the stained glass church and declared it must have been Gods will.
To this day there stands a shred of a town called Normal. Many are drawn to it by the very nature of its title. They are hopeful wanderers searching for peace, privacy and anything ordinary wherein they may rest their heads. Yet, the deceit runs like an angry river. Spraying its thirst and spitting out the truth into stagnant pools rotting with ignorance. God’s will has indeed prevailed, yet none will live to see. For God created reflections in great lakes, streams and oceans in which those who wished could glance with boldness at the greatness of his likeness. It was mans will which created glass. A deflection of true ownership. It was man who glared with detest at their own face as they stared upon the end of freedom.