- Religion and Philosophy
So, A Christian Republican From The Far Right Walks Up To Heaven's Gates...
It's been a long day -- I mean, the line is horrendous. But Jesus has taken the wheel this shift at Heaven's Gates, and his straightforward system is moving it along. It's simple: The person steps up to the podium, Jesus (behind said podium) thumbs through the big book in front of him, searches for the person's name, and then lets the person know whether they are in the book. If they're in, they go through the gate, and if not, the waiting demons usher the person to Hell. See? Simple. Oh, sure, sometimes there is a bit of slightly annoying excessive celebrating when a person enters heaven, and at times someone tears up or even begs for mercy a tad upon learning that they'll spend eternity buried alive in hot lava -- but, besides all that nonsense, for the most part the whole process is quite straightforward and relatively efficient.
At the moment, there's a Christian Republican from the far right (hereafter, for efficiency's sake, referred to as CR) striding up to the podium. He's recently arrived from a golf course in Florida, where he had been wearing a polo and khakis with all the dignity his sixty years could muster until a heart attack dropped him dead on the green as he was about to hit a bogey on the 18th hole. The wrinkles are still there, but the regality is gone; he can't contain his excitement. When he arrives in front of Jesus, he opens up his mouth, about shower Jesus with accolades and exclaim how much he's been looking forward to this moment all his life -- there's a long line stretching to forever, and Jesus is trying to get through at least a thousand an hour. Chop-chop.
"Name?" asks Jesus, before CR had a chance say a word. The tone is straightforward and curt.
CR gives his name, and Jesus thumbs through the book, looks at the place the guy's name should be, doesn't find it, looks up, and says brusquely, "You didn't make it. Sorry. Next!"
That process takes twenty seconds and is the picture of efficiency until the guy doesn't just leave with the demons waiting politely escort him to hell. He keeps standing there.
And then he speaks, nervously, as Jesus looks to motion to the next person in line, and says, with a hint of anxiety but the rather naïve assurance that there just had to be some mistake, "But...um...you took my place."
Jesus's gaze snaps back from the next person in line to CR, irritated and confused that this simple process has turned into a conversation. "Sorry?"
CR, now that he's regained Jesus's attention, is a bit more straightforward. "You took my place."
Jesus's face wrinkled. "How do you mean?"
CR is a bit taken aback and unsure of himself. "Well, uh...I couldn't be righteous on my own...." He waits for Jesus to, any moment now, laugh or remember somehow how it all worked and let him into heaven.
But Jesus's face, in addition to remaining confused, is becoming impatient. He glances at the line, which was getting longer, and pushes CR to move his explanation along, "Yes...?"
CR, starting to get a bit red in the face and hesitant, says, "So...um...you gave me your righteousness."
Jesus looks even more confused. "I did what?"
CR repeats in a smaller voice, "You, um...you gave me your righteousness."
Jesus seems taken aback and insulted at this point. "Why would I go off and do something like that?"
CR, afraid to look Jesus in the eye, replies, "Because...you loved me..."
Jesus thinks. Maybe he is missing something. "Why did I love you? What did you do for me?"
CR searches his memory, "Um..nothing. I mean...you just did. You just kinda said 'I love you.' Compassionate Salvationism, or something like that, is what you called it."
Jesus sighs. "Look, whatever you heard, we have a system here; I don't just give handouts. It's too enabling; not enough incentive for you to avoid sin, you understand? Like, the most compassionate thing I can do for you is give you a strong incentive to avoid sin. Like hell. But, just to understand, this thing you say I did for you -- did you pay me for it?"
CR responds, recalling all he thought he knew, "Um...no...not exactly...it has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with you...it's grace..."
"I don't understand...then how did you get it?"
"It was...a, um...a free gift."
Jesus's eyes seem to almost explode in his skull. Nearly speechless, he exclaims, "FREE?!..."
CR, realizing his eternity is at stake, begins to try to muster a sense of urgency, "Um..."
But an exasperated Jesus, frustrated that he had to spell out something so obvious, interrupts, "There is no such thing as a free lunch."
CR protests, "But you offered this gift to all men who would take it, and I..."
Jesus looks as if he has heard it all by now. "They didn't have to earn it?"
Jesus's reply was curt: "Fine story you made about me. I just give gifts, willy nilly, to everyone who asks, at no benefit to myself outside of my own supposed love, and then you hold me to this contract whereby I took all your sins onto me like a bloody communist?"
CR is taken aback. "It's not communism."
And now, really angry at the correction and CR's attempt to excuse his impetuousness with that retort, Jesus replies, waving his finger over the podium, "It's extortion is what it is. You think just because you're bad, I'm going to give you some of my hard-earned goodness because you asked for it? Goodness-redistribution...You must be mad."
And this is where CR begins to put the pieces together and becomes overwhelmed with a feeling of hopeless, helpless despair. "But...I want to go to heaven..."
Now, by this time CR has taken FAR too much of Jesus's time, so Jesus finally sighs off the frustration and shrugs. "Then you should have made different choices. NEXT!"
As the line moves forward (and in the background of CR's rather impolite and immature screams of horror as he is carried away by a couple demons), Jesus mutters under the breath, "The nerve of some people, expecting me to pay for all their poor choices. Don't come crying to me. Thinks he can sin all his life and then expects me to pay for it when he starts reaping what he sowed. Bloody liberal."
He's looking up now.