'Left Behind'? ... or just Left Alone?
Doc Godley was relaxing in the pastoral hot tub with Stubby Candles, head custodian for The Church of The Hole-y D(o)nut.
The two had just enjoyed some herbal sacrament when Stubby got to musing.
"You know, Doc, the casual observer might think that Christianity, just to mention one of the more persistent religious experiments of the past twenty centuries, might fairly be called a death cult."
"How is that, Stubby?" Doc Godley asked, knowing full well the answer, but enjoying seeing his herbally enhanced friend wax eloquently on the subject of retail superstition.
"Well," Stubby continued, "you've got yourself those black priests' outfits, black nuns' outfits, the black pope and the usual black fashion attire at funerals. That all makes for a pretty dark and gloomy fashion statement right there."
"Then there's the grisly, sacrificial murder of God's only son who gets set up in a celestial sting operation just to lure terrified believers into forking over a chunk of their life savings."
"You've got the threat of checking in at the Hell Hotel for an eternity of torment if you don't love your all-loving deity quite enough, and a devil to serve as afterlife concierge."
"Then there's symbolic cannibalism with bread and wine being eaten on Sunday as a substitute for dining on Jesus directly."
"Not to mention smoking chalices, last rites, exorcism, burying millions of dead and decaying corpses in graves all over the world, it all sounds pretty spooky to me."
"I mean, who needs Halloween? You've got it right there, every day of the week."
Sensing that his old friend had exhausted his repertoire of Christian critique, Doc Godley replied, "I agree with you, Stubby. Plus there's the entire concept of being left behind."
"Yeah, there sure is that!", Stubby replied, half rising out of the water.
"You ever heard about the 'left behind' movement, Doc? These people don't seem all that interested in living."
"I mean, it's like they can't wait to die early so they can rush right up to heaven and receive preferential treatment in a celestial assisted living community, while leaving the rest of us miserable sinners behind."
"They send kids on bicycles to ring doorbells and warn you that you'll get left behind if you don't join their afterlife travel club."
"They send missionaries into the jungle to sell unsuspecting natives into buying the early departure package."
"They even run free ham and bean dinners to suck in the economically disadvantaged and foist their spooky literature on them."
"Moses said, let my people go. I say, let all of these people go! In fact, I'd encourage them to leave Earth right now and take advantage of the early bird Bible Buffet Special. I hear it's just heavenly."
"Now, Stubby, that's not very gracious of you. Although, come to think of it, if Christians were to rise up instantly into heaven, thousands of cemeteries could be turned into real estate developments overnight, and really fatten the church's coffers."
"Now you're talkin', Doc. Did you ever see the movie The Loved One starring Sir John Gielgud, Rod Steiger and a few other prominent actors?"
"It came out in the movie theaters back in the 1960s and caused quite a ruckus."
"Jonathan Winters plays the role of the Blessed Reverend who wants to disinter all the bodies buried in his high-priced cemetery and launch them into orbits of 'celestial grace' so he can redevelop the property."
"Movie goers would get up and leave right in the middle of the film. It was terrific. My college friend and I used to ride the subway to downtown Boston to see it again and again."
"Very interesting, Stubby," Doc mused. "Seems like they were really on to something. This will require some serious property development cash flow analysis from the church's Department of Religious Exploitation.
"All I know, Doc," Stubby sighed, "is that I'd be more than happy to be left behind by these devoted death worshipers."
"I'd be even happier just to be left alone."