THE PALE OF ORTHODOXY
All I ever wanted was amnesty, and company—certainly a major campaign platform of the Smiling Christ. We all want someone to fix what is wrong with us inside, or at very least, to show us how to fix these things ourselves. But the Christian god of my youth, with all its empty banter of “give it to the Lord,” “leave it at the Cross,” “his eye is on the sparrow,” and so forth ad nauseum (with so much added nausea), was but a good face stitched onto the bloody skull of Need, and everything we want but never find. So we tell ourselves we have it, or that we’ve had it all along. Or best yet, we don’t need it, because—praise the Saviour!—the battle has been won!
The Christian god has more faces than Ed Gein kept beneath his bed, and they spin and whir to perception and taste, just like an old Transformers Quintazon: There is the Buddy Christ—the Smiling Magic Jew, who boasts freedom from captivity, and gospels of prosperity; there is the Solemn Nodding God, who governs the large breakfasts of deacons far and wide. He is sober, and reserved—he is the Pale Of Orthodoxy to the pale shapes on the pew.
There is the Average White Messiah—amiable and moderate—hung like John Holmes in the assorted homes of those born into Christendom, near and far. Beware though—he can turn on you, as his values are reactionary, instinctive, and passed down the White Bread family tree like high blood pressure and birthmarks on the ass. He might change with the times, but he still hates gays because Grandpappy did, and likely votes straight-ticket GOP.
There is the Weeping Jesus, a frail wisp of a man—offended by naughty rock lyrics, video games and RPG’s, bare tits on the TV, and that heathen down the street. He threatens global catastrophe, but delivers only boring radio. He is a god that which presides over even those who did not vote for him; he hides his hollow eyes behind the things you fail to understand, and the protector of all children—he protects them from the things their parents fear. He is the patron saint of Soccer Moms, an iron fist of loving kindness, and the PTL in every PTA.
But most insidious of all is that Christ that captains Guilt Trips upon Gospel Ships, sunk only by loose lips and tight assholes. He establishes the crime and then convicts you for it; then backs away and cries, “Out, Devil, Out!” He sires suicides and psychopaths; they suckle at the same teats as the saints—because there is no one righteous, no, not one. And a lifetime of love and faithfulness can burn in Hell for all time in the twinkling of an eye. One glimmer in the eye at the shimmer of a thigh, and you’re sharing room with doom for all of time, should you unfortunately die. He is the Polterchrist of Revival nights, the Merciless Merciful, the Bolt-Thrower, the Spectre General who is no respecter of Man—and despises women even more. He is the Holocaust of Pentecost, whose people speak in Unknown Tongues, because he only listens for apologies. He is the Almighty Smiter, the Creeping Jesus, the Angry Bootlord—Sgt. Yahweh, Jerusalem P.D.; He walks among the musky sheets of masturbating teenagers worldwide. He opens the ground beneath you when you “sin.”
I’ve always maintained that “sin” and “evil” no more exist than “ignorance” or “darkness,” in the strict semantic sense. Darkness is the absence of light, not the opposite of it. Ignorance is the void unfilled by knowledge, not its nemesis. Thus, if righteousness is to seek God, and holiness is where that God is found, “sin” is what you call the space He does not occupy. “Empty” is not a space in the container; “empty” is where the coffee hasn’t poured. In fact, you cannot properly say that “empty” even is…or that “darkness,” or “evil,” or “sin” is or can be anything at all. These things describe only the absence of something else. The problem is our language—we attribute substance to words that denote its lack.
Sin is not the gravel road off the Lord’s paved interstate. It isn’t a road, or a path, or for that matter, anything at all. So what does this imply of the “path?” It implies that the path, by very nature is—though just what it is or might be may remain subject to question. Some turns take you off the recommended route; some roads are simply a dead end. Spirituality at its best merely provides a triptych…but not everybody’s going to L.A. Some of us may prefer the other coast. Some of us may prefer St. Louis or New Orleans. Some of us might prefer to just stay home.
Dear God, I wish I’d chosen to stay home.