57. Interpretation

I walked into The People‚Äôs Holy Church of the Gospel of the Bible, conveniently situated out on Highway 5. It was just a large-ass portable with a big sign on it. Why do all these new churches out in the middle of nowhere always have such long names? It’s like they’re trying to give themselves some credibility by cramming in a pisspot full of holy descriptive words.

Pastor Bob was up a ladder, in the process of unscrewing a crucifix from the wall. A young lady in a sack-shaped, floor-length dress – with her hair pulled back in the tightest bun I had ever seen – was holding the ladder steady. When she saw me, she looked stricken. “Pastor Bob! It’s The Prophet! He is among us!”

She looked like she was shouting it, but this was the meekest shout I had ever heard. Bob came down from his ladder to greet me with outstretched arms. “Jehovah have mercy! The Prophet is among us!”

I held up a hand to stop the impending hug. “You need to cut out all this Prophet horseshit,” as I threw the pamphlet at him. The young lady gasped and hid her eyes.

Pastor Bob smiled. “I’m afraid Daughter Mildred isn’t accustomed to hearing your wharf talk.” He turned to Mildred. “I can finish the rest on my own, child. Remember to bring your brothers for youth group and revival tonight.”

Daughter Mildred fled the room.

“Now listen, Brother Bob …”

“PASTOR Bob.”

I paused. “I think I’ll just call you Bob. Now, Bob, I’m no prophet, and I’m really not comfortable with that label.”

“But you speak for our Lord, the Almighty Jehovah. You are truly a prophet. Why does this make you uncomfortable?”

“Dude, I usually write about music, not shit that matters to the masses. And Jeff’s just a guy. Sure he’s also a god, but mostly he’s just a guy.”

Bob didn’t look to be accepting any of this, so I continued. “Religions are used to start wars, line the pockets of the bourgeoisie, and keep the workers in line. Nobody is going to use my writing to do any of that.”

“If that is truly your opinion of religion, then what did you think WOULD be done with your text?”

Smug bastard. What did I think? “I thought it would start a grassroots movement. I thought it would be read by individuals, and they would decide to leave organized religion to the corporations that control it. I thought people would start thinking for themselves if I showed them the man behind the curtain.”

“But the man behind the curtain is Almighty God. Yes, we’re all reassessing our beliefs – you’ll notice I’m removing our crucifixes – but nothing has changed our opinion of intelligent design.”

Oh yeah, the crucifix. I bet there are a lot of tattooed christians wishing they had only bought the t-shirt. “Intelligent design? Jesus Christ. Does anything I’ve written about the ‘design’ sound intelligent to you? I mean, he was high when he created the Earth.”

“I’m sure the Supreme Being speaks and works in mysterious ways. We can’t be expected to read everything you’ve written as literal: It requires interpretation.”

“Interpretation? Are you on fucking drugs? Jeff is the most literal guy you’d ever want to meet. He’s not capable of speaking in riddles!”

“We’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

“But I’m The Prophet! You can disagree with me?”

“And there we have it.”

“There we have what?”

He smiled. “You just admitted to being The Prophet.”

I decided to give the argument I had learned from The Almighty Jehovah whenever he feels he has no arguments left. “Fuck you.”

And that requires no interpretation.