“Heavenly Shades of night are falling
It’s Twilight time”
Calvin was a low intensity drug user until the day he mixed some bad “Boomers” with some good Quaaludes. After what he saw on that binge he had a “come to Jesus” meeting and swore off drugs forever.
He sunk into the couch the same way he sunk into his hallucination. Slowly, conforming to both the cushions and the alternate reality, Calvin was one with both sofa and the wormhole. As the mist descended Calvin found himself driving into a Church that had two signs. One, a 1950’s version, was hidden behind the church as if it had been shamed for its overuse while the other was a top of the line Electronic gizmo. The signs were in a tug of war and a company of Wesen and long dead former church members cheered in opposing bleachers, each for their respective signs. If the old sign won it meant irrelevance forever for the Church. If the new sign won it meant Church growth and lots of conversions to Jesus.
Calvin wandered into the Sanctuary, where he heard strains of a “Boogie Woogie” Gospel as performed by a Lounge Lizard nightclub act. Veal and shuffleboard were being sold along with Jesus. It was hard to tell which or who was more popular. The patrons seemed to be enjoying themselves as they raised their hands and cried out “Bingo,” every time Andy Williams belted out, “Because He Lives.”
A few people milled in the Narthex while Tony Orlando and Dawn sang a medley of “Knock Three Times” and “Rock of Ages.” The people in the Narthex were the unhappy ones. Maybe they had also consumed the same toxic combination of Boomers and Quaaludes? An octogenarian grabbed Calvin’s hand and vigorously shook it while asking at the same time, “What the Hell is this?” Calvin didn’t know if the Octogenarian was referring to the shared hallucination or to the Lounge Lizard act. Either way, Calvin didn’t know the answer. Before leaving, the Old Saint added, with a sweep of his hand and in disgust, “JEEEE-SUS!”
Calvin, was suddenly in the sanctuary again where Dean Martin, martini and cigarette in hand, was speaking up the glories of “Joel Osteen.” Calvin was wondering how it was that Dean Martin listened to Joel Osteen. Calvin was more of a Herman Rodeheaver fan himself.
“Right before your eyes we pull laughter from the skies
And he laughs until he cries then he dies then he dies
Come inside the shows about to start
Guaranteed to blow your head apart.”
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
At this point the meeting started. The assembled crowd was appareled in everything from Tuxedos to beach shorts. Calvin briefly wondered if this was a scene from the last judgment. Where was the Great White Throne? A man in a bikini was holding hands with sewer worker from the Bronx. A Rastafarian from Cleveland was batting her eyes at a female Punk Rocker from Detroit. Calvin recognized Kathryn Kuhlman sitting next to Elizabeth D. Wright and Abraham Kuyper and Malcolm X sitting next to each other. For some reason Calvin wondered what offspring of such couples would be like, then he remembered that two people of the same gender can’t have children. But … maybe they could in this wormhole hallucination reality?
Roll call was made while in the background “When the Roll is called up Yonder I’ll be there” was serving as elevator music. Everyone was present unless they were gone and the Presbytery was declared officially constituted.
Someone from the balcony shouted … “A Song, A Song,” and the next thing Calvin knew he was singing,
Let their be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.
He didn’t want the words to come out of his mouth. Calvin wasn’t even sure it was a real song. He was pretty sure it wasn’t real theology. But like the hallucination itself, Calvin had no control over what was happening. He was more spectator than participant.
The assembled, Elders, Elderettes, Deacons, Deaconesses, Ministers, and Ministerettes were now suddenly all wearing dresses. For some reason it struck him as the most sane part of the hallucination.
Reports were read while nobody paid any attention. Votes were held while the gathered ministerial potpourri and paparazzis grunted out various “yays” and “nays.” The Clerk and the Moderator, dressed as the Mad Hatter and Mad Max respectfully had the meeting well in hand.
“The magical mystery listening tour
Is waiting to take you away
Waiting to take you away.”
John, Paul, George, & Ringo
The Trip suddenly changed gears and Calvin found himself in a gymnasium. Or was it a fellowship hall? Or was it the place where Firing Squads plied their trade? He couldn’t tell. It looked like all those venues at the same time. People pressed the flesh and somebody official arose and said …“Let us have a listening tour. Let us listen.”
Everything went quite. It was silent. There they sat in silence for what seemed like days. Somebody finally screwed up the courage to offer that it wasn’t possible to listen unless somebody talked. Everyone agreed that this was a stroke of brilliance and as one the assembled magpie Elders, Elderettes, Deacons, Deaconesses, Ministers, and Ministerettes began to talk.
The official rose again and said, “Let us talk and listen about something official?” The assembled Elders, Elderettes, Deacons, Deaconesses, Ministers, and Ministerettes marveled at such a profound declaration. Instantly before Calvin there was a sheet of questions to spur official conversation.
The hallucination intensified as Calvin looked at the sheet and read the questions.
1. What are the pastoral priorities should a same-sex couple begin attending your church?
2. Why do they use Monkees to test for both HIV and cosmetics?
3. What do you need most from the CRC to help you navigate questions that arise in response to same-sex marriage?
4. Why would anyone put Mercury in a Vaccine and why would anyone take such a vaccine?
5. The survey the committee sent out is revealing very diverse perspectives within the denomination. What would you see as implications arising from this reality.
Calvin saw that he had been seated at a table of 8. Indeed, the room had been filled with tables of 8 as far as the eyes could see. It looked like tables of 8 going on for infinity. At Calvin’s table of 8 was the Octogenarian who had vigorously shook his hand earlier.
The Octogenarian leaned over and whispered in his ear, in between tongue thrusts, I’m a Universalist.”
Calvin responded, while dabbing at his saliva filled ear with a table napkin, “We are all Universalists now.”
The other 6 at Calvin’s table were Twiggy, and Calvin’s sodomite Uncle Lester “the Molester,” who had done prison time for fondling boys in the family. Also seated there was Bruce, one of Calvin’s sodomite college friends that he used to visit “gay” bars with, Smokey Bear sat catty-corner in one direction from him while kitty-corner in the other direction sat Marilyn Monroe. Next to her sat Zoe Saldana. Calvin regretted that his Boomers didn’t include Marilyn’s and Zoe’s ordination.
Up front were the two officials who were conducting and facilitating the meeting. Why Sigmund Freud and Carl Rogers would be interested in leading a Church meeting only the Quaaludes knew. As the listening conversation rolled the officials paced about to observe.
One of the officials interrupted,
“A new Commandment I have for you, Thou shalt not reference your theology when discussing these questions. Theology is verboten in this magical mystery listening tour.”
All the participants immediately raised their hands to ask, Can you tell us what Theology is so that we make sure to avoid it.”
The discussions continued. The Octogenarian and Calvin were thumb wrestling while they each contended for their points.
With a thumb thrust to the left Calvin offered, “But what of Romans 1, I Corinthians 9, I Timothy 1, and Galatians 5? How can we support sodomy in any way given those passages?”
The Octogenarian countered Calvin’s left thrust thumb move with a up and under curl thumb riposte, “I knew a gay person once who was an excellent theologian and he wasn’t allowed to minister in the Church. Besides, two gay people come to the Church and want to get married and what does the Church tell them? What does the Church tell them? The Church tells them “no.”
Calvin went for the swooping head and shoulder fake thumb move, “Maybe the reason the Church tells them they can’t get married is because it is an ontological impossibility for two people of the same sex to be married. Such a thing is a surd. It defies reality. It is like asking for a woman to be her own mother”
At the same exact moment Calvin caught himself wondering at the irony of appealing to “reality” while participating in this drug induced haze. As he was thinking this through he heard Smokey Bear say that he wanted to talk about the Monkey and HIV / cosmetic question. Marilyn and Zoe were interested especially in the cosmetic side of the listening tour. Twiggy was furiously taking notes. It all began to bleed into one for Calvin.
The Octogenarian was the thumb wrestling champion of the Universe and he would not so easily be put off. He countered Calvin with a “But my Sister was a Transgender professional and he was a nice person.” The rest of the table began to chant, “So say we all.”
Someone at the next table sent a note that Zoe read saying, “Having to be right is poisonous.” It was written 10,000 times in chartreuse colored lipstick. Every time it was read the table of 8 genuflected and said “Amen.”
Calvin began to laugh the laugh of the demented.
End Part 1