This work of satire starts with Tennessee Ernie Ford’s 16 Tons and takes place in the near future in an assisted living facility of the One True Church. The building which had formerly been an abattoir and later a toilet distribution center has smart technology that monitors not only the residents’ medical condition, but also their behavior. We learn there has just been an annual Jubilee Revival with humorously titled workshops such as Your Suffering: Is It Enough? and God and Guns: What Would Jesus Pack? and thus the place is quiet “because its denizens languished in the satisfied exhaustion of exuberance, as they were fatigued by the aftereffects of excessive righteousness.”12 After a series of sermons in the grand hall by cleverly-named preachers assisted by a righteous parrot, the Jubilee closed with the famous Bible School Bowl in which contestants responded to a series of absurd multiple choice questions each of which had the same correct answer. But the denouement of the story is a debate about tithing fomented by the Devil. The hilarious narrative that follows should not be missed.
The Full Immersion Baptist Church
This very short piece takes place in a small, nearly inaccessible church in Appalachia where baptism only counts if the person is fully submerged. An elderly man named Jedidiah Jones13 asks to be baptized, but as his body is contorted due to longstanding paralysis from a fall, he does not fit entirely within the baptistery. It will take a complicated and expensive process to enlarge the baptistery, but the congregation feels it must offer baptism to Jones. After raising the large sum of money needed and starting the fix, an unexpected event brings the story to an ironic end.
In Breen’s last story we are invited to a press conference by the Conseil Europeén pour lea Recherche Nucléaire (CERN) opening with a statement from Francois Kohelét14 in front of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which the author compares to a mandala15 The impeccably dressed Kohelét sports a Vandyke16 and tells the audience that CERN is now “prepared to uncover the secrets of the universe and usher in a new age of peace, wisdom, and prosperity.”17 He tells them that they are 300 meters underground in the Super Hadron Energy Output Laboratory (SHEOL) where scientists are able to look back to the beginning of the universe using a process called Molecular Output Linear Energy Collision Habitation (MOLECH18) With this ability and their analysis of quarks, Kohelét explains, science will uncover absolute truth. The three loops of the LHC are compared to the Holy Trinity and the subatomic particles to life, while the Higgs Boson which gives mass to all things carries the moniker of the “God Particle.” He scoffs at the questions from the press, especially with respect to what came before the big bang, stating with a straight face, “…God must prove to us that he exists.”19 However, after the conference a series of scientific findings confounds Kohelét with a message from Ecclesiastes.
Next time I will offer some commentary on Mr. Breen’s book.
(final continuation next post)
12Breen Michael, Modern Myths; Stories from the Bible. Self-published, 2018. ISBN 978-0-692-14254-7, page 154.
13Jedidiah is Hebrew for beloved of the Lord and the name given to Solomon at birth by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12:24-25).
14Koheleth (derived from the Hebrew qohelet meaning member of an assembly) is an alternate name for the book of Ecclesiastes (Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary).
15In Oriental art, the mandala is a schematized representation of the cosmos characterized by a concentric configuration of geometric shapes, each of which contains and image of a deity or an attribute of a deity. In Jungian psychology, the mandala is a symbol representing the effort to reunify the self. (Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary).
16 A Vandyke beard is a short pointed beard which is often pictured on Saint Francis and the Devil.
18Molech (or Moloch) was a deity whose worship was marked by the propitiatory sacrifice of children by their own parents as in 2 Kings 23:10 or Jeremiah 32:35. (Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary).