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Salvation Brought to You by Pseudo-Dummies

By Bill Costley

The rabid religious right never tires of calling this vast, invaded, expropriated, over-developed, re-parceled & endlessly re-leased land a “Christian Nation,” largely based on their elevating the sole mention of God in the U.S. Declaration of Independence of (“the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God”) to a Permanently-Principled Declaration of Theocratic Dependency. Next time you need hard, cold, in-hand evidence, just read the theocratic legend on our currency-coinage to see how well they’ve already succeeded.

What’s up with those Gideon Bibles distributed free to all hotels & motels, bus-stations, etc., aren’t they part of a long-ongoing bibli-material strategy to force this vast land to become a de-facto Christian Nation of Otherwise Illiterate Insomniacs? But they’re not the only dedicated quasi-theocrats engaged in an ideologically driven super-dumping strategy.

At Barnes & Noble (in Wellesley MA, from the mid-'80s to the mid-'90s), we used to receive bulk quantities of the “latest” garishly slip-covered L. Ron Hubbard sci-fi novel series in hardbound, being released long after he was dead. I expect that the favorable terms negotiated by The Church of Scientology (tm) Bridge Publications (sm) subsidiary made it initially absurdly profitable for B&N to acquire & distribute those books. Not that they sold! They didn’t. To clear the (space = temporal money) shelves, we probably soon dumped them off onto even deeper-discounters, probably Buck-A-Book, etc.

I expect the same now applies equally to the hellishly-heated “last days” series of Biblically apocalyptic Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins’ “Dispensationalist” (End-Time) pseudo-novels (e.g. LEFT BEHIND) as well. At Waldenbooks (in Needham MA) last year, we received the latest simultaneously in hardbound & paperback editions, & promptly plopped them into the legit. Religion section right beside those Gideon & all other Bibles, Koran, Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha, Dalai Lama, Pope, President G. W. Bush (really!), etc.

I never (personally) sold a single copy of those End-Time pseudo-novels on any of my 5-hour shifts, but I did, however, once see a sweaty teenage boy eagerly tell his dad, “Look, Dad, look, these books are really fantastically cool!” Like the Bible! You DO know the Bible, don’t you? NO? Why, then, just let me call 1-888-GIDEON for you.

{news-FL@SH!} Bibles are being replaced by Books of Mormon! In a stunning blow to its monopoly on empty motel-room desperate-overnite reading-matter, The Gideons International (sm) (http://www.gideons.org/ ) has discovered that its freely distributed bibles are being selectively replaced by Books of Mormon, the Holy Koran, Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha, and Webster’s New International Collegiate Dictionaries.

“We are seriously concerned that this represents a carefully targeted program of deeply irreligious discrimination,” babbles Jebus B. Rebus, the Gideons’ official sporker. “We have every reason to believe that this is in direct retaliation for the role Bible-believing Christians played in the recent re-election of rePresident Bush.” RePresident Bush 43, whose favorite philosopher is (he says) Jesus Christ, expressed concern that “cherry-picking Bibles is clearly a satanic act. I fear what those Bibles are being used for when removed from their truly correct premises. Amen.”

According to their website (http://www.gideons.org/ ) the Gideons’ bibli-distributive mission is actually in direct response to “the emergence of more than 2,000,000 readers in the world each week (who) create an unprecedented need for reading material. This offers a challenge to Christians to supply the tremendous void by making available God's Word (by) placing and distributing Bibles and New Testaments in the human traffic lanes and streams of national life.” Bottom-line: opportunity & market-share.

Gideons International (sm) claims to distribute more than 59,000,000 bibles worldwide, averaging one million copies every seven days, or 112 per minute. Founded in 1899, and now the USA’s oldest Christian business and professional laymen's association, it claims to be “an efficient, economical non-profit operation with more than 236,000 members in 179 countries who realize that presenting people with the gospel message is an indispensable element in winning people to Christ. Every dollar contributed by members is used to make it possible for others to have their very own copy of God's Word.”

Buddhists, Mormons, Muslims, & the ordinarily-literate are unavailable for uncharitable comment.

[Hell f@ctoid] Harris Poll® #11, February 26, 2003 — on The Religious and Other Beliefs of Americans — discovered that 68% believe in the devil, and 69% in hell.

Although it soundly concluded that “Majorities of about two-thirds of all adults believe in hell and the devil, “ it further explained: “Hardly anybody expects that they will go to hell themselves.” Only 1% of Christians expect to go to hell; 18% do not believe in hell at all; 6% expect to go to purgatory, while 11% expect to go somewhere else, and 18% don’t know. Conclusion: Hell just ain’t what it once was. As Brendan Behan’s doomed British soldier in “The Hostage” sings, on his being resurrected:

The bells of Hell
Go ting-a-ling-a-ling,
For you, but not for me!

It seems to me, having grown up a devout Roman Catholic in the 1950s, that one thing the poll failed to ascertain was just what percentage of today's Americans believe that they've either already been thru hell (on earth), or will be (on earth) before they actually die. That’s because the appellation {hell} is so commonly used that it includes direst travail, effectively losing most of its oldtime sizzle. In fact, if you stick a fork in it, I think you'll find it's p.d. done, more than well-done, maybe even done to living-death.