The dark clouds roll in, literally and figuratively: it is High Noon, and the Sheriff of this town is giving the rotten Mustafa Brothers one last chance to get outta Dodge before the guns start blazing.
At the funeral yesterday, in the low-ceilinged funeral home on Hull Street, I was given the opportunity to get saved. Several opportunities, in fact. I had my head bowed, and the preacher asked “Do you know Jesus? Anyone who has not been saved, raise your hand. C’mon, don’t be shy,” he said, “I won’t put you on the spot. No is looking. Raise your hand if you don’t know Jesus.” It seemed presumptuous that he wouldn’t first say “Anyone believing that you actually can be saved, then raise your hand if you’re not.” For me, the term “saved” has a kind of semantic looseness to it where I could actually say that, yes, I am saved–saved from this cretinous belief system where people race to be the first one through the Pearly Gates. Saved from the judgment of a loutish deity, who, for an omnipotent being, frankly doesn’t seem to have it together. Saved from these starchy hymns and papery communion wafers. But I know he didn’t mean saved in that way. And I knew that he felt it was his duty to make the offer. After all, someone’s immortal soul could be at stake.
With my head bowed, I tried see if anyone else there was like me, unsaved, but, unlike me, courageous enough to raise their hand for the preacher to see. Soon as I looked though, the preacher said, “Don’t look, now!” So I quickly clamped my eyes shut. I must have been the only unsaved one there, and somehow he knew it; and, by God, we were going to sit there until I raised my hand up in the air–raised it high!– and he sent an usher to bring me forward to anoint me, baptize me right then and there–“Do you accept Christ as your personal savior?” “Yes, yes, Lord, yes”– and I would fall to my knees and weep and cry and thank Gawd, and just gush tears as my new church family embraced me, rocked me back and forth, singing “Precious Lord” as Grandma was wheeled away to her great reward.
Despite my somewhat rabid distrust and disappointment in Christianity, there is a part of me that wants to be dunked in the baptismal pool, fall down in rapture, speak in tongues. I successfully fought the urge this time, but what about next time? Or the time after that?