9/23/2011 | Share this article:By Carl S. ~
(With thanks to Philip Appleman)
Pastor Potter was exercising his enchantment again. Thousands stood, rapt by his magic words of praise and imprecation, his spells precisely enunciated from his Magic Book. In his mega-church, Predestination Palace, he held them tightly on a roller coaster ride of emotions ranging from ecstasy to awe, to fury and tears, with his interpretations and depictions of the spirit world, revealed to him personally. Again, he would not disappoint them, enrapturing in a foretaste of heaven, comforted, assured of moral victory even against each individual's dark forces.
They would never be privy to the mind's voices speaking even now, to him. Let us listen in. As he shouts of the Only Begotten, the voices say, "Begat, begat, begat, as one follows the other, and all in Time. Thou fool, how is the Son begotten yet not in time? This is impossible since this means the Son was once not."
Pastor Potter swatted away the evil thought, shouting, "He is risen!" And again the voices, soft and clear, said, "Others had risen first, and from their graves, walked about in their towns, seen by neighbors. Perhaps they went home to eat, make love? Tell those gathered here THAT story, fool!"
Responding, almost aloud, so invasive were they, Potter mumbled, "Get thee behind me, Satan." And suddenly, like a wizard waving his wand, the Pastor brandished the Book in his hand, slammed open the pages and said, "And the apostles exclaimed, 'See how even the wind obeys him.’" But the voices in his mind answered, "And hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis..., for does not he control them all? Why, oh why, doesn't Nature obey the Bible?"
Undeterred, Pastor Potter read, "For God is not the author of confusion..." And the voices interrupted, “Oh please - you know better." Potter continued, "…and I feel I can say without fear of contradiction..." Quietly the voices sighed, "...as said Adolph Hitler."
Pastor Potter was on a roll. (After all, who DARED contradict him?). Untiringly, moved by the Spirit and power of his own oratorical skills, he gave reassurance that he was privy to divine revelations above and beyond the ordinary preacher. The flocks flock in to hear him say, eloquently, persuasively, what they want to hear, supported by fifteen hundred watts of amplification broadcast to an audience any rock concert venue would envy, willing to pay anything. They want it all and shall have it all.
Potter pontificates: "Eternal life, promises the Lord. This earthly life is but a test, a battleground." But his "demons" return, whispering, “While now, as you speak, the mind and soul of your grandmother fades and dies in time with her body.” The voices inspired the Pastor to exclaim, "Do not listen to the heathen science, for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." But in a lightning flash, their answer came, "Isn’t it science powering the Lexus you drive?"
Pastor Potter looked out at his Wave of believers, hanging on his every word, his feeding of five thousands and more within these walls and more still over the HD signals into households unnumbered. He and his listeners fed off each other. Under his God's spell, he will fabricate answers to all their problems, tell them to go to their approved books only, to trust in the Lord and pray continually. (They have heard all these things before, but they love, like little children, to hear the same stories over and over. Coming from HIM, somehow, it's different.).
And in the midst of a nation of free speech, he has created his own censorship, where no disagreement is permitted. Here in his, i.e., "God's" territory, he is the enforcer. His and their book says that as long as he quotes from it, he can't possibly be wrong. On fire in faith and love of Jesus, his passion is contagious. (And is love not more passionate when it defends the beloved - even if the beloved is a delusion?)
What power is this, too, to teach good people to be insensitive to the atrocities of their deity? And to stand elegantly and explain in detail the "attributes" of the nonexistent? Pastor Peter works the crowd; here are the pickings Pastor Potter picked. But he is "humble" (his own word), and an "instrument of the Lord."
You have heard of Voices from the Past, and maybe this is what happened next, for Potter heard the voice of the boy he once was, who once heard another quite like him, as he is now, preaching. And this perceptive voice says now, as it did then, "You are a puppet. Others pull your strings; tell you what you can and can't say, and how to act. What you must do. You must keep the dirty little secrets of YOUR boys' club. You must say things REAL fast and change to other sayings so that others don't pay much attention to what you're REALLY saying, and ask questions. If they do ask questions, you gotta make stuff up, like kids do. You gotta make up excuses and forgive each other and God. And you teach kids to follow your example, even if they can't know your secrets.“
Potter thinks, “I never wanted to be that puppet, but look at what I've become." Poor Pastor Peter Potter battles his demons. After all, reason is a quiet voice, but a persistent one. And no one said faith is easy. Much later, alone and in quietude, he decided he must punish his demon’s doubts, and so,
Pastor Potter took a lash,
And gave his body forty whacks,
And when he saw what he had done,
He gave his Reason forty-one.