Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Gospel of Melvin: The Parable of The Wedding Feast

The carpenter was on a roll. He launched into another one of his nutty stories.

   “A king’s son was getting married, so he sent out invitations.” (At least it wasn’t one of those “Furnish Your Own Firkin” kind of things. Wine, meat, music--all provided! Yup! With the rich, it’s first class all the way. AND they always include plenty of fresh fruit! I remember this one time, a Sadducee was throwing a party, and he ordered my entire week’s stock of honeydew! It was glorious! Of course, I didn’t get an invitation to the feast, but it was still a memorable occasion for me.)
   “On the day of the wedding party, when the food was nearly ready, he sent his servants to tell the guests that dinner was ready and it was time to come to the party. But everyone began to make excuses not to come to THE gala event of the year! “
   “Sorry,” said one of them, “I’ve just started a business in secondhand formal attire: Gedaliah’s Garments (wedding clothes a specialty), and I’m too busy.”
   Another said, “I’d come, but I’ve just joined up with the Zealots, and so I’m politically opposed to fraternization with the wealthy and powerful.”
   A third said, “I’ve just bought a crate of watermelons, and need to go examine them.” This last he said, looking toward the fruit stand of a certain upstanding merchant, and adding, “Because you never know what you’re really getting!”
   “Ultimately, everyone who was invited turned down the invitation! Enraged, the king sent his soldiers to kill those who refused his invitation and burn their villages. ‘And start with those jokers who gave the bride and groom potholders at their shower!’ ”
   Then the king told his servants, ‘Go out into the streets and the alleys, and invite the poor, the blind, and the lame. They’re used to begging, and so they won’t care if their roast is cold or their wine is warm.’
   This they did, and, after a long while (since it takes a long time to lead the blind to a place, and help the crippled into seats, and convince the beggars that it really is worth their while to follow you,) it was discovered that there were still empty chairs at banquet!
   Again, the king sent forth his servants, “Go out to the highways and the hedges! Bring in the highwaymen and the hedgehogs, the good and the bad, and even the melon merchants! The rent on these tables & chairs is ridiculous, and I’m gonna get my money’s worth!”
   This they also did, and the tables were full of riffraff, who were soon full of lukewarm roast and tepid wine. Even so, it was a great party. However, there was one guy in the place not dressed in wedding clothes.
   “Hey!” the king demanded. (That’s the way with kings! They never just ask. Always demanding and commanding and bellowing!) “How did they let you in without wedding clothes?”
   The man replied, “I had wedding clothes, but I lent them to my neighbor Gedaliah, and never saw them again, until I saw them in his shop window, and for thirty shekels no less! I hope his store burns to the ground!”
   The king was more even more enraged. “The proper attire was being handed out at the door! You’ve no excuse!”
   “It’s true. I just didn’t like the color and style. I’ve got to be me, you know? I’d hoped not to be noticed, but I guess that’s what you get for sitting this close to the head table. Next time I’ll sit in the back.”
   “There won’t be a next time!” bellowed the king. “Guards! Throw this worm out into the darkness, and make sure he lands in the thorn bushes, so that there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth!”
   And so they cast him out toward the valley of Hinnom, where the worm does not die, but the fire and smoke goes up forever. For if you fail to do good deeds before those who can reward you, then shall your Heavenly Father reward you?*

* In the absence of actual punctuation in the text, as it typical of the Greek & Hebrew of the time, it is possible that this last may intended to be a statement, rather than a question. In fact, the true sense of Melvin’s text may be that God will reward you for dishonoring those on earth who may be capable of giving you such transitory rewards as food, drink, money and honor. However, in light of the eschatological punishment meted out to the offender, it seems likely that we ought to view his action as morally offensive. Thus, we ought to read the final statement as a question, with the lesson being, as St Heresias put it, “Take advantage of every opportunity for gain; for it is sinful not to do so.”

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gospel of Melvin on the Woman Taken in Adultery

The account of the woman captured while committing adultery has a sketchy place in the accepted Gospels, appearing in no manuscript before the 6th century. Imagine my surprise at discovering a version of the story in the Melvinic Codex!

    One day, while Jesus was sitting in the temple courts, teaching the people, some teachers of the law and Pharisees showed up, dragging a woman along with them. “Teacher,” they said, “we caught this woman in the act of adultery!”
    “Very well,” he replied, “but I still have to mark you tardy for class! Now, as I was saying, the best wood for making a crate for cantaloupes is –”
    “We’re not here for your carpentry class! This woman – wait! Where’d she go?” for verily she had given them the slip. When they had captured her again, they brought her to Jesus.
    “My father is always working,” he was saying. “Tables, chairs, shelves –”
    “We found this woman in the midst of committing adultery, Teacher! Moses said we should stone women like her to death. What do you say?”
    The carpenter sighed. “Alright, fine! Class dismissed. When you come back tomorrow, bring in your list of five items that you would make with gopher wood.” Then he stooped down and began tracing swirling patterns in the dust around the stones that lay in the temple courts. At first, it was with one finger, then with all of his fingers at once.
    “Well?” asked the Pharisees, “What do you say?”
    “I say that if you want to pass this class, you should be here on time.” And again, he stooped down to continue making his calm, meditative patterns in the dirt.
    This infuriated them. “Do you think we ought to stone her?” they asked, snatching up spare stones from Herod’s ongoing temple renovation project, and utterly ruining the sea of calm Jesus had raked into the dust with his fingers.
    He said to them, “Let he that is without zen cast the first stone.” But they did not understand him, thinking that he said to them, “Let he that is without sin cast the first stone.” And they all began to go away, until no one was left.
    And Jesus was writing in the dust, “1 honeydew melon, cubed. 5 loaves barley bread, blessed and well-broken. 2 pickled sardines, crumbled. 120 gallons water. Preheat charcoal fire to 350 degrees.”
    When they were all gone, Jesus said to the woman, “Again?! Didn’t you quit this sort of thing back in Sychar? Did you forget all about that living water thing?”
    But she said to him, “This is really all your fault, you know. ‘Salvation is from the Jews,’ you said, so I converted to Judaism, and married Mister Number Six. Had I not married him, this wouldn’t have been adultery!”
    Jesus ignored her, looking at one of the cast-off stones and snorting. “How typical! This stone that the builders rejected is the most important stone of the whole structure!”
    The woman continued, “It’s good to see you again. Nice job with that ‘He that is without sin’ comment, by the way.”
    “Yes. ‘Without sin.’” Then he picked up a stone and said to the woman, “I’ll give you a five second head start. Go!” As she fled, he called out, “And sin no more!”

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What I've learned about prayer from how we often practice it

- The only proper posture for prayer is head-bowed, eyes-closed.

- Prayer is how we get God to do our will.

- Prayer is the method by which God finds out what is going on in the world.

- Prayer is the church gossip and news report.

- "God answers prayer" means God answers prayers with "Yes."

- God needs our prayers in order to do anything in the world.

- Prayer is the religious version of Aladdin's lamp: We call upon God and he appears, "Poof! What do you need?"

- God answers prayers democratically. The request with the most pray-ers gets a Yes vote.

- We have to say "in Jesus' name" at the end of our prayers, because otherwise, we're not asking in Jesus' name, and God will say No.

- We ask religious leaders to pray for us, because they're closer to God and more likely to get a Yes answer.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Further Contemplations of the Sundry Motivations for Intentional Proximity of Bananas and Humanoid Otic Orifices

12 more answers, arranged topically for your inconvenience.

“Why do you have a banana in your ear?” I asked (yet a fourth time.)

- Don’t think of it as “in my ear.” Think of it as “brain adjacent.”

Fashion & Ontology:
- Earbuds are SO last season! Buds become blooms. Blooms fall off, and are replaced by fruit... Voila! The earbanana!

Nostalgic Science Fictional:
- “I’m receiving a transmission, Captain!”

Medical / Psychological / Sadistic:
- It’s a new cure for earworms! You know, it really IS a small world after all!”

- “Bananas are good for you!”

- “Well, as Jesus said, ‘By their fruit you shall know them.’ ”

Proverbial / Buzzfeed:
- “ ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away!’ You’ll never guess what a banana a day prevents!”

- (look at watch) “19 minutes and 34 seconds! A new record!”

Adolescent / Historically-Unexpected:
- “Oh sure! Jill gets her eyebrow pierced; everyone thinks it’s cool!  Dan gets a tattoo; no one says a word! But *I* get a banana in my ear, and suddenly, it’s the Spanish Inquisition!”
- “You know how you can a hold a seashell up to your ear, and hear the roar of the ocean? When you put a banana in your ear, you can hear the sound of the jungle!”
(At night when the lion is prowling, that is.)

Traditional / Spiritual
- “I do this in accordance with the practice of my ancestors. My father’s father’s father, four generations back, stuck a banana in his ear – and so we have done in every generation since. HIS father before him used a zucchini – he had never seen a banana.”

- “I’m starting a new fashion trend.”
(All the really cool gibbons are already doing it!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

St Espressus of Java, on Iced Coffee

In my work among the Mohammedans*, I discovered a unique custom they had regarding the blessed beverage.  On those summer days when it is hottest, they climb to the highest peaks and collect quantities of clean snow and ice, with which they cool their coffee until it becomes a quite soothing and refreshing beverage.

It occurs to me how like this is to the Incarnation, in that something which comes down from Heaven is combined with something of earth, and the result is a reflection of glorious wonder. So also it is with the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit of God which descends from Above to dwell in the heart of the believer, and so results in the soothing and refreshing of the soul. ‘Tis joy unspeakable and full of glory! It’s also good with the addition of a small amount of milk or cream.

The Holy Father** should really try it.

*That is, Moslems. Espressus was evangelizing the Turks when he was introduced to coffee..
** Clement VIII

More Melvin On The Way

I'm translating some more of the Melvin gospel today. Seems to be a conflation of the woman at the well in Sychar (John 4) and the woman taken in adultery (John 8.) Perhaps the completed text will give us a clue to the original source material of the latter pericope.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

More Bananas. More Ears. More Answers.

And why do YOU have a banana in your ear?

- "Oh, I think we BOTH know the answer to THAT, don't we?"
Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more! (I have no idea what this answer is really supposed to imply.)

- "Scientific method: I've worked out the questions of Where I may stick it in my ear, and How. I'm still working on the Why question, though.
Because "Why?" is not the only question that may be asked.

- "Duh! Because I'm a banana tree!"
Isn't it obvious?

- "Well, I tried sticking it in OTHER people's ears, but they didn't like it much."
You see, I really had no choice!

- "Because it's Tuesday (or whatever day it happens to be.)"
Alternatively, you can say "Tuesday" no matter what day it is. When the inquirer explains that it is, in fact, Friday, you can reply, "Oh dear! Well, THAT'S embarrassing! I don't suppose you happen to have a bicycle tire pump on you? No? Well, I guess I'll just have to pay the fine, then."

- "All out of Q-tips."
It's an environmentally-conscious choice.

- "I don't have a banana in my ear. This is someone else's ear. Van Gogh's, I think."
You're not just nuts. You're also cultured.

- "Well, it's not quite ripe."
And I was all out of brown paper sacks.

- "What a weird thing to ask a person! I'd think the more natural thing to ask me about is why I have a banana in my ear!"
I guess this actually a variation on, "No, it's not a bandana. It's a banana."

- "I am not prepared to address that question at this time."
Useful, should you be putting a banana in your ear during a televised press conference.

- "I don't. This is a plantain."
Because no one needs an excuse to put a plantain in their ear, obviously.

- "I dunno. I guess I forgot to ask, 'What would Jesus do?' "
I admit it was a bad decision, and it could've been prevented, but I'm stuck with the consequences, now.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Dozen More Answers to the Banana Question.

Why do you have a banana in your ear?

- "It keeps away the feral penguins."
This is sensible. Do you see any feral penguins around? No? Must be working.

- "Who wants to know?"
Ya' can't be sure when the NSA might be listening in.

- "Haven't you heard? It's National Stick a Banana In Your Ear Day!"
Now I just have to wait awhile, and someone will surely create it.

- "So no one thinks I'm crazy."
Look. Crazy people work extra hard to appear normal. They certainly aren't gonna give into the mad desire to go about with a banana in their ear, for fear someone will identify them as looney. So, only a sane person would dare to do such a thing. Ergo, banana in the ear = sanity.

- "I'm trying to quit smoking, and this is supposed to help with the aural fixation."
Because some of us adore awful puns!

- "Because if we don't have the freedom to stick bananas in our ears, are we, in fact, truly free?"
The patriotic, Libertarian response. Popular for those who want to try this at a Tea Party rally. (That's right. I'm an American. That joke is about as political as I get.)

- "Because if I don't stick a banana in my ear, who will?"
Hey! Ya gotta stand up for the truly important things!

- "I happen to find it aesthetically pleasing."
Just say no to oppression by the fascist fashion industry!

- "It's doing wonders for my vertigo!"
Of course, everyone knows that the cochlea--in the inner ear--is the center of balance, so this is certainly plausible.

- "Don't you dare infringe on my freedom to practice my religion!"
Reformed Fruitism, BTW. It's pronounced "Froo-ih-ti-zuhm." You don't want to know what the original, non-reformed sect does, believe me!

- "It's very existentially satisfying! You should try it!"
Especially for a Reformed Fruitist.

- "It keeps me from sticking anything else in there."
Yup. Quite bonkers, I'm afraid.