I’ve been told about a well known TV preacher who had an unexpected visit from none other than the True Ghost of Xmas Past.
I’m omitting his name and church affiliation because, the true truth is, you probably know who he is. He’s loud. Not too bright. He cheats on life when he can.
If reading this spoils your holiday, I’m sorry. Come visit me. (A gift’s not necessary, but thoughtful nonetheless.) Sit on my knee. We’ll sing Jingle Bell Rock. I’ll offer hospitality of hot apple cider, and dust off last year’s plastic mistletoe.
Our preacher, so I’m told by reliable Fox News sources, hadn’t been drinking when his ghostly visit occurred – at least not drinking spirits to excess – when he fell into a stupor. Half awake. Half asleep. His normal self. Hearing voices that seemed to echo across distant years. One by one seeing squinty-eyed images…
…Costumes of other times. Sad plantation music. Haunting suffragette voices. Sounds of endless cattle cars slowly moving through darkly, airtight nights. He tossed. He turned. But couldn’t look away…
“Preacher! Preacher! Hear me! You who profess to love the sinner, hate the sin. It’s midnight. I am the True Ghost of Xmas Past. I bring haunting images of oppression that you and your kind conjured into being, for lack of love, charity, compassion. See these, thou son of perdition. Tremble!”
And looking up at his whitewashed condo wall with it’s 24-karat gold-framed sign that says simply, Jesus Saves!, this is what the preacher saw and heard, so I’m told.
“See these heavy, clanking chains. I and my kidnaped brothers endured backbreaking hardships, because you and your self-righteous followers said the Bible endorses slavery. That black is the mark of Cain. That Jesus is lily white. Whiter than snow. My bleeding stripes made your race top dog. For shame!”
Said another, “Touch my weary, wrinkled face. For decades you self-righteous clowns denied me the right to vote. My civil rights. Suffer not a woman to speak in church your Good Book says. Woman is made from Adam’s generous rib. Keep her quiet. Her place is in the home. Be fruitful. Multiply. Be obedient chattel, daughter of sinful Eve.”
And still another, “I’m the guy who supports my family. I work hard to raise my kids. You conned me into feeding your greedy ministry. Give ten percent or more, you mooched me. With my money you buy a house, three cars, a private plane. Jesus says, ‘The poor you have with you always.’ Goddamn it! Ain’t that your gospel truth!”
And last, a many-voiced chorus sadly echoing. “Your version of faith says we killed your God. Your centuries of evil lies made genocide of our millions possible. Your burning hatred fanned Auschwitz’s fiery furnaces. Who have you found to hate today? What group to boxcar and bully to death? To damn eternally? Pray tell, if you dare.”
And so awakening the TV preacher cried, “Blame the devil. Don’t blame me. Peace on earth. Goodwill to all. Amen.” (And promptly fell back to sleep. And snored.)