"This inky pie is as black and somber as the Truth we must acknowledge this day. Indeed, a dark pie for a dark day."
"That 'pie' is not black."
"As lurid and shadowy as the Dark Time we now face, cruelly rendered unto evil; our apt, tortured pie shines black as the widow's dress."
"It's not even pie. It's a bunny!"
"Having lost a bold champion, dauntless sickbed visitor, and enabler of the very stock-and-trade of Good; we see our dire mood reflected, ironically, by this pie's brutally uncompromising refusal to reflect visible light."
Friends: Please pardon my physical absence from you this week, as your generosity last week made it possible for me to crusade once again on your behalf. I even had enough cash left over after paying the hospital bills to buy the equipment needed to record today’s sermon in advance, and arrange for it to be played on this reel-to-reel tape player. I come to you, a simulacrum of a Reverend Cavendish, if you will, because by the time you get this message, the real Reverend Cavendish is engaged in mortal combat.
Of course, I have taken precautions to make sure our enemies cannot trace this communication. As you can hear, this not actually my voice, but that of the noted actor Martin Landau. I arranged for a suitcase filled with cash and directions to be delivered to him by a courier service based in Luino, a medium-sized market town near the Italo-Swiss border. The courier service was, in turn, contacted by field agents of Blackwater, a private security firm I hired over the internet. Who knew that mercenaries used Paypal?
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to help me to defray the costs of these elaborate precautions. I realize that some of you may wonder if these precautions are truly needed. So, you could ask: can I afford to fund these increasingly exorbitant requests? But I would ask you: can you afford not to?
I am, of course, talking about the threat of divinely-guided electrical discharges. We know from Job 37 and Psalm 18 that God uses lightning to achieve His ends. But will donation keep you on His right side? Let me point out that of those who donated last week, none have been struck by lightning. The ever-present risk of celestial electrocution is not one that we should lightly dismiss.
Of course, there are skeptics out there.
Today’s reading is from Sir Francis Bacon’s Of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning Divine and Humane. Bacon refers to Cicero’s parable in De natura Deorum about Diagoras in Neptune’s Temple. Seems a Neptune-worshipper showed Diagoras a great number of pictures of people who had: 1) escaped shipwreck, and 2) had paid their vows to Neptune. But Diagoras refused to accept the direct connection between the worship of Neptune and safe passage over the seas:
“Yea, but (saith Diagoras) where are they painted that are drowned?”
The first thing we can say about Diagoras is that he is a real party-pooper. When he notices you with a bottle half full of Bailey’s, Diagoras is exactly the kind of person who not only will call it half empty, but will then ask you what you are doing operating a backhoe in your ex-wife’s garden while totally bombed. Cicero was trying to tell us that people like Diagoras who are skeptics are enormous pains in our arses, and we should not tell them where or when the next ice cream social will be held.
Bacon, though, is worse than Cicero. Bacon fails to see the obvious social lesson that Cicero endeavored to impart, and seems to think that Cicero’s story illustrates a fallacy of the mind wherein people pay more attention to occasional coincidences and so draw mistaken causal conclusions. He sees the Neptune worshipper’s reasoning as an instance of:
A few times hitting or presence, countervails oft-times failing or absence.
Which is all well and good except for the fact that we’re talking about Neptune, here, people! Since Neptune is not just a craven idol, but one whose religion was totally pasted by Christianity, why is it surprising that ships crashed? Whereas today, ships routinely cross the Mediterranean without sinking! Is it just a coincidence that Christianity is the new common currency of the realm? So, Bacon might be right about false conclusions in the age of Jupiter, but in the age of Christ, false conclusions have risen again as true ones!
Sure, people like Cicero and Bacon would ask you to be skeptical of my claims relating to lightning and donations, even perhaps likening this to a fictional supernatural protection racket. But as I have shown, these men not only used flawed reasoning, but they are both dead. Whereas, at least when I penned these words, I am very much alive.
So who are you going to believe on the subject of keeping alive? I leave you with that question and the following Swiss bank account number: 1117-922-3388-666. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.
Friends: Many of you were no doubt shocked at Old Tom’s appearance a fortnight ago. I apologize for my absence ere these two weeks, for while he tried his best, Tom was no doubt less couth than has become your custom. Still, to his credit, he was the only one with firsthand knowledge of my epic battle with the Jackal-headed Anubis, and had he not testified to this knowledge, I might be right now be fertilizing the fields in back of the Woodshed. I appreciate his coming to you when I was out of the country (metaphorically speaking, of course).
You will pardon me if I don’t get up. The nurse warned me that the staples would pop out like bullets from a counterfeit PK if I did so, and besides I haven’t the energy. That is, I haven’t the energy to waste. For, like a fighter who has stored his strength for a final uppercut before the bell, I have vowed to return to the Woodshed and once more confront Evil!
My time with that Wild Beast of Gevaudan stretched endlessly as the pain of the continuous battle built step by excruciating step. The beast, of course, was able to change shapes at will. So the toothèd polar bear changed into an alluring Italian flight attendant, which changed into fire-breathing quahog, and then a Fillipina cabin girl. The changes were as spiritually disquieting as they were strategically effective, since when one is flat on one’s stomach in the middle of a relaxing massage from a nubile nymphet named Olga, and Olga transforms into a feverishly cruel ogre wielding a club studded with shards of broken glass, one is not in a position to effectively parry the blows! It would seem to me obvious such a creature would be termed “Evil,” and yet there are those among us who question the existence of unalloyed Evil in the world. And it pains me even further, because if one can’t believe in Evil, how can one believe in Good?
Today’s reading is from Beowulf, as translated by Francis Gummere. I choose this text, not only because of its inimitable Christian subtext, but also because its themes of epic battle so closely match my recent encounter. To wit, the description of Beowulf’s foe, Grendel, and his foe’s cruelty, come close to summing up the challenge I faced:
Then laughed his heart; for the monster was minded, ere morn should dawn, savage, to sever the soul of each, life from body, since lusty banquet waited his will!
Indeed, when was the last time you responded to a notice that advertised “Lusty Banquet” and found to your dismay that your role fell more on the “banquet” side then the “lusty” one? That is what I call ”Cavendish’s Law”: If you are invited to a lusty banquet, on the whole chances are it is because some monster seeks to savage you, rather than you being on the savaging end of the proverbial stick.
Which brings us to the question of how good dogs go bad. I remember as a boy, when my mother brought us to Aspen, Colorado and I heard a radio program about how a dog was bad. Soon someone misheard and started saying the dog was “mad.” Then the citizens of town, fearing a mad dog was on the loose, killed the dog. The upshot was, of course, don’t be bad.
But Grendel was more than bad. He was Eeeeeeeevil:
Straightway he seized a sleeping warrior for the first, and tore him fiercely asunder, the bone-frame bit, drank blood in streams, swallowed him piecemeal: swiftly thus the lifeless corpse was clear devoured, e’en feet and hands.
This is tragic, it is. Your usual hound from hell leaves a foot or a hand as a sort of souvenir of the sleepy warrior what might be brought back to his sleeping warrior family members in the Quad Cities or wherever. But you know a creature is evil when it ignores such niceties in favor of making even these heroes’ bony extremities into so many crunchy hors d’œuvres.
As the collection plate makes its heroic journey, I too ask your support in taking up the gauntlet in mine own Odyssey. As Llewellyn slew Gelert, I seek to return to the Woodshed! Antibiotics, however, are not free. At times like these, I remind you of my ordeal, and of how the clergy acts as a sort of “flypaper” which battles evil on the front lines, so that you can live free unsullied by its bestial canines in the gated estate of your choice!
I note the true extent of the beast’s evilness is demonstrated by the false account it clearly planted in the local alternative newsweekly, seeking to discredit me and, in this way, deny me the community support that it knows I need to return and vanquish an Evildoer.
Of course, since I was in the Woodshed, I could not have been in Bangkok! And those quoted in the scurrilous piece were not even of age, and so their claims are not to be given credence over the account of man not only of the cloth, but also of much more advanced years. Finally, I don’t even own the farm equipment in question, nor would I know how to operate it even outside a sauna, let alone inside of one!
But this is how it starts. First they make you think that the war on Evildoers was not really a war on Evildoers. If that was the case, could I sit before you today and, with a straight face, ask you for the funds to do it all over again? Could I indeed?
House lights down. All spotlights converge on a barrel chested man wearing a top hat and tails standing near center ring. He takes a long pull on his cigar and slowly exhales, letting the smoke drift up as the crowd forgets the elephants and starts to wonder what he is doing. Finally he raises his megaphone to his lips and shouts, "LAdiesSZ aaaanD GEeentlemenn! and NOW in the CENTerrr RRing, you see, PProFESSor FFury from Pretty Fakes explains “America is a piece of trash!”
I know, this administration's guidance has kept the economy going - as well as could be expected, under the circumstances, I guess. And maybe this whole subprime interest thing *was* blown all out of proportion. And I have heard that unemployment is practically nonexistent in this country. But still, finances are a little tight around here and I do miss my dessert. We desperately need the KoolAid/CoolWhip Pie recipe to see us through. A sadly confused nation cries out to you. Help US
For some reason the corporate media continues to only use bad news as a filler in between the self-destructive escapades of celebrities. And that's just DEPRESSING! C'mon now guys, it would take very little extra effort to report on a few happy stories too. Here's one to get you started; IRAQ: Continuing violence boosts funeral industry in Baghdad. See - industry is booming in Baghdad. And in that same story we see that people there are adapting to events around them in ways that, if not positive, at least show the normalcy of the local fashion scene;
"Since mid-2005 textile merchant Abdul-Sahib Mukhtar Ni'ma has stopped importing brightly coloured items and instead has specialised in selling black cloth in Baghdad's markets.
"Most people these days are asking for black cloth to wear or use for banners to announce deaths," Ni'ma said.
Many of ye be wondering, no doubt, why I am here in the place of the good Reverend. Tom the rat catcher, you say, ain’t been to church nigh these forty years, since his old mum was laid out like a plaid picnic blanket by a speeding lorry. But old Tom has a story to tell, and if you don’t listen to old Tom, you won’t find out what happened to Reverend Cavendish.
I was neither a fit night for a man nor a fit night for a beast, which in my book made it for fair fight between the two. I was hunting squirrel by the parsonage when I a-heared an agonized howl that stopped me cold in my tracks. It was not a human sound, more like a devil, yeah, a half devil half Fantana sort of sound. The same sound I would wager that Sir Charles heard, right before his lifeless body fell into the bracken.
Reverend Cavendish poked his head out of the window.
"I believe I heard someone calling me," he said.
"No Reverend. I know you be a lonely man, but believe you me that was no human voice."
"But it sounded like a woman. And I distinctly heard my name," he said as he came around to the front door.
"Reverend, the moor is very sparsely inhabited."
"I'll just pop out and have a look," he insisted, walking past me toward the path that opened into the moor behind the woodshed.
"Reverend, we must avoid the moor in those hours of darkness when the powers of evil are exalted!"
He turned back and called, "I'll just check, then, why don’t I? I'll take an axe."
Then he disappeared into the woodshed.
Again the agonized cry swept through the silent night, louder and much nearer than ever. And a new sound mingled with it, a deep, muttered rumble, musical and yet menacing, rising and falling like the low, constant murmur of the sea.
It flushed out a whole nest of squirrels!
[Submitted by MarkC from behind the Now Iron Curtain (that bars thought-crimey internet content from being accessed in the PRC.)]