"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The crowd at Heaven's Bar

"So how long have you been bartending up here?"
"Seems like an eternity."

"There's quite a crowd coming in, and they all seem to crowd around Him, don't they?"
"He's the life of the party, great storyteller, brings smiles to everyone with his jokes."

"That's not the picture we got of Him on earth."
"Yeah, something got lost in the translations, for sure, plus all those preachers and their doom and gloom. Don't get me started."

"Besides Jesus, who's that other dark-skinned guy down there with him?"
"Which one?"
"With the head covering."
"Oh, that's Mohammed."
"They let him in here?"
"Yeah, and that bearded guy next to him? Brigham Young."
"What--Muslims and Mormons too?
"Why not?"
"Well, the churches and preachers...."
"Don't start that again. The  "P word" is off limits. Look, it's God's place, so he can invite who he wants."
"Doesn't that make some people uncomfortable?"
"They get over it when they've had a few and start having a good time--see the skinny guy in the white toga like thing?
"Yes."
"That's Gandhi. Next to him, smoking a cigar, looking like a bulldog? Churchill. Couldn't stand each other...now they're friends."

"Any journalists up here?"
"Very few. They're usually too skeptical to believe in a free happy hour. Takes them a while to come around, but once they get thirsty enough. See the woman in the red robe? That's Helen Thomas. God likes people who are honest enough to ask tough questions. She gave Peter fits at the gate."
"And the women next to her?
"That's Helen Keller--who can see now--and Joan of Arc,  Florence Nightingale, and Pat Nixon. There's a special place at God's bar for those who have suffered and helped much."

"Yeah, I noticed the bar gets longer as more people crowd in. Seems magic"
"It isn't magic. All those special effects of expanding walls and such in Harry Potter books? Where do you think Rowling dreamed that up?"

"She's not up here yet, is she?
"Not yet, but I have it on the highest authority she will be."
"But she was into magic and wizards and things."
"Don't you dare mention the P word again. She got millions of kids to read and have fun. She's coming."

"Speaking of that, I don't see many p...."
"Oh, they're up here, blending in, having a good time--the good ones who cared for people, comforted people, didn't get rich or write books or be on TV or have 'mega-churches'...lots of them out there, but they don't draw attention to themselves up here, any more than they did down there."

"What's that back room with the crowd in it? Looks like mostly women."
"It's for all those mothers and fathers who lost children in those stupid wars men started. Or just parents whose children died before them. He spends a lot of time in there. He knows what it's like to lose a son."

"What about politicians?"
"Very few--most of them sold their souls to the Devil. But Jimmy Carter made it, Abe Lincoln, Margaret Thatcher, Harry Truman, Teddy Roosevelt...but they're rare--tends to be the honest ones--honest with themselves and others, and could laugh at themselves."


"I see old Bob Illidge down there, drinking vodka and playing cribbage. Are their any other professors up here?

"We've got a few professors, as long as they're not conceited about their "publications" and self-important as "senior faculty" with their tenure. God isn't impressed with arcane publications with big words and footnotes that only a few others read. Publication? God pretty well wrote the Book(s). The professors who get in are the ones who were the really good teachers--honest, humble, helping students. And tenure? No tenure up here--look what happened to the "fallen" angels. They want tenure, God tells them to go to Hell."

"And Illidge? What a hoot he is. God actually lets him win at cribbage some times. Illidge says he's waiting on Clark. Said Clark had a surprise coming some day."

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