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Trippin' Down Tribulation Trail
Ounce for ounce, pound for pound, minute for minute, blood droplet for holy unspoiled sanctified blood droplet, Christians pack more insanity into their entertainment than any self-consciously transgressive 'n' evil alternative dillweed could ever hope to match. I know, because at different times in my life I've been a Christian and a self-consciously transgressive 'n' evil alternative dillweed, and I was far more psychotic when I was a Christian.
Christian entertainment, especially when it's of the fundamentalist apocalyptic bent, rarely fails to deliver the goods. I blazed through my mid-teens as a Jesus Freak, so I have insider knowledge that Christians are so obsessed with "extreme" subject matter, your average dick-pierced heroin-smoking transgressive Satard could never compete. All these Children of Christ ever seem to think about is hellfire, torment, mind control, and sin.
Ain't a goddamned thing wrong with that.
Driving through Atlanta about a month ago, I heard a radio commercial advertising a local church that would be hosting a live-action recreation of the Book of Revelationi.e., the Bible's last book, the one where God drops acidon Friday and Saturday nights throughout October. MAY BE TOO INTENSE FOR CHILDREN! screamed the announcer, which sealed the deal for me.
Saturday night before last, I scooped together my wife, brother, our friends Nick and Sandy, and we all headed down to the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Stockbridge, GA, to take a walk along "Tribulation Trail"the Christian alternative to the demonic haunted houses and satanic costume orgies that stain the otherwise crisp, wholesome, and cinnamon-scented month of October.
We arrived on the church grounds at about 10PM amid an ocean of what seemed like 144,000 black teenagers. It took about an hour of winding around metal gates in what the British charmingly refer to as a "queue" before we were corralled into a group of about 40. We were instructed by a short, dumpy, deadpan white Christian lady that there was to be no speaking or general acting-up during the tour, even though my older brother John continued to speak and act up for the duration.
"Tribulation Trail" consists of about ten stops through the dark woodsmore like a walkthrough End of the World than a Stations of the Cross. Thanks to Christian aesthetic sensibilities, we didn't need drugs for any of it to be intensely psychedelic.
At the first stop, a young black couple had a brief argument about their faith. It appeared that the young black gent was less committed in his religiosity than the girl. After the backsliding male left their quaint homestead to presumably go and "party" with his "homeboys," the girl's full-blown Christian lady friend appeared to warn her that if she didn't double-up on her faith, she'd be left behind when the Rapture came, forced to face the End Times' bloody iniquities while the REAL Christians sat cozily in heaven, munching on late-night snacks while mocking all the sinners below.
OOPS! Just as the girl was struggling to make her decision, the Rapture came like a thief in the night and left her behind. God apparently had no patience for half-committed assholes such as her.
At the next stop we were treated to a large-screen video of some Christian rock song apparently called "The Smackdown," warning us that if we didn't get with the program, God''s giant hairy hand would come and smack us down.
After another run through the dark woods in which the black youths were momentarily terrified by a flashlight-wielding security-guard figure who bellowed at us all to keep it moving, we arrived at the "Four Horsemen" station of the festivities. One by one, a demonic figure in a demonic cape with an extra-demonic mask sent each of the horsemen off to perform acts of unparalleled naughtiness. And after he sent each one on their mission, a spoken echoing horror-movie sound effect reverberated over the speaker system and through the chilly Southern woods:
At first we couldn't believe our earsthey couldn't possibly be saying "Jews," could they? But the second through fourth horsemen confirmed itthey were, indeed, for God knows what reason, saying "Jews." For the evening's remainder, even after leaving Tribulation Trail, our party continued chanting "JewsJewsjewsjewsjewsjewsjewsjewsjews..."
At the next stop we entered what was supposed to be a small town wracked by the debauchery that results after the Rapture has sucked all the good Christians up into heaven. There was a tattoo parlor, a bar, and, I believe, a House of Ill Repute. There were also a few gun-toting vigilantes warning us that we'd be killed if we didn't worship the new world dictator, the False Prophet, the Antichrist himselfsome dude named "Nicolai."
At succeeding stations, we saw Christians being rounded-up, beaten, tortured, and shot point-blank for refusing to worship Nicolai. Good times.
There was a drama-packed standoff between a fat, snarling male in a devil costume and a short-haired Jesus figure who resembled NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The Jesus character won this battle of wits and cast Satan into a pit of darkness between two totally awesome thirty-foot pillars of flame.
The final scene was of the Great White Throne Judgment and featured a traditional Caucasian Jesus with beard and long, flowing hair. A preacher who called himself "Reverend Jones" was brought before Jesus to account for his life. Rev. Jones said he'd faithfully preached the Gospel for the past 40 years and thus expected an easy entry into heaven.
Not so fast, Jesus said before launching into an explanation about how for 40 years, Rev. Jones may have had Jesus in his head, but he never had Jesus in his heart. At this point, it seemed as if Jesus was splitting hairshead, heart, it's a difference of two feetwho cares? Jesus cares, apparently. He cast Reverend Jones between another pair of thirty-foot flame pillars, damning him to eternal torments for neglecting to apprehend the simple head/heart distinction.
It's my opinion that this particular Jesus character was acting like a dick. As they shunted us off Tribulation Trail and back onto the church grounds, this is why I avoided signing up for more information or making a Faith Pledge to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
The Jesus I encountered along Tribulation Trail was a fantastic entertainer, but I don't think I could stand touring with him.