Saturday, May 21, 2011

Must-see theology

I am in a Rapture frame of mind so here is something I wrote a few years back.

You've read Revelations. You've heard St. Paul talk about it.

Now, coming Tuesday on NBC, it's must-see theology.

That's right. You know it by many names — Parusia, the Second Coming, the Final Judgment. Now see it live.

Watch as Jesus separates the wheat from the chaff. And you better hope you are the wheat.

From the mind of God, who brought you such Earth-quaking events as the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, comes the one awards show you cannot afford to miss.

Says chief producer St. Clare of Assisi, the patron saint of television writers: "We all know Jesus talked about returning when least expected. But this opportunity comes along, what, once in an eon. The marketing people wouldn't let us just sneak in like a thief in the night.

"And the stars were lined up round the block to get a taste of the action. We had no problem at all casting the righteous. I mean our location [Heaven] means that we have tons of people ready and willing. Mother Theresa pops up. Eleanor Roosevelt has a hilarious cameo as herself.

"Heck, some people was so desperate for a spot, they even offered to be the damned."

Clare says they turned away those who wanted to play the damned. "Can you imagine Martin Luther King, as chaff? Pu-lease. I know it is unfair to typecast, but really."

In the end Lucifer was coaxed out of hell to reprise is role as the devil. "Hey, when Clare came knocking, I said no thanks," recalls the Prince of Darkness, relaxing by the pool with a drink in his hands.

"I mean it's springtime -- who doesn't love May weather -- and frankly I was tired. Cursing God and tempting humanity is tough work. I told her to go see Judas or Adolf. I remember I said to her: 'I love ya, Clare, baby, but it would take a miracle.' True story"

Clare says she was at wit's end, but then she got an assist from God. "You might even call it a miracle," she laughs.

"When the big guy comes knocking, you can't say no," Lucifer says. "I mean, literally. Here I am a fallen angel and here he is God. You know."

Once Lucifer was announced, the rest of the damned fell into place.

"We got Satan, that was key," says director Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists. "If you're evil, how can you not want to work with him?"

Starting at 6 p.m. ET, Sts. Homobonus, patron of tailors, and Martin de Pores, the patron of barbers, will host a pre-Parusia event. They will welcome the guests arriving on the red carpet.

The entire world is being judged, but only the A List will be judged at the Shoream Amphitheater. Some of them might wish the invites got lost in the mail, though.

"Just cuz you're righteous doesn't mean you know how to dress," Martin says with a laugh. "And just because you are damned doesn't mean you don't look good," Homobonus chimes in.

"We may be saints, but our comments will be anything but heavenly," he continues. "If Peter shows up wearing that same old ugly robe, you can be sure he will get grief from us."

"Oh, you know it," adds Martin.

At 9 p.m. the excitement begins. Host King David will begin calling out names. They will come up on stage where Jesus will give them a thumbs-up or -down.

"We've got a whole batch of neon lights to make sure the audience knows where the judged is going," says Clare. "It'll be wild."

As if that wasn't enough, Clare says they added a few unexpected touches.

Clare gives credit for the twists to St. Bernadine of Sienna, the patron of advertising. "Bernie knows what she is about," Clare says.

She adds, "marketing was a little worried we might lose the 18-24 crowd if we didn't juice it up, so we created three special twists:

"First, there will be a defense lawyer and the right to argue against damnation. If he presents a winning case, his client might just slide over to righteous. We'll have an 800 number set up where viewers can vote for or against damnation.

"Second, the righteous will be in stands on the right of the stage. The damned will be on the left with a moat of burning hot lava between them. Across the lava is a rickety bridge so any damned person can try to cross over. Of course, the righteous have also been given rocks to throw at a damned person. But will it cost them their spot in heaven to knock someone into the lava? Watch; the answer will shock you."

"Third, we will have some surprise guests. I don't want to give too much away but how do you think David will feel when Absalom comes out to get judged?"

This is a live event so preview tapes weren’t available. But Tom Shales of The Washington Post calls it a “guaranteed winner.”

“I’ve seen Clare’s work before; it is stunning. If there is one show you watch this year, watch the second coming,” raves Shales.

And Clare can’t keep to herself one more spoiler: “Where else will you see Osama bin Laden, Jerry Falwell and a host of other false prophets -- living and dead -- say in unison 'Oh crap.'”

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