Sunday, May 2, 2010

Free Trip to Heaven! Details Inside.

I saw the above on a church sign on my way to work the other day. In this town, you can't throw a rock without busting a church window - or at least I can't. There are churches every three to five blocks along the main thoroughfares, and every single one of them has a sign proclaiming this or that trite religious message. But occasionally there's something that brightens my day, such as this imaginary conversation fuel.

Of course, my first thought on seeing this was that I needed to go in and ask someone about this "free trip," acting like I was negotiating a business deal and completely ignoring the religion aspect. In the first place, what exactly is meant by "free"? I hear that you need to promise your soul to the right magical man in the sky, and souls are hot commodities! But if I could get into Heaven on the free, then I don't need to worry about my soul - I can keep it available for all kinds of other shady deals later on down the line, and still get through the pearly gates at the end of it all.

But even if this is one of those cases where "free" doesn't mean "no cost," but rather means "no monetary cost," then I've still got questions. Like, what about that whole "ten percent of your income for life" thing? That's, like, the complete opposite of any definition of "free" I've ever heard! But if I can get into Heaven and still keep all my money, then I suppose a soul or two isn't such a high price to pay after all.

Then again, all this haggling makes me a little suspicious of the whole operation. After all, there are all kinds of "free" deals where the thing you get is a piece of shit, more of a Lucky Strike Extra than something you actually want. Lots of people seem to be under the impression that Heaven is the Best Thing Ever, which sounds good at first; but when you read the fine print, it turns out that Heaven is actually more like Church Forever, which sounds about as boring as Hell to me. Even if that's not true, there are a million ways that Heaven might disappoint me, and only a relatively small number of ways that it might make me happy. For instance, say I enjoy illegal drugs and sex with multiple partners* - what does Heaven have to offer me in this department? Not a whole lot, it would seem.

This leads rather naturally to my last question: what kind of satisfaction guarantee do I get with this deal? I may not like Heaven, after all, so I'd like to keep my options open and know what else is available, or at least recoup some portion of my investment. I'd expect that the preacher (or whoever would listen to me this far) would tell me that the Bible is the guarantee, to which I would counter that the Bible is the offer - and offers aren't their own guarantees. What I'm after is something I'm promised in case the deal goes sour. What do I get if the offer falls through? This is where things ultimately get too shifty, even for me. I mean, I can't talk face-to-face with anybody else who has used this product, I can't try before I buy, there's no "double your money back" offer (or anything even remotely close) - in fact, I've got nothing whatsoever to suggest that this offer is even legit in the first place!

Maybe I'm in the wrong business. You know what? This gives me an idea for a business proposal of my own. How about you send me your money and prayers, and then I'll work with Satan to get roller coasters and water slides in Hell. The fastest-growing religion says God isn't too fond of bikinis, so I doubt that Heaven is likely to clear my building permits. But I'll bet that if I can bring in enough converts, Old Nick could be persuaded to let everyone party down. I've got the offer details somewhere around all these rolling papers, spoons, and hundred dollar bills... give me a minute...

* - Saying this to a preacher with a straight face would, by the way, be at once the most difficult and most rewarding part of the whole process, assuming I even got that far.


DM said...

how about I believe in WHATEVER I want and you have nothing to say!

let me show you the end results of this particular *ONE-DIMENSIONAL SCIENTIFIC MODE*
of thinking that is called *CRITICAL THINKING*, which is completely divorced from
any human objectives...

this style has been perfected by dawkins, pz, randi and the other *NEW ATHEISTS*
hey, atheists don't even BELIEVE IN BOOBIES!!!
they thought BOOBIES had no effect... WRONG!

see, I just want to make it clear to the rest of you:
jen is unable to see that there is a CONFLICT BETWEEN EROS & SCIENCE....

see how we take a term and convert it into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION - THAT
OF LIBERATION - not just merely harmless expression...

Visit for the BOOBQUAKE:

Ebonmuse said...

If you do ask the preacher about the whole recreational-drugs and sex-with-multiple-partners thing, I trust you'll write a followup post and let us know what happened after that. ;)

In any case, you should ask if Heaven comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee - you know, if you don't like it, can you leave and go to a different afterlife of your choice? How about testimonials from satisfied customers? Free samples, even? These churches certainly seem to be engaging in a kind of advertising that the Better Business Bureau would frown upon.

D said...

Just when I thought you'd left, DM, here you are with more pithy insights! Please, explain to me how the microwave oven is an atheistic conspiracy to subvert vulnerable minds into thinking that the COBE mission supports Big Bang cosmology.

Heh, "conflict between eros & science." You'd think some people had never heard of a plethysmograph! (Ooh, that gives me another 101IT idea...) You crack me up, guy!

Ebonmuse, have you ever checked out Pat Condell? He has this great line in one of his bits where he says there ought not to be a line of separation between church and state, so that organized religions could be sued into the ground for making advertising claims they can't back up, and promises on which they never deliver.

The more I think about actually going in and talking to a preacher, the better of an idea it seems. I just don't want to cross the line between harmless cynical mischief and legally actionable harrassment. I also don't think I'd get very far... but hey, I guess it's worth a shot.

Atheist MC said...

I love the little fantasies about conversations one will never have. I was at a wedding in Scotland a few years ago where the minister literally preached against evolution during the ceremony. Bizarre especially this side of the pond. I shook this guys hand on the way to the reception and kept my mouth shut at the time, but the stuff I wanted to say still pops into my head from time to time. Actually D, go and do it before you regret letting it go by.