I have always been a huge fan of American values–like freedom, competition, stupid snack foods, and watching streaming videos until your eyeballs fall out. That is to say, the foundations of our society. I am such a full-on, unabashed devotee of the American experiment that I have even gone on the record with outside-the-box ideas like electing our president through a kind of “America’s Got Talent” competition, which would garner huge ratings and voter turnout, generate massive revenues, and still be guaranteed to leave us with an executive no more inept and ridiculous than the current occupant of the White House. A huge win for our nation.
But then I got to thinking about God. God has had kind of a rough ride recently, what with dwindling attendance in many churches across the country, and scandals involving everything from greed to pedophilia to varieties of hypocrisy not seen since the days of the Pharisees. He’s even having his own very public gender crisis.
So what to do to get those oversized American butts back into the pews? Of course the answer is: “America’s Got Prayer!” Using as a template the popular television show “America’s Got Talent,” we’d be sure to attract millions of devout viewers to a huge, televised, virtual mega-church, with congregants willing to tune in week after week to support the preacher of their choosing, and emptying their pockets in the process. The victor would receive the substantial winner-take-all jackpot and be named Preacher Laureate of the United States until the following week, when his or her title will again be challenged.
Look at it this way: we’re more than half-way there now in America, with our citizens supporting the most embarrassing, outrageously phony religious figures imaginable. But, thinking creatively, we needn’t be bound by the total idiocy of the static present, when, with a little effort, we can break through into whole new vistas of gullible stupidity.
My idea is to use the same stage setting employed already by so many “Christian” hucksters, which will lend a welcome note of familiarity for viewers, many of whom are habitually disoriented enough to have a hard time locating the family-size bags of Doritos in their kitchen cabinets. Using the proscenium stage as a springboard, we are free to move beyond the norms of what we currently have the brass, the sheer nerve, to call “worship.” Why settle for the ramblings of a condescending loudmouth in a three-piece suit, pacing the stage, when he could be throwing peanut M&Ms to the crowd, too, or even be doing striptease? Why just have contestants speak in tongues when they could be yodeling? Or how about Opera in Tongues, which will sound the same whether the contestant is seized by the Spirit or by some Italian composer’s idea of a musical emotional breakdown topped with whipped cream? Or what about a Ballet Mass, in which the priest pirouettes through the ceremony dressed in a tutu, an outfit he might actually prefer anyway?
These are all showstoppers, of course, but the tradition of insane American forms of “worship” leaves us more options still. For instance, everyone is familiar with the devout congregations that embrace the handling of poisonous snakes as proof of their great faith. These are people whose love of God extends beyond commonplaces like charity and kindness, straining to express the seldom appreciated macho/suicidal side of Christ’s teachings. “America’s Got Prayer!” will breach even this frontier by encouraging participants to up the ante. Perhaps covering their naked bodies in angry tarantulas while deep in prayer, or by climbing in a cage with a lioness and smacking her in the snout with a copy of the Bible (soft cover only, to avoid harming the animal).
You get the picture. At last, some new and authentic ways to express your appreciation for the beauty of the world and the ineffable mystery of life itself. New pathways to approach the creative Power that brought us all into being—without the hassle of actual introspection. And all as logical extensions of our current, crude, pitifully transparent televangelistic nightmare.
And people say there’s no such thing as progress.