Do Nothing and Go to Hell
Out on the edge of town, there's a mile-long stretch of road that's home to a lot of houses of superstition or, as they are known in some circles, "churches." Business is booming. There's Grace Fellowship, First Baptist, Second Baptist, Baptist 3.0, The Church of Discomfiture and Dissonance, The Abundant Moralization Christian Center, the Church of Ascension, the Church of Descension, the Church of Dissension, The Cathedral of Unmerited Divine Intervention, Our Lady of Unremitting Virginity, Just Snakes, and The Church of No Strong Opinions. Now don't get me wrong. While I find religion totally overrated, I also believe superstition is underrated. For instance, when I wear my lucky lounge trousers, the Sox always win. Also, I NEVER step on a crack. (Hi Mom!) So it all works out. Plus, I love the church signs.
In the old days, it was hard to tell at a glance what these churches professed. But thanks to the invention of the portable yellow sign, their views are now more glaringly obvious than a goth kid at an Amish barn raising. Each church has a yellow sign out front and each sign has an important message for passersby. I often take solace in these messages. Other times they are a source of inspiration and spiritual rebirth.
For instance, one church recently posted this message:
LOVE GOOD AND HATE EVIL
Most churches aren't so honest about their pro-hate agendas. I was so heartened by this particular church's admission that I resisted the impulse to rearrange the letters to spell
VIOLENT DEAD HOG LOVE
Another sign had advice for the teens:
DON'T PUT A QUESTION MARK WHERE GOD PUT A PERIOD
It's nice to know that young women can get friendly advice AND punctuation puns in one sign. And I'm sure the girls appreciated the menstruation reference, in case any passersby weren't thinking about it at the moment.
Now, a lot of your portable yellow church signs borrow from modern American marketing. Some of the lazier sign writers post messages like, "Got Jesus?" or "Just Worship." I mean, every writer has a bad day, but those are just totally lame. But the Simpsonville Church of Christ really nailed it when they said:
FOR ALL YOU DO, HIS BLOOD'S FOR YOU
I really took that message to heart. For one thing, it reminded me of beer, so I bought some and drank it. And I got the jingle stuck in my head from the old Budweiser commercial but instead of "Bud" I sang "blood:"
"When you say blood you've said a lot of things nobody else can say.
When you say blood you've gone as far as you can go to get the very best."
Remember that? Sing with me!
"There is no other one;
There's only something less
Because the King of Beers
Is leading all the rest
When you say Bloodweiser, you've said it all!"
Further inspired by that church sign, I tried substituting "blood" in other jingles, such as:
Candy-coated popcorn, peanuts and a some blood
I'd like to buy the world some blood
Blood-a-roni the San Francisco treat
The blood kids love to bite
When you're out of Schlitz you're out of blood
You can trust your car to the man who wears the blood
Little dab o' blood'll do ya
Nobody doesn't like blood, and
Blood blood fizz fizz oh what a relief it is.
So as you can see, these signs not only offer spiritual inspiration but also rockin' good American entertainment. Another moving sign I saw was:
JESUS IS A ROCK BY THE STILL WATER - QUIT SKIPPING HIM!
I thought of poor Jesus being skipped, his body flying across the water's surface, sending up tiny splashes again and again, while someone whistled the theme from Andy of Mayberry in the background. I had to agree with this sign: Jesus has suffered enough. Quit skipping him! (Plus, let's not give Mel Gibson any ideas.)
A good one I saw at Easter time said this:
THE EASTER BUNNY DIDN'T RISE FROM THE DEAD!
Well, I had no idea the Easter Bunny was dead! The kids weren't with me, so I made up a song to break the news to them gently. It goes like this:
Easter on the Watterson Expressway
Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin' down the bunny...
Vrrrrrrr thump thump vrrrrrrr.
They liked it. But sometimes church signs are more than just fun; they're life-changing. For instance, the other day I saw one that said,
DO NOTHING AND GO TO HELL
(This advice I found to be much more stirring than the sign at the Sonic drive-in across the street: "Eat Shit and Die." OK, it really said "5 Hamburgers for $5" but sometimes you have to read between the lines.)
First of all, who among us doesn't relish the thought of doing nothing? Most religions were founded on the premise of avoiding an action another religion demanded, whether it was circumcision, indulgences, belief in the supernatural, or gold bathroom fixtures in the televangelist's home. So why not take this to the extreme and base a religion on doing nothing at all? I don't know about you, but I could go for a little down time. And hell sounds kind of nice, too. I have a friend who's fond of the expression, "See you in hell" and each time she says it I look forward to someday doing it. Besides, all my heroes are there. And most of my friends (you know who you are) are bound to show up there eventually.
Gosh, kicking back with my friends and my heroes, sippin' on a nice cold Bloodweiser in hell? Sounds like heaven to me.
So that's my new motto: Do Nothing and Go to Hell.
Won't you join me? We could probably make a pretty decent religion out of it.