To Chuck or Not to Chuck

Video for this post: 10 Things I Hate About Commandments

As y’all know, in the last week or so, we’ve had Holy Week, Passover and Easter. To celebrate I saw “The Ten Commandments” and “Ben Hur” fpr the umpteenth time.

I got to tell you “Ben Hur” is one heck of a sports movie. There’s javelin throwing. There’s rowing competition. There’s archery and catapulting fire from one ship to another. There’s chariot racing. Since it was the Romans that invented the Olympics, it was only right to feature these Olympic sporting events, performed by some Olympic style egos.

On top of all that, there’s Charlton Heston face. It has two emotions. Chuck Serious and Chuck Light. I mean that guy knew how to act. It near puts away Kirk Douglas’s Spartacus face, but not quite. It did give Burt Lancaster’s Elmer Gantry face some competition. It was almost like Chuck had played those roles too. Nobody could out-hero Chuck. Just check out his El Cid.

His was such a face that it just about makes you want to believe Chuck was playing God, not Moses, in “The Ten Commandment”. He sure sounded like God. How Chuck got that face to do that I will never know. Anyway Chuck sure knew a lot about God. He kept meeting him in all those movies.

In “The Agony and the Ecstasy”, he met the Pope. That was like meeting God back in the olden days. And he got to paint God’s hand. So you can pretty well assume Chuck had met God and shook the Big Guy’s Hand. He was so good at the God gig that he got promoted to Cardinal as in Cardinal Richelieu. He even did a series on the Bible as if he wrote the Good Book himself. Of course, we know he didn’t. God did that. But the way Chuck did the series, it was just like God talking to you.

So, when the NRA was looking around for someone who could speak with a voice of authority, they got Chuck. You just knew that God had given us an Eleventh Commandment when Chuck said, “Thou shalt not take away my gun.”

Now, that Chuck ain’t around no more, Hollywood sure don’t know how to make Chuck movies, and I sure miss him. I mean, they have tried with “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” Hollywood went and CGI-ed the heck out of the Moses story. Only that Red Sea parting ain’t even close to the real thing. Old Cecil B. was at the parting of the Red Sea himself. If anybody could put on a parting, it was Cecil B.

It even screwed up the Noah story. How Russell Crowe spoke those lines without laughing I will never know. Guess, if they paid me the big bucks Russ got, I would say any darn thing they wanted me too.

And with “Ben Hur: The Remake,” we got a chariot race that really wasn’t a chariot race. It was s’posed to be the Roman equivalent of the Daytona 500. Only thing, that wasn’t chariot racing. Chuck knew that.

The house off the Via Dolorosa

Happy Easter to all my Christian friends.

It is a late afternoon in Jerusalem when I turn off the cobblestone Via Dolorosa onto a little side street and there it is. The smell of cooked meat from the animal sacrifices in the Temple fills the air. Soon I come to the door I’ve been searching for. A wooden door with the sign of a fish above it. The house behind that door is the home of the Mother of Jesus.

During Herod Agrippa’s recent persecutions, many of the faithful left Jerusalem. These included Mary. Though she wanted to stay in the City, the Apostle John, the disciple Jesus charged with her welfare, sent her away. In Nazareth, she had family and she would be safe there.

A week before the fifteenth anniversary of our Lord’s Crucifixion, our tribulations ended. Agrippa was dead. We faithful started returning to the city. This became obvious by the number who gathered on the Mount of Olives for the sunrise celebration of the Resurrection some weeks earlier. His Mother was one of them, and now her door is open again to her Son’s followers.

I knock. A small woman opens the door.

“Who is it, Salome?” a booming voice calls. Peter, a large, balding man, sits at a table across the room, surrounded by three other men. “Not a temple spy I hope. Caiphas and his prying eyes.” Then he laughs.

“Just a traveler,” I say, “seeking some good company and a place to shake the dust off my feet.”

“Enter, friend,” another calls over to me. His name is John and his eyes burn with the bright light of his Master’s love. “You are most welcome in this house.”

“Take off your shoes,” Salome says to me. “This is a holy place.”

I remove my sandals and set them by the door as the others have.

“Sit, friend,” another man says, looking over me with eyes that remember Emmaus. This large, burly man with the gruff voice is Cleopas, a former Zealot.

I join the four men, Peter and John, Cleopas and Cornelius, the Roman Centurion, at the table.

“Perhaps,” Cornelius says, hope in his eyes. “Perhaps this will be the year of His Return. On the anniversary of His Ascension?”

Mary, the one called Magdalen, walks over and pours me a drinking bowl of red wine. Suddenly I realize how thirsty I am. As I drink, Salome kneels and washes the dirt off my feet.

Across the room, I notice another woman dressed in blue, the woman I have come to see. Though her face and hands are wrinkled and her hair white, the woman in her mid-sixties has a calm peace on her face. And the room glows with her tranquility, her stillness. She is the Mother of Jesus. This coming summer she will pass from this earth and join her Son. But this late spring evening she is here, and I have a chance to enjoy the hospitality of her house as I eat her bread and sip her wine.

She sits in her chair, her hands resting on her lap, a gentleness on her face, gentle yet revealing all the suffering she has known. There she tells her stories and I am comforted.

“He who dwells,” she says, “in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. And I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust’….If you make the Most High your dwelling…no harm will befall you.” Then she folds herself inward and meditates upon all that she has known.

After a long pause, she ends the evening with these words: “Maranatha. Come, Lord, come again.”

Famous Biblical Quotes (You’ve Never Heard)

Adam to God (after seeing Eve): Man, I love what you do with ribs.

It was a Tuesday afternoon when Noah got the call, I believe. Sometime between two and three in the afternoon. He took the call. He knew it must be from God. In this god-awful weather.
God (to Noah): Oops, the ark just sprang a leak.Noah
Noah (to God): Oh, no.
God (to Noah): Just kidding.
Noah (to God): Well, I forgot the dove.
God (to Noah): Nothing up my sleeve. What is this in my hat?

God to Abraham: Let your pee pee go.

Moses: It wasn’t the Red Sea I had so much trouble with. It was that burning bush. I tried everything–fire extinguisher, water, you name it–I just couldn’t get the fire quenched. And it was such a nice bush too.

Moses (to God): I am not playing with snakes.
God (to Moses): How many plagues is that?
Moses (to God): Can’t you count?
God: Yes, but, if I have to count the toes on more than one foot, it’s higher math.

Joshua (to his trumpeters): Somebody is off key here.
God (to Joshua): One thing is for sure. These guys are no Miles Davis.

Samson to Delilah: I don’t care if you are going to Cosmetology School, you cannot cut my hair.
Delilah starts to cry.
Samson: Don’t cry, Baby. I was just kidding. Of course, you can cut my hair.

David and GoliathDavid to Goliath: Everybody must get stoned.

Jonah’s Whale: Burp.

King Herod to Salome (after her dance): You’ve got heads rolling in the aisles.

Peter to Jesus (after Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes); I don’t care much for fish sandwiches without the mayonnaise.
Jesus (to Peter); If you don’t like it, go out and open up your own restaurant.

Jesus to Lazarus: A little smelly there, Laz.

God to St. John: We’re going to have a revelation.

By the way, no Biblical characters were injured in the preparation of this post.

Credit: The art work was found on the Dollar Photo Club. It was offered by stock photo agency Fotolia for a subscription fee. The Dollar Photo Club closed down in 2016.

Eve sat by the river

“My heart is breaking,”
Eve wrote her sister
Lilith, Adam’s first wife,
residing in the land of Cush.
Eve scribbled the words
with the ink of her tears.
“My son has murdered my son,
and the murderer is a ghost
haunting the valleys
and the rivers between
the two of us, you and me.”

Eve sat by the river
mourning her baby child,
mourning her first born man.
Eve sat by the river,
the blues in her eyes shedding
one hundred forty-six tears each day
‘tween the sunrise and the moon.
“River, my heart is bleeding,”
she sang, her grief rising
like smoke up to the ears of God
while the clock kept faith with time.

Eve went down to kneel
in the church down by the river Cry.
She lit a votive candle
and prayed the rosary
one hundred and fifty times
for the souls of her sons.
For the one whose life was taken away,
and the one who took the life
she prayed.

Conversation in a bar

God walks into a bar. Says to the barkeep, “Whiskey please.”

The bartender turns to God and says, “Can’t serve booze on Sunday.”

“Who came up with that dumb idea?” God wants to know.

The barkeep says, “I think You did.”

“What do you mean I did?” God has about had it with the guy behind the bar.

“Isn’t it one of the Big Ten? Something about remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy.”

“Oh, that one. Maybe My way of keeping the Sabbath day holy is to have a drink. What do you think about that?”

The bartender ain’t giving an inch. “You can drink all you want. Just do it in somebody else’s place. I ain’t about to lose my license. Even if You are the Almighty.”

“Look, if I say it’s okay, it’s okay. Why do you think I came up with the 613 laws in Leviticus?”

“Don’t know,” the bartender says.

“Technicalities. I put enough ifs, ands and buts in there that you can drive a camel through that sucker, if you’re a liking to. Now give Me that drink.”

“No can do,” the bartender says firmly. “And if You keep pestering me, I am calling the cops.”

“You would call the cops on God?” the Almighty asks. He is getting very frustrated.

“Darn tooting I would.”

“Well, I’ll be—” God says.

“Hey. No taking the Lord’s Name in vain.”

“I was just going to say son of a bitch,” God says.

“And none of that either,” the bartender says. “This is a family establishment.”

“Did anybody ever tell you that you’re acting like a lawyer?”

“I’d take that as a compliment. I have a Doctor of Jurisprudence. I just can’t practice at the bar in this state.”

“What do you think you’re doing here? Practicing at the bar.” God laughs.

“Oh, get off it.”

“Look,” God says. “I’ve had a long week and this is my only day off.”

“At least, you get a day off. I haven’t had a day off in a month of Sundays. Trying to pay off my Student loans.”

“Well, it was one heaven of a week,” God gets going. “If you know what I mean. Monday I made the heavens and the earth and separated the dark from the light. Tuesday, I had to get the water where I wanted it. It was all over the place. Thought I would never get the Pacific to play along and shape up. Wednesday, I started growing plants and trees and stuff. That was hard to pull off since I do not have the best of green thumbs. Along comes Thursday and that’s when I give everybody a starry night. Friday, birds and fishes. Then Saturday, it was the animals. I should have left well-enough alone and stopped there. But no, I had to go and screw everything up. And I was having such a good time too.”

By this time, the bartender is leaning on the bar, looking into God’s sky blues, listening. He asks, “What’d you do?”

“I made a man.”

“You didn’t?” The bartender is taken aback.

“I did. Worst mistake of My life. First thing the guy starts off, asking questions. Like I have all the answers.”

“You don’t?”

“I most assuredly do not,” God says emphatically.

“Thought they taught you all the answers in God School.”

“They do,” God says. “But I CLEPed out. I figured I already had all the answers so I just tested and they gave Me My diploma. Little did I know.”

“I see what You mean. Don’t take the easy way out. That’s always been my motto.”

“Before I know, the guy goes on a naming spree. Can you imagine calling a thing a dog and not a wolf. How he can tell the two apart I will never know. I was happy just calling them thing-a-majigs and whatchamacallits. And you want to know the worst part?”

“What’s that?” The excitement is killing the bartender metaphorically speaking.

“He wanted a wife.”

“He didn’t.” Barkeep can’t believe his ears. “Why would he want to go and do a dumb fool thing like that?”

“Beats me,” God says, shaking his head.

“So what did You do?”

“Figured he wanted her that bad, he should get what he deserved. I gave him what he wanted. Lilith. She was nice. I should get First Prize for that creation. You know what happened next?”

“Haven’t a clue.” The bartender is in suspense.

“The dumb ass goes and cheats on her. Some girl from Eden name of Eve. Lilith was royally pissed. I had to give her a divorce. I offered marriage counseling. But she wasn’t having none of that. So it was a divorce. He didn’t sign a pre-nup either,” God smiles. “I must say I am kind of proud of her. She took him to the cleaners. Then I had a good talking with Adam. Told him that he was in big trouble if he did it again. Breaking one of the Big Ten. Adultery. Can you imagine?’

“I can’t.” The bartender shakes his head at the gall of the guy. “I been with the same woman for thirty years now and we have the best of marriages. Oh, sure. She gets on my nerves and I get on her nerves from time to time. That’s to be expected. That’s why I go off on my hunting trips and she goes on one of them Napa Valley Wine Tours.”

“One of these days I am going to have to try one of them tours myself. I hear those California wines can compete with any of the Frenches.”

“I wouldn’t know about that,” the bartender says. “I’m not much for wine. Give me a brewski and I’m a happy man.”

“I’m not much of a connoisseur myself,” God says. “Other than turning water into wine occasionally. If you’re ever up for trying wine, the Cana Wine Tasters Association have a great weekend in the fall every year. They do the place up real nice. You and your lady would enjoy it. Give you a chance for a second honeymoon.”

“Maybe I’ll take you up on that,” the bartender says. He’d been thinking second honeymoon lately. Something special for their anniversary.

“Anyway back to the Garden of Eden,” God says. “I get the guy and this Eve fixed up and married and I am off taking a nap. Nothing like a good siesta to get the energy back up. I wake up and find out the two of them have gone and done it.”

“What’d they do?” the bartender wanted to know.

“They ate one of my apples. After all the work I put in on that apple tree, they just pluck one off the branches and take a big bite. I would have let them have one if they had asked nicely. But no, they had to go and take.”

The bartender was amazed. “Ain’t that the way with some. Take, take, take.”

“So I up and kicked their butts out of Eden. After all I have done for them. Now they’re on their own. Good riddance.”

“Good riddance.” The bartender can’t believe what happened. “You have had a tough week. You still want that drink?”

“You’re going to bend the rules for Moi?” God asks.

“After what you’ve been through.” The bartender reaches for a bottle of Johnny Red  behind the bar and pours a glass for God. He passes it over to the Man Upstairs.

God smiles. Then pulls out a badge and says, “I’m closing you down. No booze on Sunday means no booze on Sunday.”

“But-but-but.”

“No buts about it, Lucifer,” God says. “I’ve been trying to close this Purgatory Bar of yours down for millennia and finally I get to do it.”

God pushes the bartender out the front door, then padlocks the joint. He turns to Lucifer and says, “And you can tell that brother of yours, Beelzebub, I am going to close him down too. I am sick and tired of folks being sent off to his place every time they ask for directions. I ask them what happened and they say somebody directed them and said, ‘Go to Hell.’ I’m telling you his Hell Bar and Grill is going the way of the dinosaurs if I have anything to say about it.”

With that, God got in His new Mercedes and drove off, a huge smile on his face. It had indeed been a good Sabbath.