Ding Dong, Eternity Calling

Far be it from me to mock another's religion. As an atheist, I have no house at all, let alone a glass one from which not to throw stones. (And I'm agnostic about traditional sentence structure.) But even though I am an atheist, I am a God-fearing one because who has the most to fear from God if he exists?

It is in this spirit that I converse with those who--as their not-yet-mainstream-religion apparently commands--go door-to-door in search of heathens. And because I do not immediately slam my door in the faces of these salvation salesfolk, the frequency and flakiness of my doorstep deliverers keeps increasing. But after you see the kind of enlightenment I get from these peripatetic proselytizers, you'll know why I always answer when the Almighty's minions come a-calling:

MAN ON MY PORCH WITH INDETERMINATE ACCENT AND WEARING A TOO-SMALL SUIT: "Hello. Do you having a few minutes to talking about the hereafter?"

ME: "Boy, do I."

MAN: "Oh... OK. Then please look here in our literatures. See? This is how life will be when God coming down from heaven." (Shows me a picture of multi-ethnic people, picnicking in a sunny field, surrounded by flowers, food, and various forms of wildlife that have ceased eating each other long enough for the artist to paint them napping.) "Would you not like life to be like this?"

ME: "Why isn't the lion eating that lamb instead of using it as a pillow?"

MAN: "Because God will making peace for every living thing."

ME: "But what will lions eat?"

MAN: "Oh... they will not need to eat. The world will being a place of everlasting beauty, harmony, and love."

ME: "I see. So what's in it for me?"

MAN: "You will have eternal life, free from want."

ME: "When you say free from want, does that mean I get everything I want, or I just don't want much?"

MAN: "Um, all your needs will be provided for."

ME: "I don't know, sport. I have some needs that the Big Guy might want to subcontract, you know what I mean? [wink]"

MAN: "Um... OK, over here--see?--it says we will all live forever. There will be no sickness and no death."

ME: "Can we still have kids?"

MAN: "Yes. Of course."

ME: "It could get pretty crowded then, and after a few thousand generations, my Christmas list will look like the congressional record. Now, what if a plane slams into the side of a mountain and people are ripped in half, they still won't die?"

MAN: "Well, God would not allow such things to happen."

ME: "I see. Then, would everyone keep aging? I mean, I'm not looking forward to braiding my ear hair."

MAN: "Oh no, people will not age."

ME: "Cool. At what age do they stop aging?"

MAN: "Thirty."

ME: "Shoot. By the time I was 30, I had already lost a lot of hair, so-- "

MAN: "For you, 25."

ME: "Now you're talkin'. I like a deity who dickers. You say we won't get sick, but will we get fat? In the picture here it looks like there's gonna be plenty o' chow, and since we won't get sick or die, why work out?"

MAN: "Um,... yes, you could still get fat."

ME: "I see. What about animals? They must die, unless we're all vegetarians."

MAN: "Oh yes, animals will still die."

ME: "Hmm... so I'm guessing Pet Shop Tycoon will be the shrewd vocational choice, what with everyone having to replace pets every 15 years forever."

MAN: "Well, maybe... "

ME: "In fact, I bet those giant tortoises become the most popular pet because they live over 200 years. Why get all attached to some spaniel that's barely going to be around for a fraction of your eternal life?"

MAN: "Um... I suppose."

ME: "That's what I'm going to be then: tortoise rancher. So, not to dwell on the death thing, but let's say I shoot a guy pointblank in the head. He just gets a headache, or what?"

MAN: "You would never do such a thing because there will be no anger."

ME: "What about accidents? People tripping, falling off ladders, that kind of thing?"

MAN: "Well, yes. Man will still not be perfect."

ME: "So if I slip in the tub and break my nose, I've got this mashed snout for eternity, right? You figure in auto accidents, sports injuries, power tool mishaps--heck, after a few thousand years, we're all going to look like Civil War veterans. What this pamphlet should really show is a sunny field crammed elbow-to-elbow with limping, scarred, obese multi-ethnic 30-year-old amputees and their pet tortoises. Frankly, my friend, I'm not sure that's the type of hereafter I can get excited about."

MAN: "Um... You ask very good questions. Can I leaving some of our literatures? They having answers for you."

ME: "Liposuction!"

MAN: "What?"

ME: "And prosthetics! I can see it now: Big Bill's Liposuction, Prosthetics, & Tortoise Ranch. Man, I'm gonna own the hereafter."