CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)
HED:John Armistead: On the twisting of Scripture there is no end
Nemo took a gang of us in the Grenada to his great-grandfather’s now-abandoned farm near Fulton. All that remains is a crowd, a host of golden daffodils beside the lake.
“We need to pick them before that storm knocks them down tonight,” he said.
“I’m still upset about how that ‘E.R.’ episode misrepresented Mississippi,” said Gertrude Stein as we left the car and walked among the flowers. “Every pickup truck they showed was battered up with peeling paint and cracked windshields, nobody could read a lick, medical facilities were virtually non-existent and most of the people were mean as snakes.”
“Just the white people,” said the Rev. Sojo Urnertruth with a chuckle.
“Speaking of misrepresentation,” said Dio Genes, “what about those people saying the Catholic Church is the Antichrist?”
“It just goes to show you prejudice against Catholics is alive and well,” said Lit Turgy. “I remember when John Kennedy was running for president, and almost every Southern Baptist preacher in Mississippi was thundering out how the pope would be running America if Kennedy was elected.”
“There was this old man on ‘E.R.’ who needed to soak his leg in hot water and the doctor from Chicago saw him carrying two plastic gallon jugs,” said Gertrude. “The man was having to walk to a spring to get the water. It was like nobody here has indoor plumbing.”
“My great-grandmother was a Catholic who emigrated from Dublin,” I said. “Her name was Anna Summersell, and my granddaughter’s middle name is Summersell.”
“Religious prejudices are very old and run very deep,” said Lit. “Prejudice against the Jews in Germany ultimately built the gas chambers.”
“What are you saying?” asked Gertrude.
“That’s why such talk is so evil,” he continued. “And Catholics aren’t the only ones who are singled out. What about Mormons? What about Pentecostals? Anyone the majority thinks is different is a prime candidate for religious prejudice.”
“Some people are prejudiced against Baptists, too,” said the Rev. Bubba Voltaire. “That’s just as bad.”
“That reminds me,” said Dio. “Some people think the Baptist denomination is the Antichrist.”
“That’s ridiculous,” said Voltaire. “I’ve never heard anything so stupid in all my life.”
“No more stupid that somebody saying the Catholics are the Antichrist,” said Lit.
“They make a good case about Baptists,” said Dio. “First John 2:18 says that ‘now there are many antichrists.’ ‘Many’ definitely applies to Baptists. They’re thicker than flies.
“First John 2:19, it says the many antichrists ‘went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us.’ Who splits off and forms new churches and groups more than Baptists?”
“That kind of reasoning could make every Protestant body an Antichrist, since they originally split off from the Catholic Church,” said Lit.
“I’m not finished,” said Dio. “According to Revelation 13, the Antichrist-beast has seven heads and 10 horns. There are 27 Baptist denominations in America. Baptists believe in two ordinances. Two times 10 equals 20 plus seven equals 27.”
“Where did the seven come from?” asked Nemo.
“Deacons,” said Dio. “Everybody knows how powerful deacons are in a Baptist church. And in Acts 6 there are seven men chosen as the first deacons.”
Sojo held a bunch of flowers to her nose, smiled and said, “This talk about who is the Antichrist and who isn’t is dumb. Here’s what’s real. ‘My heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils.””
“Here’s the clincher though,” said Dio. “In Revelation 13 the Antichrist-beast rises up ‘out of the sea.’ Now, if that’s not a reference to baptism by immersion, I don’t know what is.”
“I want to go home,” Voltaire said, walking back to the car.
“By the way,” said Gertrude. “There was one nice person in that ‘E.R.’ set in Mississippi. She was a nurse who was a Catholic nun.”
Nemo smiled. “That part had to be true,” he said. “Who ever heard of a bad nun?”
John Armistead is Daily Journal religion editor.