A very short story about a very long journey
For everything there is a season. No truer words have ever been spoken. Actually, for this purpose, it was long past time. I looked out at the more than one hundred thousand seats in the stadium. Already, a couple of hours before the send off, they were almost completely occupied. By the time the place had filled, including standing room and the playing field, that number would be doubled. Of course, over the weekend, we would hold several rallies daily, effectively accommodating a million or more attendees at each venue. Fortunately, one weekend was all we needed to meet our quota. Before anyone might figure out what was happening, our job would be done. Not that there was anything illegal about it. Technically. All the attendees had signed on voluntarily and enthusiastically for their golden opportunity.
They’d come by public transportation knowing they could not take their vehicles along with them on the trip. I chortled to myself over the great deal I’d gotten on the old stadium and dozens like it all over the country. There hadn’t really been much wrong with them, but the cities needed to spend the taxpayers’ money on something. In their wisdom they decided new stadiums served the public needs best. It just happened to create a steady stream of income for the local hacks to feed on as well. Like the rest, this venue was earmarked for demolition, so I picked it up for a song. By the time it had served its purpose, it would have paid for itself ten times over.
Ah yes. Its purpose. Simply the greatest boon to society in the history of the world. A few renovations had been needed, but the technology was surprisingly simple. I’d worked this concept to perfection. Over decades of research, I’d discovered how something that had once seemed impossible was startlingly simple. Rigging these white elephants for their brave new role hadn’t come without glitches, but the workers had come through with flying colors. They’d followed my instructions to the letter, and, though I’d seen some head scratching among the foremen, I’d paid well and nobody asked any inconvenient questions. The word spread like wildfire on conservative media, at no cost to me. You couldn’t beg borrow or steal a ticket despite the tens of millions that had been made available. As I watched the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sons and daughters continue to stream in, I pictured the same scene at all the various venues that were, that very moment, filling up as well. Many were decked out in their Sunday best. Many carried Bibles. There was a carnival mood. On top of the hefty fee they’d paid for admission, they were happily forking over their money for overpriced food and souvenirs. What did Barnum say? A sucker born every minute. Considering the far fetched religious folklore most of them had swallowed hook, line and sinker, it was obvious you could sell them anything.
I waited and watched while they took their places. Most of the eyes gazed up toward the slogans flashing on the big screens. ” Rapture is Nigh!” “Let the Kingdom of Heaven Open!” “Soon. In a Better World!” and, of course, “Praise Jesus!” Bold but simple messages flying straight to the hearts of these true believers. As each new message of hope appeared, cheers arose. Looking out over a sea of white faces, I could discern tears in some eyes. Tears of ecstasy, not sorrow.
These were the zealots who, despite all evidence, despite all reason, had turned out in such solidarity that their measly percentage of the electorate accounted for almost half the votes cast for a would be dictator, a sociopath, an ignorant baboon of a man and nearly got him re-elected. But to these self-professed patriots, this man, the furthest thing from a “Christian,” not that these people were truly Christian either, was like unto a god and their worship of him was a cult. He, like them, longed for an America that, if it ever existed, had disappeared long ago. An America where it appeared that everyone was white and Christian. When the times began to change, when they could no longer keep the others hidden from sight and disempowered, they segregated themselves and home schooled and indoctrinated their offspring. Hate they portrayed as love. Ignorance they portrayed as wisdom. Corruption they portrayed as integrity. Injustice they portrayed as righteousness. The power they still wielded, even if their hero were stripped of power, could still bring down the nation, eradicate democracy from the world and perpetuate the despoliation of the planet. If they were to carry on their program, the world would once again be plunged into the Dark Ages. What cared they? Their eyes were turned heavenward. The rest of us, they believed, were going elsewhere.
Hymns rang out over the PA. Many sang along; a joyful sound unto the Lord. After what felt like an eternity, the big moment finally, arrived. The music stopped. In the hush of anticipation, I stepped up to the microphone, Bible held high. I was a tiny dot at ground level in the far corner of the vast arena, my lectern placed just a few steps in front of the narrow exit door behind me, but my immense likeness appeared on most of the screens. On others the robotically controlled cameras panned the crowd creating a montage of fair haired men and women and their angelic offspring. Surreptitiously, I consulted my phone. All the other leaders, all over the country, confirmed by text they were ready to initiate the final process.
“Fellow travelers, ” I began, “Today we will commence the greatest pilgrimage of all time. A journey to a time and place that you’ve all longed for, prayed for, and labored for with ardent hearts and souls. Today, the Lord is with us and is His Son.” The roar of approval was deafening. The great arena fairly shook with the din. I waited several moments. “We all know that this sinful world is moving much too slowly toward its blessed and pre-destined end. This nation continues to permit the slaying of the unborn, the sinful union of sodomites, all manner of affronts to decency and to the Word of the Lord. New souls that the Lord intended to be brought into the world are never permitted to be conceived. Schools brainwash our children with blasphemous ideas like evolution. Women no longer know their place. This den of iniquity is an affront to God and must change. It will change, in time, but until then it is an unfit world for the faithful. We, like the righteous few who sailed in the ark, will add our number to the blessed children of God, those like ourselves, who populate a place and time where God’s Word reigns supreme. Together with those who there reside, and with the help of the Almighty, we shall dwell in the kind of world fit for our habitation. We now embark on the long journey to a time and place where Christianity triumphs over false beliefs and blasphemy, to a kingdom of God where the sabbath is kept sacred, the sacraments are the law of the land….”
I had to wait for a long time before the cheers subsided. “But that’s not all. Because, in the world we are going to, there are no labor unions, the military never lacks for funding, there is no United Nations, Climate Accord or the like. Your nation will always act unilaterally in its own interest, there are no gun laws, no estate taxes, no national health care system, no welfare state, no environmentalism…..” The roar of approval was earsplitting and I had to wait a full five minutes before continuing. “….Yes, we’ve made some progress, but it’s taking far too long. And now that the Democrats have stolen the election….” Boos and catcalls rose up among the multitude and chants of ‘lock them up’ and ‘repeal the steal’ “……at the rate we are going, neither we, ourselves, nor our children may live to see the day when God’s laws prevail and Mankind fulfills His glorious Plan when socialism and liberalism don’t exist, where there is no nanny state, where we can live according to the dictates of the one true authority, the Lord God.
But here’s the good news. We need wait no longer. Today, praise Jesus, and thanks to the culmination of my life’s work, this huge time machine will transport us to that place in a heartbeat. If any of you has any reservations about leaving this world for a truly godly one, you are free to go. You may exit now. In fifteen minutes the stadium will be sealed in preparation for our journey.
As the seconds counted down on the huge screens, not a soul budged. I pressed a button. The sky disappeared as the movable dome closed along with the great doors at the entryways. The crowd sat in awed silent anticipation. My likeness disappeared from the monitors as I casually moved back to the doorway, a single backwards step from the fresh outside air.
As the door began to close, one red hatted fellow nearby called out to me. “How far in the future are we going?” I took the final step into the freshness of a sunlit world. “Future?” I replied, “You’re on your way back to the tenth century. Have a nice trip.” The door slammed shut.