An Oily Religious Dream (Satire)
In September, the body count and property damage assessment mounted steadily along the Gulf Coast. After watching TV news images of the carnage, the Rev. Jerry Pat Flatulence had one of his many epiphanies, after eating his dinner in his home in Lynchemhighburg, Virginia.
Millions of religious broadcast watchers knew Jerry Pat's fleshy cheeks, impish eyes and beatific smile. Over the decades, he had saved countless souls for Christ and coincidentally collected hundreds of millions of dollars in Jesus' name.
Even before becoming one of George W. Bush's spiritual advisers, Jerry Pat worked TV miracle cures, helping the blind to see and the lame to walk. Cynics said he used actors instead of real people, but true believers maintained their faith: Hallelujah!
Indeed, Bush himself took the Reverend's cure for alcoholism: abstinence, physical exercise, video golf and prayer -- infinitely preferable to going forever to AA meetings. Most of those recovering alcoholics did not exactly fit into the president's family circle.
Like Bush, Jerry Pat claimed that God had spoken to him. When catastrophic events occurred, Jerry Pat orated to his flock at the Absolute Baptist Church. The TV audience watched the same sermon.
"God has punished the USA, which has become a haven for homosexuality, atheism, and false religions," Jerry Pat said he got this from God, who had also inflicted the events of 9/11 on New Yorkers because they had an unusually high level of devil's advocates. "The ACLU has more members than in all of southern Virginia," he announced. No one inquired about the source of his figures.
Indeed, Jerry Pat had made a worldwide reputation for saying unpleasant things about others, especially Muslims. Logically, his fame spread to Israel, although it disturbed him that the bearded, black-clad men who applauded enthusiastically also talked to each other or slept through his entire sermon. But they did contribute handsomely to his various causes. He did, after all, support Israel 100% even though he had warned his flock to be cautious before doing business with "those people whose prayers God does not hear."
On this September day, the TV news images had upset him. Bleeding bodies from suicide bombings in the Middle East and bloated ones floating in the flood waters of Louisiana and Texas sent Jerry Pat to the dinner table, a place to calm upset nerves. He consumed three portions of his wife's extra fried chicken, two sides of baked oyster pie with cream and two helpings of whiskey pudding.
Coping with indigestion, he prayed in his study. He requested the Good Lord for stomach relief because the Alka Seltzer didn't seem to help. As he mumbled his final prayers, he dropped into a heavy sleep on his comfortable couch. Soon, he began to dream.
A stormy black cloud formed over his head, followed by blinding rays of lightning and deafening thunder. Wait!
The thunder disguised a booming voice, a basso profundo exhorting. "Follow the oily brick road," it said. "Then shall you know your transgressions."
In the dream, he stared at the cloud, waiting for more explanation. In the past, he had not exactly had such direct conversations with God. Rather, he reconstructed what he thought God should have said to him. Jerry Pat was not the kind of man to quibble over small details.
But this dream frightened him and he could not force himself to wake up. The big voice belched loudly again. "The oily brick road. Your president has lied in order to wage war in my name. Your disciple in the White House has raised my ire. Now I have shown him what I can do to his oil. Talk to him."
The dream took on nightmarish qualities. He awakened with a start. Did the Lord mean he had sent Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to wreak havoc on the Louisiana and Texas coasts because the oil industry does its major drilling and refining there?
In the dream, The Lord never mentioned abortion, gay marriage, carnality or any of Jerry Pat's favorite Godly themes. Only that echoing phrase, "The oily brick road."
Jerry Pat's aching stomach took second place on his bio-discomfort list to his throbbing brain. He picked up the phone and dialed the special number W had given him in case urgent messages from above came through.
After a brief and unpleasant round with Karl Rove, who screened all religious hot line calls, the familiar voice resonated in the earpiece.
"Flatty," W said" "How y' doin?" The Reverend Jerry Pat Flatulence shuddered over the nickname, but he also knew that you can take Texas out of the boy, but you can't take the boy out of Texas, or whatever.
"Mr. President," he said hesitatingly, "I have just received a very disturbing message, one that I believe requires your urgent attention."
"Is this for real?"
"Mr. President," Jerry Pat sad gravely, "this is truly serious."
Jerry Pat phoned his pilot and his private jet took him to Washington. Within minutes, Secret Service agents ushered him into the Oval Office.
The two men fell to their knees and prayed silently. Jerry Pat's prayer involved a request: "Please God, don't appear ever again in my dream or give me any real messages. Please let me just keep interpreting what I think you should be telling me rather than what you really told me in that last dream."
Bush prayed silently for peace. "Please God, give me a little peace from that Cindy Sheehan woman resentful woman whose son died in Iraq and now nags the heck out of me not to send other mothers' sons over there. God, you know how difficult it is for me to deal with death and suffering. Well, strong angry women are even worse. I also beg you not to hit us with any more hurricanes, at least until I'm out of office. I really hate going into those places with lots of poor people, dirty, some even diseased, especially while I'm on vacation. Well, you know what I mean God and I await your message, which I hope will come as months of good weather and success on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan."
They shook hands after praying and sipped Diet Pepsi. Jerry Pat related his dream. "This message could not have been clearer," he told Bush.
"Heck, Flatty," Bush responded, "that's just one dream. And knowing you, it probably came after you ate too much of your wife's home cooking."
"But, really," Jerry Pat pleaded, "the oily brick road message, I couldn't have invented something like that."
"Flatty, we didn't go to war for oil. Even though I'm practically sure God told me to invade Iraq and tell the folks at home that it was about weapons of mass destruction and all that. He knew that Saddam was sitting on all that oil and that Saddam didn't deserve all that oil and that we good Christians did. So, go on home and relax, Flatty. And tell the folks out in TV land that they should keep the pressure up on those liberals and Democrats on abortion and taxes and homosexual marriages."
The Reverend Flatulence returned to Lynchemhighburg. Depressed about his inability to convince Bush, he feasted on his wife's cooking and again he dreamed. This time an even angrier bass voice burst through the dark cloud.
"You have failed me," it said. "You and your disciple who says the stupidest prayers in the world will slip on the oily brick road. It will lead you to your doom."
Jerry Pat woke up, frightened. He consulted with Robbem "Robby" Paterson, a fellow televangelist, who shared his elite status. at the bank, anyway. Robby had become a realist after getting caught on several occasions with underage hookers. After the third bust he vowed to God never to get caught again.
Robby had a way of putting Jerry Pat at ease. "Flatty," he said, imitating the President, ?what you gonna believe, all the money you got in the bank or a bad dream about oil? If God wanted to send you a message, your stock would go down. If he wants to send Bush a message, his approval ratings would go down."
"But they have gone down."
"Yes, but if He really wanted to send Bush a message, He'd put those twin girls of his in the centerfold of Playboy. If God wanted to take his anger out on Bush, the cover of Playboy would read `A Tale of Two Bushes,' heh, heh." Jerry Pat smiled. He thanked Robby and then phoned the White House. "Mr. President, things are alright. You don't have to follow the oily brick road. I mean," he thought. "I mean watch your daugh..." Jerry Pat hung up. He no longer knew what he meant. It was all so oily.
In 1982 Landau made QUEST FOR POWER, Sketches of the New American Right, starring Jerry Falwell.