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Rapture On: God Is Great, Beer Is Good, People Are Crazy

| May 22, 2011

Detail from Albrecht Durer's 'The Angel With the Key to the Pit' (1496-98).

I was reminded yesterday that the world was ending. That Judgment Day–the bookish Revelation 20/12 version, not the Terminator Schwarzenegger version–was upon us again. I had not packed. The person who told me was in the know: she works at the local chamber of commerce.

I spent most of the afternoon in Bunnell, where the potato festival was in full fry. No one was sucked up to heaven the entire afternoon. Not that I saw, anyway. Not even John Rogers, the new city commissioner, whose most recent contribution to the city was to inspire the choreography of a prayer day a couple of weeks back, leading to tomorrow’s official proclamation of a tamer version of “God’s City Day” in a city still not quite literate when it comes to the reading of the state and federal constitutions. (In a place where the First and Fourth Amendments are optional and a city government depends on the county’s overhead welfare to survive, “We do things differently in Bunnell” is a more honest city motto than the wishful “crossroads of Flagler County.” Someone should write Bunnell’s book of revelations. Plural.)

The day ended. The world didn’t. Aside from the 45 or so Americans murdered Saturday in our peace-loving country, the usual few wasted in those distant and useless wars exporting our peaceable ways, the 100 or so killed on our roads, and the 7,000 more naturally dearly departed (that’s the daily average, anyway), most of us were still in it, suggesting that we’ll all perish over the next five months of judging, if not on Tuesday and Wednesday, when American Idol judges its last. Then again these days every day is Judgment Day: where would talk radio’s gobs of gods be without it? What would become of the beloved bullying of the Bill O’Reillys and Donald Trumps of this world without their presumptions of speaking for the white-bearded one? And where would the Left Behind series be without its only marketing ploy?

Editor’s Blog

If Saturday was a dud, rapture-wise, blame it on the book. Revelation isn’t the bible’s best work. It does have that end-of-days feel, but in the same sense that the latter third of Huckleberry Finn and the last quarter of Saul Bellow’s Adventures of Augie March, or even the last few pages of Nabokov’s Lolita, do: the story has run its course, but it needs an ending. The result is forced. Tying up loose ends is never as fun as untangling them. Revelation, slapped on at the end of the bible in the 4th century, where the bible as we know it made its publishing debut, reads like the last chapter of Job, a hurried addition trying too hard for a happy ending and authenticity (“John has written down everything he saw and swears it is the word of God guaranteed by Jesus Christ”). It goes overboard with the special effects of a movie short on character development: all those multi-headed dragons springing up everywhere, shouting animals, numerology going haywire and trumpets blaring endlessly. No wonder teenagers (and eternal adolescents) love it.

It’s a bit much. Hitchcock would have suggested more subtlety, more suspense. You don’t need to oversell heaven if that’s what you’re selling, unless your product is wanting. You could forgive the breathless heaven’s-my-destination bits, but not the brutality. If Christianity over the centuries has been history’s reigning champion of violence and massacres in the name of god, we have the book of Revelation to thank, at least in the new testament. It doesn’t merely justify holocausts. It romanticizes them, makes a fetish of suffering. I mean: Chapter 16’s seven bowls of plagues? seriously? What sadist wrote these lines? What god in her right mind would want to be associated with that kind of blood lust?

Enough revelatory theory. In August 2009 the country singer Billy Currington appeared on David Letterman’s Late Show to perform his “God Is Great, Beer Is Good, People Are Crazy,” a song that could be substituted for the entire book of Revelation and make it work. I’m not sure about the first, Englishized Allahu Akbar part of the title–too overtly Southern-Baptist-Shiite for my taste, god being the ultimate undocumented alien of creation–but the bits about beer and people are dead on, and in combination with that first part seem to create a perfect trinity in god’s image, which is probably what led Letterman to call the song “transcendent.” Letterman’s not one for gushy praise. I’ve never seen him go on about a song as much as he did about that one. He called it “absolute perfection.” “This song will change your life,” he said. “You’re not going to do any better than this song here. If I were the people running country music, I would shut it down now.”

Not bad advice, considering country music’s bowls-of-plague direction of late. Currington’s is the best song since Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” (1975). And as Letterman put it after the song, “that’s all you need to know, ladies and gentleman. God is great. Beer is good. People are crazy.” Make it Carlsberg and you’re guaranteed that spot in heaven. Here’s the song, and happy judgment days.

–Pierre Tristam

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17 Responses for Rapture On: God Is Great, Beer Is Good, People Are Crazy”

  1. John Smith says:

    I wonder how much money and property the preacher made out with??????

  2. Jack Cowardin says:

    ‘And then the blue angels appeared from out of hiding and gave the words meaning and truth.’

    I am So fortunate to have been brain washed by Bob Dylan’s reality show that I can look on history
    as a never ending sequel of self destruction, until the Earth can end the reign of man and begin
    a genesis of something greater. A world without plastics, steroids, carcinogens, etc, etc…
    Amazing how so many humans are preoccupied with getting to the next world, they fail to behold
    the majesty of the one they have. No wonder we cheat, we hate, we covet, we abuse, we kill, and
    we pray – to be better.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Jack, your comments are like Red Sea pearls every time you privilege us with one. I can only say that there are too few of them.

  3. Haw Creek Girl says:

    Revelations didn’t say yesterday was going to be the end of the world. Just sayin

  4. William says:

    Not much of a country fan, but I do like this song.

    “He left his fortune to
    Some guy he barely knew
    His kids were mad as hell”


    In related news:
    Heard a story on NPR News yesterday, which reported that scores of people quit their jobs, gave up their belongings, etc. in order to prepare for their journey into the clouds. How sad. Sadder still is the prospect of how many still follow the words of this huckster today.

    Kind of proves P. T. Barnum was correct.

  5. Commenter says:

    The bible is extremely clear that no one knows the day of Christ’s return except God himself (Matthew 24:36). It doesn’t take a bible scholar to figure that out, this man was clearly misguided. Anyone can call themselves a pastor and claim to know the word of God just as much as I can call myself a pilot and say I know everything there is to know about flying a plane… I can say that and believe it, but the plane won’t get very far with me flying it. What every person has to do for themselves is make a choice what to believe in. If you choose to believe the bible, then the bible is the final word… not someone trying to interpret it or twist it out of context. If you choose not to believe or believe something else, then don’t be bitter and spiteful about someone else’s beliefs because it doesn’t line up with your own beliefs… that’s just basic human decency and respect and has nothing to do with religion. It’s very clear this article was written from a non-Christian perspective, but I don’t see the need to inject sarcasm and belittling the bible because of that.

    That being said, let’s see some more articles relating to what this site is supposed to be about… Flagler news… not biased opinions on off topics.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Commenter, the bible has no claim to special, or different, treatment, than any other book, anymore than does the Koran, a Shakespeare play or aunt Brunhilda’s self-published poetry. The fact that others invest certain beliefs or assumptions on these books neither justifies those beliefs or assumptions nor elevates them to a higher, or untouchable, level. Otherwise we’d be reduced to acting and suffering the fanatical deeds of those murderous Muslims who think that their interpretation of the Koran must hold sway over Muhammad cartoonists or over Muslims who choose to convert (an offense punishable by death in places like Afghanistan, according to laws American soldiers are, madly, dying to protect). It is anyone’s right to deal with the bible as he would any other book, if he so desires. There are about eighty-nine billion websites where the faith-only approach prevails, and that’s fine. All freedom to them. This is not one of those sites. Empiricism and slightly higher premium on critical thinking has its due, too. You have all the freedom to be where you please, read what you please. No one is forcing you to read this site which, incidentally, is not exclusively about Flagler news, thank god, or we’d have to find better brain surgeons to pull the bullets out of our collective heads. Flagler County doesn’t exist in a vacuum, or on an island of its own imagining, much as it often likes to think. We’re part of an interesting nation, a culture, a world. For the record, the piece couldn’t have been written from a more Christian perspective: I’m a recovering Catholic.

  6. I Think and I Vote says:

    I have to continue to be amazed at how much fun the liberal media establishment is having with this “end of the world.” I was even more surprised to witness how much time Glenn Beck spent on the topic. He’s deeply religious, while the rest of the leftist media is amused by quaint rural types who profess a belief in God and His Heaven. Now, Pierre, at the end of your days when you stand before your higher power, whatever you choose to call it, will you still maintain that the Bible has no claim to special treatment? It is amazing how many erudite and sophisitcated liberal thinking people who have made mocking God and religion find themselves making a difficult choice at the end of their lives. Which door is paradise behind? Have I really screwed this up? What do I believe? Imagine being seconds away from death and your concious mind trying to make this decision? Hope y’all make the right one.

    Now, I’m not a major Constitutional scholar. However the First Amendment to the Constitution grants us a lot of rights and denies our government a lot of activities. Contrary to the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment, not it’s reading of the First Amendment, there is NO language that is in any way representative of a separation of church and state. Our country was founded on the basis of freedoms. Freedom to exist, to earn a living, to make our own choices and to worship as we wanted. The Constitution forbids our central government from forming a state religion. In the 1780’s all of the european countries had state religions. England had the Church of England, France was Catholic, most of the northern German states were Lutheran as were the Scandanavian countries, and Russia was Orthodox. During the confederation period several of the states passed laws that made certain religions the official religion of the state. The First Amendment prohibited the Federal government from forming a national religion – period. The Supremem Court in its decision to create the doctrine of the separation of church and state relied on a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to a Baptist pastor in Connecticutt to support their contention that it was the intention of the founders to create a separation of church and state. That letter has no basis in law and the decision and following decisions need to be thrown out entirely. If people want to pray in public they are allowed. Others who might be offended have the right to be offended. But, one person being offended does not give him/her the right to stop another’s right to legal activity. When this country outlaws public prayer we may as well make Madeline Murray O’hare the face on the $20 bill.

  7. Godsgirl says:

    Pierre, I’m sorry nothing you right is from a Christian perspective, you have to be a Christian to do that. We will know a Christian by his fruits. A lot of the things you write about are not things a Christian would represent like Same sex marriages, or mocking the Bible. It’s a shame a lot of people believed this man that clearly was NOT a Christian! Anyone who knows the Bible, knows that no one but The Father (God) knows the time or the hour of the Rapture. Why don’t you study the Bible and the Book of Revelation for yourself and you’ll see that a lot of the events in there are happening today that clearly shows we are in the last days. I pray when the time does come you will be ready!
    One last thing, this picture is horrible, Jesus has the keys, he took them from Satan himself!

  8. William says:

    1. There IS NO liberal media. It is all owned by 5 major corporations who use it as their megaphone to alter public perception. It is propaganda and you’ve bought into it. It is a lie perpetrated by liars so they’ll get what they want. More for them, less for you. And you’ve swallowed the lies, judging from your post. Tasty?

    2. Jesus himself spoke out against public prayer (in Mathew as I recall). Pray in the privacy of your own place and god will hear you (paraphrased). Read your bible.

    3. Considering the smugness of your comment, perhaps you could tell us where you got the qualifications to sit in judgement of anything or anyone. Divine intervention or really good weed?

    4. The comment regarding being offended without infringing upon others’ rights is particularly rich, considering folks of your particular persuasion have been turning that into high art, as you find it impossible to mind your own business or accept the fact that you DO NOT have the right to never be offended. Live and let live? Bullshit. You’re the enlightened ones, everybody else is just one of “them” who is in desperate need of being saved. Refer to #3 and remember that god has reserved judgement for himself.

    5. Glenn Beck is deeply religious? Bwahahahahahahahahaha. That’s funny. No, seriously!
    The only god he worships is Mammon. How’s that case of snake oil you bought from him? Go well with a Bar-B-Que?

    I could go on, but why bother. You’re obviously drunk on the KoolAid

    You may vote, but considering the tenor of your post, thinking is not exactly your strong suit.

  9. Godsgirl says:

    William there is a time when you pray in private as the Bible says then there is times you come together, by the sound of your post you need to read the Bible! I’m not nor will I ever judge anyone. But we are suppose to hold others accountable especially when they are Blaspheming the Word of God. Doesn’t mean I have a problem with the person, I like Pierre, but some of the stuff he’s writing is totally against the Word so therefore it’s wrong!
    I know people get offended when people speak the Word and share Jesus when they don’t live it, it’s called conviction! So I’m glad I offended you, the seed has been planted! Have a most blessed day!

  10. Dwight says:

    Pierre Godsgirl says she likes you, God in his word says that he loves you, but the rest of us, we are all tolerating you, have a great day.

  11. Jack says:

    I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death. [George Carlin]

  12. William says:

    @ Godsgirl

    Quit reading the bible decades ago, not planning on picking it back up. You may be quite assured that no seed has been planted whatsoever, nor will there be. And whether you like it or not, I will not be held accountable by you or those like you. There is one voice I will answer to, and it damn sure ain’t yours. You can practice your faith and welcome, but, as the saying goes, tend to your own yard and leave my yard to me.

    You also contradict yourself in saying that you won’t judge anyone, yet you presume to stand in judgement of Pierre by way of his work. Pierre is perfectly capable of defending himself, but I did want to bring this bit of duplicity to your attention.

    And since I wasn’t addressing you in the first place, it’s difficult to see how you might have offended me. But it does prove my point that there are those of you who simply can’t mind their own business.


  13. Haw Creek Girl says:

    I had to snicker and I do want to assure you we do have representation on the City Government who has a daily appt with ‘really good weed’. Sadly, this person probably keeps thier rolling papers in the same locale as their daily devotional. So, snickering and sadness meet yet again because that’s why the most of you feel the way you do, about my and our God….Christians. I have shared with Pierre before- my first hand knowlege of this person’s daily habit many moons ago. Being the good, cautious journalist he is, he minded my posts and made sure to protect this person’s rights at the same time allowing me to exercise mine. I guess I am in a round-a-bout way saying, I get where you are coming from and I COMPLETELY get where God’s girl is coming from and if we all sat down together in a room for conversation and weren’t divided into corners, as we are at the moment….we would (for the most part) agree. Thank you, Pierre for allowing us all to voice what our hearts believe. I must also though….just for the record, say that I am a Christian, I read the Bible daily, I believe there is only one true God and the way to that one true God is through his son, Jesus Christ. I do not call myself Baptist, nor Pentecostal nor any other label. I have a relationship with Jesus not bound by religion or rules. I feel that best suits me rather than a label. With that qualifying info out there, I do want to say that I completely support the City of Bunnell’s proclamation designating a day as a day for our City to focus on prayer and thankfulness to God.

  14. Godsgirl says:

    Well I believe there is a verse in there that says something about A dog returning to his vomit and a pig wallowing in the mud. Also another one that says you would have been better off not knowing Jesus, than to turn your back on him.
    Point made-Conviction.
    I’m never at the mercy of a man with an argument! Be blessed!

  15. William says:

    Never said I turned my back on him. I turned my back on hypocrites, hucksters and smug, self aggrandizing snake-oil salesmen. I prefer to walk the walk – waaaaay too much talking from certain circles.

    Peace – out

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