Soulless on Good Friday—what’s a bear to do?

My Fellow Inebriates,

The Watchtower flyer inserted through our door this week has been on my mind, especially after Pascal’s Wager for Animals showed me the Nothingness that awaits your furry host here at the End of Days. Add to that some general anxiety about Good Friday and its attendant imagery (OMG! I don’t understand it!), a paucity of liquor at LBHQ, PLUS some bear-meat wine pairing suggestions from beerbecue (Dude!), and you have one anxious bear.

I think I’d feel better if we’d been around for the Jehovah’s Witnesses who pushed that flyer through the door crack. Back when we lived in East Vancouver they used to visit all the time. Miss P was a newborn living perpetually in my mum’s lap. My mum used to get powerfully restless, so whenever the JWs rang the bell, she let them in and we hung out.

Our guests were so well dressed and so well behaved that it was a pleasure to let them steer the conversation. Knackered from night-time feedings, my mum was content to explore topics with them such as “Do Children Change a Marriage?” and “Is It Later Than You Think?” So low-maintenance were our JW visitors that they declined every hospitable offer—tea, cookies, blood transfusions—with the utmost grace. Nor could they be flustered by my mother’s insensitive questions about the declared capacity limits of Heaven as it bore on our friends’ dauntless recruiting program. They were unflappable.

“How many souls can fit into Heaven?” my mother would demand as she yanked a flaccid boob out of Miss P’s mouth and shoved in a turgid one. “I heard it’s a really small number, like 144,000 or something. Is Heaven two-tiered, then? Is there another layer that I can get into if I don’t make the cut?”

I can’t remember what they answered, nor their response to “Do you think we should put candles or a sparkler on Daddy’s birthday cake?” But today’s anxieties prompted me to look for the answer about Heaven’s capacity. I know animals are banned, but did my mum have that number right? Is there some sort of celestial fire marshal who’ll go medieval if more than 144,000 enter?

The Watchtower website is very friendly and has a list of topics. I got so distracted by these topics that I forgot what I was looking for in the first place. For instance, Young People Ask…Should I Get a Tattoo? It turns out Mosaic Law forbids tats (damning uncounted People of Walmart) because they smack of false worship. But the Watchtower is so friendly in delivering this admonition. Sure, it cites Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Collossians, Ephesians, and Corinthians. But it also cites a dermatologist who warns about the risk of infection. And lastly it appeals to teenagers’ need for acceptance—“‘I got a tattoo before learning about Jehovah,’ relates Amy. ‘I try to keep it covered. When others in the congregation happen to see it, I feel embarrassed.’” And it ends on a catchy note: “Think before you ink.”

I was also distracted by Music That Pleases God. According to the flyer, God really likes music, which makes sense because He invented it. But is there such a thing as Music That Displeases God? You gotta know it, my fellow inebriates. “Pagan fertility rites, the doctrine of the immortality of the human soul, and the veneration of Mary as ‘mother of God’” are themes that dishonor God. Suffice to say When I find myself in times of trouble/Mother Mary comes to me (whether “Mother Mary” actually refers to Jesus’s mum or not) does not warble out of any JW speakers.

My mum let me down in lots of ways during those visits of 2006. She failed to ask animal-centered questions (“Does LB have a soul?” “Can you confirm that it is wrong—terribly wrong—to eat bear meat?”) And I always wished, during those visits in 2006, that it had occurred to her to bring out a tray of gin-and-tonics. But she insisted we behave ourselves. Our guests didn’t want to impose on us—at least not materially. We were allowed to interrogate them because it helped them train to be better soldiers for Christ. But we mustn’t be obnoxious.

Nothing to do with the JW take on Good Friday, but scary nonetheless.
Photo: Reuters

The JWs did eventually stop visiting us in East Vancouver. It wasn’t because they realized we weren’t going to join the flock—they weren’t idiots, but they had to put in x number of hours to fulfill their religious obligations, and we were reasonably easy to hang out with. Their visits ended simply because, several times in a row, they called at inconvenient times—just before a swimming lesson or a doctor’s appointment, say—and my mum was rushing out the door, or about to be. As I say, they weren’t idiots, and they must have felt she was giving them the heave-ho.

They’re welcome to visit us in Langley. But if they do, we’re gonna ask some questions about animals. (Why can I not be saved? OMG!) Then we’ll break out the booze and ask them for their tasting notes.

LB’s Wager

Yesterday’s animal slaughter discussion got me wondering about the afterlife, but then I remembered the prevailing dogma that animals don’t have souls. OMG! This seemed worth exploring with a bit more intellectual rigor. Being thumbless, I had to ask my parents for help.

Apparently, if you trust my parents’ email silence, Pascal wouldn’t have said anything. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to worry about geese being decapitated outside my neighborhood liquor store and finding themselves…nowhere (omg!) IF this flyer hadn’t been inserted into our front door today:

Even though I was pretty sure animals aren’t included in heavenly salvation, I checked out the associated website for the scoop on animals:

The zebra runs free, and the desert plain is home to the wild ass. Job could not use the wild ass to bear burdens. It seeks “every sort of green plant,” exploring the hills for pasturage. This animal will not exchange its freedom for more easily obtained food in towns. “The noises of a stalker it does not hear,” for the wild ass darts away if a man invades its domain.

This totally confused me, my fellow inebriates, so I hoped my parents would come through for me.

Yes! I said. That’s what I want. Because it sounds as though I, lacking a soul, kind of have a free pass to do whatever I want…

Which my parents had figured out.

“Given that you’re just going to continue behaving the way you do, you don’t really need a table to spell it out.”

I asked if my blog was becoming too intellectual for them.

Not to be challenged that way, one of them made me the following table.

 In a way, I think they’re saying “Happy Easter, LB.”