Heaven and Hell, A Delicious Irony
In the light of several serious and fruitless discussions here, I will let you all in on a funny. For the last several weeks, our secular group, The Northern Prairie Secular Society, has been meeting at a local coffee shop. We love to sit around sipping coffee and having great skeptical conversation. Unfortunately, the choice of coffee shops in Bismarck is limited on a Sunday morning. Many shops simply aren’t open and others just don’t have the seating to have all of us in one area, but we found an acceptable choice downtown. This coffee shop has a small but adjustable seating area in the main room, but also has access to a conference room in the basement. For the first few meetings and to the horror of everyone, we just arranged the tables upstairs and had our sinister atheistic conversations right there in public. This worked well. Life was good.
But we decided to try a few other possibilities and for a few weeks we stayed away. When we arrived back at the end of January, we discovered that an evangelical church had asked the coffee shop if they could have full religious services in their main room on Sundays. For what I imagine were business reasons, the shop agreed. So on this fateful day last month, we entered the shop/church in understandable confusion and realized we have been supplanted. Here was a small but complete evangelical worship service raging out of control in the coffee shop complete with the laying on of hands. The shop owners graciously allowed us the conference room for our discussions and we descended into the basement and have been there every Sunday.
Ah but the irony of the affair kills me. Picture the scene. Godly Christians worship joyously in the well-lit and airy upstairs while the dirty atheists slink to the dark basement to have their godless mutterings. There such a heaven and hell element to the whole affair that I find irresistible, and I’ll be damned if I don’t chuckle every time I think of it. We have to walk right into the midst of their service to get our coffee and stand there while it’s being made, music blaring, sermons preaching. I try not to smile: I really do, but thus far, I am unable to resist. I want to put up a sign indicating where both the Christians and atheists should go — up and down, Heaven and Hell, respectively, complete with halos and fiery illustrations. I wonder if they’d see the humor in it.
In truth, the conference room works well for us. It fully adaptable and private yet large enough to fit our growing needs, but to sit there while the hymns carry down from above is the best reason to keep coming. The complete dichotomy of the two events in such close proximity thrills me. The irony is scrumptious, so tell me, how could I not love it? I feel we’re the antidote to the superstition happening above. Up here’s what you may want to believe, but down here’s what reality really consists of.
So if any of you are ever in Bismarck on a Sunday morning, stop in. For saint of sinner, we have it all.
The sinners are downstairs.
P.S. I actually know the pastor and worked for him on a commercial six months ago. Nice guy, but I’m sure he now thinks I’m the devil.
P.P.P.S. I’m the fat guy.