Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Little Apocalypse That Couldn’t

There are many things to be thankful for, I suppose, and just for today, I shall be thankful that The Apocalypse of Peter did not make it into the Bible.

It could have. Came close. Made the finals, you might say.
Sitting here now and thinking about it, I like to imagine that back on the day when they announced the books that made the cut, The Apocalypse of Peter is thinking its chances are pretty good. Way better than even.  I see The Apocalypse of Peter bouncing up and down on its tiptoes, trying to see over the crowd of other books that are checking out the list tacked up upon the big bulletin board.

And The Apocalypse of Peter sees The Shepherd of Hermas way up front, sees The Shepherd scanning the list for a third time, a fourth. And The Apocalypse of Peter chuckles to itself. “No way that bastard made the list. I coulda told you that. Doesn’t even claim apostolicity! Written by a slave, for God’s sake. Pfshaw!”

And The Apocalypse of Peter sees Paul’s Epistles way off in the back, sees them looking bored. “Those arrogant pricks! So confident of their own canonicity they’re not even gonna bother to check out the list.”

Sitting here now and thinking about it, I like to imagine later that night – after everyone has had their chance to see the list and to let it start to sink in – and maybe The Apocalypse of Peter and… oh, I don’t know, probably The Didache are off somewhere commiserating their defeats over a beer or two or three.

And The Apocalypse of Peter says, “I had it all, I tell ya, Didache. Had everything goin’ for me. I was written early: Way earlier than all that Gnostic bullshit. I am the first written Christian vision of Hell! I’ve got blasphemers hanging by their tongues! I ask you: Does the Apocalypse of John have blasphemers hanging by their tongues? Hell no, it doesn’t!”

As I type these words, it makes me a little tiny bit sad. I know how failure feels, after all.

But be that as it may be, today I am still thankful. I am thankful that The Apocalypse of Peter did not make it into the Bible. I’m thankful it got tossed aside, discarded, lost for centuries and largely forgotten. I’d dance upon the damn thing’s grave if only I knew where it was buried, but it’s an unmarked grave and all the better for it, and for me.

I’m thankful, and you should be thankful, too. Thank whomever you need to thank. Thank your lucky stars and Ourobouros, thank Ganesh and Krishna and thank Aleister Crowley that The Apocalypse of Peter did not make it into the Bible.

Just for today.

Be thankful all of those pious state legislators across the American South – my home, sweet home – have never read these words and deemed them to be the holy and perfect inspired word of God:

“And near that place I saw a very deep pit in which the discharge and the excrement ran down and became like a lake. And women are swallowed up by this up to their necks and are punished with great pain. These are they who have conceived children outside marriage and who procured abortions.”
See what I mean, heathen reader?

Can you not see the Honorable Reverend Senator (and Tea Party favorite!) Glickett Lee Pickett rising in support of S.B. 1066?

“Mista Chairman, this afternoon I rahs in support of Senate Bill one-oh-double-six, which would requahr doctors to submerge womenfolk up to the neck in discharge and excrement prior to obtainin’ an aborshun. Now, ah know the forces of po-lit-i-cal correctness don’ lahk this bill, but might ah remind y’all, it doesn’t prevent any womanfolk from getting’ an aborshun if she wants to get an aborshun. It jus’ gives her an eensy taste of wut God hisself hath said awaits her in the afterlife if’n she does.”

Thinking about this, about my hypothetical speech by the Honorable Reverend Senator Glickett Lee Pickett, it is almost enough to make me regret voting for him last November. Then again, the President is half black, so what choice did I have?

But for today, at least, I am thankful. And I am thankful because that guy who stands at the intersection of Montrose and Westheimer, protesting homosexuality every Saturday? He cannot quote The Apocalypse of Peter on the signs which he carries:
“Other men and women cast themselves down from a high slope and came to the bottom and were driven up by their torturers to go up the precipice and were then thrown down again, and had no rest from this torture. These were those who defiled their bodies, behaving like women. And the women with them, these were those who behaved with one another as men with a woman.”
That sounds just awful, as I fall down quite a lot as it is.

It sounds just awful, but Peter’s vision of Hell is not my vision of Hell. Mine is different. My vision of Hell is being stuck in Houston traffic. Forever. Without air conditioning. Listening to A.M. talk radio.

So… basically what people in the suburbs go through every day.

And that and that alone makes up The Apocalypse of Katy, which – just like The Apocalypse of Peter – did not make the biblical cut.

And for that, let us rejoice and be glad....


  1. Ma'am Katy, This aftahnoon ah rahs in praise to you and yore wondahful, beeeutifull BRAIN!!

    HOLY SHIT! This is hilarious, smart and I totally have a crush on you. Does that make me gay to crush on a lesbian? or is it just because I like "Asia"?

  2. OK that is some scary shit, literally. I can only imagine the Westboro bunch's posters if this had been cannonized. Chapter & verse... wow

  3. Does it also preclude celebrating hoppy bathdays?

  4. Rafa: The band, Asia? I think that just means you must be about 40 years old. Nobody much older or younger than that ever listened to Asia, although they DID have a good cross section cast of characters from Seventies prog bands. Or you might be right: It might mean you’re gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

    Hey, Brent! The Westboro gang can do a lot with just a little. Hell, they protest those funerals all over, and I have yet to figure out the logic behind what they are protesting. We have a protester dude in my neighborhood – which is basically the gay capital of the state – and he always wears a leather vest while protesting homosexuality. Mixed signals…

    Bill the Butcher: Hmmm… Some of those desert dudes would have said there’s no time to celebrate birthdays with the return of Jesus right around the corner. But I know some people having birthdays this week…

  5. Wow. That would have been the only reference to or condemnation of lesbians in the Bible right?

    Why didn't it make the cut?

    And why are you thinking about this?

  6. "And why are you thinking about this?"

    The Book of Katy doesn't condone leaving well enough alone.

  7. " My vision of Hell is being stuck in Houston traffic. Forever. Without air conditioning. Listening to A.M. talk radio."

    Wow! That is indeed a very frightening picture of hell! If there was a hell and it was like that, I might have to rethink my atheism!

  8. You cannot wear a leather vest while protesting homosexuality. He reallyh needs assless chaps to go along with that. Geez some people

  9. They can outlaw abortions, but they can't outlaw coat hangers.

    Highly inappropriate food for thought.

  10. Dex: Yup. It would have put a very fine point on it indeed. It also would have been the only reference in the Bible to punishing people by submerging them in excrement and discharge. It’s just like the great saint, George Michael (blessed be his name) hath said: “Turn a different corner and we never would have met.”

    JerseyDave: There’s that, yeah. Speaking of which, why is that bear over there asleep? Isn’t anyone going to wake it up? Give me that stick!

  11. Ted McLaughlin: I’m convinced that if I can only come up with a punishing afterlife SCARIER than the Christian Hell, I will be able to establish a very profitable faith of my own. With me as Pope, of course. I’m still working on it, but the Houston traffic thing is a good start, methinks…

    Brent: I have seen men walking through my neighborhood in broad daylight wearing assless chaps! There’s a leather niche: The Rob Halford leather cap, leather arm band… the guys are usually bald with a big-ass mustache. But a lot more muscular than Rob Halford. And if you’re wondering, it is sort of tough for anyone to really pull off the assless chaps look…

    A Beer for the Shower: And they can’t ban “accidentally” falling down the stairs, can they? Except in Florida, I mean, where they were considering a bill to investigate miscarriages.

  12. Katy, I know you've made a study of such - so I know you're fully aware that there's some equally-scary-shit which never made the Bible.

    Constantine had to squirrel-away over 300 delegates to his 'Biblical Convention' at Nicaea - twice - to come to a conclusion.

    Sort of makes the budget-clusterfuck pale in comparison.

    Still. Back when I was 20 and came across this (and the other stuff), I realized that the Bible is just as much a political document as it is anything else.

    Which, of course, called the whole damn thing into serious question in a hurry - and no one's been able to resolve any of those queries, since.

    Ah, well....

  13. Will: What I’ve been surprised by is how – especially in the early centuries – Christianity ended up defined in the negative. In other words, not by setting out what it WAS, but rather, through a process of anathemas and declarations of heresies. The current canon is just sort of… the last men standing after the Church chopped off everything that the heresies liked – a process that almost got Paul’s stuff thrown out. “The Apocalypse of Peter” isn’t heretical or anything, so it’s less obvious what happened there. Which is why I’m writing a paper on it.

  14. "In other words, not by setting out what it WAS, but rather, through a process of anathemas and declarations of heresies..."

    Back in the aforementioned Jurassic Era, when I was studying these things in my spare time whilst working toward two degrees in Anthropology and History, I came to much the same conclusion you did here.

    I had a friend who'd entered seminary at the same time - he left after the end of Year Two; he declared to me over a beer, "Will - 'God' is bunk. We shouldn't marvel at the longevity of Christianity - we should ask ourselves why people continue to believe in the first place."

    Or, words to that effect. It's been a little over 35 years.

  15. Katy's catechism.  What is Hell?  Hell is for Hell.  Hell is for Hell!  Hell is for children. 

  16. Hi again, Will! A priest once said something memorable to me: “You know how they say there are no atheists in foxholes? That doesn’t hold true for seminaries.”

    Help keep America: I think the concept of Hell is dying. Which is sort of a shame, really, because I can do WAY more creatively with Hell than I can with Heaven. I have this big book of how different artists have visualized Hell over the centuries. People have apparently always been more imaginative with their fears than their hopes…

  17. "People have apparently always been more imaginative with their fears than their hopes…"

    Which sheds a fair amount of light on the American political landscape and discourse.

  18. I guess you will want to place a twitter icon to your site. Just bookmarked this article, although I must do it manually. Simply my suggestion.

  19. Therein lies the ultraviolet.

  20. JerseyDave: Haha… You know, it might explain our cultural mindset in general. The good times are sure to end, while hellish pain and heavenly boredom can go on forever. (Not that there is anything wrong with playing the harp. Joanna Newsom has produced some perfectly respectable music, but… for Eternity?)

    Hola, Anonymous. I am absolutely in favor of this site becoming user-friendly. There are some icons at the bottom of each blog entry, and I think there’s a twitter and facebook button among them. I will absolutely put in another button of some sort if it makes it easier, though…

    Looking good: “And the Devil asked me to supper / He said ‘Careful with the spoons’ / But God said, ‘Oh, ignore him! / ‘I have all your albums’ / And I said yes / But who had all the tunes?” — Robyn Hitchcock

  21. "I will absolutely put in another button of some sort if it makes it easier, though…"

    I'm sorry... has pushing your buttons ever been difficult?

  22. The problem often involves not the availability of the button but rather what should be done with it.

    (I'm sure that's a double entendre for something, somehow. Commence with misinterpretations.... now.)

  23. She falls down alot as it is Hell it's no surprise.  Forgets to check her shoes are tied. Slips down stairs, kicks a curb.  Katy can really shake a bush.  

    Yeah she trips alot, somedays one foot after another just-too-hard.

    A personal issue she cannot hide. Somedays circuitry not on her side.  Is it carelessness or simply oopsy?  In fact she wonders, will another concussion be the end of me?

    And blood. And blood. The blood it flows and flows and flows!

    Sometimes from an eye, often from her nose!  Severe bruising every week.  Motor coordination very weak.  Hits so hard she cannot-even-speak. 

    We try.  We try.  I tell you we try and try!  Wipe the blood from her matted brow, the trauma massive now. If only she would've just-slowed-down. 

    It's sad. It's Hell.  Somethings you just cannot help. Katy, watch out for that sign - if only you'd take-your-time!

  24. Hey there, Hell is Human, and thank you: My clumsiness has never looked more poetic.

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  27. Genius without education is like silver in the mine.

  28. Anonymous: Too much education can turn gold into lead.

  29. I think the bible has been biased against homosexuality in any case. But the Apocalypse of Peter would make it worst. This is just something we need to learn to live with.

    1. Hey there, alt com!

      yeah, it's pretty amazing that - at a time when there are so many amazing global problems around, from rampant greed to genocide to starvation to whatever - that the hottest topic in organized religion is how to treat certain people in the church based on who they love.

      I'll never understand this stuff, though. I just do my thing...


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