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....