Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Twilight Zone

Think of yourself as Joe Jones--the innocent character in an SF movie who has car troubles while he's out-of-town. He is just able to get off the highway and pull into a small town that isn't on the map.

At first, it seems like the all-American small town with a few farms and maple-lined houses, while Main St. is the only paved road in town.

Everything and everyone appear to be perfectly normal--abnormally normal, in fact. The whole town is preternaturally clean and antiseptic.

Everybody is nice and polite. Indeed, they all have the same fixed smile, and they all look alike. You know the type: platinum blond with pale, wrinkle-free skin and a gray, glassy-eyed stare. They are uniformly friendly without any trace of emotion.

Every well-groomed dog always wags his tail. Every fresh-scrubbed kid always says “sir” and "ma'am,” "please" and "thank-you." The TV in his motel room only shows reruns of Leave It to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show.

While Joe Jones’ car is still in the shop, which--for some reason, is taking days to repair--he scopes out the town, and begins to sense that something is just a little off.

The shapely waitress at the cafe asks him about family and friends. Does anyone know he's out-of-town? Would anyone miss him if...well...if something ever happened to him?

Taking a peek at the registry when the motel clerk isn't looking, he notices that all the guests have a strange way of signing in but never signing out.

When he slips out of his motel room after dark, he watches the townsfolk all heading for a barn on the edge of town, where he can make out a low humming sound and see an eerie blue light through the slats.

In the dim light he sees some odd-looking, pod-bearing plants next to a compost heap strewn with house keys, eyeglasses, neckties, prophylactics, and lipstick dispensers.

Well, I'll let your own imagination finish the story for you.

My point is that you can find a lot of folks in churches, as well as their virtual counterparts who, at first, seem right neighborly; but as soon as you get on the wrong side of them, a whole nother person emerges from behind the mask--someone you wouldn't want to be trapped with in a lifeboat.

At one level, life would be a lot nicer if we could avoid all this unpleasantness, but in another respect this is a useful experiment because it tells you in a hurry who you would or would not want with you in the lifeboat.


  1. If you don't get it, then it doesn't apply to you. That's the beauty of it. Kind of like an ink-blot test. That's why I deliberately left the application vague. I leave it to the reader to apply it to his own experience with the church or with the blogosphere.

  2. So this is not motivated by a particular/specific instance, but is a wholly general affair?

  3. It has been a long time since a shapely waitress has said anything to me at all. The parable has made me sad.