Just off Easy Avenue at the corner of Control and Manipulate sits a store called Thirty Silver Pieces Sellouts. Step inside and you'll find many knickknacks and moldy souvenirs scrounged from the ashes of long extinguished revival fires. Your eyes will pop, your ears will ring, and your flesh will zing to exchange the precious gold of faith for a few cheap, religious trinkets.
"Welcome, nice to see you, thanks for visiting." Katie Cordial, the stainless steel cash register, dispenses a hollow, prerecorded greeting as I enter the store.
"Name your price, we'll get you right with God," flash the white letters splashed upon her hairless head. "That way you can be Christian and still do your own thing."
Her methodical, monotone mantra tells me exactly what sort of service to expect.
Like the store's other religious robots, she sports big, round, plastic ears with wide, flat slots for inserting coins, and ten neon yellow eyes that glow like full moons when you push them. Over each eye looms a question, such as "Does God exist?", "Does He know I exist?", "When I get shoved, is that because He loves me?" and "What must I say (if anything) to get saved?"
I insert a coin and push a button.
Zip, zap, zing!
Out pops a three-step formula, printed on a card made of recycled cardboard. It tells me nothing new, but does claim to be biodegradable. "When you're done reading it, you can eat it."
No thanks, I'd much prefer a fortune cookie.
Dissatisfied, I hop from machine to machine, trying out each one. Soon I know all their formulas and what to expect from them. For though the robots all look pretty much the same, each answers a different set of questions, based on a special creed to meet a body's individual greed.
For example, many modern versions excel in satisfying pride and see anger as a way to holiness. "Don't speak to the Rock that makes you mad. Do like Moses and strike it. Forget that Jesus, your high priest and only mediator between God and man, laid down His life for you and intercedes for you before the Father daily. That simply isn't good enough. You must get his attention your own way - by jumping, screaming, and slashing yourself like a Baal worshipper. And while you're at it, add a little money to the offering plate. Then name and claim your fortune."
Can you hear the clanging gongs? I sure can. These younger models are all work, no play. But many older versions stress a believer's so-called "right" to live a life of ease. "Eat, drink, and hoard as many riches as you please. As a child of the King, you deserve it."
Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Two statements totally at odds with each other! But though some robots seem to express opposing views, the result remains the same.
Cold, hard coins earn customers cold, hard "facts" based on canned Bible verses (if any), twisted by man's own ideas and totally lacking in spirit.
No feeling, no enthusiasm, and no life. Just a brittle maze of metal, bolts, and wires that release a man-pleasing message.
"Go through the right religious motions, you'll be fine."
"Attend church on Sunday, put on a pretty smile, and be sure to cross yourself. While you're at it, do a few good works just to be on the safe side. Oh, and don't kill anyone. That should get you into heaven."
Pat excuses, predictable routines, and lies as ancient as the grandfather clock ticking on the wall.
Tick, tick, tick. Sick, sick, sick.
I expect one day when Christ returns, He'll destroy such monuments to man's own achievement. For those who build religious idols, vain inventions to laud their own success, will one day mourn and weep, but those who wait, expecting Him, will not be disappointed.
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