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the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Here Come da Judgment Day

Homeland Security dropped the ball. Like a thief in the night, Judgment Day came as unexpectedly as prophesied, taking even the White House with its praying president by surprise.

Around the world, potentates were dragged from their palaces and dictators corralled from underground bunkers by winged creatures with multiple faces and burning auras.

Media barons and billionaires couldn't hide from the final trumpet blast that ripped the once-routine march of history to shreds. Wealth provided no defense on that dread day as consciences caught fire and burned like exposed nerve endings.

Everyone stood naked in the Presence of the One Who Had Been More Than Patient as a hush descended on the world.

Ancient words were recited as heads hung in shame as whole nations and individuals approached the Judgment Seat. As expected, Canada and its people did better than most.

Finally, history's last empire emerged from the shadows to be judged. As usual, America was optimistic about its place in the scheme of things. It had been the world's defender, providing guns, butter and popular culture wherever needed.

Because of its status as a "Christian nation," the good people of America expected a good outcome on Judgment Day. After all, everything it had ever done, including the bad things, reflected an unflagging commitment to a Judeo-Christian vision whenever convenient.

Once again, ancient words were spoken:

"For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you didn't take me in, naked and you didn't give me clothing. Sick and in prison and you didn't come to me."

The silence that enveloped the world was deafening. It was broken by a lawyer from the Justice Department who cleared his throat.

"Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty and didn't feed you? Unless you were living in one of those countries we imposed economic sanctions on, you shouldn't have been affected," the lawyer said.

"And when did we treat you like an illegal alien? Surely you're not holding our sensible immigration policy against us? If you were stopped at the border, it was a bureaucratic error. Please accept our apologies.

"And when were you ever sick and in prison and we didn't visit you, Lord? You weren't on the list of terrorism suspects we sent to friendly countries for interrogation, so what's your beef?

"You weren't at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, either. If you found yourself among the 2 million souls piled into American prisons, that's not our fault. We would've gotten you an ankle bracelet and sent you home had we known about it," the lawyer said.

The One Whose Name Has Been Taken In Vain a Billion Times sighed before answering:

"Truly, I say to you, since you did nothing to alleviate the hunger of my children who cried out for sustenance from the land of your enemies, you did nothing for me.

"Because you did nothing for my children who cried out for justice after being beaten in prisons you sent them to, you did nothing for me.

"Because you tolerated the unjust treatment of your enemies while invoking my name, you tortured me as well. It was me you covered with a hood and sent to a faraway land for interrogation. It was me who ultimately confessed to all sorts of things under duress."

Suddenly, an eagle covered with hundreds of eyes swooped down from infinite heights clutching a sinister man in its claws. He deposited him before the throne.

"Lord," the creature said in a voice that sounded like rushing waters. "This politician was hidden in a place that was almost too deep for me to find. He's possessed by some foul spirit that I couldn't cast out."

The man stood and dusted himself off. "My undisclosed locations are nobody's business," he said defiantly. Looking around, he saw the faces of millions of terrified Americans on the verge of tears. His lips curled in delight.

"This is Judgment Day. Bow down before the Lord you've mocked with your policies," the creature shouted.

Smiling his crooked smile, the former vice president let out a cackle that startled the creature into blinking furiously.

"Bow down? I wish I could," he said with a sneer, "but the last thing I want to do under these circumstances is violate the separation of church and state. I'm a strict constructionist." "Dick, can't you just bow down like the rest of us?" the vice president's former boss shouted. "How do you expect the Lord to open up the pearly gates and bless any of us with you mouthing off like this?"

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

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Tony Norman

Tony Norman

Tony Norman is a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist. He was once the Post-Gazette’s pop music/pop culture critic and appeared as an expert on cultural issues on local radio talk shows and television programs. In 1996, he began writing an award-winning general interest column, which, he says, rejuvenated his enthusiasm for the kind of journalism that makes a difference.

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