Recently an anonymous commenter at Banned had this to say:
Then on the post titled
"PCG Parents Loose Custody of Daughter"
Dennis C Diehl gave a long list of additional Bible quotations that support this idea of shunning, banning, disfellowshipping, excommunicating, or committing other abuse against those who question church dogma.
This is a Jack tale. Not the same Jack as the one that traded off the family cow for a handful of bean seeds, but one of his descendants, a Jack modern enough to own a pickup truck.
He also owned a dog named Shep, sort of an ordinary-looking black and white farm shepherd. Jack and Shep went everywhere together. People in town would see Jack’s truck going down the street and say, “Yep, there go JackenShep.” Like it was one word. JackenShep. Dogs would sniff the base of a lamppost or fire hydrant and think, “Yep, ShepppenJack came along here.” Jack never ate in restaurants because they wouldn’t let Shep come in. He would order a hot dog or hamburger at the drive-up window. Two of them, actually: one with onions for himself and one without for Shep. When he simply had to go in a store where Shep wasn’t allowed, Jack would tell Shep to wait outside, because he would be back out pretty soon. The dog would stay there till Jack came out. Everybody liked Shep, especially little kids and old people, and they would scratch him behind the ears and wait for Jack to come out, or maybe if they were short on time they would go on inside and say hi to him there. Everybody liked Jack too.
Well, one day Jack and Shep had a bad wreck in Jack’s pickup on an icy bridge, and they both passed out. When they woke up, they could still walk around like always, and Jack could still scratch Shep behind the ears, and Shep could still lick Jack’s hand. Then Jack got suspicious. He said, “I ain’t cold. Here I am, ice and snow all around, wearing nothing heavier than this little old denim jacket, and I ain’t the slightest bit cold!” He looked around and got a shock when he saw his truck. The cab was crushed almost flat. He said, “Oh mercy goodness, nothing could have come out of that cab alive.” As you might expect, under the circumstances it took a while for the significance of what he had just said to sink in. Finally Jack said, “Well I be durn. I always wondered what it’s like to be dead. Now I know. It just feels normal.” He looked down and said, “Well, Shep, I don’t know nothing for it but to go on down the road. Let’s not go back the way we came. No point revisiting the past. I don’t see any future in it.”
Pretty soon they saw some kind of big impressive establishment with white walls and towers. It was high up on a hill overlooking the valley. Looked like a mosque or a cathedral or Disneyland. Something of that nature. Jack said, “Shep, let’s go check that place out.” All the snow and ice had disappeared, and the valley was green like June.
At the foot of the hill they came to a nice driveway leading up. The hill was high and steep, but the road was easy walking because it was smooth and broad and full of hairpin turns. Real crooked.
From time to time, up the hill through the trees, they could see the walls of the place, like polished marble. When they got closer, they could see coils of razor wire all along the top of the walls. Then at the top of the hill, they saw that the towers they had seen from afar were spaced a hundred yards apart like watchtowers, as far as the eye could see. Jack said, “Shep, I reckon the people that own this place must have treasures stored up here that they don’t want thieves to break in and steal.”
They came to a gate. It looked a lot like the fancy iron gate in front of a gated community or some rich man’s estate—maybe even the White House—except it was all iridescent, like mother of pearl. The driveway leading up to it was blacktop. The street on the other side was gold. In front of the gate, off to the side, there was a high desk like in a restaurant where the hostess asks if you have a reservation. The big man standing behind it had flowing white hair and beard, and he wore a white robe. He was overjoyed to see Jack.
He yelled, “Hi, Jack! Good to see you, man. Welcome to Heaven! We’ve been expecting you ever since we saw you start across that bridge.”
Jack blinked and swallowed hard a couple of times before he thought to say thank you.
The man in white said, “Now Jack, we want to fulfill your most heartfelt desires. Whatever you yearned for in life that you could not have, tell us what it was. Maybe you were too poor and couldn’t afford it, or maybe somebody wouldn't let you have it. Makes no difference. You can get it here. We aim to please.”
Somewhere across the fence Jack could hear an organ playing “Ode to Joy.” Or maybe it was a calliope. Yes, he could see puffs of steam in that direction. He also heard and saw a fireworks display. The smell of sulfur drifted in. A Ferris wheel was turning, and a tilt-a-whirl. People squealed the way ecstatic teenage girls used to when Elvis or the Beatles came on stage.
Jack said, “Well, I been traveling a ways, and right now I’m real thirsty. Can I get a cold drink of water?”
Man in white just busted out laughing. When he caught his breath, he said, “In all my days working the admissions desk, that is the simplest, the most modest request anybody ever gave. Of course you may have a glass of water.” He clapped his hands twice.
Instantly a beautiful young woman wearing a halo and a pair of wings appeared. She was holding a tray with a pitcher of ice water on it, and a crystal goblet. She held it out to Jack, and he reached for it but then stopped and looked at the man in white. He said, “Reckon could Shep have some water too? In a bowl?”
Man said, “Shep? Who is this Shep? Nobody by that name on the list.”
Jack pointed at his dog.
The big man’s eyes bugged out. “That quadruped? A mere beast? You ought to know better than to think you can bring a dog into Heaven. He’s got no soul. He’s not even made in the right image. Get that son of a bitch—and I mean that in the technical sense—get him out of here!” The veins in his neck stood out. His face was red.
Jack looked through the gate. He always used to go to the county fair every night it was open. He said, “You all got a nice carnival here. Lots of rides. Lots of excitement. I couldn’t have no fun in there, though, with Shep stuck out here. I reckon we better go on down the road and see what else we can find.”
The man said, “You mean you would give up eternity in Heaven for the sake of a wretched mongrel cur? Let me plead with you, Jack. Hear the call. Please, Jack. Answer the call today.” Jack didn’t say anything, just looked at him. “Let me warn you, Jack. This is the last chance you will ever get. You don’t deserve another one. But I tell you what, Jack. What you do deserve is what you will get if you go on to that next place down the road. Every minute of it. You hear me? Every miserable damned minute. And I mean damned in the technical sense.”
Jack said, “Yeah, well. You got a nice place here, but if you ain’t going to let Shep in too, we better just go on down the road. Besides that, taking something I didn’t deserve, I’d feel like a piker. Come on, Shep, let’s go.” They headed back down the hill to the road that ran along the river bottom.
After while they came to another driveway on the other side of the road and went down that. This was just a little narrow two-track leading out through the woods toward the river. Greenbriers and blackberry vines grew on both sides, so you had to stay pretty close to the middle of the road.
Eventually the woods opened up to a clearing with a big elm tree in the middle, and on the other side of the tree was a wooden gate between two tall cedar gateposts with a long horizontal pole joining them at the top. The gate looked like it hadn’t been closed in a long time, and if there ever had been a fence, it was gone now. A man sat in a chair in the shade reading a book. He had on grey pants and a light blue short-sleeved shirt and looked like maybe a small-town lawyer or real estate agent, something like that.
When he saw Jack and Shep, he broke into a big smile and said, “Hey there, Jack. Glad you could make it.” He stretched out his hand to the dog and said, “Come here, Shep.” Shep went over, and the man scratched him behind the ears and told him he was a good dog. Shep grinned and wagged his tail.
Man looked up and said, “Well, Jack, you okay? Anything you need?”
Jack wiped his mouth. “I could stand a cold drink of water.”
Man in the blue shirt said, “Why sure. There’s a well on the other side of the house back there.” He pointed toward some lilac bushes, and just past them Jack could see a white house with a long porch. “I just now drew up a fresh bucket and set it on the table next to the well. There’s a dipper and a clean glass sitting on it, and a bowl on the ground for Shep. If you use all the water in the bucket, draw another one.”
Jack and Shep walked back there and stayed gone for some time. When they finally came back, Jack said, “You know, this place reminds me of Grandma’s. I spent some of the best times of my life there, in the summers.”
Man said, “It’s similar. Lot less drouth. Neighbors are all nice people. They’d enjoy a visit, only most of them aren’t home right now, because the county fair’s going on. Tell you one thing about those neighbors, though. You can count on them. If they give their word, they’ll keep it.”
Jack said, “Sounds real good. What’s the name of this place?”
“This is Heaven.”
Jack’s eyes bugged out. “Heaven? There’s a man up the road calls his place Heaven.”
Man said, “I think I know that establishment. Way up on a hill?” Jack nodded. “Whitewashed walls and watchtowers?” Jack said they were white, all right. “Cheap plastic mother-of-pearl veneer on the gate?” Jack allowed that could have been what he saw. “Streets spray-painted gold?” Jack said maybe so. “All kinds of noise and confusion inside?” Jack said definitely so.
“Yeah, that’s Hell.”
“Hell? Hell? Don’t it make you mad for somebody to operate a place like that in the name of Heaven?”
“Nah. Doesn’t bother me. They do part of my work for me. They screen out everybody that would walk off and leave their best friend.”