A little over a decade ago, a similar accident happened during a time when the author of the following story was pondering on religiosity and crime entering politics.
By Stuart Wood
Associated Press 2/23/94 – LAROSE, La. – A public address system or faulty heating elements are suspected of causing the electrocution of a minister in a baptismal pool.
The Rev. John Allen, head pastor of Victory Life church at Lockport, was shocked Sunday afternoon as he prepared to baptize about 15 people.
He died shortly after church members pulled him from the waist-deep baptism tank at Christian Fellowship church, which was being used because his own church did not have a large-enough pool, investigators said.
Now, this event was no doubt profoundly traumatic to the family and congregation of Reverend Allen and the premises liability carrier of the invitor church, but is also caused great consternation within St. Peter’s massive intake facility at the Pearly Gates when the case was assigned to the Political Section, which is presently headed by St. Nicolo di Bernardo. The former prince stormed, diplomatically of course, into the former fisherman’s sanctum later that Sunday afternoon:
“Peter, there’s some things we gotta talk.” With his usual misdirection, di Bernardo continued, “First, I get no answer about fixing up the longitudes so Sarajevo and the Palestine got different time zones. You should hear the crazy exemptions and dispensations they want, like they all went to Harvard Law School and Yale Divinity before they got whacked. If you’re gonna move California anyway, couldn’t you put Bosnia over around Iceland someplace? The paperwork is all over the place, and I gotta have more staff.”
St. Peter was accustomed to these outbursts, but was always, or more precisely, eternally, chagrined by the vulgar demise of language exhibited by his Latinate deputy, a recent devotee of Puzo.
“Well then,” said St. Peter, as he was putting the final tiny minute knot on the tiny little fly clamped in the miniature vise in the middle of his vast desk, “You should have some good staff candidates right on hand there. You’ve got to learn patience, Nicolo. Did I ever tell about the time I was on the upper Snake in Idaho and waited fourteen years to catch Ol’Bigtail? Why, you’ve never seen such a battle. First, he takes the leader upstream about four miles and –“
“Patience! I got patience! I’m just finishing up the last old Nazis, except I don’t see why we gotta come down so hard, I mean – well, nevermind. I just get through with them and I’m getting a bunch of neo ones. Amateur city—just kinda venom and ignorance in peanut shells with SCUD rockets and nerve gas.” Nicolo paused to catch his breath.
“Plus, and this is the big one I can’t figure out and how come we need to talk. You’re giving me this preacher from Louisiana. I run the Political section, so how come I got him? He never ran for any office sinecure.” Nicolo used his Latin when he could. “He never even took the bar exam. He’s probably a nice guy, probably should go over to Premature & Unexplainable.”
Peter is silent, contemplating the elaborate dark brown, red, tan, yellow, maroon, and white fly shining in the brilliant starlight of his limitless office, thinking maybe some green. Nicolo, no mean contemplator himself, suddenly understands, or thinks he does.
“Oh no, oh please don’t give me political and religious correctness. You’re not gonna give me this guy because he was maybe supposed to baptize sixteen people. You’re not gonna me give Oral Roberts just because he was a couple of million short. Or Tim or Jimmy or Tammy or Katy or Larry or Jerry and… and all the James’. Come on, this ain’t political, except maybe the swindling part, and has gotta go to Theological Errors and Omission. I can’t handle it. We’re not set up to do any more TV makeup.”
“Actually we’re thinking of washing our hands, as it were, on Mr. Robert’s situation. But I’m sorry, Nicolo, we’ve seen this coming for a while,” Peter said. “I’m afraid we’re going to have to move Religion over to Politics in Louisiana and all the other states, just like it always has been in the rest of the world.”
“What! You can’t do this! What about the big noble experiment? Separation of Church from three equal branches of State? For the People. Life, liberty and the purfuit of happineff (the Prince had read only the original). I thought you guys even helped with the weather in Philly and that First Amendment thing.”
“No, not really, but we thought it a fairly good earthly human effort, along with the Fourth and Fifth.”
“The Fifth, the Fourth! This is a hint, right? You’re gonna give me Crime in America, too?”
“Yes, I’m afraid so. It appears that both Crime and Religion in America, at least temporarily, have become entirely Political subjects because the politicians need the diversion. They’re quaintly American, three strikes and all that. Ross Perot paraphrasing a coin, and vice versa. The Supreme Court taking medical evidence. The Second Amendment and the ATF. Penumbras of privacy. Fascinating. I remember Ol’ Bigtail was hiding under the penumbra of this huge blue spruce, but I came up there just before daylight and –
“No!”, the Prince screamed, “No! This is impossible. I can’t take on drive-bys and carjackings and embezzlement.”
“Nicolo, please sit down. I almost regret to tell you the rest of the changes. Human corporeal health is also now Political. You will of course be sharing that with the Pure Avarice & Greed people and their Corporate Iniquity group, but it’s your primary classification job. SIT DOWN, Nicolo, you look like you’re having a stroke.
St. Peter paused here, to allow St. Nicolo time to regain his composure. “Yes, you will have to deal with Religion, Crime, and Health Care Reform, which if it’s to work will logically have to include premiums from worker’s comp, liability, and even RTD’s and AMTRAK.
“There is, however, good news in that THE BOSS has decided to give you a break on a couple major items. First, the universal health insurance premiums on your new staff are going to be off-budget.” Peter usually got a chuckle from the other department heads with this one, but the Prince remained morose.
“What could THE BOSS possibly do? This is a disaster for the Political Department. Diseases and car wrecks aren’t political. It’s stretched too thin. We’re gonna have to totally reorganize. You could at least move legislators and judges over to Heinous and Unforgivable.”
“Okay, that’s definitely in the works. Especially in Texas. But we’ll need to discuss that later,’ Peter said. “We recognize your problems. The other good news is that in order to compensate fully for these added complications, we’ve decided to turn the first six months of Denver International Airport operations over to the Unsolved Mysteries Section. I know that one has been costing sleep.”
Prince Machiavelli, relieved and jubilant, tried to express his thanks by washing St. Peter’s feet, but he was deterred by the Saint’s L.L. Bean hip-length wading boots. He left happy anyway, ruminating to himself, thinking, lemmesee, I need ol’ Abe. He suspended habeas corpus. Then I’ll sober up Senator Joe, who just barely made the cut, and check out this free speech and association and Fifth Amendment stuff. He was unsure on religion. Machiavelli had experienced a partial epiphany in his later years and had gained his position not entirely through simony. He generally agreed with Adlai Stevenson, who found St. Paul appealing but Vincent Peale appalling. He would have to ponder that appointment. But AMTRAK. All right. The Prince would have to make some extremely long distance phone calls to the Duce, but those little trenos would hereinafter run, into whatever, on time.