Housing the organ | AspenTimes.com

Housing the organ

Roger Marolt

The following is a fictional account of a debate in the small Western town of Rock Ridge. It’s the village made famous in the movie Blazing Saddles. We join a meeting of the townspeople, led by Reverend Johnson, in progress. Any similarities to proceedings currently transpiring in Snowmass Village, Colorado are purely coincidental (my apologies to Mel Brooks):Preacher Johnson: “People of faith, we have a decision to make. After selling our souls by making a popular “R”-rated movie about the fiasco with our Negro sheriff, ill-gotten cash around here has been, well … abundant. To atone for our sins and make us all feel better about things, I propose that we raise $10 million to build a new church for the town; a big church! I envision a house of worship over 60 feet high, with a steeple darn near 80!”Jill Johnson: “What’s wrong with the old church?”Preacher Johnson: “Well, to be blunt, it’s common. Every miserable sinner who ever bowed his head or slapped her hands together kneels in one just about like it. It’s not becoming of a town like ours. It looks like a manger.” Howard Johnson: “How about we just try a few prayers to save our souls?” Preacher Johnson: “Prayers?! Are you kidding?! That’s too ordinary. We have to do something special! Do you have any idea how competitive it is to get into Heaven these days? Everyone wants to go there. It’s not enough to pray and do good unto others anymore. If you want to get saved today, you have to set yourself apart, get noticed.”Bill Johnson: “But, Jesus didn’t build a big fancy church to preach in.”Preacher Johnson: “Do I have to explain everything to you? Of course he didn’t build a big fancy church to preach in. The Bible tells us he was going to build one, but they killed him right after he got the cornerstone in place. He wants us to finish it. He’s trying to find out how bad we want to be saved. It’s a test! Folks, how bad do we want to be saved?”Congregation: “REALLY BAD!”Preacher Johnson: “Do we want it more than the Methodists and Catholics?”Congregation: “HELL YES!”Preacher Johnson: “Do we want it more than the Jews?”Congregation: “HELL YES!”Preacher Johnson: “Do we want it more than the Aspenites?”Congregation: “YOU’RE DAMNED RIGHT WE DO!!!”Preacher Johnson: “Good! That’s what I like to hear! … Quick, pass the collection plate while we’re at it.”John Johnson: “Does the building really have to be so tall?”Preacher Johnson: “Yes it does, because we’re getting a new organ, you nitwit. And people, what matters most about an organ?”Congregation: “SIZE!”Preacher Johnson: “That’s right! I, for one, am tired of having the smallest organ in the county.”Mary Johnson: “What about blocking the views of all the beautiful mountains, trees, and sky that God created around here?”Preacher Johnson: “God don’t care about mountains. Did you ever hear of him giving any sermons on mountains? God likes churches, big churches!”Don Johnson: “But, this thing will be huge. It’ll dominate the landscape. Won’t it make the neighbors mad?”Preacher Johnson: “Maybe, but that’ll be God’s punishment to them for being evil.”Don Johnson: “How do you know they’re evil?”Preacher Johnson: “They’re against the new church, ain’t they?”Sue Johnson: “Personally, I don’t think I need a church that big.”Preacher Johnson: “Dad gummit! Don’t you understand anything? This isn’t for us. This is for everyone else. How are they supposed to know how good we are if they can’t even see where we worship? Folks will forget how virtuous we are unless we are diligent in reminding them.”Jack Johnson: “It goes against all the old building code laws, though.”Preacher Johnson: “Building codes be damned! Remember, that’s why we supported Rock Ridge Base Village. We took out an ad in the paper and told the townsfolk that we was a-prayin’ that the Lord would bring the community together and tell us how to vote on that oversized development. Well, God told the voters to approve that project and it breaks every zoning law we ever had. Ain’t no harm in us breaking ’em too. Besides, God don’t mind us breakin’ any laws, ‘cept the Ten Commandments. We ain’t coveting anybody’s property; they’ll be coveting ours by the time it’s finished!”Johnson & Johnson: “But how can we be sure that God wants us to build this?”Preacher Johnson: “God works in mysterious ways. Do you think the Town Council would have approved its height if God himself hadn’t told them to? Why, this thing sailed through so easily that it couldn’t be nothin’ but divine intervention.”Ben Johnson: “Shouldn’t we use some of the money to help poor people, though? Spending $10 million on a building feels a little wasteful.”Preacher Johnson: “There you go worrying about people again. This ain’t about people, it’s about God! Besides, if a bum should ever happen to show up in town, he’s more than welcome to come to church … during normal business hours, of course. He can sit in the back as long as he don’t touch the organ.”Clem Johnson, C.P.A. (whispering): “Ehm … tell them about the other thing we worked out, Preacher.”Preacher Johnson: “Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Think of all the tourists this will attract!”Congregation: “AMEN!”Preacher Johnson: “Well all right then, that’s more like it! Everybody sing!”Congregation: “NOW IT’S TIME OF GREAT DECISION. FORTUNE HAS LANDED IN OUR LAP. THERE’S NO AVOIDING THIS CONCLUSION, WITHOUT A NEW STEEPLE ABOVE THE PEOPLE, OUR LITTLE TOWN WILL GO TO CRAP.”Roger Marolt knows that in nature a tall steeple looks the same as a lightning rod. He’s paying penance at roger@maroltllp.com

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