Fallen

April 4, 2007 | 24 comments
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“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”

The real problem with Holy Week celebrations, Kristine, isn’t Nate’s theory about high versus low church and liturgy and ritual. The real problem is falling deities. Just ask any resident of San Pablo.

San Pablo is a sleepy Guatemalan town with an energetic Holy Week tradition. There’s a parade, of course, and bright costumes, and the kids wear masks painted with old Mayan motifs to represent the old spirits. There’s food, almost to match the duck tamales of Christmas. And music, and pageant. And then there’s the traditional crucifixion. At least, there used to be.

The real problem with crucifixion is finding a suitable volunteer. It takes either great courage or equally great foolhardiness to volunteer for the part where they strap you onto a big wooden cross and hoist you in the air in a ritualized mock killing. There’s usually a shortage of applicants for the position, and let’s face it, without a suitable victim, a crucifixion pageant really just isn’t the same.

Enter alcohol, stage right. San Pablo’s pageant organizers, like many others in the area, typically recruited the Christ figure from among the town drunks. They’d supply a bottle or three of the paint-stripper sold in local taverns as everclear, and ply the candidates with encouragement. Eventually some brave (and throughly three sheets to the wind) soul would volunteer for crucifixion. Or perhaps would be volunteered — what’s the difference, really?

The first sign of trouble in the system came one year when they forgot about Jesus. There was a festive parade, and a thoroughly soused Christ figure tied on to the cross; afterwards, everyone went home and ate tamales. Some time later that evening, someone remarked that they hadn’t seen Jesus for a while. Was he in a gutter somewhere, sleeping it off? Everyone assumed as much.

It wasn’t until hours later when they realized it — they had forgotten Jesus, and he was still on the cross. They took him down several hours late, by which time he was still half drunk, heavily hung over, and nearly hoarse from cursing a blue streak at the folks who had left him on the cross.

One might think that the memory of hangover Jesus would deter future organizers. No such luck. The annual ceremony continued in full force, until the events of a few years later.

That was the year that the Galilean carpenter — or at least, his inebriated stand-in — was hoisted by equally drunk friends, on a poorly assembled cross. A nail or two gave way under the weight, and the beam started teetering, and then suddenly it came unfastened. The result was quite bad. Jesus came crashing unceremoniously to the ground, and broke both legs in the process.

According to my sources, that was the last year that the Holy Week pageant in San Pablo included a crucifixion.

24 Responses to Fallen

  1. C. Biden on April 4, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    [ADMIN: Specific temple references removed]

    Or is your humor only reserved for religions not your own? Inquiring minds want to know.

  2. DKL on April 4, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    LOL. That’s too funny. Reads like scenes from a Fellini movie — only Fellini would have had children come and rescue him.

    It also reminds me of this authentic 19th century wood carving.

  3. Nate Oman on April 5, 2007 at 10:04 am

    Mr. Biden: Rest assured that we think that Mormon rituals are fequently amusing as well, although there is no denying that they would be more amusing if we could come up with ways of getting more Mormons drunk.

  4. Seth R. on April 5, 2007 at 11:07 am

    Reminds me of those Youth activities where they’d put up the volleyball net and require your group to get every last youth over to the other side.

    Followed by the infamous “Trust Fall” of course.

    One year I remember we dropped one petite girl from about 9 feet in the air onto the concrete floor of the cultural hall.

    Has the Church Office Building banned those activities yet?

  5. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 5, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Mr. Biden: Rest assured that we think that Mormon rituals are fequently amusing as well, although there is no denying that they would be more amusing if we could come up with ways of getting more Mormons drunk.

    Darn, the comments are as funny as the post.

  6. a random John on April 6, 2007 at 11:16 am

    DKL,

    I can see why you found this so amusing.

  7. C. Biden on April 7, 2007 at 12:33 am

    “Specific temple references removed” but it’s ok to mock others, look down upon them because they are drunk, and belittle what they [may] hold sacred. Surely, you know that drunkeness or other states brought on by ingesting various substances can be a way of approaching divinity or spirituality or irrationality in a different way?

  8. DKL on April 7, 2007 at 1:48 am

    C. Biden: but it’s ok to mock others, look down upon them because they are drunk, and belittle what they [may] hold sacred.

    Yeah. Most definitely. Wouldn’t have it any other way. If you don’t think that drunks are funny, you’re a humorless fool. From Aristophanes to Shakespeare to Monty Python to Saturday Night Live to the movie Arthur — there’s too many references to name — drunks have been the butt of jokes and humorous stories and pranks since time immemorial. I don’t care how sanctimonious you get, you can’t deny us the right to poke fun at ‘em just because we’re Mormon.

  9. C. Biden on April 7, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    The best humor pokes fun at oneself. The Flying Circus was fun made at Brits by Brits. Dogberry is funny because he takes himself too seriously. I suppose the humor your fond of is of the Ann Coulter lets-make-fun-of-other-people-to show-our-superiority type. Whatever.

  10. Ardis Parshall on April 7, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    C Biden, you are evidence of the truth of your statement in #9, thank you. Your parody of yourself is becoming ever more laughable. Keep it up, please!

  11. C. Biden on April 7, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    I’m glad I was able to make your day.

  12. DKL on April 7, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    C. Biden: The best humor pokes fun at oneself

    This, too, is nonsense. Not only do you appear to have missed some key episodes of The Flying Circus (e.g., since when did the Spanish Inquisition involve Brits?) but “The Life of Brian” was atheists and agnostics made fun of believers, and it was funnier than anything they did in The Flying Circus.

    The only thing that’s clear from your comments is (a) that you don’t know how humor works, and (b) that you have an axe to grind against Mormons. This thread appears to have been an unfortunate place for you to have manifested this combination of faults.

  13. C. Biden on April 7, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    DKL, I’m glad I found someone who has all the answers about everything as you seem to. Shall we all make fun of the Jews next? Perhaps a riff on davenning?

  14. C. Biden on April 7, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    daienu.

  15. DKL on April 7, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    C. Biden: I’m glad I found someone who has all the answers about everything as you seem to.

    So you’re the one who’s gone off half-cocked. You’ve been shown (and rather easily I might add) to be wrong about whether drunks are fair game for jokes, wrong about whether Flying Circus only pokes fun at itself, and wrong about the notion that the best humor pokes fun at itself. Given your track record here, one might reasonably expect you to be a bit more tentative in your assertions.

    Instead, your response to being shown to be altogether mistaken is accuse me of being a know-it-all?

    C. Biden: Shall we all make fun of the Jews next?

    No. We’re just making fun of drunks here. You’re the one who pokes fun at other peoples religions.

  16. C. Biden on April 8, 2007 at 2:28 am

    I’ve not been “proven” wrong. You disagree with me; that’s fine. Unless there is some universally accepted rule about what is effective humor, I will consider your statement to be simply your opinion. However, where in the above comments does it appear that I’ve made fun of anyone’s religion?

  17. DKL on April 8, 2007 at 7:41 am

    C. Biden: I’ve not been “proven” wrong. You disagree with me; that’s fine. Unless there is some universally accepted rule about what is effective humor, I will consider your statement to be simply your opinion.

    On the contrary, your assertions concerning the nature of humor have been shown to incorrect by counter examples. In other words, to the extant that this has anything to do with rules of effective humor, you’re the one who has been offering rules. I’m just been coming up with examples to show that they’re bogus. So yes, you have been shown (and rather easily I might add) to have been wrong.

    In your earlier comment, you tried to change the subject to whether I’m a know-it-all and whether we should make fun of the jews. Now you’re trying to mischaracterize the nature of your assertions. You might do better just to quit while you’re less behind.

    C. Biden: where in the above comments does it appear that I’ve made fun of anyone’s religion?

    In the portion of your initial comment deleted by the admins for temple ceremony content.

  18. Seth R. on April 8, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Oh is THAT why alcoholism is so popular?

    It’s the SPIRITUALITY! I completely missed that one, I must confess.

  19. CBiden on April 8, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    “best”

  20. annegb on April 8, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    CBiden, are you a member of the faith that Kaimi is describing and that we find amusing? Is that why you’re upset?

    Believe me, if Mormons reenacted the handcart trek and got drunk and forgot somebody, we’d all be cracking up. And said Mormons would never be allowed to forget it. Certainly not as long as I’m around.

  21. Ardis Parshall on April 8, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    annegb, you remind me of one of my favorite stories encountered in a pioneer overland diary. Sister X was having a hard time with the cattle pulling her wagon, and the wagon overturned, tipping out a keg of whisky and breaking it open. Bro. X was infuriated, and his anger didn’t wane with the passing of the day. Someone in the company recorded that as the camp watchman cried out the hours that night, he called, “It’s ten o’clock and all is well, and X is scolding his wife like hell!”

    Ah, the pioneer stories you don’t hear retold at Conference!

  22. Nato on April 13, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Alcoholism is a disease, so as long as we are making fun of drunks lets make fun of cancer patients, and infertile Mormon couples with no kids… because that is exactly what Christ would do isn’t it? Or do we only have to treat good Mormons with Christ like respect (and potential converts till we find out they are happy with their current religion)

  23. D. Fletcher on April 14, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Hmm. Sounds apocryphal to me. This very thing happens in the movie Jesus of Montreal.

    Maybe it’s not so much apocryphal as … it’s happened plenty of times, in lots of different places.

  24. Ardis Parshall on April 14, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    Nato — We could tell quadriplegic jokes:

    What do you call a man with no arms and no legs who helps repair your car? Jack.
    What do you call a man with no arms and no legs who goes swimming? Bob.
    What do you call a man with no arms and no legs hanging on the wall? Art.

    My nephew Chris and the other young guys with him could bounce dozens of these around the ward. Patient or visitor, you didn’t fit in until you learned not to take yourself so seriously that you couldn’t see something funny in the worst thing you could imagine happening. Christlike? It was certainly Chris-like.

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