Friday, February 12, 2010

"South Park" explains Purgatory

My son asked me how one can be an expert on purgatory. I told him I theoretically qualified but I'd never made a living at it, despite my 500-page, 500-source dissertation. So, he comforted me with this "South Park" clip.

Midway into a predicament-- unseen by me-- that's caused by my favorite Southwestern condiment, chipotle, the boys at the hospital, apparently there due to the digestive distress of a pal, find out from "the Doctor of Spooky Things" (illustrated above) about the place neither heaven nor hell. It's halfway through the 2:32 clip above, around 1:18. Before that, jibes about ghosts and a send-up of cable t.v. shows I've never seen about spirit-chasers take up the minute-plus. No less incredible a tale for today's narratives and listeners than this once-ubiquitous (yes, kids, even within my barely post-Vatican II lifetime) teaching, now nearly as moribund as the other one mentioned, Limbo.

The Doctor's metaphor's excellent. She compares this afterlife situation to "being on an airplane but you're in the plane, waiting for takeoff, yet still sitting on the runway." I paraphrase. You can't get off the flight. But, there's no bathroom breaks, the pilot gives you no information about when you'll depart, and there's no drinks either. Not sure but you may have to stay in your cramped seat, hands folded in empty lap, for an hour before landing, recent updates inform. On some flights, you might have a broken watch and therefore no idea how long you have until departure. Jet-lagged, dyspeptic, gagging on fumes from the broken air vents. With no iPod, no book, no distractions but a glandularly dysfunctional, inevitably "big-boned" Cartman-esque seat mate. Oh yeah: God is not your co-pilot, but the only one in charge of the plane, and He may not care about you back in coach much at all. Replace stewardesses with demons, forget the snacks unless they're fiery flavored Cheetos with no Coke even without ice to be had at any price (cash no longer accepted, by the way). You can fill in your own details, or not.

Temporary hell: how often do we think of this now to describe airports and flight? No terrestrial transcendence "to touch the face of God" as dreamt of by our medieval and ancient forebears. Sums up liminality for our age as well as Dante did for his. Or Sartre, but with much more welcome humor than your typical Gallic existentialist.

1 comment:

tamerlane said...

That's ignorant! I'm not dead, I just have a skin condition!