Pagan Before the Pearly Gates

My philosophy on the afterlife is: In the end, we’re all going to be surprised.

I plan on going to Elysium. Elysium is supposed to be for heroes and stuff, so it must also be for exceptional future cult leaders, such as me.

That’s my plan anyway, but you know what they say about plans: A plan is a list of things that don’t happen. (From the movie The Way of the Gun.)

But what if I’m wrong? What if my belief in multiple “heavens” turns out to be false after all and Christian heaven really is the only heaven there is and Yahweh really is the only god there is? What if I have to stand before St. Peter one day at the pearly gates holding my Hestia candle in one hand and cradling my Demeter statuette in my arm?

I’d be sheepish.

“Well,” I would say. “I did my best. I tried to do good things in the world. I tried to be a good steward of the earth. I tried to be good to everyone… except those people I hated almost immediately for no good reason. You ever get that St. Peter? Is it chemical? Pheromones? Do you know or do I have to wait to ask the big G… if you let me in, that is.

I would clear my throat. “As I was saying: I tried to be good to everyone. I really tried.

“I loved all religions worthy of love—all trees that bore good fruit—any religion that did not abuse its followers either physically or mentally. That was my rubric and I believe it was a good one.

“And finally, although I may have been praying to idols or demons or simply to the empty air, I loved my gods and I loved them well. Surely I have a green checkmark or two for that.”

Do you think he would let me in, or would he look down at me with the squinty eyes and open the trapdoor beneath me?

“As I fall past, remember me.” -Andrew Hudgins, Praying Drunk


Future Cult Leader and Resident of Elysium

About M. Ashley

Essayist and poet, my work has been rejected by some of the finest journals in America. Fortunately, it also gets accepted from time to time and has appeared in equally fine journals such as Word Riot, Inlandia, Brew City Magazine, and SageWoman among others.. In 2002, I was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize for Vanderbilt University. For no good reason, I possess an unnecessarily dark humor which is why being third generation California Inland Empirian delights me so. My gods are weird. I once received $350 for writing a smartassed essay on “why the wise use of water is important in my daily life”. I am undoubtedly the Greek god Hermes’ special snowflake. I’m pretty sure I got into college via a series of fortuitous clerical errors. When I had to grow up and get a real job, I decided against it and stayed a writer. I have worked many odd—and I mean odd—jobs to support my habit: Commercial writer for country music hopefuls, resume massager, WalMart fitting room attendant and switchboard operator, telephone psychic.
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