Thursday, 9 January 2014

A Rabbi, A Priest & An Imam Walk into a Bar by Naomi Elana Zener

 “Shalom, Father O’Reilly,  Imam Asaad,” Rabbi Shmaltz greeted as his friends entered the bar and sat down in the empty chairs on either side of him. “I’ve taken the liberty of ordering you your drinks. A stout Guinness for you, O’Reilly, and a virgin pina colada for you, Asaad.

“Salaam Shmaltz, I appreciate you making sure that it is alcohol-free,” Imam Asaad said. “So many times these bartenders think I am joking when I say I don’t want any alcohol and then I end up with a non-Islamic friendly buzz.”

“But, I bet it tastes so good once it hits your lips?” Father O’Reilly laughed, giving Imam Asaad a wink.

The trifecta of religious leaders had been meeting on a monthly basis at the Duke of York in an attempt to find a solution to their respective dwindling congregant numbers. Notwithstanding their best efforts, after a year of brainstorming and implementation of failed plans, the three men found that no matter what they did, they could not overcome the scandals finding their way into breaking news, negatively affecting their religious institutions on a rotating weekly basis. Thus, after considered debate, the holy men decided that they needed professional help.

“When will Petra from 'Pious Public Relations' be here?” Father O’Reilly asked.

“Any minute now,” Rabbi Shmaltz replied.

With the ring of the door chimes, the three men rotated their heads, as if possessed, to see Petra breach the establishment’s threshold.

“Hi there, I’m Petra,” Petra advised, breathlessly tossing her bag onto the table and plonking herself down beside Imam Asaad. “Please, don’t get up on my account.”

The three men drank in Petra’s appearance in slow motion: her sleeveless short-skirted dress, patent heels, red long Boticelliesque locks and a bosom to rival Doll Parton’s. The religious leaders were happy to be seated, as had they gotten up to greet her, their respective erect manhoods would have betrayed them, as they stood to rise before the men could.

“I’m parched. So glad you picked a bar for the meeting. Yum, that looks good,” Petra giggle, as she took a sip of Imam Asaad’s drink. Imam Asaad looked on in disgust as his glass had been defiled by a woman’s lips, a fact not lost on Petra.

“Oh relax,” Petra admonished. “Your reaction is part of the problem you’ve called me in to fix. My lips having touched your glass won’t cause you to melt or need to be stoned.”

“I think you’ll find that we are quite progressive,” Rabbi Shmaltz offered trying to diffuse the Molotov Cocktail ready to explode between Petra and the good Imam. “Just the other day, I performed a briss for an interfaith Jamaican-Caucasian-Asian Jewis0Buddhist lesbian couple’s son, who is named Jesus Yangtze Goldberg.”

“And, I performed my first wedding-come-wake. The bride’s father dropped dead the night before the wedding at the rub-n-tug where the bachelor party was being held, and the bride insisted that the show must go on. So, as the happy couple exchanged their vows to love each other until death do them part, the bride’s father, lay in an open casket next to them, with an embalmed grin. The father of the bride was still standing at attention, if you know what I mean,” Father O’Reilly chuckled.

“What can I do for you?” Petra asked.

“We want to attract the younger eighteen to thirty-four demographic back to our respective folds. Our old scare tactics, like you’ll burn in hell or grow hairy palms if you masturbate and don’t repent in church, no longer strike the fear of God in youngsters anymore," Father O'Reilly explained.

"Neither does the promise of vestal virgins,” Imam Asaad added.

“Maybe that’s because the association of vestal virgins is inextricably and forever linked with suicide bombers, as opposed to being an incentive to eat Halal meat?” Petra offered, taking another sip of Imam Asaad’s abandoned drink. “What are some other things you’ve all done to give your religions a little spit-shine?”

“At our synagogue’s daycare, we accommodate our interfaith families by teaching both the ‘Shabbat Shalom’ song and more secular nursery rhymes, such as “To Market, To Market To Buy a Fat Pig’,” Rabbi Shmaltz explained.

“In our church, we provide a medley of options for Communion when taking the body of Christ. For example, instead of a plain wafer, we have curry flavoured naan and chocolate matzoh,” Father O’Reilly explained. “We have a multiculturally diverse crowd to appease.”

“We have made progressive strides to abate the patriarchal notions that women are not equals in our mosque,” Imam Assad said.“We provide extra fans for the women in summertime so they don’t overheat in their burkhas, and we have ordained our first female cleric to conduct female only services.”

Petra nodded her head in silent approval, but felt that to combat the Christopher Hitchens atheist attitudes of the younger generation, these men would have to do more in order to surmount the hurdle of competing with pop media Kabbalah and Scientologist cults.

“Regardless of what we do, none of these women are happy,” Imam Asaad explained. “It’s as though they want us to rewrite the Koran so that men are the baby procreators, not the women.”

“Trust me, we all have that problem,” Father O’Reilly advised. “At least you don’t have to accept accountability on a daily basis for the child molestation that has occurred at the hands of sexually repressed and deviant priests. No matter what we have done to rehabilitate our image, even going so far as marrying both ‘Adam and Eve’ and ‘Adam and Steve,’ it is never enough.”

“O’Reilly you always harp on the pedophiles, but the Jewish Orthodox community has done plenty to sully our religion’s reputation. I gave you a copy of Deborah Feldman’s expose ‘Unorthodox.’ Did you read it? The progressive branches of Judaism are ashamed when we have to acknowledge that the ritual circumcision performed by very Orthodox mohels includes their sucking the blood directly from the male infant’s circumcised penis,” Rabbi Shmaltz countered. “Baby blowjobs don’t make for feel-good positive headlines. Nor, do molestations of young virgin teenage brides at the mikvah.”

“Certainly, child abuse has cast a dark cloud of your places of worship, but you try walking down the street with people calling you a murderer and shouting out that all Muslims are suicide bombing jihadists,” Imam Asaad added. “Last time I checked, the penalty for murder is worse than for child molestation.”

Exasperated by the mens’ back-and-forth one upsmanship type banter, Petra jumped into the fray.

“Let me dazzle you with some twenty-first century ideas how to spin doctor your problems,” Petra offered. “You all come from different religions, but share similar problems: misgony, patriarchal attitudes, homophobia, child molestation, outdated crimes, and  so on. For starters, you all have to accept that men and women are equals, period.  Imam Asaad, be a pioneer. Ditch the burkhas and hijabs in your mosque. Host ‘shackle-free’ days when women can leave the homes wearing whatever they want with their hair blowing in the wind? And, Rabbi Shmaltz, would it kill you to ease up on the food restrictions? Instead of herring and tuna fish, throw some ham and cheese sandwiches and shrimp into the mix at Kiddush time.”

The three men could not find their hands to scrape their gaping mouths off of the floor.

“Also, Imam Asaad, cap off each prayer day with a little shot of tequila. Being on one’s knees five times a day causes cramping and puts a lot of wear and tear on the knee joints. A little liquid libation will help ease that tension. Just ask a hooker,” Petra laughed.  “Father O’Reilly, I’ve not forgotten about you. To counteract all of the negative sexual predator priest press you get, Catholics should show a little more platonic sex-free love for little girls. Have some altar girls replace altar boys. And, ease up on the no sex before marriage rule, while also abandoning your church’s anti-contraception and anti-abortion stances. Women aren’t Jezebels for having sex. I watched ‘The Borgias.” Your pontiffs back in the day were married to women having sex with their wives and mistresses while still married to God, so end the hypocrisy,” Petra continued.

“How can you say such blasphemous things?” Father O’Reilly charged.

“I’m calling a spade a spade. None of you will attract the demographic you want unless you pull your heads out of your asses. These kids want the Diet Coke of Judaism, Catholicism and Islam,” Petra retorted.

“I knew we should never have entertained the idea of hiring a woman!” Imam Asaad cried.

“Don’t attack her gender,” Rabbi Shmaltz admonished. “Perhaps we should have hired someone a little older.”

“Do you even have any religious affiliation?” Father O’Reilly pressed.

“Christ no!” Petra exclaimed. “Religions are all cults. But, I am twenty-seven and in your target market, so I know what I’m talking about.”

“How can an atheist help us?” Imam Asaad shouted.

“I don’t have to be into religion. I’m in PR,” Petra stated. “You sold religion for thousands of years to the illiterate masses, but Google and Apple have made it such that you need to technologize your message. Leave it to me, and not only will everyone clamour for a seat in one of your pews, but they will buy your apps and watch your sermons remotely on their iPhones. I could sell Noah a ten acre beach front spread in Malibu as a Tsunami approached and convince him he won’t need his ark.”

"When can you start?" the three religious leaders chimed in unison. 

© 2014 Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

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