Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pryvett Rawgers & Father Phil

Among the rogue's gallery of co-workers populating Pryvett Rawger's daily life in the warehouse of Package Handling Company, International, there is Art in the Dark, Fat Rob, Jerry Jihad, The Drunk Guy, The Crackhead, and Father Phil.

Although each of Pryvett's colleagues has an interesting backstory, nothing compares to Father Phil's ambitions, audacity and hubris.

It needs to be pointed out, front-and-center, that Father Phil is a priest in some arcane, hybrid Christian sect that has about a hundred followers. Ask Father Phil about his flock, and he makes it sound like he's the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, his cathedral is the basement of his house, and hardly a dozen people attend his services. And those who receive his guidance and advice usually do so against their will. Father Phil is a proactive pastor; he doesn't wait to be asked. When he sees an opportunity where he believes his opinion is required, he inserts it thus. Sort of like spiritual animal husbandry.

There was, however, one instance in which a young novitiate of PHC actually sought counsel from Father Phil. This young man's family had been killed in some horrible tragedy, and one day on-shift, he started asking questions of PHC's only acknowledged theologian about mortality and the afterlife. Father Phil listened to the painful details of the young man's hardships, and finally offered his considered opinion: "I think your family is cursed."

The young man looked at him, hoping that might be some sort of strange, spiritual joke, but he quickly saw that it was not. "Somewhere in the past," Father Phil continued, "one of your ancestors committed a great sin and Gawd is still punishing your family for it." He clapped the young man on the shoulder, and nodded. "Pray."

Not only is he quick to offer guidance when it's not asked for, Father Phil is unabashed in sharing his opinions -- usually in the form of outrage -- about his co-workers' more secular pursuits. Breaks and lunchtime are scrums of profanity, indecency and general loutish boisterousness at PHC. When the swearing is too rapid-fire, when the details of the weekend are too pornographic, when the general conversation hits certain scatological depths, Father Phil can be trusted to make a loud, outraged exit from the lunch room, in a cloud of righteous indignation and a hearty, "You're all sick!"

What Father Phil may lack in ecclesiastical real estate and parishioners, he makes up for in pure theological ambition and gusto. You see, he has a mission in life. Actually, his true mission will only commence once he leaves this life:

It is Father Phil's avowed goal and duty to go into Hell in order to rescue all of the souls who were wrongly condemned to be there.

What can he say? He's a big-hearted guy.

When this was originally explained to me, I couldn't help saying to Pryvett Rawgers, "Maybe before Father Phil makes his trip to Hell, he'll pause to reconsider his theology for a moment. I mean, believing that souls have been wrongly condemned implies that Gawd made a mistake. It also implies that Father Phil knows better than Gawd what is right and what is wrong. I'd bet he'd get to Hell and find a room filled with dingbats just like himself who had the same idea."

Moreover, I have to wonder how Father Phil intends to get into Hell. If he can't bear the conversations of his colleagues in the lunch room, or accept the thrash and death metal they listen to while working in the warehouse, how does he plan to endure the wretchedness of Hell?

Also, I imagine that Father Phil leads what he considers to be a pious life, and believes that those who live like his PHC co-workers -- drinking, drugging, committing fornication, bestiality, mopery, Olympic onanism, and all manner of profanity and desecration -- will be damned. How, then, will he actually get to Hell?

When he's whisked to Heaven during the Rapture, will Father Phil ask Gawd to send him to Hell? I'd love to see how that goes down: "Yeah, uh, Gawd, considering you've made so many mistakes in whom you've called to Heaven and whom you've damned to Hell, I'd like a return ticket to the Netherworld so that I can rectify what you have screwed up. . . . No offense, of course."

And once in Hell, I'm curious to know how Father Phil plans to free himself, let alone those he's intent on rescuing. I mean, Congressman Leo Ryan's visit to Jonestown in November 1978 turned out much more problematic than he believed it would be. I can't imagine Father Phil fairing better than Congressman Ryan in the jungle of Guyana, and therefore, am extremely curious to know how Father Phil plans to extract himself and his brood of wrongly damned souls from the clutches of a being who will likely not be cranked up on Quaaludes and Kool Aid.

That said, he must have some idea. One afternoon, Pryvett and a co-worker were talking in the warehouse and Pryvett shared his idea of damnation, saying, "Hell must be like this place -- endless, pointless scanning for people who don't appreciate us."

Pryvett then said that he more felt or intuited Father Phil's approach, than actually heard his nearing footsteps. The next thing Pryvett knew, there were hands on his shoulders and he knew to whom they belonged. Then came Father Phil's voice in his ear, "Pryvett, Hell is much worse than this."

Ed. Note Father Phil is not only welcome to respond to this blog, he is invited to reply. I demand he reply. His response will be posted absolutely unexpurgated.

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