E-mail Me When Armageddon Comes

It doesn't take much more than a glance at the 78-year-old Pope to get the idea that religion is stuck in the Dark Ages, which is generally defined as the years before Entertainment Tonight. I know, it's difficult to imagine such a time existed, but it did. And trust me, it wasn't pretty.The Catholic church, more than most religions, catches a lot of grief for not changing with the times. It's true you don't need to eat fish on Friday, say the Mass in Latin, or confess to anything less than a venial -- or is that a penile? -- sin anymore. But old habits die hard. Just ask any nun who still has to wear one. While some things have changed, they still expect you to give up something other than going to church for Lent, not to confuse Jesus with Santa Claus (HINT: Santa's beard is white), and at least try not to have impure thoughts about your girlfriend or wife wearing her old Catholic school uniform.Good luck.While some religions are being dragged kicking and screaming into the new millennium, others are embracing it. There was a photograph in the newspaper recently of an ultra-Orthodox Jew holding his cell phone to the Western Wall -- one of the religion's holiest sites -- so a family member could recite a prayer, which should do wonders to promote Cellular One's new "100 Prayer Minutes a Month Free For Life!" cell phone plan.For some reason Jews seem to be at the forefront of combining technology with religion. There are companies near the wall which are set up so people can send faxed prayers which are then placed in cracks in the wall according to tradition. This is an excellent use of technology as long as people aren't sitting by their fax machines waiting for a reply from God. Face it, he's probably too busy deleting his spam email, like the one offering him a chance to get in on the ground floor of a multi-level marketing porn site program. Right, like he's not automatically on the highest level of everything.Then there are the Lubavitch Jews, another ultra-religious group who have taken to wearing pagers so they can be notified immediately when the Messiah shows up. Can you imagine all those pagers going off to the tune of "It's the End of the World As We Know It" by REM?Okay, I'm just kidding about the song, but it's probably a smart move about using the pagers. After all, if the Messiah shows up during the day the networks won't cut into the soap operas lest they get swamped with complaints. And if it happens at night it would be relegated to CNN Headline News, the 5-Day Forecast on the Weather Channel, and those little news teasers which you faintly hear coming from the next room as you hurriedly scoop more ice cream on the stack of Oreo cookies so you can make it to the next commercial break without starving."And in tonight's breaking news, don't bother doing the dishes or taking out the trash, the Messiah is back and we all have the rest of our life off. Details at eleven."The coming of the millennium and the much hyped Y2K problem -- so called because everyone will get so fed up with hearing about potential computer crashes on January 1, 2000 that we'll press Congress to pass legislation and skip the year entirely -- has spawned a number of religious cults. One of these, the Concerned Christians, is a Denver-based group which believes the Broncos will win the Super Bowl in the year 2000. Just kidding. No one really believes that.The truth is, members of this group reportedly abandoned their homes and jobs, moving to Jerusalem where they await the Apocalypse. But before that momentous event could occur, the Israeli police picked them up claiming the group's intent is not just to be cheering from the sidelines ("Go, Christ, go!"), but rather to kick-start it by using violence, fomenting unrest, and appearing on the Jerry Springer show in a segment called, "My Parents Gave Everything They Had to a Silly Religious Cult and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt."They, and others like them, need to wise up and stay home. After all, this is almost the 21st century, so there's no reason to leave the comfort of your computer desk. That's why we should all be grateful to the people who started the Web site www.Jesus2000.com, the "Virtual Pilgrim [sic] to the Holy Land."Now these are people understand the mood of the decade, which is why they have what they call "The Holy Land's Largest Shopping Mall on the Internet." Think of it as the Blessed Galleria, a place where you can buy olive wood crosses, mother-of-pearl rosaries, water from the River Jordan, and Jerusalem Cross clocks, all without leaving the comfort of your ergonomically correct kneeling bench. They're so certain this venture will be profitable (and soul cleansing) that they're planning to offer an IPO in the spring. IPO, in this case, still means initial public offering, not innocently pure offering as you might expect.With all these modern changes, don't be surprised if there's an animated version of the Book of Revelation released next year with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse renamed as Email, Pager, Cell Phone, and Fax. And after all this, if you need still need something to pray for, pray that I'm wrong.

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