G-Rated Pornography

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A meditation by Martin on structure versus message, prompted by an overheard allegation that G-rated movies sell better.

Joe is a pizza delivery boy. Mr. Summers is his boss.

“I deliver this pizza unto you,” says Mr. Summers. “It hath on it peppers and onions but sausage it hath not.”

Mr. Summers hands Joe a pizza.

“To you it is entrusted,” says Mr. Summers. “Take it then to 416 W. Elm, to the woman that dwells in that place. Have a care, Joe. She is a notorious woman of the cloth.”

Joe walks to the pizza shop’s door, carrying the pizza. He looks up at the great graven statue of the Noid. Its grim features stare down at him with impartial malevolence.

“Do you hesitate, Joe?” asks Mr. Summers.

“I do not,” says Joe. “I merely reflect.”

Joe kneels before the statue of the Noid. He bows his head. But he worshippeth not the Noid within his heart.

The Noid’s eyes are bitter. The Noid’s eyes are cold. Deep in the eyes of the Noid there is a glint of red.

Joe gets in his car. Joe drives. Joe drives past 3rd street, and 2nd street, and 1st street, and Main. He drives past Elmo and Sither and he turns onto W. Lake. He drives about three city blocks and then takes a left turn into a small unmarked street that leads him out onto West Elm. There he parks his car and he takes his pizza to the woman’s door.

Joe knocks.

Claire answers. She is dressed in a conservative gray dress. Her expression is languid.

“At last,” she says. “The pizza is here.”

Then Claire makes a grave moue.

“But I do not have any federally-backed currency,” says Claire. “Would you be able to accept … something else?”

“I don’t understand,” says Joe.

The music starts up. It’s a music Joe hears often. But he does not like the sound.

It frightens him.

It is deep and powerful. The music tugs at the puppet-strings of his soul. The music opens his mind to grand vistas too solemn for Joe to understand.

“What could you use besides federal currency?” asks Joe.

“An instrument of exchange,” asks Claire, “signed by me, backed by my account at the Wells Fargo Corporation?”

“I’m not entitled to take your personal check, ma’am.”

“Then …”

The music is louder now. The woman is slowly and sensuously slipping a crucifix on a silver chain around her neck.

“Perhaps I could tell you a story, for your payment,” says Claire. “Perhaps the story of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego?”

The chain is on her neck. The crucifix falls against the hollow of Claire’s throat.

“Alleluia,” says the pizza delivery boy. “Truly thou art like a fluffer for the Lord.”

“Then I shall speak,” says Claire.

Joe walks into the room. He sits down. The woman begins to tell her story.

“In the time of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego,” says Claire, “Nebuchadnezzar built an idol of gold and demanded that the people of Babylon give it worship. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego served Nebuchadnezzar well. But there were some who spoke against them, saying, ‘Nebuchadnezzar! Great King! These three hold only the God of Abraham in their hearts; they bow not before your statue; they praise not your statue; they worshippeth your statue not.'”

Joe starts guiltily. He rises. He paces around the room.

“So Nebuchadnezzar rebuked them, saying, ‘If you shall not worship my idol, I shall bake you in great fires.'”

“I find the Noid’s fire intimidating,” says Joe, suddenly.

“… I do not understand the segue,” says Claire.

“I am often pressured to worship the idol of the Noid,” says Joe. “If I do not then I will be baked onto a pizza and served to the beast’s foul jaws.”

“I understand,” says Claire.

“But I do not worship him in my heart.”

“If Shadrach and Meschach and Abednego had had your discretion,” says Claire, “then they might have been spared. But they did not. They shouted back to Nebuchadnezzar:”

Joe stands tall. He shouts, like the people of legend, “‘I will not worship your foul idol! I serve only the Lord!'”

The room is getting hot. There are beads of sweat on Joe’s face. Claire is forced to loosen a button of her dress.

“Is it getting hot in here?” Joe asks, after a moment.

“Yes,” says Claire. “It is strangely hot.”

“That is good to know,” says Joe.

“So Nebuchadnezzar threw them into a great fire,” says Claire. “They would have burned. But they did not. An angel walked among them, protecting them. That was the sign to them that God keeps the faith that is rendered unto him. That is how they endured the most terrible of flames.”

Joe sighs happily.

“Thank you for the story,” Joe says. “I feel that I am amply repaid for this pizza I have delivered unto you. I do not know if Mr. Summers will agree.”

Joe stretches. He walks to the door. He opens the door. Outside there is only fire.

The hideous voice of the Noid-idol booms, “Thou hast forsworn me and shall be cast into the fires of my ovens.”

“I put my trust in a pizza delivery company to help me avoid the Noid,” sighs Claire. “I should have remembered that salvation comes only from the Lord.”

“It is a blasphemy that our commercials encourage,” admits Joe.

“I am too young to be baked into a pizza,” says Claire. “We must cling to our faith.”

“Yes!” says Joe. “If we cling to our faith and summon an angel like Shadrach did, we will not burn!”

“But how do we summon an angel?” says Claire.

“Ho ho ho,” rings the hollow voice that falls from the grotesque lips of the Noid-idol. “There have been none worthy of such angels since the time of Christ.”

“That’s a doctrinal answer that only raises more questions!” says Joe.

“Don’t listen to him!” says Claire. “He speaks the foul lies of the Noid! He seeks only to sway our hearts away from the path!”

“That’s right,” says Joe. “We can summon angels using the techniques of Solomon—and the magic square!”

The heat is intense now. The world is swimming. The music sounds in Joe’s ears. Everything is sweaty and pounding. But they quickly draw a magic square and incant the rituals necessary to summon an angel.

“I am the moon angel,” says one angel. “I am here to protect you.”

The angel is not a named angel because well-established angels do not wish to sully their reputations by appearing in pornographic films such as this one.

“Stay true to what you believe in and the world has no power over you,” says Joe. “That’s the valuable lesson of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego!”

“Oh! Oh! Oh!” fumes the Noid.

Then the fires die and the music goes still.

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