‘You been to Gatlinburg, friend?’ a young man asked my buddy, Greg.
‘No,’ he responded, and took another bite out of his Big Mac.
‘But you’re wearing a cap that says Gatlinburg,’ the fellow persisted.
‘It was a gift,’ Greg said, deciding a brief response was best.
The admirer of cheap, touristy caps ‘ the kind of item that Greg would keep in immaculate condition to wear, along with a pricey Beatles tie and respectable watch, the sum of his accessories ‘ then displayed an obvious talent for smooth transition in casual speech.
‘Well, the reason why I ask is because I’m concerned about you and your future. You know who else is concerned about you and your future?’ he asked, rhetorically. ‘Jesus Christ.’
The tray beneath the uneaten portion of Greg’s Big Mac was pushed aside by an open brief case bulging with pamphlets telling stories of salvation and damnation through the use of mediocre, comic-strip art and a contrived but morbidly engrossing storyline.
‘The part that offended me most wasn’t that the guy was so Jesus-push-crazy, but that he was so lazy with his segues,’ Greg said later. ‘From Gatlinburg to Jesus? Surely he could have come up with something more natural.’
The pamphlet-carrying, hat aficionado had obviously accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. He had found Jesus, and he wanted to share his findings, like someone who discovers a new solar system or a great place to shop. However, Greg wasn’t in the mood for astronomy, retail or a spiritual awakening.
As the proselytizer unfolded brochures, so, too, did Greg’s conduit to enlightenment unfold the mysteries of the universe. Greg learned that the streets of Heaven are, in fact, paved with gold, and on a glorious throne his saviors, Jesus Christ and William Marion Branham, are seated next to God.
And if he didn’t believe that, Greg also learned he would burn in Hell, for all eternity.
Greg only had one question.
Who is William Marion Branham?
Greg wondered, but decided not to ask.
Talk about high-pressure salesmanship. Imagine if this were door-to-door: ‘You could either buy this Dirt Suck 4000 vacuum cleaner or have Satan clean house with a gout of eternal hellfire. That’s one maid that you don’t fool around with, friend.’
There are guys who light themselves on fire in protest, and there are guys who will alter their very concept of the purpose of human existence while eating a Big Mac. On this scale of conviction, Greg is something of a moderate. He feigned gratitude, accepted a brochure and made his exit.