Explaining that he was "tired of saying yes to every loser with his you-know-what in a wringer," the Lord God Jesus Christ announced yesterday that he would enter fewer hearts this year. "Don't write a check with your behavior that you can't cash with your prayers," warned Our Holy Redeemer, who spoke to reporters through a burning bush in Opp, Alabama.
Mr. Christ's announcement confirmed what religious leaders had been whispering quietly among themselves for some time-there's no free ride to forgiveness any more.
Nobody knows that better than Richard C. Pettinger. An unemployed carpet installer, Mr. Pettinger, 26, has been in and out of correctional institutions since he was arrested for setting fire to a kitten at the age of thirteen. His most recent arrest-and his fifth DUI-came on January 7 when he led police on a low-speed, one-mile chase after they had responded to complaints that a man was exposing himself in the parking lot of a Winn-Dixie convenience store.
After Mr. Pettinger had been apprehended and taken to the county prison, he called Everett M. Clark, pastor of Opp's Evangelical Bapist Church. When Rev. Clark arrived at the prison, Mr. Pettinger said he was ready to accept Jesus into his heart. He asked Rev. Clark to pray with him, and the two men knelt in the cell. No sooner had Mr. Pettinger finished his prayer than Rev. Clark heard a voice saying, "Tell him I just said no."
When asked about the incident by a reporter at the burning bush, Mr. Christ explained, "That get-out-of-jail-free card isn't worth two shekels any more. Most people who invite me into their hearts on Friday night are drunk again by Sunday afternoon. I don't care if I never see the inside of a drunkard's heart again."
Another reporter asked what people had to do before Mr. Christ would enter their hearts. "I knew somebody was going to bring that up," Mr. Christ replied. He then revealed that at the insistence of his father in heaven he was installing a six-month mandatory waiting period on all requests from inebriated, divorced, unemployed, imprisoned, or blue-state people. He also revealed that his father "was close to establishing a three-strikes-and-you're-out rule" for those who continued to sin after Mr. Christ had entered their hearts.
Mr. Christ then told reporters he could not take any more questions. "I have to be about my father's business," he said. "God bless America." With that the fire in the burning bush (Euonymus alatus) was extinguished, leaving the bush unharmed.
In related news, three topless dancers were turned into pillars of salt in Reading, Pennsylvania, after sneaking a look back at the burning nightclub from which they had just fled. The notorious club, Al's Diamond Cabaret, caught fire when it was struck by lightning early this morning.