On a rare occasion, Garrison Keillor slips a little politics A Prairie Home Companion. Sometimes in the body of the show, sometime into his "News from Lake Wobegone" monologues. Usually they're sly and subtle, perhaps in the form of a parable in which he puts some world situation into the framework of the small town. How the town council reacts about something. But even more rare are the times when he's pretty direct. A couple weeks ago he was...oh, "pretty direct" would be putting it mildly.
He was talking about the sermon that Pastor Liz was giving to her congregation, and it had to do with a poor man begging for some food from a rich man who dismissively throws him only crumbs. Near the end of the sermon, Pastor Liz gets to the part where both men have died, and the poor man has made it up to heaven, while the rich man to his surprise finds himself down in Hell and suffering, deeply thirsty from the heat.
At this point, then, let's pick up Keillor as he finishes quoting what Pastor Liz was saying in her sermon --
"'And the rich man begged, begged Abraham for a drop of water to put on his tongue. And Abraham said, 'In your lifetime, did you share with your begger more than just the crumbs off your plate? No, you did not.'
"It's a harsh, hard lesson with a clear moral," Keillor then said as his own voice, wistfully. But then he paused a long moment, and his tone changed to a bit more quizzical.
"And yet --" another pause " -- Congress did vote to take billions away from the food stamp program..."
The audience burst into loud and long, sustained laughter. With almost a shrug in his voice, he continued:
"Nonetheless, people go their own way..."
And as his voice faded off, the auditorium broke into applause and more laughter.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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