The last time I went to a funeral, the preacher or pastor or priest—I’m not sure which name to ascribe to a man of God who sermons from a stage flanked with electric guitars and a fancy lighting system—spoke about our deceased friend for only fifteen minutes. In the remaining forty-five minutes of the scheduled service, he spoke about God. About how if you would just give your heart and soul to him, then you could have no pain and suffering, no sadness and no fear.
AND eternal life.
It pissed me off because a funeral should be a space where grief feels valid, where you don’t have to be okay and not sad even if God will make you feel okay and not sad, but it also sounded too good to be true.
It sounded like everyone (read: my nanna) who told me that my life would be soooooooo much better if I started my own business (read: Ponzi scheme) like them. And that’s what the whole thing felt like to me in that moment—a Ponzi scheme. I chuckled in the somber silence of the crowd of mourners and felt like an asshole for this moment of humor on a day that should have been about our collective sadness, but even the preacher/pastor/priest was telling us that we didn’t have to be sad. So I laughed.
I just couldn’t stop thinking about the similarities between what this man was saying and everything I’ve heard about the cults of Lu-La-Roe and Mary Kay and Pampered Chef Parties.
You’re going along absolutely fine and then someone stops you and says, “HEY! FOR THE LOW, LOW INTRODUCTORY PRICE OF THE ENTIRETLY OF YOUR SAVINGS ACCOUNT (read: your literal soul) ALL YOUR PROBLEMS CAN BE SOLVED!” The only catch is that you have to sign over your autonomy to this Independent Beauty Consultant (read: preacher/pastor/priest) who really works for Mary Kay Cosmetics (read: the Church), which is really Mary Kay Ash (read: God), and then you’ll be a total Boss Babe (read: born-again Christian), and everything will be GREAT!
Except you’ve spent your entire life savings buying into this multi-level marketing business (read: Ponzi scheme), and now you’re broke—save for that $2,000 supply of blush and eyeshadow and foundation sitting in your closet.
Or you’re sitting on your floor, sobbing, at two o’clock on a Monday morning because your friend is fucking dead, and this preacher/pastor/priest told you that the hurt would be gone if you just gave yourself over to God, so you never grieved, and you never healed, and now there’s this hole inside your chest where this person you love used to reside, and now the only thing you have to fill it with is those fucking overpriced eyeshadows that no one wants to buy from you anyways.
Amie M. Geistman holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of New Orleans. She’s spent time working in the trenches of Louisiana restaurant kitchens and Texas hair salons and writes about the surprising crossovers between the two worlds. Her background degree is in Sociology from Louisiana State University, and she aims to incorporate that background into her poetry and prose. Amie’s work can be found online at ViaNolaVie.com. She is from Houston, Texas.