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The Vacuum - Issue 16 - Satan spacer The Vacuum - Issue 16 - Satan
Mr. Bloomer Investigates
by Paddy Bloomer
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This Week we're going to church for the purposes of applying hard scientific process to this business of worship and reviewing some of the spiritual products offered by various institutions around Belfast.
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Our first visit is to the mosque and we're tipped off that we'll have to take our shoes off. This sounds like a risky activity to carry out in company but after extensive investigation I find a pair of socks that are clean, have no holes and nearly match.
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Those in the Belfast Islamic centre are very friendly and are keen to explain their religion to us. Give or take a couple of prophets the religion seems no different from any other I've come across. We only want to investigate Islam in the shallowest possible way by attending a worshipping event to try and ascertain if it is enjoyable as a recreational pursuit or rewarding as a personal achievement. The Service has elements of keep fit or Mister Motivator - so it's a good way to get some exercise without having to wear Lycra. You have to be a Muslim to participate because some of the moves are quite tricky and the language is difficult, but we're allowed to sit at the back of the hall feeling like weirdoes. The service is only 5 minutes long which is lucky because Muslims have to pray 5 times a day.
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We go to Oasis cafe to recoup; it's cheaper than SpudsTM. I steal some ketchup but feel vindicated, surely stealth condiment charges are a sinful abomination. On Sunday morning we go to Ian Paisley's. On the approach to the lions den there's some stalling. I make Mr Keogh hide his coat in a hedge cause it's got gorilla glue on it and is unsuitable attire for god's house. We are highly anxious and on the first bomb run up the Ravenhill road we lose our collective nerve, walking right past the intended place of worship and straight on up the road. After a few hundred yards we stop, collect ourselves and realise we have not brought any collection money, we scour the pavement in search of coppers to make a clink in the plate.
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The second time we get in, there's much hand shaking, good manners, earnest smiles and fancy hats. Every one can spot the strangers and there's not many hiding places but they all shake hands and welcome us aboard. The place is empty; apparently some of the congregation are sick and two are actually dead. The collection is taken, I feign searching my pockets before displaying upturned empty hands: the international semaphore for : I have nothing.
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Big Ian hasn't shown up cause he's tired from the DUP conference. (He's not so big anymore, he's got all skinny and will probably die soon). The replacement is less than impressive; his main technique consists of repetition and labouring points, the sermon is long and dull with very little content and devoid of any showmanship. It's like going to see Elvis and getting Brian Kennedy.
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The music seems to be chosen for it awkwardness and is unnecessarily difficult to sing. This is god's music and its crap. It is of course indisputable that Satan has all the best tunes. The devil contacted us through right hand man Lemmy and was cocky enough regarding partial responsibility for some particularly shit hot fiddlers. Satan was at pains to point out that he/she/it has no association or interest in line dancing and doesn't own any E.L.O. records, furthermore the singing bigot (Rev. William McCrea) should shut up if he doesn't want Motorhead to come round his way and give him a good diggin.
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We go to St. Pat's chapel to light some candles - but it's closed. Perhaps the priests are so devout that they won't work on a Sunday. More likely the work-shy papists have gone to the pub; if they're allowed to in those outfits. But at least they've got smart shoes. Any church is easier to get into than an increasing number of pubs in this town, churches welcome more than just the rich, fashionable and gormless. God accepts all comers; stray dogs, psychopaths, ugly people and the excessively irritating. It follows that heaven is absolutely nothing like an exclusive club and hell has a tighter door policy. People go there not because they're evil but for the same reason as they might go to Lavery's; because they know people there.
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The Whitewell metropolitan tabernacle is an absolute riot. It's not cold and boring, but is full of old people and the mentally ill. The decor is grand but somehow like a shopping centre. The flock love it cause it looks just like heaven (based on the assumption that heaven is like Castle Court but better). This is the church of rock'n roll but all the black boxes we might see at a rock concert have been painted white to make them look more godly. The stage resembles a Richard and Judy set.
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Pastor McConnell is of course a real pro and a true craftsman. He knows how to work a crowd, he gives a good sermon and produces a splendid pulpit sweat. There's lots of crowd participation and the congregation get to shout 'praise the lord' pantomime style when they get the prompt; kids love it.
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I am greatly reassured to see not all the young people have been taken in by the false hysteria. A boy obviously dragged along by his parents refuses to stand, sing and clap his hand's. He remains engrossed by a book he's reading called 'you're not for real snoopy'.
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The Whitewell is by far the most entertaining service we've been too, my colleague is clapping along with the masses by the end of the show. The crowd wave their hands in a manner reminiscent of the early rave scene; Ecstasy users would feel quite at home here, sodomists however may feel badly represented.
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For those of you who are not familiar with the more intricate workings of religion a brief explanation may be necessary. Remember Santa? Well it's just the same. You have to be a good boy and you have to pretend you believe in someone you've never met. If you can do this you will get a prize.
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If you don't you'll either - A: Burn in hell. B: Work for eternity in Santa's Sweatshop in the company of Gnome Sodomist's and the reverend William McCrea. C: Get hospitalised by the bouncers at closing time.
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