Private Eye | Dead and Parodied: Proxy baptism, the celestial make-good 

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It’s entirely possible that our first-ever Chelada Party didn’t improve the weather. It wasn’t really intended to do so, but it was hailed as a harbinger of summer and a welcome mat to all things warm and sweaty. One look outside, and you know we’re not ready to roll out the beach towels, though. We held the Chelada Party this past Thursday at Port O’ Call and by all indications, it was a success and worth doing again—maybe in August when we can be nearly certain of warm weather. Most likely, we’ll wait till next year, though, for a very important reason unrelated to bad weather—it’s going to take that long to get all that salt out of our systems.

We had a mariachi band and a build-your-own chelada station. While some people actually took the time to follow the posted chelada recipes, many others just mixed and matched ingredients until their drinks took on the color of spring runoff in San Juan County. They didn’t look at all appetizing to me, but I’m only a judge of character, not beer concoctions. If one was happy to pour some steak sauce, chili powder and clam juice into their beers, I could only look on in amazement, not disgust. I figure those people earned their ulcers fair and square, and I wasn’t about to get all peptic about that. Their wives and mothers? That’s another story.

The Monday prior to the Chelada Party was Memorial Day. On Monday, it rained. At least it did in the morning while I was at Mount Olivet Cemetery laying flowers from one end to the other. I know by some insightful e-mails that a few of you would rather stick your fingers in a blender than be found among Greeks, but if you’re ever looking to find Greeks outside of church or the Greek Festival, you’ll find them at Mount Olivet on Memorial Day. My grandmother was buried there in 1934 in the old Greek section of Mount Olivet. Lots of old Greek burial plots up there, and they continue down the slope to the more recent plots stretching all the way to the cemetery’s western edge.

For good measure, there are a number of Serbs mixed in, too, I suppose because they are primarily Orthodox Christians as are most Greeks. Keeping company, I suppose. Throughout Memorial Day, local Greek priests walk with family members from gravesite to gravesite at which they say prayers and sing the traditional memorial hymn. That hymn, sung at all Greek Orthodox funerals, is basically a repetitive one-liner that translates thusly: May his memory be eternal. Or her memory, depending on whom is being memorialized.

No one is positively certain that the folks being sung to derive any benefit from the short service. However, the prayers and hymns seem to do wonders for the living, as well they should. Such times are meant for remembrance and celebration among those of us who remain. The chance that the prayers also give the departed peace and solace remains for now exactly where it has for over 2,000 years—in the realm of faith and hope. That doesn’t stop some people from trying to short-circuit the process, though.

Most faiths believe their prayers and services supercede that of others. Locally, it goes into warp speed when some take to performing proxy baptisms for the dead into their own religion—Latter-day Saint—because the dead either didn’t get the correct message while here on Earth or didn’t hear it at all. It might be called a celestial make good. It’s a make good so good that it is rumored that Hitler himself has been baptized into Mormonism in the hereafter. If it’s true that Hitler or other barbaric murderers are now Mormon, then I just might have a scotch and milk, as the mere notion of Brother Adolf makes my stomach turn.

I really don’t care if the LDS do such proxy baptisms within the walls of their temples or churches. Like most Americans, I think whatever happens in any church except one attended by Barack Obama should remain private. It’s the ones who take it outside those walls and start calling out those of us who are not LDS that get to me. I’m certain my own grandfather, a Greek Orthodox all of his 94 years and one strengthened into it by his own Christian epiphany as a young boy on Crete, has been given a proxy baptism. I’m not bothered much by that, since his own lineage did not spawn just Greek Orthodox but Mormons as well who may feel an equal spiritual kinship to him as I do. He lived among Mormons for over 70 years and was married to one for more than 60. That couldn’t change his mind. If an LDS family member performed such a rite, they haven’t gone off and bragged about it. That’s the opposite of what you may have read on the daily newspaper Website postings lately, ignited when the Catholic Church refused to turn over historic membership rolls.

Visit those Websites and read all about why a proxy baptism is an act of true love, implying the rest of us have no concept of truth or love. Read about how the departed are receiving a grand favor. Read about how since the dead are already dead, the act hurts no one. Read and learn why, if you’re offended, you are a regular anti-Mormon, nitwit sinner with no hope of salvation—until you die, of course.

If such folks think that a proxy baptism hurts no one, then how about we repeal grave-desecration laws, too. After all, the dead are dead, and there’s no harm if we dig a swimming pool on Granny’s grave, is there? Or how about we have next year’s Chelada Party atop the grave of someone they love? No one will care, right?

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