They lived in a shabby trailer close

to the Church of Sweet Revival

where he served as the assistant

pastor. He always wore a mask of

mature righteousness, pretended he

was compassionate, soft-spoken and in

a pensive mood, but it gnawed at him

that the pastor gave him a measly

salary and rarely let him preach.

He wanted to speak about love

and deep, all-encompassing spirituality,

a divine hand clasping the soul

with its ethereal fingers and

he greeted every member of the church

with the phrase, ‘Christly blessings.’ One day,

as fate would have it, he ended up

in another church, where a different

sort of revival took place,

the preacher hollered and spoke of hell,

a place where they’ll chop your nose off,

where maggots will feast on you like you’re

rotten cheese, where despair and madness

and weeping and gnashing and bludgeoning

and fire and sulphur and torment and anguish…

he listened, shaken, and then ran home

to his wife, said, “The Lord’s sending us to hell!”

and worried her until the two of them

cried aloud for mercy, yelled and screamed

that God spare them. He tried everything

after that — walking on glass shards, pouring

hot coal on his feet, drinking boiling water

until it flayed his throat, bashing his head

against the headboard, abstaining from sex,

disciplining his son, shaking him and

saying, “Boy, do you want that fire to

have you? Hell, that’s where you’re going

if you don’t get right with the Lord!”

until one day, he fell down, exhausted

from whipping himself with a belt

and dreamt of a mountain. Now, his wife

started harassing every Tom, Dick and Harry

in town, accusing them of being sodomites,

yelling in the street for the wicked to perish,

the rotten fruit to find the furnace,

God to rain AIDS on the liberals,

the pansies, the queers, the effeminate men

who touched each other in public bathrooms,

the cross-dressing sickos who gave her the

heebie-jeebies. She went to every store

in town, proselytising. “You bunch of

wicked fags and trannies are going to

hell! Yessir! Hell! Where the fires will

burn your privates off!” she yelled,

while he dreamt and dreamt.

The pastor laid him off, thinking he had

lost his senses, and one day, he ran

to his wife, saying, “I know the meaning of

the dream the Lord gave me. This is a

test, but we’ll get through it.” He proceeded to

tell her, and she ate every word like

it was manna from heaven.

The next day, he called his son, said,

“Boy. Your name’s no longer Marty.

It’s Isaac now,” and took him to a hilltop.

“Where are we going, daddy?” Isaac asked,

and he told him they were sacrificing a

goat. “Where’s the goat?” the boy asked

and he replied, “The Lord will provide, boy.

Yessir! He will!” with a mad glow in his eyes.

Photo by Maxim Tajer on Unsplash

For dVerse

29 responses to “Fire”

  1. Oh, Nitin! My heart was in my mouth as I read those last lines. Terrifying truth of religious fanaticism.


    1. Yeah religious fanaticism drives people to extremes. It’s frightening and crazy. It leads to chaos and anguish. Thank you so much for the comment Punam!


      1. So it does. You are welcome, Nitin.


  2. Sheer brillance, cutting, hard-hitting, wonderful stuff.


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words.


  3. Some people over-simplify. Not you. Gritty, this. You bring a dark and disturbing flavor to an iconic Biblical image. I’ve always imagined Abraham as grieving what he felt God called him to do. And I’ve always felt sick in my belly for how Issac must have felt in those few moments before the ram in the thicket was provided. Hmmm…


    1. Thank you Kelly. I always end up writing something dark and gritty when I write about hell and stuff. I don’t know how Abraham felt, but Isaac must have really gone through anguish. What’s a more terrifying story is that of Jephthah and his daughter. There he actually sacrificed her. Some of this really upsets me sometimes.


  4. A very enjoyable read.


    1. Thank you very much.


  5. Oh yikes! I think there are too many people like this around.I’m not sure it could be called satire.


    1. Yeah you’re right Merril. It probably isn’t satire. People do crazy things in the name of religion. It’s tragic. Thank you for your comment!


      1. They do, and it is tragic. Scary, too!


  6. Chilling! I can’t relate or ever want to relate to this type of “religion”.


    1. I have been a part of the hellfire craziness when I was younger. It only tortured and scared me. I don’t want that chaos again in my life. This poem might be extreme, but there are people like this in the world. Thank you for your comment!


    1. Thank you so much!


  7. I once got dragged to a hellfire camp when I was young. I didn’t last a day. I was too used to the message of love and tolerance to gulp down panic and prejudice six times a day. Well written!


    1. Yeah that sort of thing often drives people away or heaps anguish on them. Sometimes I wonder why the puritans went on and on about hell. I guess some people get some pleasure when they preach something riddled with panic and prejudice. Thank you for your comment!


  8. A fascinating read, Nitin! As before, I enjoyed being swept along with the narrative, not knowing where I was being taken next. Great write 🙂


    1. Thank you so much 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it.


  9. Gripping tale told masterfully!


    1. Thank you so much!


  10. I pity the child most of all (if he survived.)


    1. Yeah, he’s going to have some serious issues, growing up. It’s tragic that some people take religion to the extremes.


  11. Churches must teach love more than dogma. I have had a hard time with the Abraham sacrificing Isaac story as well, but to be fair, I think it was more a message to the people of that time that the God of Abraham and Isaac would not require the child sacrifice like the Caananite god named Molech who called for child sacrifice. I get so tired of people’s “dreams” now a days of rapture and they just make up interpretations supposedly from God. Discernment is key in all things. ❤️


    1. Very true. Churches should teach love more than dogma. I have attended several over the years and it’s either weird interpretations or dogma. Some churches have good doctrine, but are so cold. The members have no compassion whatsoever. So all that pushed me away. As far as Abraham’s story is concerned, I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why, just like there are so many things in the Bible I don’t understand. But yeah I guess God is who He is in the end. Thank you so much for your comment Tricia ❤️


      1. It’s good to study the scriptures and all the commentary for yourself and then find a church that feels right for you. I am a believer in church, as I have been to some great ones, but people are flawed and it’s true some churches are very flawed. I appreciate honest views and that you don’t shy away from hard subjects! 👏👏


      2. In my beliefs I’m a little Reformed. But I wouldn’t mind going to a Methodist Church too. Only problem is where I live, the Calvinists are really rude and cold and nasty, and the Methodists don’t really preach the gospel. It’s either some story or the other or sometimes it’s the prosperity gospel. I’m still looking for a church that feels like a family. Thank you Tricia. Honestly, I would avoid tackling subjects that are too deep, but sometimes they weigh on my mind and I just write them out.


      3. I have been church of christ which is non-denominational but lately going to a non-denomination community christian church. I am against prosperity gospel but I do appreciate some metaphysical interpretations of the Bible. I get what you say about church feeling like a family. The smaller churches are generally more conservative, but they can be so friendly.


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About Me

Ordinary Person is a guy who likes to write. He writes fiction, essays, poems and other stuff.


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