The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
The Second Coming is a fact as far as we’re concerned
Southerners don’t have much of a sense of humor about the Second Coming
That’s why I halfway expected to hear columnist Lewis Grizzard’s grandmother not only had turned over in her grave but had risen from it and whupped the tar out of him.
Funny-man Grizzard wrote a column in response to a group of religious scholars’ pronouncement that Jesus is not going to return after all. That sort of thing starts battles that rival Armageddon where he and I come from, Georgia.
Grizzard was a big shot in a big newspaper
I was just a little shot in a little paper. But, by gosh, we both had grandmothers, and we both grew up in white-knuckle fear of the Second Coming. Like his granny, mine knew about the seas boiling and graves spewing out their dead. Only instead of scorpions the size of Shetland ponies roaming the earth, my granny said they’d be locusts, which was worse because those suckers fly.
Grizzard said he was concerned because the scholars said Jesus never predicted the world was going to end nor that He would return for the long-awaited, much-feared Judgment Day.
Seems these 125 scholars claimed Gospel writers fabricated the Second Coming four decades after the Crucifixion.
Grizzard, being half Baptist and half Methodist, said he had never doubted the Second Coming and had spent a considerable amount of his life worrying about it.
His grandmother told him the angel Gabriel was going to blow his trumpet and then the sky was going to open and down would come Jesus. Then, we’re all going to line up and go before Him, and He’ll take a look at how we lived and then decide which ones of us are going back to heaven with Him and which ones are going to make the dreaded trip south instead.
One of the funniest parts of Grizzard’s column was his description of an editor friend of his designing a front page ahead of time, as he deemed the Second Coming as a news event required proper contemplation. So he planned to put a large picture of Jesus beneath a giant headline, saying “He’s back!” Underneath a smaller headline would read, “Details Page Two.”
Grizzard told about somebody blowing a bugle at a Boy Scout Camp, and how he thought it was the angel, Gabriel.
Well, let me tell you about the night lightning struck the Grove Theater in Atlanta
I’ve always thought that was the night my little brother decided to become a preacher. He was sleeping in his crib in the next room, but he must have heard the whole thing.
Grove Park is the name of the neighborhood where I grew up.
I went to the Grove Theater on Saturdays and the Grove Park Christian Church on Sundays. This night — I must have been about 10 or 11 — I was sound asleep when an explosion bounced me out of bed. It was raining frogs, and thunder rattled the windows.
The thunder rolled
I hit the floor on my knees. The sky was flashing, and tree limbs were flying through the air, only I thought they were bodies. “Oh, Lordy, He’s back and the graves are giving up their dead.”
I started praying like crazy to be forgiven for whatever sins I had committed that day, positive I would forget something and would end up in hell.
I tried to look out the window to see if the moon had turned to blood, but it was raining too hard to tell.
I heard my little brother crying, but it was every man for himself.
I began to settle down a little when I heard the fire truck sirens and Daddy saying, “Lightning must have struck something.” Whew. It turned out to be the Grove Theater.
Then for the next year, the preacher railed against the movie house and ranted about how God had punished Mr. Welch, the owner, for allowing the portrayal of harlots in his theater. I decided that unless the preacher was talking about Lassie, he must have been slipping in to watch movies my Mama would not let me see. Anyway, years later, when a train smashed Mr. Welch’s Cadillac, the preacher said it was because he did not heed God’s warning that fateful night.
Later, along came Ted Turner, who used to be Atlanta’s number one television mogul before he married Jane Fonda.
Now stay with me, because it is relevant.
Turner, who undoubtedly had a grandmother, reportedly said when he brought CNN on the air and declared it the most important television network in the world, that it would be on until the Lord returned, and that when it happened, he’d be the first one to broadcast it.
Well, that made sense to most Southerners, because the Bible says something about how every eye will see Him, and, logic dictates, that for every eye to see Him, then television must somehow be involved. Makes perfect sense, right?
Then these so-called scholars, calling themselves the Jesus Seminar, said Jesus is not coming back to earth and that the millennium was then, in 1989. Grizzard died five years later, and Ted Turner is off growing bison in Montana.
If they had been right, Turner would’ve been weeping and wailing and gnashing his teeth trying to come up with some new idea for a rating sweep.
And to a Southerner, that’s not funny.
This story is published in Koinonia — stories by Christians to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family and fun.