The New, Updated Gospel of Mark

In South Carolina, Vacation Bible School gets Sanforized.

By Stephanie Hunt

God knows things are tough these days down here in South Carolina. We've got 12% unemployment and public schools in shambles. But don’t get me wrong—we’re perversely proud of our shortcomings. Use federal stimulus funds to bolster things and risk losing our bottom-rung rankings? The thought of it! So what if our dismal high school graduation rates put us 48th in the nation – there aren't jobs for graduates anyway. To top it all off, it's a torrid 95 degrees here in Charleston—that's without the flash bulb wattage courtesy of People magazine and AP stringers camped out on Sullivan's Island. And did I mention hurricane season, with a high pressure system named Maria already stirring things up off South America. Yep, another sizzling hot summer here in scandalous Jesusland South. And that means one thing: time for Vacation Bible School.

Since education funding has been slashed across the state, we have to be frugal for VBS—think sleeping-on-a-cot-in-your-office frugal. Fortunately, our finest role model of cheapness and doing things on the sly has given South Carolinians an inspiring VBS curriculum for our children's spiritual and tan line enhancement. Here you go, kids: the Palmetto State's holy-rolling Vacation Bible School 2009, sponsored by SC's highest elected official and official spiritual nut-job, our very own V.B.S. (Very Bad Sanford). Our VBS09 theme: Repentance, Forgiveness, and Cutting Your Losses.

Morning Song Time
We'll begin each glorious VBS day gathered for some happy group singing. Don’t fret kids, it may look like a press conference—but that's just because we're all glad to be together and there are lots of microphones. Remember, guys, sing out at the top of your lungs! The idea is to drown out Very Bad Sanford so he can't start frothing at the mouth again. Our main song this year: "This Little Spark of Mine." Also, "Jenny Loves Me, This I Know…"

Scripture Lesson
Our bible study this summer is, of course, from the Gospel of Mark, with a few lessons from various newly discovered epistles. Granted, the epistles are not yet part of the official canon, but judging from their depth, wisdom and poetry, that's surely only a matter of time. We'll explore how the Gospel of Mark sheds light on 1st Corinthians:

In all my life I have lived by a code of honor and at a variety of levels know I have crossed lines I would have never imagined. I wish I could wish it away, but this soul-mate feel I alluded too is real and in that regard I sure don’t want to be the person complicating your life. I looked to where I often look for advice and counsel, and in I Corinthians 13 it simply says that, “ Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude, Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the right, Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.” In this light I want to look for ways to show love in helping you to live a better life. I want to help (one of Maria’s sons) with film guys that might help his career, etc.

Note to VBS teachers – please be sure students understand how "Love rejoices in the right" means using high-level contacts with guys beholden to the heavily state-subsidized film industry to get your mistress's son a job is part of God's plan. It's tricky theology, but that's why you're the teacher!

Drama Activity
OK, kids, now the fun begins! We're going to act out the story of King David and his spectacular fall from grace. Please make sure your parents sign the VBS waiver, as David was a pretty racy narcissist, and there is lots of nudity, fornication, and murder in the story before we get to the part where poor, repentant David grovels to the press about earning the people's trust back and rebuilding his political power. Girls aged 12 – 14 with some sexual experience can audition for the part of "Bathsheba" on Sunday prior to VBS, right after the 11 o'clock service. Dark eyebrows, Spanish accent and ability to give "magnificent gentle kisses" a plus.

Psalm Writing 101
At VBS, we believe in God's word, and in words in general. Because David didn’t have texting and Twittering, we think kids need to understand the potency of written communication, so we're going to practice writing Psalm-like text, songs of love and praise and delight. Remember, God loves flowery, poetic language, and be sure to go heavy on words like "Beloved" and "Soul."

Here are some examples (from the epistles of Mark) to get you started:

On beauty:
"I have been specializing in staying focused on decisions and actions of the head for a long time now — and you have my heart. You have oh so many attributes that pulls it in this direction. Do you really comprehend how beautiful your smile is? Have you been told lately how warm your eyes are and how they softly glow with the special nature of your soul?"

On bodies as temples:
“I feel a little vulnerable because this is ground I have never certainly never covered before — so if you have pearls of wisdom on how we figure all this out please let me know … Despite the best efforts of my head my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips and an even deeper connection to your soul.”

On rejoicing in diesel fumes and bulldozing Creation:
“There is something wonderful about listening to country music playing in the cab, air conditioner running, the hum of a huge diesel engine in the background, the tranquility that comes with being in a virtual wilderness of trees and marsh, the day breaking and vibrant pink coming alive in the morning clouds — and getting to build something with each scoop of dirt.”

Let's take a break for apple juice and stale crackers of indeterminate animal shapes.

Arts & Crafts
Sorry guys, there are no funds for art.

Outdoor Time
We'll split into two groups for our fresh air activities. Half of us will go hiking…maybe. (Where? We’re not telling). The other half will alternate playing "Hide and Seek" and "Red Rover, Red Rover, Send the Lt. Governor Right Over."

Closing Prayer
Great job, boys and girls! Before you go home, we'll wrap up each action packed day with a simple VBS prayer.

Dear God,
We all make mistakes and cross lines we should not cross. Help us to only cross those that come with frequent flyer miles. Please forgive us when we screw up, or just screw and get caught. Thank you for giving us spiritual advisors who cover our immoral asses and thank you for letting us, the undereducated boys and girls and unemployed families of South Carolina, be a part of the 'personal and spiritual growth' that our fallen leader thinks is so cool. Above all, thank you for Cubby Culbertson, who knows right from left, if not right from wrong, and all his minions who have taught us, in not word but deed, all about the grave sin of hypocrisy.


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Contributing editor Stephanie Hunt's last piece for SoMA was Seeing Red.

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