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Mary, Mary? Quite Contrary!

I wonder about the freaky image burned into the Shroud of Turin – could it be the crucified Jesus Christ? 

I wonder about the dark speck in the satellite photo of Mt. Ararat – could it be the gopher wood remains of Noah’ s Ark?

I wonder about the legends surrounding the shadowy character who came to live with the strict Jewish sect of Essenes at Qumran between Jericho and the Dead Sea – could it have been John the Baptizer, preparing himself to prepare the way for the Lord? I don’t wonder about the image of a woman’s face burnt into a half-eaten cheese sandwich fried, stored, and auctioned by Diana Duyser.

Surely you’ve heard about the world’s most recently famous religious icon. It sold a few weeks ago on eBay for $28,000. No joke.

Experts and critics say there is no reason to dispute the account provided by Mrs. Duyser regarding the sandwich’s genesis. About ten years ago she slapped a slice of American cheese between two slices of plain white bread and tossed it in a dry frying pan. When she took her first bite out of the second half, she relates that, “she looked down and a woman was looking back at her!”

Mrs. Duyser, now 52 and still a resident of Hollywood, Florida, testified that the whole episode “really scared her.” She screamed at her husband, who hustled into the kitchen, and immediately agreed there was a face in the bread. It remains unclear whether she realized it was the Virgin Mary at the time, or if it was a later revelation.

She placed the sacred sandwich in a clear plastic bag, surrounded it with cotton balls, and placed it in a box near her nightstand. There it rested in peace for a decade.

When she fetched it this summer and inspected it prior to sale, she discovered that miraculously it “had not sprouted a single spore of mold.” God works in mysterious ways, though after reading the label contents on the American cheese in my own refrigerator, I understand how the stuff played dead all those years.

Encouraged by her husband and believing friends, she photographed the Blessed Virgin and listed her creation on eBay. It remains unclear how or who determined the image is that of the Mother of Jesus. Looks like a young Martha Washington to me. Perhaps she saw a photo of the teen-age unwed mother in a recent World Weekly News.

After weeks of on-the-market-off-the-market drama, officials at eBay (who have been subbing as judges on the set of Jeopardy) ruled the sandwich could remain on the menu and idiots with more money than brains could continue to bid. “It’s not a joke,” they determined, “and it was placed on the auction site in good faith.” Before it was over, nearly two million people checked it out.

If Mrs. Duyser’s faith is good, we’re all in bad shape.

“I think she protects me,” claimed the Virgin’s caretaker. “I guess I’m lucky because of her – I’ve had a lot of wins at the casino.”

Holy Mother of God have mercy on us all.

“She’s also been there to comfort me in times when it wasn’t so easy,” Mrs. Duyser added in summary. “Though I’m not religious, I believe something is there.”

It’s amazing how $28,000 can make a believer out of most anyone.
The winning bidder (one of the most absurd designations in the history of commerce) turned out to be the publicity-seeking and notorious on-line casino, “Golden Palace.Com.” Representative Drew Black boasted they were now the “toast of the town.”

And what does the future hold for the world’s most famous cheese sandwich? Golden Palace plans to take Mrs. Duyser and the sandwich on the road so she can tell her story. Look for the tour to come to a city near you. If you buy a ticket, I hope you get punched.

Make it official: American Pop Culture just crossed the line. We have entered the Twilight Zone. Somebody turn out the lights, cuz the sanity party is over.

So, what’s next?

Canadian Fred Whan, isolated in cold and snowy Ontario, is currently disputing eBay’s rejection of his burnt fish finger with an image of Jesus burnt on the surface. He can’t understand why Mary cleared customs and Jesus is rejected. He figures that the Son is worth twice the mother. Stay tuned as deep-fried Fred takes his dispute to a higher authority.

In the final analysis, it’s not our spiritual desires that mislead us, but our spiritual expressions. We go looking for God in all the wrong places.

Denying our spiritual longings only stunts our growth and detours our journey. Like it or not, we come direct from the factory wired with the God-chip. Seeking God, in contrast with what secular engineers advocate, is as natural as breathing. Subscribers to natural selection and a ten billion year evolutionary process say we acquired the taste for God to pacify our fears and insecurities. I’d hate to live in their world – The Twilight Zone meets The Fugitive.

The reason we live fearful and anxious is that our spiritual senses have been numbed by phony displays and cold-hearted fools. What we need, now and forever, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! May this Christmas season bring you closer to reality.

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