I spent most of 2013 doing my level-headed best to not write. The thing that got me back was a goofy-ass writing prompt over at Slacktivist wherein Fred suggested suggested a Wheaton-centric Christian version of Portlandia. I immediately wanted that to exist and, more importantly, I wanted to write it. Wheaton, after all, is my hometown and Portlandia is one of my favorite shows. So I wrote a bunch of “episodes” and posted them in the comments. Now they’re here. For posterity.
11:00 AM SUNDAY
(Establishing shot of the inside of a packed church sanctuary. PASTOR BOB takes the podium [ed. note: it’s best if you see Pastor Bob as a Bob Odenkirk character].)
PASTOR BOB: Thanks to the praise band for their uplifting singing this morning. It’s amazing how god speaks to us through music. I especially liked that new one, “Jesus Come On All Our Heads.” Now let us pray.
Jesus god we come before you today humbled. We’re on our knees before you, like we just sang in the song. Lord Jesus god while we’re on our knees, Jesus, we pray that you would come all over our heads, Jesus. Rain down on our heads like manna from heaven, Jesus god lord. We ask, Jesus lord god savior, that you take us to the promised land filled with milk and honey, savior Jesus lord god. King Jesus savior lord god please rain your milk all over our heads while we kneel before you.
In your name we pray, Jesus lord king savior god.
3:00 PM TUESDAY
(Establishing shot of PASTOR BOB’S office. PASTOR BOB is working on something. BRENDAN and AMANDA enter.)
PASTOR BOB: Ah, good to see you guys.
BRENDAN: Good to see you, too, pastor. Thanks for moving the appointment.
PASTOR BOB: No problem. It’s important to make sure you both go through your premarital counseling on time.
AMANDA: Yeah, about that. I was going through the workbook you gave us and I don’t think that it’s right for people in our…situation.
PASTOR BOB: What? You’re engaged.
BRENDAN: Yeah…but I’m 45. I’m divorced. Amanda is 39 and her husband died in Iraq. We’re not a couple of college kids who don’t know what’s going on.
PASTOR BOB: I’m sorry. I don’t follow.
AMANDA: Well, there’s this bit here (opens up workbook and begins reading): “Babies are a true gift from god. All married couples should make it their primary task to glorify god by having as many babies as quickly as possible.”
PASTOR BOB: My wife gave birth to our first son 11 months after our wedding. We have six kids now. I don’t see why that’s a problem.
BRENDAN: I already have a son from my first marriage. He’s in college.
AMANDA: I have two daughters. They’re both in high school. Neither one of us wants another.
PASTOR BOB: So you’re not virgins?
(BRENDAN and AMANDA look at each other in confusion.)
BRENDAN: No. You…you’ve met my son. His name is Ethan and he plays in the praise band.
PASTOR BOB: Oh. Well I’m disappointed.
AMANDA: Yeah, we are too.
PASTOR BOB: Well that’s good. As long as you take time to pray for your sins we can move on.
AMANDA: No. We’re disappointed in the book.
PASTOR BOB: Oh, um–
AMANDA: And there’s this part (flips pages): “God is glofied through men. As such, if the man is eclipsed god’s power is diminished. The role of a wife should be to support her man, primarily through raising the children to glorify his power. She should not seek employment. If she does have a job she should quit.”
PASTOR BOB: Yeah. My wife stays home to raise our children.
BRENDAN: Amanda makes four times what I make. I can’t support both of us on my salary, let alone our children.
AMANDA: Yeah. And I worked long and hard to get up to my position as Vice President of Development. While raising two daughters. With a husband who was gone for years at a time on deployment.
PASTOR BOB (leans forward, folds hands together): What I’m hearing here is that you two aren’t ready or able to handle the commitment of marriage.
AMANDA: I…um…I think you’re right. We clearly have not thought through our decision to get married in your church.
(BRENDAN and AMANDA leave. PASTOR BOB stares after them, then shakes his head and goes back to work.)
LA SPIAZA COFFEE HOUSE
4:00 PM TUESDAY
(Establishing scene of coffee house. CALEB, ETHAN, and EMILY are sitting around a table. ETHAN has his arm around EMILY.)
ETHAN: So I’m thinking of going and asking Pastor Bob for premarital counseling, but I think that might be weird.
ETHAN: Well, he’s also handling my parents’ counseling. So…y’know.
CALEB: Yeah. I guess.
EMILY: We’ve been praying about it. A lot.
CALEB: Well, I’m going to be a pastor. Maybe you can practice on me.
ETHAN: Cool, man. Thanks.
CALEB: First of all, you guys are staying pure, right?
(ETHAN and EMILY share an uncomfortable look.)
ETHAN: Well, um, we were. Then we got engaged and…y’know, things started to get a little hot and heavy.
CALEB: Like what?
EMILY: Well, last night ETHAN walked me back from our Monday Bible study and we…kissed.
ETHAN: And we kissed after church on Sunday, too.
CALEB: That’s not so bad. Have you prayed about it?
EMILY: Yeah. I pray about it a lot. And I all want to do when I’m praying is kiss Ethan.
ETHAN: And she let me touch her breasts once. Over the shirt, of course.
CALEB: Whoa. That’s way too far. And it’s probably an indication that something else is happening. Is there anything else?
EMILY: Y’know…butt stuff.
EMILY: Yeah. I bend over, pull down my pants, and he…y’know, butt stuff.
9:00 PM TUESDAY
(Establishing shot of the outside of an apartment building.)
CALEB: So I was talking to ETHAN and EMILY today and I found out about something.
CALEB: Well, it turns out that if you do butt stuff it’s not technically having sex. So, y’know, less guilt.
(JENNIFER’S eyes widen.)
10:30 AM THE FOLLOWING SUNDAY
(Establishing shot of the inside of a packed church sanctuary. JENNIFER is at the front of the praise band.)
JENNIFER: I want to sing a song I wrote just this week. I call it, “Jesus Come Into My Dirty Places.”