Ole makes a preliminary inquiry in heaven

“Okay, Ole Barfson, you come out now,” St. Peter barked gruffly (lovingly, of course) to a cloud that was floating by his work station as he was adding and deleting names on his high speed computer.

“How did you know I was in there?” Ole asked as he brushed off stars that had accumulated on his going-to-town blue suit.

“You had lutefisk within the last three weeks,” St. Peter responded. “You are not scheduled for months so why are you here?”

“Well, Pete, I just wanted….” Ole started only to be cut off by St. Peter.

“Wait! To you I am St. Peter. You don’t know what I went through to get a mansion up here and I expect respect. Besides, I am director of admissions.”

“Talking about mansions, what are those little buildings?” Ole asked as he gawked over St. Peter’s shoulder.

“They are the 500-square-foot mansions we built for the people who had great wealth on earth,” the Saint explained. “Somehow, they were supposed to get through the eye of the needle but very few made it so most of those houses are unoccupied.”

“I came to ask…” Ole was interrupted again by the gatekeeper.

“I just noticed your record…27 times DUI, 213 looks of lust, 74 gluttonous meals, 56 wrathful outbursts, and the list goes on. I suspect that you are in collusion with the devil.”

“No collusion! No collusion!” Ole responded defensively.

“With this record, you won’t meet the balance,” the Saint concluded.

“What balance?”

“The balance between the Seven Deadly Sins – pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth – and the Seven Virtues – prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope and charity,” the great Saint summarized.

“They all sound sort of subjective to me,” Ole protested.

“Well, we score them one to 10, average them out, and that’s it,” the Great Saint explained. ” Right now, your score is nine in the deadly sin category and a minus two in virtues. You have a lot of work to do before you want to show up for judgment.”

“That’s what I came to ask you about,” Ole replied, not wanting to talk about the poor balance in his spiritual track record. “I was wondering how long I had left.”

“I can’t give you that kind of information,” St. Peter replied. “God has changed His mind in special cases and I don’t want to second-guess Him. Why don’t you ask Alexa?”

“I did. ‘God only knows.’ That’s all she said.”

Ole continued. “Doesn’t being Norwegian count for anything? A few Norwegians would make heaven great again.”

“Heaven has always been great. The Good Book says that God is impartial so the Norwegians will stand in line with everybody else on the last day.”

“What Good Book is this?”

“The Good Book contains the instructions for Godly living,” St. Peter explained.

“I read the instructions only when nothing else works,” Ole admitted.

“Well, you better get the instructions out because nothing is working for you,” St. Peter admonished.

“Okay, I will change my ways and do many penances but I just came up here to find out whether or not judgment day will be fair,” Ole blurted accusatorially.

“I read these obituaries in the newspapers and half of them say that the deceased have gone to heaven to join families or are looking down from heaven. I want to know if these people are bypassing the great judgment while the rest of us will have our dirty laundry dragged out so everyone in the living world can laugh at our failures.”

St. Peter looked up with a smile. “As Alexa said ‘God only knows.’ “

Lloyd Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor of North Dakota and former political science professor at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.