David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Hey, St. Peter

June 28, 2024

With retirement and old(er) age comes a lot of reflection about religion/faith/life. As I have mentioned in other places on these blogs, I am so proud of my son's personal journey to Christian faith, especially because his father has never particularly modeled that. My challenges were many, but, in short, faith seemed way too tied to secular nonsense about the nature of God and so forth. Perhaps there is some irony that I spent a career in a field, higher education, that purports, like Christianity, to "do good" but constantly undermines itself with missteps. I believe this is why now, in retirement, I find more inspiration in the trappings of religion.

No piece of Christianity seems more fraught for critique than the idea that St. Peter waits at the Pearly Gates as the final arbiter for who gets into heaven or not. Frankly, that notion seems important only to the history of comedy (my favorite comic of all time is a dog at the Pearly Gates telling St. Peter, "Whoah, I was only playing dead!").

Anyway, all of this is to provide some background for my desire to ask St. Peter about his job.

Hey, St. Peter

Hey, St. Peter, how goes that gate-keeping gig?

Are you given much support and direction?

Does God drop in to see you

On your mid-morning break,

Lay a hand on your shoulder,

And give you clear feedback

About the souls that you've let in,

Or the ones that you sent back?


Does his high holiness update

His self-righteous book of names,

Or must you chase down pertinent information

While the poor souls quiver before you?

I have to admit that your boss

Seems a bit more abstracted than usual,

Which must play havoc for your position

In this theological organizational chart.


Gatekeeper's a status most would die

To list on their C.V.

Tell me, my Arcadian friend,

Is it all it's cut up to be?

Tell me, is your office exempt,

As everyone assumes it should be?

Do you get E.A.P. or an H.S.A.?

Have you signed an N.D.A.?


What lies on the other side

Of those lovely, pearly gates?

Is your job to ensure no living soul sneaks a peek

At the master supposedly so hard at work?

Do the masses see you as obstruction

Or as necessary protection

In an enterprise where desire to do good deeds

Seems eternally undermined by the pulpit?


Do you spend your average day

Arguing with the pilgrims, jockeying to get in,

Whose devotion to holy words

Is not what is intended by faith?

Do you wait for word to come from on high,

Clarifying a new vision, a new strategic plan?

Is this a good time to tell you

I hear Hell is looking and they pay pretty well?