THE PEARLY GATES SYNDICATE OR HOW TO SELL REAL ESTATE IN HEAVEN by Charles Merrill Smith

THE PEARLY GATES SYNDICATE OR HOW TO SELL REAL ESTATE IN HEAVEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The titles of Mr. Smith's last two wicked offerings -- How to Become a Bishop Without Being Religious (1965) and When the Saints Go Marching Out (1969) -- would indicate that he enjoys unsettling some of the infirm foundations of the Christian Church. He does just that again, but if the nervous layman would suspend judgment, he will discover a freshly positive view of a solid and spiritual base. That Church hierarchy, top-heavy theology and worldly goods obscure the lives and words of Jesus and the Apostles is the offstage focus of Smith's merry projection of the Christian Corporation or ""Pearly Gates Syndicate"" (""Christian Corporation, marching to the bank/ Doing Christian business. . . ""). In the mighty history of the Church it is wise to skip by Jesus ("" 'The meek shall inherit the earth' is incompatible with. . . successful corporation management"") and the Disciples (""losers""). On to Constantine whose unique blessing was the right to receive legacies and bequests. Smith goes chaffing down the centuries rejoicing in the happy inanities of theological hair-splitting and -shirting as well as the new ecumenical movement within the Protestant churches leading to ""one whopping denomination."" Sometimes heavy-handed as a pitch on Mission Sunday; sometimes very funny indeed -- a middle-aged clue to the nature of the current youthful return to non-institutional religious basics.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1971
Publisher: Doubleday