This was supposed to be a gala affair.  The dignitaries had scrambled for last minute tickets.  Agents had
pulled strings, secretaries had called in favors, and the 1% with the big bucks had used their
clout to make sure they had a place at the extravaganza.  Bel (well let’s face it - nobody called him
Belshazzar) had his men steal the solid gold and sterling silver wine goblets from Jerusalem.  
"Steal" is such a harsh word - maybe we should just say they “borrowed” the goblets and probably wouldn’t
remember to return them.

Outside there may have been more representatives from the media lined up on the red carpet than
celebrities.  Viewer-ready reviews for the six o’clock news had been written both ways depending on how the
event turned out, whether it favored the red or the blue provinces.  

It didn’t take long for the drinking to get out of hand and the festivities soon became more energized.  They
“celebrity-roasted” King Bel, drank to his health, drank to his kingdom, drank to his goblets, drank to
everything in sight.  Except when it came to their Creator, the one responsible for every breath they took,
every beat of their hearts, every function of their bodies.  They preferred to believe that they were in charge
of their own destinies.  

So be it.  The beautiful expensive walls, the walls which had drawn decorators’ bids from companies they’d
never even heard of, walls so mesmerizing that it was hard to look away from their shiny elegant treatments
which had been created by the most progressive minds in the business, the very walls they’d conjured up
ways to idolize just like their goblets, and now there was this big detached hand scribbling all over them,
defiling the law congress had just passed declaring them sacred.

King Bel was a mess, visibly devastated.  His knees were shaking and he was about to pass out.  Anyone
could see that.  Who was raining on his parade?  Where were his hit men when he needed them?  Quick, get
him a wet washcloth.  Get him a fan.  This is embarrassing with paparazzi everywhere springing like cheetahs
at this newsworthy surprise.  The king needed to be
revived pronto.

Finally, finally he came about.  That was a close one.  And now there were these four words written on his
precious wall which made no sense whatsoever.  Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.  
Now that just looked plain stupid.  Send for the shrinks, get out the ouija boards, round up the palm readers,
do whatever asinine things you can think of.  Heck, call in the bigots - the gay haters -
and have them bring their clobber verses with them, the handful of Bible verses which they
mistranslated and irresponsibly interpreted.    

And so they did.  It was grueling listening to the ridiculous attempts these would-be visionaries made at
translating the handwriting on the wall, one after another making complete fools of themselves.  Every man
who the king considered wise voiced his opinion, but in the end they were no further along than when they
had begun.  If anything, they’d regressed.  

Did she dare?  Well, what did a she have to lose?  So the queen mother stepped forward, Queen Nitocris of
all people, and she spoke up.  Yes, I know, she was a woman and all the white haired gentlemen (tongue in
cheek) were offended that King Bel would allow such a thing whether it was his own mother or not, but what
was done was done.  As far as they were concerned women had no more right to voice their opinions than
homeless vets or Mexicans.  But it was the last resort so they might as well listen to what a lowly woman had
on her mind.  After all, nothing else had gone right
all day anyway.  

Come to find out the old lady wasn’t so dumb after all.  She knew this guy Daniel who was touted as one of
God’s special servants.  God, the Supreme Being who created all things, not the conjured up god of wine
goblets.  Come on - give me a break.  The queen said that Dan was smart, had his doctorate and had
passed the bar exam, and get this - he could interpret dreams and handwriting without having to run to his
fundamentalist pastor to teach him how to be intolerant and a homophobe.  In contrast, it seems that Dan
actually communicated with God.  Now there’s a concept.

Within the hour the talent scouts had Dan front and center before the king.  Good work guys.  
Dan didn’t bow, which irritated Bel to no end, but he let it go for the moment.  The first thing that came to the
king’s mind was to shower Daniel with gifts.  That went nowhere.  No surprise.

Mene, mene, tekel, parsin.  Its meaning was a piece of cake as far as Dan was concerned.  Here’s what he
told the king:  “Your days are numbered, your nation will fall from within and you will be conquered from
You want it both ways - you got it.”  King Bel’s brain suddenly went into full court press.  The words
pierced his heart big time.  For the time being though, he’d better give some appearance of regret for his
wayward ways or God might strike him down right then and there.  Obviously the physical hand was proof
that God was paying close attention to what was going on.  

He gave Dan a purple robe (God, too, loves purple in case you haven’t figured that out) and a gold chain.  
Hopefully it wasn’t as gaudy as the chains brawny athletes tend to wear, but then, King Bel didn’t exactly use
good judgment in other matters, so the chain and robe were probably good fodder for Joan Rivers’ Fashion
Police.  The king didn’t repent in his heart and wouldn’t you know -
God sees the heart.   King Bel was murdered in his sleep that very night by a guy named Darius who
happened to be very fond of lions, but unlike Belshazzar, he came to his senses.  You can read about him in
Daniel chapter six.

Both Ways
(based on Daniel chapter 5)