God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
In the nineteenth century the problem was that God is dead;
in the twentieth century the problem is that man is dead.
If we could just find out who’s in charge, we could kill him.
It’s a mad mad mad mad world. And is it any wonder? The deity of Western Christendom seems to have lost his moxie (he’s still a nice guy though), the redneck Bubba-god of the Middle East is punch drunk and looking for trouble, and the human race seems evenly divided between those who want to make nice, those who want to kick butt, and those who are too sick and tired to care.
But enough about the holidays.
I recently checked in on the Ancient of Days, a sort of impromptu pilgrimage via delorosa minus the floor show, and discovered that the Old Guy was indeed dead as Nietzsche declared, but he seemed surprisingly okay with that. The vibe I got was of a deceased deity who’s finally at peace with himself and has found a few new hobbies (one of them, bonsai mountains, was especially interesting). I was delighted to find him open and even chatty.
Fortunately I had my microcorder and, with his permission, recorded our brief conversation. What follows is a fairly accurate transcript. I’ve edited out a divine “uh” or two and a long, rather experimental recitation of Lamentations in strict iambic pentameter accompanied by ukulele (which he played quite well). Anyway, here’s my tête-à-tête with Alpha & Omega:
Totally Baked (TB): I’m not quite sure how to address you.
ΑΩ: Don’t worry about it. Nobody remembers how to pronounce my real name anyway. The boys have taken to calling me Big El. Get it? I will B.E. what I will B.E.? Pretty clever.
TB: Not LORD or Most High or He Who Rides on the Clouds?
ΑΩ: Naw. We’re a lot more casual around here now. We do things more by consensus than edict these days. Everybody’s got a say now. We’re formed into management teams. Sure, I’ve got tons of seniority, but even I can be overruled from time to time.
ΑΩ: Agreement is key. Frankly, I’ve had nothing but trouble trying to enforce categorical imperatives. Always ended up losing my cool and destroying things. This is better. Less pressure.
TB: But you’re God.
ΑΩ: What does that mean anymore? Supreme Being? Prime Mover? First Principle? Creator? The Good? Mere metaphysical conceits. Listen, Nietzsche was right: I’m dead. But hey, now I get a two-day weekend and can even take a nap when I want to.
TB: So you’re not sure who you are?
ΑΩ: I’m flexible. Want a beer or something?
TB: No thanks. I’m a bit confused. Doesn’t the Bible say that you do not change?
ΑΩ: Oh, the Bible. Well, you know, I’m a bit embarrassed by that. It was an early draft of a novel I was working on. I was having trouble with character development and the plot was fragmented. The sex and violence came across well, but I could never figure out just what I wanted to say. So I set it aside. Somehow it surfaced as a religious constitution. I probably should have stopped the whole thing right away, but it did end up a best seller. I wrote a sequel, but it bombed. The unsold copies are moldering in a warehouse somewhere in Utah. Considering the catastrophes surrounding the original, it’s probably a good thing. Still, I can’t help but envy JK Rowlings.
TB: She’s definitely on a roll.
ΑΩ: She makes the supernatural seem so believable. Mine always came off looking like cheap pyrotechnics. You don’t have a Rowling Seminar expunging her books.
TB: Everybody’s a critic.
ΑΩ: (chuckling) Yeah. Sure you don’t want a beer?
TB: No thanks. So now that you’re . . . ah, dead, what happens to everybody who believes in you?
ΑΩ: I’m not sure
TB: You’re not sure?
ΑΩ: As part of my demise I relinquished omniscience. And let me tell you, was that a relief! Of course that means things are no longer strictly predetermined.
TB: That’s a little troubling.
ΑΩ: Isn’t that what you’ve wanted all along, free will and all that?
TB: I guess so, but—
ΑΩ: There you go then. Make up your own ending. Just don’t blame me for how things turn out.
TB: Do you still answer prayer?
ΑΩ: Now that’s an interesting development. Someone over there prays for rain. Another person asks for sun. Each side of a war prays that their cause prevails and their troops are kept safe. No matter how I played it, I disappointed half the audience. So the communication department makes this brilliant suggestion that we let contrary prayers simply cancel each other out. Only the prayers that remain get through. Know how many prayers we actually had to handle in the past three years? Seven total. Seven! And five of them had to do with the Janet Jackson Superbowl incident. Thank God for YouTube. Say, you wouldn’t mind if I had a cold beer, would you?
TB: No. Go right ahead.
ΑΩ: I never really was much of a wine guy—except it does go better with those little wafers.
TB: You seem pretty happy about your own afterlife.
ΑΩ: Being dead’s been good so far. I’ve come to terms with who I am and have even found the courage to come out of the closet on a few things.
TB: Do I dare ask?
ΑΩ: Sure. For one thing, I never really liked the Jews. Arrogant sons of bitches every one of them. Abraham was kosher, but the rest were pains in the butt. The Arabs have been one migraine after another too. Don’t have an artistic bone in their bodies. And don’t get me started on dwarfs. God, they give me the willies! About the only person I’ve ever really liked was Liberace. Now that guy was a dresser!
TB: Wasn’t he gay?
ΑΩ: What’s the Trinity if not three guys living together in an intimate, church-recognized union?
TB: I don’t think I’m ready for this.
ΑΩ: Theology can paint you into a corner if you’re not careful.
TB: Are you saying that you’re. . . ?
ΑΩ: Relax. I’m just kidding. I may be dead but I’m straight. Remember mother Mary?
TB: Oh, yeah. Whew. You had me for a moment.
ΑΩ: Of course we did it outside of wedlock. Even the Southern Baptists don’t seem to have a problem with that one. Go figure.
TB: Well, I have to confess, you seem a lot mellower than I expected.
ΑΩ: The first thing I did after checking out was get rid of those four living creatures. Can you imagine what it was like to listen to them thrash the same song over and over and over and over for a bazillion eons? Not even a second verse, for crying out loud! Just Holy Holy Holy on and on and on. No wonder I was edgy. If I’d have canned them earlier, there’d probably have never been a flood. Hell, you all would probably still be living in the Garden! I got another beer if you want one.
TB: Thanks, but I really need to get going. I appreciate the time. This has been very interesting, uh, Your Honor.
ΑΩ: You can call me El—that is if I can call you Betty. Ha ha ha. Seriously, call me anytime. Maybe we can play poker or something. I promise I won’t cheat. Ha ha ha. Sure you won’t stay for another beer?
TB: Thanks, El. Maybe another time. Loved the ukulele! Ah . . . men?
. . .
[This is a repost, mostly because I don't think it got the kudos it deserves.]