A Radically Cosmic Conversation with God on an Otherwise Muggy Tuesday
The clouds are thickening over the mountains, piling up in big white columns and coifs. Not a drop of moisture, though. I can feel the heat, the pent humidity. The sky wants to rain, wants to wash us clean in its tears, but it’s just not happening. It hasn’t happened for months. The drought here on the Nevada-California border is unremitting. Nothing more than this white-gray mugginess. The itch of my nose as weeds try to bloom. The buzz of a fly in a small room. I think it’s time to ask a question of the air, to just start talking, babbling to whomever or whatever is out there. I guess it’s as simple and easy as that.
ME: So a West Coast drought, huh?
GOD: Yeah, sorry.
ME: So you caused it?
GOD: No, not really, but I’m used to apologizing for everything.
ME: In that case, what the fuck’s wrong with the world?
GOD: Honestly, nothing. The world’s great. I consider it my masterpiece. Just look at the Amazon or the Sahara or Lake Tahoe. The world’s fine, exquisite, really.
ME: What about global warming? Won’t it destroy everything?
GOD: Well, it will destroy you but not the world. In geologic time, global warming will be a blip. Your species will try to adapt but slowly die off, and then nature will correct and life will go on.
ME: Holy shit! It sounds like you’ve given up on us.
GOD: It’s fair to say I’m at my wit’s end.
ME: Wait a minute. Isn’t this all kind of your fault? I mean, you gave every culture a different religion. All these competing languages and laws and meanings. Tower of Babel or whatever. It was just a matter of time before we killed each other. You made it really hard to know what was right.
GOD: Yes and no. I wasn’t perfect in my revelations, but I tried. I tried to give you what you needed to make it work, but you couldn’t make it work. You’re too screwed up, all of you.
ME: Bullshit. What have you given us? Nothing but mixed messages, if you ask me.
GOD: I didn’t ask you. You asked me. Remember? All you had to do was love each other, take care of each other.
ME: How could that be? There are all these crazy rules in the holy books that no one could ever live up to. You pretty much said, This is my standard, and everyone who doesn’t live up to it can go fuck themselves. How does that help us love each other?
GOD: Whoa, whoa, you’re putting words in my mouth. You guys are really good at that, always arguing about what I said and what I meant, taking everything out of context.
ME: Well, supposedly, you said a lot of shit. What context are we supposed to view it in other than THE WORD OF GOD?
GOD: How about in the spirit of God rather than any word or letter of the law. I’m talking about basic abstract thinking here, something I believe you’re all equipped with.
ME: Give me an example.
GOD: Okay, the gay thing. It drives me crazy. Here I am back in the Old Testament, right? I admit I was a little different back then. I thought I should be strict with you. Like the golden calf thing, remember? I was going to apocalypse everyone. But then Moses talked me down, said I was acting ridiculous, which I was. It took me a while to figure out how to handle you guys. You got to remember that back then, you couldn’t stop raping and pillaging each other. I was trying to establish some basic law and order—a primitive legal system, yes, but with some rather progressive policies for the time. Ever read Deuteronomy? Due process? I wanted you to learn about fairness and justice and harmony. But you’re right. It turned into all these little rules and admonitions, some of them beyond anal. Like the purity laws about women on their periods, how they’re unclean and untouchable. Well, that’s not really what I had in mind. I wanted men to respect women during their periods, to respect and revere the life-bearing processes I had designed. I wanted them to be considerate and deferential and, God forbid, helpful. It’s not easy, you know, menstruating. But I never had some oppressive patriarchy in mind. Men took my revelations and did what they do best. You know what I’m talking about.
ME: They wanted power.
GOD: It’s what men are good at—assuming power over their fellow creatures. It makes me sick, honestly.
ME: But you said something about the gay thing.
GOD: Right, right, the gay thing. So, someone takes my advice from back then about sleeping around, how the power of sex must be respected, blah, blah, blah—Just so you know, as a side note, my revelations are available to all; they’re as accessible as air. Despite what men tell you, prophets don’t have a monopoly on truth. Inspiration, knowledge, are there for everyone—Back to the point: I tried to be very clear about the power of sex and how it must be exercised responsibly. Of course men, in all their rashness, made it a rule about not lying with other men, as though homosexuality itself were somehow deviant. My thinking at the time was that no one should be fucking around with a man, a woman, a goat, whatever, when there was important stuff to be done. I was just trying to focus the assholes, no pun intended. Eons later, when I decided to approach the species differently, when I realized you guys could never agree on pretty basic civil rules, I sent my boy Jesus down. His mission was simple. He was supposed to teach you some humility so that love could enter your lives. He was supposed to be the guy who broke all the dead letters. You’ve read Schiller, right? His line about the dead letter replacing a living understanding? Rhetorical question. I know you have. Well, Jesus wanted to instill the living spirit in all of you so you could be confident in yourselves, treat others the way you wanted to be treated and fulfill the promise of life, which really means just letting go of fear so that love can enter…And he did his best. People would press him about which rules were true. They did everything they could to test his authority. But he was right when he said my commandments are simple: love me and love thy neighbor. You see the key word there, right? It’s not that hard. Everybody’s the same. Love is good. Hate is bad. But you guys are such assholes. Of course you went and screwed it all up. Jesus’s legacy, the spirit of his teachings, became a zombie story. Everyone started obsessing about how he rose from the dead and healed the sick and all these little magic tricks. You guys started fighting about the best way to obtain occult status, as if zombies were the ultimate goal of his teachings. Again, not what I had in mind. I didn’t want you to follow Jesus to become a zombie. I wanted you to follow his example, his way of living, the love he professed and how it could redeem life from ugliness and despair. You were like, Ooo, resurrection, we’re gonna live forever, we’re deathless. But that was never the point. The point was that only in love could you be deathless, that only love and forgiveness could save you, could grow new life within no matter what you had lost or how you had suffered. I wasn’t trying to make a Michael Jackson Thriller video! I even sent you Buddha, years before Christ, as a failsafe. I tried my hardest to pull you out of the Stone Age. But then you took wisdom from every corner of the world and did what you do best. You built a Dark Age. So I sent you Newton. I gave you a glimpse of truth. Things started improving. The Renaissance. The Enlightenment. You started using your brain again. We got to the Romantic period, Mary Wollstonecraft, all this talk of democracy and egalitarian society. Beautiful, and then, well, the French Revolution, World Wars, the Twentieth Century. I pretty much sat on the edge of the world and wept for a hundred years. I let my toes go numb in the ocean. It was just brutal. You guys took all your knowledge, all your enlightenment, and found more ruthless ways to kill each other.
ME: So wait, back up. Nothing in the Bible should be taken literally? It’s all about the spirit of love and divinity?
GOD: It’s not rocket science. It’s a book. Not necessarily better than any other book out there. Ever read Virginia Woolf? She’s a freaking genius!
ME: So what’s the gay thing you kept referring to but never fully explained?
GOD: Right, right, so you have this religious revival in the Twentieth Century in America, rooted in the evangelical tradition. And that’s great, right? Return to the virtue of love? Let it be a light to lead you out of a violent century? Except some of the ministers start getting on this gay kick, like, O, it’s so sinful, we can’t have this in our society. And I’m like, Really? You just dropped a fucking nuclear bomb on Japan and you’re worried about two men being in love with each other? Jesus H. Christ! Do you have critical-thinking faculties? Op, rhetorical question. I know you do because I gave them to you. Then these same men start forming political groups and going ape-shit over gay marriage, saying mankind’s losing its way and all this, and I’m like, No, you got it backwards. I want people to commit to marriage, to know the beauty and satisfaction of devotion. I want gay couples to get married. In any church, really. Or in a courthouse for all I care. Don’t you get it? You guys are nuts. You’re screwing it all up again. In every way you’re violating the spirit of the law: one law: love. Make your laws fair and equitable based around that supreme ideal. Can you do that? You know if you did do that, the Devil would end up writing a blog for Evil Times that no one would ever read. He knows if guys just shut up for a minute and embrace each other that he’d be out of work. He’d come crawling right back to me. And know what? I’d probably forgive the fucker. I’m so sick of this battle. But guess what men are good at? Guess what keeps the Devil going?
GOD: Right. Read Foucault? He explains your problem pretty well. Maybe because he was gay and had to go through all that shit. But what do you think I’m like when it comes to sexuality? I mean, I encompass all things. I’m in all of you. There is nothing I don’t know, haven’t seen or haven’t done, if you get my drift….
ME: You’re gay?
GOD: Please, don’t pigeonhole me. If I were a material being, I’d be pansexual. All-encompassing?! That’s the thing, though. People need to stop thinking of me in physical terms, as if I’m something that exists in the literal, objective world of flesh and bone. I’m really just an idea, a voice in your head, a buried mirror, the deepest reference point within yourself. I’m your greatest imaginary friend, and that’s all I need to be to ennoble your behavior, to call forth the best in you. You know you’re just talking to yourself right now, right? And that’s okay.
ME: Whoa, this shit’s blowing my mind.
GOD: I do that from time to time.
ME: So am I somehow special cuz I’ve figured all this out?
GOD: No, you’re a fucking idiot. That’s what you all don’t get. You’re all fucking idiots. I hold you all in the same esteem. Shakespeare is just as precious to me as Miss Loretta Brown who lives down the street from you.
ME: You know Loretta?
GOD: I know everyone. And you’re all stupid. You each have your little window on the truth and are assured you’re right. But none of you are right. You’re all so far from the complete picture. I wish you could see it—what I see. It’s amazing. It’s like being in love with all creation, noticing every little thing, every little creature, every little shift in the wind, and embracing it all as you would embrace a part of your own body. Some of you are lucky. You feel that love for someone else in your life, a spouse, a child. You wonder where it came from, this love, what it means, what death will do to it. You’re so fearful that you’ll lose it. And I wish you could just relax, realize that the seed of love is in you. I swear it’s there. It’s only in the growing that you fuck it up. God, how humanity could be beautiful. I wanted you to be my greatest creation.
ME: You’re starting to scare me. This is some serious shit.
GOD: Want to know something more fucked up? I’m omniscient, yes, omnipresent, yes, but I’m not omnipotent. I thought I was at one point. I thought I was strong enough to hold you all up, to give you one chance after another, but I’m not. I’m exhausted. I’m defeated. I’m heartbroken. I feel like a failure. And I can’t help but think that my God is teaching me a lesson about humility.
ME: Wait a second. You have your own God? How does that work? God, you there?
I look back outside and see the clouds have shifted, revealing an inner darkness in the sky. A few raindrops hit my back patio. They leave dark, wet circles on the concrete. I expect more to follow, but nothing happens. The circles vanish in the heat.