The Creative Cafe
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The Creative Cafe

An Atheist Meets an Anonymous Angel

A Blessed Soulful Tale

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You’ve got to be kidding.

We don’t joke around here. It’s a pretty serious place.

What exactly is this place?

You’ll figure it out. You’re dead. You saw that flash of light when you collapsed, right?

Lightning struck me?

No, that was your soul leaving your body.

I don’t believe it.

Look in that mirror, what do you see?

Nothing.

Exactly. Your ‘I-don’t-believe-it soul’ is AWOL. We can’t do anything with you here. Next petitioner, please.

Wait! That’s it? What am I supposed to do? Avoid mirrors? Leap from cloud to cloud until I find the damned thing?

You’ll figure it out. Look. This is our busy season. Christmas is right around the corner and I’d like a couple days off. Take a look at that line. Next, please.

No, let them wait. What’s your name? Let’s talk about this. I don’t die every day, you know.

I don’t have a name. I’m new. My instructions are ‘move them out.’ With all the evangelicals clammering to come up here, I don’t even have enough time for the normal Christians. I’ll deal with an agnostic, but not with your kind.

What a revelation: a bigot in heaven. Who deals with Jews, Muslims, Buddists or Humanists…or the hundreds of other faiths and fantasies on earth?

Other departments, I guess. We are a large corporation. And we are seriously understaffed. Next, please.

Hold on. Don’t you have all eternity for this? How many chances do I get to talk about this?

You can go to the end of the line, but I can’t guarantee I will be the AA on duty.

Can’t you just stop time or something?

Only Christ can perform miracles. And time has stopped for you.

I’d like to talk about that.

Christ? Wonderful. Hallelujah.

No! About time. Time stopping for me.

Two minutes. I can give you two minutes. My watch.

Deal. What happened to me? I mean, I remember stopping for some groceries down there and I remember the flash.

You made a scene in front of the store. “Don’t God bless me,” you said. And a lot of other things I’d rather not repeat.

It’s coming back to me. A man can stand just so many God bless you’s in a day. What makes some kid think he can bestow the grace of his imaginary savior on me? What is it with the Salvation Army anyway? Weren’t the Crusades a bust?

And the sneezes?

Boy, you are well informed. Every sneeze is an excuse for someone to say, “God bless you.”

I heard Pope Gregory may have had something to do with that.

An unsubstantiated claim. Next we’ll have some saint denying global warming.

Some things are unknowable.

Don’t give me the faith argument. I am not a scholar but it seems clear to me that if having faith in God makes him exist, having faith in no god does the same: and poof! Given the state of the world — and the country — I’d say the evidence is on the side of the poofers.

I can’t say. I am just an anonymous angel. I know there is a special corner of heaven for scribes and pharisees, another for agnostics, I’ve heard them squabbling. But there is none for atheists. No one likes a denier, especially at Christmas.

So heaven is only for Christians?

This heaven is. And former and future Christians.

This heaven? There are other heavens?

Well, just between us, I heard there are. I haven’t seen them, but I have seen the exits on the spiritual highway: Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam come to mind.

But none for atheists?

Well, there is one that says “None,” now that I think of it. It could be just for secular humanists, though.

How do I get there?

You could try praying. Just joking! If you are here — without a soul — there must be a reason.

You are going to give me that “God works in mysterious ways…” chestnut, I bet!

You must have some saving grace. Are you sure you are not a closet Christian? Were you once or are you now a Catholic? Protestant? Eastern Orthodox? Pentecostal? Anglican or Monophysite?

No. Mono what?

Never mind. Latter-day Saint? Evangelical? Jehovah’s Witness? Quaker?

No, but I was once a minister of the Universal Life Church.

Doesn’t count. Why did you leave?

Too much doctrine.

I see.

Your time is almost up. Look at the line, it is huge. People are dying to get in here. (Sorry. Dumb joke. But I am getting a little slug nutty. I haven’t had a decent conversation in eons.) Admission usually only takes an instant of standard heaven time and you have been processing for several minutes. I could get fined if I go over your special permission.

I’ve got special permission?

Sure, we can’t let you walking around the walls of heaven without a soul and we can’t really let you in. Saint Peter would have my ass. Again.

I have an idea.

Hit me. I mean that metaphorically, of course. What is it?

Send me back. I could, say, meander a mite among the masses of Monophysitism, wash some Seventh-Day Adventists’ feet or visit an Unchurch in Utah. It may take a long time with so many sects and schisms. Maybe if I shop around something will stick.

We don’t allow a lot of second chances, but let me consult with the Boss. Go to the end of the line and I’ll get back to you.

Thank you, AA, I hope you get a name soon. You deserve it.

You’re welcome. And God Bless You. Next, please.

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Ronald C. Flores-Gunkle

Ronald C. Flores-Gunkle

An aging humanist hanging on to the idea that there is hope for humankind — against all current indications. You can see his published work on Amazon.