“Well David”, he said, “God has asked me to come to you and request your help in getting his message out to the world”.
Again, I was a little taken aback. I said “Why me?”
He replied: “It’s something that requires a bit of explanation. Some people say that God can’t have really tried to communicate with his people as much as he should have. In fact God has tried to get his message out to the world a number of times. Once he picked a bloke named Moses and chatted to him while hiding in a burning bush; that achieved a little, but he singed his beard badly and didn’t try that again. Then he tried engraving his rules on some stone tablets and giving them to Moses on a mountain.”
“Mountain tops are, of course, closer to the cloud that God likes to ride on, so it’s a shorter trip than going all the way to the low ground. God believes it’s wrong to waste energy.”
“So far so good, but then when Moses went back down from the mountain he discovered his people worshipping a golden calf, cracked a fruity, smashed the stone tablets and set his people to killing each other as hard as they could go. About three thousand died! Moses had a problem with self control, but of course, none of us are perfect, even God himself makes errors.”
“So God had to get his hammer and chisel, go back to his stone quarry, make up an entirely new set of tablets, call Moses back, and give him the second set.”
“As you can imagine”, said Michael (he had told me his name by this time) “all this effort tired God out quite badly and even discouraged him from communication all together. It was quite a while before he worked up the energy and enthusiasm to make another effort to get his message out. You’ve no doubt heard of Jesus of Nazareth?”
I admitted to knowing something of the fellow.
“Well,” Michael said, “you’d also know that that ended badly.”
Michael went on, “More recently God asked me to help him out and talk to a bloke he had heard about who he thought would be receptive to the message, wouldn’t send a bill for his services, and who frequented a cave in Arabia. This was a while ago. Before last week I think? My memory isn’t what it was four thousand years ago. That’s right, it was well before last week, around the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire.”
“I had a number of chats to that man. Neither God nor I realised right away that he was illiterate, so perhaps he was not the ideal choice, but what can you do? Of course it is just not on for God or angels to handle money, so we can’t do a fee-for-service arrangement. We have to try to find someone who will help out without payment.”
“You try pulling someone off the street, telling them that you are an archangel, that you have a message that you want them to help spread, but you can’t pay them. Some people can be so rude!”
“I remember now, this man’s name was Mohamed. Since he was illiterate he obviously didn’t write God’s message down. He passed it on to others, who passed it on to yet others, and eventually something was written down. You’re familiar with the game of Chinese Whispers I suppose?”
He went on “I need say no more on that then. I will say, though, that God was so disheartened about how that all turned out, with the fighting between Shia and Sunni, the xenophobia against Christians, Jews and all other of God's people – you know, I suppose, that under Sharia the testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man, the testimony of a Christian is worth half that of a Muslim, the testimony of a Hindu is worth a quarter that of a Muslim? – and the fact that much of the Islamic world is still in a pretty miserable state, that he didn't want to risk any similar misinterpretations of his message – until now.”
“Now God discovered you David, and sent me to give his message to you. He might have come himself, but he’s banged up with a cold right now. He’s getting on in years you know.”
Well! I found this a bit flattering, and said “Why me?”
“Well,” Michael said, “as I explained earlier, it’s not easy to find someone who will help out without being paid, and God said that you were something of a windbag and you might do it just because you like seeing your name in print.”
I found this less flattering, and said so.
“Sorry David, but as you can well imagine, an archangel must be entirely honest.”
God had discussed with Michael and another of his favourite archangels, Gabriel, where on Earth it would be best to try to get his message out again. They decided against Saudi Arabia this time, because of the Wahhabism that they practiced there being a very twisted version of God’s message and the serious limits to freedom of speech in that country. They realised too, that getting the message out in Arabic, which was a very difficult language to translate unambiguously, was a mistake.
They realise that they have made some mistakes, but as Michael said, “You try running a world and you’ll see that it’s not easy.”
Australia seemed to offer the best opportunities because it did have some freedom of speech, wasn’t packed with religious nutters, and, as will be explained, there were those in Australia who especially needed to be ’given the message’. (You see, God and Michael didn’t want to lose their messenger too early, as had happened in the past, due to people not liking the message, and thought that I, the messenger, might survive a while in Australia.)
And there was the advantage that English is spoken very widely in the world, Australians speak something that has been described as a form of English so there shouldn’t be the problems with translation that there had been in the past.Tony Abbott and then PM Malcolm Turnbull keep on pushing coal – God knows it is damaging his world and it’s well past time something serious was done to fix the situation. Australia has the highest per-capita rate of greenhouse emissions of any OECD country and has been ranked 60th of 61 nations on the basis of their climate change performance, coming just ahead of the aforementioned Saudi Arabia.”
Michael goes off the track a little at times, perhaps it’s just to try to lighten the conversation. He said “How do you like the contemporary terms, ‘pissed-off’ rather than ‘annoyed’ and ‘unfolding’ rather than ‘developing’. God really does make an effort to keep up do date with what’s happening on Earth you know.”
Michael continued, “He [God, that is] was especially disappointed with PM Tony Abbott. God thought that with his time in the seminary Tony should have had a little more respect for his [God’s] creation.”
Some explanation is needed here for non-Australians. Tony Abbott was for a short while Prime Minister of Australia, before the Australian people and Tony’s own political party recognised his true value, and had him dumped. Malcolm Turnbull, who had espoused rather responsible views about the serious need for climate change action was installed as Prime Minister in the place of Tony. But then Malcolm did nothing more than Tony had done.
Michael again: “Just last year God had a short holiday, incognito of course, on the Great Barrier Reef. He was very disturbed by the amount of damage that climate change, silting and the all the shipping had done. He felt so strongly about it that he joined one of the peaceful protests against coal mining and nearly got arrested. That would have been awkward, because we can’t get along without him up here for very long.”
“You will probably have seen, Dave, that recently Fiona Armstrong, the
founder of the Climate and Health Alliance, and Peter C. Doherty, a Nobel
Laureate and Australian of the Year, got together to
tell the world that serious action must
be taken on climate change for the sake of everyone’s health.
It realy is time that your Prime Minister pulled his finger out.”
Michael went on “By the way, on the subject of leisure and relaxation again. The last time I tried to get God’s message to you Earthlings in that cave in Arabia, by the time it passed through all those Chinese Whispers before being written down, instead of being that God loves music and art, it came out as God hates a lot of music and doesn’t want any art that depicts animals or people.”
“In fact God loves art and music.
You should see God’s little house in Heaven, it has many copies of
paintings done by Earthlings, and not just holy icons and stuff, he’s a
great fan of your Hans Heysen and the Heidelberg School group.
And he’s always playing Beethoven’s music – by the way,
Ludwig is up in heaven and you should hear some of the music he’s
composed after he got his hearing back – literally heavenly.”
He eventually said, “Look Dave. You don’t mind if I call you Dave?”
I shook my head.
“One of the main things praying on the mind of God at present, no pun intended, is all the violence that has gone on in the world in his name.”
“Sure, he did encourage quite a bit of killing and even genocide back in the days before he came to Earth as Jesus, but those few decades were a real eye-opener for him. For the last couple thousand years the mind of God has been much more peaceful.”
“He no longer approves of killing done in his name, but the people who have thought of themselves as his followers kept right on killing.”
“From the time that Roman Emperor Theodosius the First adopted Christianity (around 390AD) to Martin Luther (around 1517) Christians ruthlessly punished or executed anyone who tried to adopt variations of Christianity that didn’t suit the official line. Adherents to variations on Christianity such as the Gnostics and Cathars – and many other sects and religions who have been quite lost to history – were exterminated. God didn’t like that at all.”
“Dave, God and I read the bit you wrote about Christian intolerance and we agree that you were pretty right about that. God hasn’t wanted that sort of thing done in his name ever since his ‘road to Damascas’ moment when he was on Earth as Jesus.”
“So, if you can get that stuff out to the public we’d appreciate it. Don’t forget, though, we can’t pay you.”
“God’s stance on wealth and its distribution has not changed
in two thousand years.
He holds that those who devote themselves to the pursuit of wealth, and
power for that matter – because wealth is power and power is
wealth – are to be despised.
He sees it as one of the great failings of the world’s governments
that there is at present such a huge disparity in the distribution of
wealth, with a very few people having most of the world’s wealth,
and several billion people having hardly enough to survive on.”
He said “Look Dave, if you don't get anything else right about what I'm telling you, please, please, get this bit right.
God wants much more love in the world. He want's you Earthlings to not only love your neighbours and love your enemies, but also to love people you have never met and are never likely to meet, love animals and plants – they are your sisters and brothers, like St Francis said – but go even further than that, love the biosphere, the Earth and the Universe, and do your best to look after it.”