By Jove! How I miss those dirty weekends

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The Independent Online

It is high time we found out what the gods were thinking. By which, of course, I mean it's high time we paid another visit to the United Deities, that open convocation of gods past and present which sits night and day to keep an eye on what we mortals are doing to the planet.

It is high time we found out what the gods were thinking. By which, of course, I mean it's high time we paid another visit to the United Deities, that open convocation of gods past and present which sits night and day to keep an eye on what we mortals are doing to the planet.

Here are minutes of one recent session.

1. The chairgod said he wondered if anyone had any comments to make on the death of Sister Lucy.

2. A Mayan god said he wondered who Sister Lucy was.

3. The chairgod said it was a fair question. Sister Lucy was the last survivor of the group of children who, in 1917, had seen a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima.

4. The Mayan god said he wondered where Fatima was.

5. The chairgod said he had no idea. It was only famous as the place where the Blessed Virgin Mary had appeared. It must be a small insignificant village somewhere in a poor, hot Catholic country.

6. The Anglican God said he doubted that severely. Whenever there was a Catholic vision of some kind, the place where it happened immediately sprouted 40,000 gift shops and 20,000 hotels and turned into an airport terminal with no airport.

7. Moreover, the stuff on sale was always in execrable taste. Why was it that Catholic souvenirs always reminded him of the trumpery stuff you got at fairgrounds as consolation prizes for not being very good?

8. The Catholic God said he couldn't agree more. And it sold very well. It showed they had done their research properly.

9. The chairgod said they were drifting from the subject, which was religious apparitions. There was a general agreement among gods that divine apparitions on earth should no longer take place ...

10. Zeus interrupted at this point to say he still regretted agreeing to this, as after all these years he still very much missed turning into a bull or a swan now and then, and going on a wenching weekend on Earth ...

11. But, continued the chairgod, the Blessed Virgin Mary had slipped through a loophole. She was holy, but she was not a god, and therefore not subject to bye-laws governing gods. So she felt she could occasionally appear to people on Earth.

12. How did they know it was only occasionally? asked the Mayan god. Perhaps the BVM appeared lots more than they knew about, but in places where people didn't live, or people weren't Catholic.

13. That was an interesting point, said the chairgod. If the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a small group of non-Catholics - some Icelandic tourists, perhaps, or children coming back from school in China - what would they make of her? Just some poor old woman, not quite right in the head?

14. The Catholic God said that he would rather this discussion was not prolonged. As was well known, the BVM had had personal problems over the years, due to her identity split between her role as a mortal and as a mother of a god, and they were still not entirely resolved. Sometimes she went absent for a shorter or longer period, and when she came back, they were never quite sure where she had been or who she had been talking to. Later, it usually turned out she had been appearing to people.

15. The Anglican God wondered if anyone actually knew what the BVM had said to the children at Fatima. Sister Lucy had always wanted to pass it on, but the Papacy had always refused to let her do so.

16. The Catholic God said he knew.

17. Well, go on then, said the Anglican God.

18. It was very trivial, said the Catholic God.

19. Go on, anyway, said the Anglican God.

20. Well, she asked the three children if they had been good girls and eaten up their breakfast and brushed their teeth, said the Catholic God.

21. Good God, said the Anglican God. Was that all?

22. The Catholic God said that was all. No wonder, he added, that the Vatican had hushed it up.

More of these top-level revelations tomorrow!

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