Let slip the gods of war

'Mars said he was sick and tired of all the peace talk. The day he saw an anti-war march that kept in step, he would respect it'
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The Independent Online

Yesterday I brought you some of the proceedings of the latest top-level meeting of the United Deities, the all-god gathering that monitors our doings here on Earth, and I think it might be instructive to listen in on some more of their divine discussion.

Yesterday I brought you some of the proceedings of the latest top-level meeting of the United Deities, the all-god gathering that monitors our doings here on Earth, and I think it might be instructive to listen in on some more of their divine discussion.

1) The chairgod said that there had been a lot of pressure to return to the subject of atheism. As divine beings, gods were presumably above all this sort of thing and should not be prey to self-doubts and low self-esteem, yet many gods did feel worried that increasing numbers of people on Earth believed in no gods at all or, even worse, too many.

2) Jupiter said:what did he mean, too many? How could you believe in too many? In the heady days of the Roman Empire, the Romans believed in hundreds of gods, and even then they took over more gods from the Greeks. It didn't seem to have done the Romans any harm. They took on all comers and knocked them into the middle of next week for centuries on end.

3) He didn't want to offend any Christian gods present, but it was only when Christianity became the official religion of Rome that they started growing soft and weak.

4) The Jewish god said there was something in that.

5) The chairgod said hastily that they seemed to be getting off the subject. What he meant by believing in too many gods was that many people on Earth today either took the scientific view that everything was explained by Darwin and religion was irrelevant or they had a New Age, pick'n'mix attitude to religion that involved selecting their favourite gods from different creeds. Treating religion as if it were fashion, perhaps.

6) A Mayan god said he didn't think anyone had believed in him for hundreds of years, and it hadn't done him any harm, though he sometimes missed having human sacrifices done to him. There again, it was always mildly embarrassing to meet the souls of people who had been sacrificed to you. They always wanted to know what had been the point of their dying so young. It was not always easy to explain...

7) The chairgod said they seemed to be getting off the point again. Did or did not the gods feel that the increase of atheism on Earth was a source of worry?

8) Mars, Roman god of war, said he was in favour of striking all atheists dead. It would a) teach them a lesson, b) solve the population problem, and c) be a lot of fun. Many other war gods agreed with that.

9) The chairgod said it would also d) infringe the doctrine of divine non-intervention, which had been agreed after the Black Death had got out of hand. As gods no doubt remembered, it had been agreed then that they would not inflict plagues, wars, great natural disasters or invasion by aliens for a trial period.

10) The Catholic god said he felt uneasy about the ban on divine intervention. For 500 years, the Catholic Church had been deprived of all major phenomena except a few measly visions of the Virgin Mary and some rather unimpressive miracles. He looked forward to the reintroduction of major divine happenings one day.

11) A Polynesian god who had never spoken before said that the Catholic god was a fine one to speak. The Vatican was getting some unfavourable publicity at the moment and was not doing the cause of religion a great deal of good.

12) On the contrary, said the Catholic god – he thought the Pope was doing a very good job at the moment, considering his age, putting himself forward as the world's anti-war champion and a figurehead for all those who loved peace.

13) Mars, Roman god of war, said he was sick and tired of all the peace talk. He had looked at the people going on anti-war marches in the past few days, and thought they were a shambles. The day he saw an anti-war march that kept properly in step, he might respect it.

14) The Anglican god said he didn't see why the Pope should get all the credit for his peace work, as the Archbishop of Canterbury had also come out strongly in favour of peace.

15) Another wuss, said Mars. Wusses, all of them.

16) The Anglican god said he would never dream of interfering in another religion, but had the Catholic god ever thought of letting the present Pope retire? Was it perhaps time for a younger man to take over?

Gripping stuff, this. And it seems a shame to leave it there, so we may have another listen-in tomorrow

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