Miles Kington: God and Allah were arguing, but Buddha just smiled

The Jewish God said nobody liked being accused of being militaristic, but surely all religions at one time or another had gone on the warpath
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The Independent Online

I think this might be a good time for us to pay a return visit to the United Deities, that all-seeing, all-talking gathering of all gods past and present, just in case they happen to have been discussing the Pope's recent troubles. And do you know what? They have been! How lucky! Here, without ado, are the latest minutes.

1. The chairgod said that the next item on the agenda was the bit of misunderstanding between the Catholic Pope and the Islamic world. He asked if either the Catholic God or Allah wished to comment.

2. The Catholic God said that the Vatican was basically a business set-up, and the Pope was the CEO, appointed by men, not by divine decision, so it was not for him to comment.

3. Allah said that that was a bit of a cop-out. Here you had the top Catholic insulting the Islamic faith...

4. Excuse him, said the Catholic God, but all he had done was read out something written by some medieval Johnny...

5. Allah said he wondered why he had chosen that particular bit to read out. A random choice perhaps. Open a book and stick a finger in at random. He should tell that one to the angels.

6. The Jewish God said he would like to intervene before it got nasty. The drift of the Pope's remarks was that the Muslims were encouraged to take to the sword to spread their religion. Well, nobody liked being accused of being militaristic, but he thought that surely all religions at one time or another had gone on the warpath.

7. Islam in Spain, of course, but one only had to think of the Crusades. What were they if not naked wars of aggression?

8. Also, there were some wars in Europe so clearly based on religion that they were even called the Wars of Religion. And nobody thought it odd that Sir Arthur Sullivan, when he was nor writing comic operettas, was writing the music for "Onward Christian Soldiers, Marching as to war..." Was that militaristic or was it not?

9. He doubted if any religion had not gone through a militant phase. Except, maybe, Judaism.

10. Mars, the Roman god of war, said that the Jews had been pretty damned militant when they came up against the Romans. It was just their bad luck to meet the Roman Empire at the top of its form.

11. The Jewish God said they had not been fighting for their religion, they had been fighting for their survival. They always were. It reminded him of the story of the rabbi who meets a soldier coming back from the wars and says...

12. Allah said that Buddhism was the only belief he could think of that was dead against fighting. 13. That was crazy, said Odin. How did Buddhists ever eat anything? How did they even brush their teeth?

14. The Jewish God asked Odin what brushing your teeth had got to do with it.

15. Odin said that every time you brushed your teeth properly, you killed thousands of bacteria. Did Buddha approve of that?

16. Allah said he should ask him. He was sitting right behind him.

17. The chairgod said they should know by now that it was no use trying to get anything out of Buddha. He never spoke. The most he ever did was smile a little. He thought he might be smiling a little now.

18. The Jewish God said you couldn't tell the difference. It reminded him of the story of the short-sighted rabbi who meets a statue and says...

19. Orpheus said he had a bone to pick with Allah. Ever since he had mentioned "Onwards Christian Soldiers", that damned tune had got into his brain and he could not get it out. Did anyone know an infallible method of getting a tune off your brain?

20. The chairgod said that in hardly a minute they had gone from the Catholic/Muslim interface via brushing your teeth to how to forget a tune.

21. The Jewish God said he wasn't surprised. They were much more interesting topics. It reminded him of the rabbi who meets an encyclopaedia salesman...

More of this some other time

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