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Miles Kington Remembered: The Lord thy God is a little liable to fly off the handle

15 July 2003

It's about time we paid another visit to the United Deities, the celestial gathering of gods which monitors humans. Here are the minutes of part of their most recent meeting.

1. The chairgod said that, as usual, he would kick off the proceedings by inquiring if there had been any sign of a rapprochement between the Jewish and Christian gods.

2. The Jewish god said: Why should he and the Christian god be singled out for this constant interrogation? If gods had privacy laws, and sometimes he thought it would be a good idea, wouldn't this constitute an invasion of privacy? Why not go ask the Hindu gods and Buddha if they have a merger plan?

3. The chairgod asked if any Hindu god would like to comment on a merger with Buddhism.

4. The Jewish god said that wasn't what he meant and the chairgod knew it. He was not by nature an angry god, but if he were, this would be a good time to let off steam.

5. The Christian god said that he seemed to remember in the Old Testament there was a bit about "The Lord thy god is an angry god", or maybe it was "wrathful" or "vengeful" – anyway, the Old Testament gave the plain impression that Jehovah was liable to fly off the handle.

6. The Jewish god said, well, so what if he was.

7. The Christian god said he had just said he wasn't an angry god, but maybe he was, and a little self-knowledge was a good thing for a god to practise.

8. The Jewish god said he knew when someone was trying to wind him up.

9. A Mayan deity said he had always got the impression that the Jewish religion was all in favour of tolerance and acceptance and wryness and a resigned shrug of the shoulders, and that rabbis even told funny stories.

10. The Jewish god said this was very true, and it reminded him of a Jewish tailor getting married who found he didn't have enough material to make himself a wedding suit, so he went to the rabbi...

11. The Christian god said they all knew this story already, and could they please move on?

12. There was no point being jealous, said the Jewish god. Jewish stories were famous for being clever, philosophical and funny. What were Christian stories famous for? Was there even such a thing? When someone said, "I heard a good Christian story the other day", could it mean anything? Unless it was about the Pope, of course.

13. The chairgod said he was sorry he had ever brought up the topic of a Jewish-Christian merger, and he would never do it again, unless it was a very dull meeting.

14. He would now like to move on to the next item on the agenda, the appointment of gay bishops in the Church of England. Did anyone have anything to say?

15. An unidentified Greek god said that as all ancient Greek philosophers had been gay, he didn't see what the fuss was about.

16. The Anglican god said he would try to explain the situation.

17. Hold on, hold on, said the Egyptian god Thoth. He could never make out how many Christian gods there were. They had just heard from someone called the Christian god. Now they had an Anglican god. He had also encountered the Catholic god, a Methodist god, a Christian Revivalist god and a Christian Science god. How many gods could there be in a monotheistic religion, for Pete's sake? It was like the UK having four different national football teams.

18. As many as you like, said the chairgod. It had been agreed years ago that it was unfair on monotheistic beliefs if they were limited to one god, as they were then at a disadvantage to beliefs with a huge cast of characters such as Hinduism, North American native beliefs, the old Greek gods and so on. Therefore Christianity was allowed to have sectional gods to represent aspects of Christian belief.

19. The Jewish god said that he was quite happy to soldier on alone in defence of Jewish beliefs.

20. Not necessary, came a voice which turned out to belong to a Liberal, Reformed Jewish god. He would be happy to represent forward-looking Jewish opinion.

21. Oy vey, said the Jewish god. Now we have trouble. Maybe he would merge with Christianity at that. Anything to get away from advanced Jewish opinion.

22. The chairgod said perhaps they would move on to the next item on the agenda, which was blasphemy, in the light of the man who had just been sentenced to life imprisonment in Pakistan.

More of this some other time.