Yesterday we eavesdropped on the United Deities, the forum of all gods past and present, and found that they were discussing the pros and cons of the World Cup. Let's stay with them for a while and see if they can teach us anything more ...
1. Allah, who had not spoken in the debate so far, said he was surprised that the gods should be discussing something so trivial as sport.
2. The Jewish God said he would surprise Allah by agreeing with him. Judaism had always been a fairly sports-free religion. He could not remember any mention of sporting events in the Old Testament. Nor in the New, come to that. What had sports got to do with religion?
3. Well, said the chairgod, there was always the theory that sport was a harmless substitute for war. It was striking that sports supporters painted themselves with war paint, waved flags and shouted chants, just like warriors.
4. Yes, said Thor, Norse god of thunder, but they did not actually kill anyone. What was the point of having a substitute for war? War was great! War was noble! Sport was not noble.
5. Loki said that Thor was only saying that because he was rotten at sport. Whenever Loki had got involved with Thor's competitions against the giants, the giants had always won. Did Thor remember the time the giants had challenged Thor to drain a drinking horn at one draught, and no matter how hard Thor had drunk, the level had hardly changed in the horn?
6. Which was because the giants had put the other end of the horn in the sea and Thor was actually trying to drink the sea?
7. And hadn't even noticed the funny taste?
8. Thor said he would like to strangle Loki stone dead for bringing up that old episode.
9. Loki said that as they were both immortal, it might be a waste of time strangling him. Thor stormed noisily out of the meeting.
10. Zeus said he was surprised that Allah and the Jewish God thought sport had nothing to do with religion. In the days of the Greek gods, divine competition was non-stop. For instance, there had been intense betting on which of the three goddesses Paris would award the apple to, which had led to the Trojan War, on which there was also intense betting.
11. Intense interference, too, said his wife, Hera. The gods were always trying to affect the outcome of the battle. Poseidon was the worst. He was always trying to sink the Greek navy to help the Trojans. Maybe he had a lot of money riding on the result.
12. Poseidon said he could not remember now why he had been so keen to see the Greeks defeated. He could, however, remember trying to sink Odysseus on his way home because Odysseus had blinded his son, Polyphemus.
13. So many sons and daughters! exclaimed the Jewish God. He said that as far as he could gather, the Greek gods and goddesses had had so many offspring that it was impossible for the old heroes to go five yards without encountering some divine bastard. When Hercules encountered the giant Antaeus, and caused his death by lifting him off the ground, which gave him all his strength, was not Antaeus another son of Poseidon?
14. Poseidon agreed, but asked them not to forget that Hercules was also a son of Zeus.
15. Zeus said he remembered saying to Poseidon that his son could beat his son with one hand tied behind his back. Poseidon had been furious when Antaeus lost.
16. Poseidon said Antaeus had not just lost. He had died as well. No wonder he had been cross.
17. Zeus said Poseidon had always been a bad loser. Poseidon swore and stormed out of the debate.
18. Oy weh, said the Jewish God, which he explained was an expression meaning that his head was hurting and could they change the subject, please.
17. Zeus said Poseidon had always been a bad loser.
18. Poseidon swore and stormed out of the debate.
19. Oy weh, said the Jewish God, which he explained was an expression meaning that his head was hurting and could they change the subject, please.
20. Willingly, said the chairgod, and perhaps before everyone stormed out of the debate, they could move on to consideration of the forthcoming goddesses' tea party, to which all were invited.
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