Two gods go to war

'The Quaker God said he saw nothing at all godlike in smiting, bashing and war. Buddha smiled slightly, but Mars made a very rude noise'
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The Independent Online

TO WAR

The gods are getting worried, according to the most recent press release from the United Deities. (This is the all-party congress of all the main gods, past and present, who get together regularly to survey the way the world is going.) Yes, they are worried about the war against Iraq – but their worries are not quite what you might expect. As a service to mankind, I bring you a precis of what the supreme beings were thinking last week.

The gods are getting worried, according to the most recent press release from the United Deities. (This is the all-party congress of all the main gods, past and present, who get together regularly to survey the way the world is going.) Yes, they are worried about the war against Iraq – but their worries are not quite what you might expect. As a service to mankind, I bring you a precis of what the supreme beings were thinking last week.

1) The chairgod said the first item on the agenda was, as usual, to find out if the Jewish God and the Christian God were any nearer to a merger.

2) The Jewish God said: "Nearer? Nearer than what?"

3) The Christian God said: "It would take a miracle to achieve a merger."

4) The Jewish God said: "Miracles? Then go ahead and do a miracle." He thought the Christian God could do miracles. So, do a miracle! What was the problem?

5) The Christian God said that the Jewish God was the problem. There was no point in doing a miracle for someone who refused to recognise a miracle when he saw it. The Jewish God said: "Name me a miracle I didn't recognise." The Christian God said: "How about the Messiah?" The Jewish God said, come on, he could do better than that...

6) The chairgod said, OK, OK, he got the picture and he would hastily move on to Item Two, which was about alien visits to the Planet Earth. As everyone knew, it was permitted for gods to take human form occasionally and go among humans. This had been so from earliest times. The Christian God had done it and before him Zeus had done it...

7) And not always as a human, interrupted Zeus. He personally had adopted various other guises, including, notably, becoming a bull to seduce the nymph Europa, and he could thoroughly recommend the bull disguise as a seduction technique – if anyone wanted any advice...

8) Not now, said the chairgod. What was important now was to establish that the standard of disguise adopted by gods for their visits to Earth was slipping. Gods took so little trouble over their disguises that people on Earth often took them for aliens, and were starting to believe that people from other worlds really had landed.

9) He drew their attention to the code of conduct governing gods' visits (eg not more than five gods on earth at any one time, etc) and passed on to Item Three, which was the forthcoming war against Iraq. Many early Mesopotamian deities had expressed anxiety over the possible desecration of their holy places, which would be caused by military activities in Iraq.

10) The chairgoddess of the sub-committee in charge of holy places, invited to comment, said that she knew and he knew and everyone knew that holy places did not exist as such. A "holy" place was a place designated as such by a god's followers, and no god should let himself be taken in by it. To call a church the "House of God" was a piece of nonsense, a sentimental metaphor unworthy of a god, was it not?

11) The Christian God agreed to this, without much enthusiasm.

12) The chairgod said it was time to move on to Item Four, a private motion moved by a Mexican god, to the effect that the sooner the war against Iraq started, the better for all. Perhaps the Mexican god could explain this?

13) Certainly, said the Mexican deity, who gave his name as Quetzalcoatl. He pointed out that religious belief among humans was always stronger in times of war, when people had more to pray about, more worries, more dangers. He thought that a fully fledged war against Iraq would bring people back to the churches and back to a proper dependence on deities, through fear and terror.

14) This was a dodgy line of thought, opined the God of the Quakers. He realised he would always be in a minority for saying so, but he saw nothing very manly or even godlike in smiting and bashing. Peace was surely preferable to war, and anything better than violence? He called on Buddha to back him here.

15) Buddha, who had never said anything in any of these meetings, was seen to smile slightly. Mars, god of war, made a very rude noise.

16) To keep the peace, the chairgod pointed out that Quetzalcoatl was the god who had brought the gift of chocolate to mankind. It would be nice, said the chairgod, if he could bring the gods some chocolate now, as this might be a long session.

More of this tomorrow.

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