The Columnist
  The Gods I
  The Gods II
  The Gods III
The Gods IV
  The Gods VIII
The Gods V
  The Gods VI
  The Gods VII

The Gods

This being Easter Week, it seems an ideal time to bring you a further selection of minutes from the ongoing meeting of the gods, the United Deities. This perpetual get-together in heaven is a sort of celestial version of the United Nations. That is to say, all gods, past and present, are permitted to attend, and to deliver their opinion on the state of the world.  These minutes are taken from the session which took place over this Easter Weekend. . . . 

         1. The chairgod said that after they had keenly observed the progress of the war in Iraq, it was not quite clear what lessons they should draw from it. Had the fundamentalist god of President Bush been the victor? Had the Islamic god of Saddam Hussein been the loser? If Allah was almighty, could anyone explain the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims ? If all religions expressly forbade killing, then how come so many people had died in the war?

         2. Zeus, a wily old Greek god, said that the one thing the chairgod should do was not take it all to heart. He had obviously let the stress of the war in Iraq get to him. This was a mistake. Wars did not prove or disprove anything. There was never any war in history in which any god had ever been the loser or the victor. The only losers and winners were humans.

         3. The chairgod said, what about the Crusades? That was a straight fight between the Christian God and the Muslim God, was it not?

         4. Allah said, Oh, pu-leese!

         5. The Christian god said, For heaven's sake!

         6. There was general laughter.

         7. Mars, Roman god of war, said that people might laugh, but what worried him about the war in Iraq, and several other recent wars, was the assumption that whoever won, the important bit was rebuilding the infrastructure afterwards. What was all this about? What was all this namby pamby urge to rebuild everything?

         8. What, come to that, was this infrastructure business? In the good old Roman days, nobody ever rebuilt any infrastructure. You just knocked down the barbarian buildings, put down a Roman road over whatever had been there before and got on with it. He was afraid that humans were getting soft.

         9. The chairgod said that that would be the day. He said he would like to pass on to the next item on the agenda, which was a brief review of Easter.

         10. The Christian god said he thought Easter was a fairly private business, being a purely Christian affair. He did not think that the Crucifixion and Resurrection of his son were of any relevance to other gods.

         11. The chairgod said that he appreciated that, but that if you looked at the celebration of Easter on earth, it was hard to spot any attention being paid to the Crucifixion and Resurrection. For instance, someone had passed him the cover of the current Radio Times, a popular British magazine, which proclaimed the word "Easter" proudly, but which showed a lot of sunshine and some baby chickens and nothing about Easter in a Christian sense.

         12. The Christian god said he much regretted the modern tendency to consumerise Easter, but that it could hardly be blamed on him. The Easter message was a tough message of death and redemption. Was it his fault if humans sentimentalised it?

         13. An unnamed Aztec god said that the Christian god was being disingenuous in the extreme. Everyone knew that the iconography of Christianity was the most cuddly and sentimental in history. You might talk about crosses and crucifixion, but the reality was bunny rabbits, and chocolate eggs, and Father Christmas, and Christmas stockings.\

         14. The nearest that Easter got to the reality of the cross these days was in having hot cross buns. It was disgraceful. No other religion had let itself go like that. Did Islam have cuddly camels? Did Hinduism wallow in woolly elephants? No. Well, then. Why was Christianity the only religion that let itself go so badly?

         15. The chairgod asked the Christian god if he had anything to say. The Christian god said he sensed that the spirit of the gathering was against him at the moment and he would bide his time.

         16. The chairgod sighed and said he would pass on to an item concerning clamping in the celestial chariot park.
         More of this some other time.

 the issue of Easter Monday Apr 21 03