If You Could Rid The Earth Of One Thing What Would It Be? (Frankie – 2008)
(This piece appeared as part of a writing exercise on the above topic in Frankie magazine.)
I decided to rid the earth of religion. The exact process was mysterious, involved a lot of forms and tickled a bit. I was led into a secret basement beneath Frankie HQ with multicoloured moss, posters of bands from 2034 and the faint smell of caramel popcorn. I was put through a ‘thought sorter’ which was like a personal Gravitron where I could see my mindscapes like fireworks. Some guys in hoodies came and stamped something onto my leg with a fluro typewriter. I was sat down at a desk and given a pen by a beautiful archangel in a petticoat. She had ruby eyes and an inbuilt theremin. I read the fine print and signed off on religion forever. The archangel smiled and we ate crumpets. She said I’d have to restart myself for the effects to take place. I took a lift back to land, caught a taxi home, and fell asleep in a beanbag.
I woke up and got on the Internet. It was strange. I looked up ‘bible’ and Wikipedia said it was the world’s best selling piece of fiction by ‘anonymous.’ The Pope was an ‘entertainer,’ and typing ‘Christian’ into Google got me a Christian Slater fansite. I stepped outside and went down the street to my local church. The stained glass windows had turned clear, and there was a beer garden outside. I rang my Mother and asked her who Jesus was and she sounded confused. ‘He led the roman’s I think.’ For days I dragged a methodical comb over society, trying to gauge the effects I’d induced. At first the signs were obvious – all the worship temples around the world had been transformed into marketplaces, pubs and libraries. All religious scriptures were now ‘Penguin Classics.’ On Sunday mornings people gathered in parks and had something between a town meeting and a counseling session. They weren’t so bad. There were sausages and a few laughs.
After five or so years I read a startling fact in the paper. Apparently depression rates and suicide had risen dramatically over the last five years. The experts blamed global warming and David Letterman being cancelled. My decision hadn’t done much to ease global tension, and civil wars were still bubbling away over oil, nuclear weapons and soccer.
The next morning God appeared. Actual God. Turns out he/she did exist. God didn’t make a huge entry. Just turned up in the corner of every living room on the planet simultaneously, and proceeded to introduce him/herself. God was like looking at the rainbow that appears when you’re watering the garden. Pure colours. The idea of a face. Not unlike Tilda Swinton. God was pretty cute. Strangely, people didn’t go berserk or faint or anything like that. God had a very calming, subduing presence, like a hug from a parent. At this time and place it seemed to make sense.
Truth is, no one really knew what to do as they’d never experienced a desire to worship before. God was quite modest and didn’t really want a fuss made, so he/she was just treated as another member of the family. God possessed divine knowledge, and was great for advice, but was diplomatic as well. For example: if you asked about your maths homework, God would often just give you the answer – but when quizzed about why Rwanda happened God gazed off in the distance and ate a banana. Hilarious, intelligent, heart breaking and a little bit nuts – God was the ultimate friend. Sometimes, people got militant about their relationship with God and abused others for failing to love him/her enough. When this got too heated God would zap them with a blue laser and they’d chill out. It was a pretty good system.