"But have you ever spoken to God?" she asked. Leaning on the question.
"Sure, lots of times." came the reply she did not want to hear.
She raised a suspicious eyebrow. She braced herself. "But if that's true, how can you be so... "
"Angry?" again, the quick reply came and she did not care for it.
"Well yeah. Angry. You say you talk to God and yet you are just about the most outspoken person against Him that I've ever met. What's your deal?"
I grinned. I resisted admitting having spoken to several of the gods, actually, because our conversation was about her God and hers alone. This was not the time to further confuse things. I repeated her question: "What's my deal?"
"Yeah. Don't you know that God loves you? Don't you know that you are perfect in His eyes and that as long as you know that, nothing can hurt you?"
Wow. That was a stretch. I knew what she meant but it was too far for me to sit through. "We both know that's crap. I could have ten thousand plastic Jesuses in my car and die in a fiery train wreck tomorrow. Just 'knowing' that God is there and that we're friends isn't enough in this big, mean world."
She sighed heavily. I let up a little. "Look, it's not enough to just 'know' that the great, invisible grand-daddy is up there grinning on all the good stuff. That guy, if he's the only guy up there, has to be grinning at all the bad stuff too. Or at least part of it. And I just can't stomach that. That's why He and I had to break up, you know? It's like how I want my folks to be proud of me for what I accomplish, and I want them to help me work through the times when I'm a dumbass. BUT I also want to be proud of them and I won't let them off the hook if they're being dumbasses. You see?"
Her face was red now. "But God isn't like that. God is everything and everywhere and just saying that you don't agree with some of the things that happen doesn't mean that God isn't out there. You HAVE to acknowledge that."
"No, not really, I don't. It seems like this place is run more by a team of professionals who are still kindof making it all up as they go along. I don't see the single hand of one mighty allfather down here, it looks more like a drunken focus group, most of whom are really tired of the project but keep at it for the benefits and the holiday parties." She was getting tired of my storytelling.
"Now you're just being an asshole." That was blunt.
"Ouch. Well, I guess so. But I have that right. I have the right to stand on the ground down here and shake my fist at the sky and grit my teeth at whatever it is that makes it okay for people to be burned alive by their brothers or husbands or mothers. For young children to be raped and tortured to death in THIS very country. I reserve the right to give that higher power the middle finger for this oil spill monstrosity. I am totally within my legal bounds to absolutely freeze out whatever it is out there that says that bad things happening to good people is all part of the big fat plan so just get used to it already." Now it was my turn to show a red face. She was silent for a moment.
"And what if you're wrong?"
"Well, then I'll own it. I'm happy to be wrong. I'm quite good at it. Been being wrong for years. It's an innate talent of mine. When it's time, I'll sit down at the table with one or two or all of them across from me and they... sorry, He will ask me what's been up my ass all this time and I'll tell the truth. I'll say it sucks. I'll say it's not fair and it sucks and it's a dumb idea and I don't like it and I'll say that I don't have to like it. I'll say that I lived my life in spite of it all, and that I tried every day to be good to the people around me, to live as an example of the kind of person I wish the whole world was filled with, and I'll tell Him that my time wasn't wasted even if it was supposed to have been. I'll tell Him that I was a better person without Him."
"And then what do you expect?"
"Well, that's not for us to know, is it? If it's just the one of them up there, He might be the good boss and put me in the lunch room to work off my smart mouth for a few centuries. He might snuff me plumb out of existence. He might give me a great big bear hug and apologize and offer me a tuna sandwich and some tea and then we'd go play dominoes with Buddah and Zoroaster in the golden fields. I don't know. I'm not worried about it because I can't control what He does. I can control what I do. And that's why I do what I do and say what I say. I can decide to be what I consider a good person. To hell with Him who Is and says shit else about anything."
"You are a lonely, sad person."
"Yeah. I guess. Sometimes more than other times. Probably no more than most people, regardless of what side of the church/temple doors they fall on."
She shook her head. She breathed deeply and tried to shake it off that I was pretty much past due when it comes to being re-flock-able. She handed me the orange trifold pamphlet boasting a beatific, white skinned Jesus on the cover. He pressed his palms together and looked up emploringly at the words at the top of the page. I thanked her for her consideration and for her time and wished her a safe afternoon.
I closed the door as she ticked down the driveway in her tan heels and broom skirt.
"Lonely." I considered the word.
"You guys think I'm lonely?" I asked the gods, gathered interestedly up the staircase and leaning over the bannister in varying angles.
They all shook their heads. Thor air-high-fived me.
"Good. Thanks guys." They smiled. It was time to get back to work.