This story doesn’t exactly illustrate the principle of not apologising for the things about which we feel passionate, but it’s close enough (just don’t tell God).
‘Well,’ said God, ‘what is it you can’t live without, because I’m thinking maybe I could take it away from you.’
‘God Almighty, why would you do that?’ I said, not having had many conversations with Jehovah and being a little uncertain about how to address him.
‘Well, you know. It’s important to me, what with my fragile ego and all, that nothing takes my place in your affections. Those things that you say you couldn’t live without could very well come between us.’
‘I see,’ I said.
‘And besides,’ God said, ‘I sometimes like to let a person be deprived of everything they hold dear, just to make sure they still believe in me.’
Now it happens I’d once read the story of Job in the Bible so I knew to tread carefully with this particular deity. So I told him first of all that I couldn’t live without Facebook and Twitter. Lo and behold, they instantly disappeared from my life! I was lucky, I guess, that Jehovah wasn’t as omniscient as he liked to claim. He didn’t suspect that it’s really reading I’d find it hard to be without: books, comics, magazines; anything with words, even the ones passed off as God’s own, even though they’re not.
‘Next!’ demanded the Almighty. So I told him of my love for Adele and Rihanna and all those other modern girl singers. And just like that, he removed them from my life too. This didn’t involve too much effort on his part seeing as I didn’t have any of their recordings to begin with. This left me with all the other music in my life – all that potent, cheap music from the sixties, seventies and eighties, which truly I would find it hard to live without.
This was getting trickier. I wanted to keep my family, especially my children and grand-children. Poor old Job was deprived of his – but what to tell God instead? ‘What I really love,’ I said, thinking on my feet, ‘is people who ring me up claiming to be from my bank when they’re not, or try to sell me solar panelling I don’t want or grants for boilers I don’t qualify for. ‘With a word – which sounded very much like ‘poof!’ – everyone in call centres everywhere vanished not only from my life but from the entire world.
‘Right,’ said the Lord, a little too smugly for my liking, ‘we’ve eliminated Facebook and Twitter, girl singers and people on the phone. What else can’t you live without that I should deprive you of?’
‘I’m inordinately fond of wires,’ I fibbed, ‘especially ones that tangle themselves up of their own accord.’ Which of course is all of them.
‘Done!’ said God. ‘They’re gone.’ And then, being careful to avoid mentioning friends I wouldn’t want to live without, I said, ‘I love getting pizza menus through the door, even though I’ve never, ever considered ordering a pizza delivery in my entire life. It’s so thoughtful of whoever it is who thinks I need them in their dozens.’ ‘Well,’ said God, ‘I’d say there are far too many things in your life you love more than me, and I’m more than happy to remove them. No more pizza menus for you.’ And he chuckled to himself.
‘You know, God,’ I said, not wanting to tip him off to the final thing I couldn’t live without, ‘I’d say that religion is the most important thing in my life. Definitely couldn’t live without that.’
Really though, I thought to myself, what no-one can live without – quite literally – as those poor souls with AIDS have discovered, is the human immune system. It’s the only thing keeping the outside out and the inside safe. Even Job, who was inflicted with all manner of diseases, relied on his immune system to survive Jehovah’s unwanted attentions.
God didn’t need to be told twice. He zapped all religion from the world and with it, he too vanished up his own fundamentalism.
And everyone live happily ever after, especially me.