"How did you get here?"
"Well, was looking for an online date."
"And?" asked a majestic Archangel Gabriel with a quizzical look that filled my 42" plasma monitor.
"Well, typed in my favorite singles dating site 'Gates of Heaven.org,' when my DOG jumped up on my lap, waggin' his tail, and dustin' some keys, which keys I knew not."
"And how did you get by our password protection and satanically-hot Firewall?"
"Well, got me. Just played with my lap happy dancing dog and his tail and 'bingo' you popped up on my plasma. Nothing to do with passwords here. God knows I have trouble remembering all these damn, ah -- excuse me, earthly passwords."
"Humh... Lap dancing happy tail, your dog, and my God... maybe a trans-positional problem in encryption. We will have to have St. Matthew, our computer tech, fix this glitch, but he's out playing volleyball with Confucius right now, so this fix will have to be later in eternity."
"Is this really Archangel Gabriel?"
"Yes, but, if you know my rep, I don't think you ought to ask me to prove it. We have been sending you earthlings enough catastrophic messages expressing our displeasure over your treatment of one of our precious pearls. And, unfooorrrtunatelly, more messages are on the way."
"That's one of the things I'd kinda like to talk to God about."
"You get through to me on a once in a gazillion heavenly fluke, and now you want to conference with God? That's doggone godly good," as Gabriel punctuates his words with the slightest of smirky smiles.
"Mom always said, 'If you don't ask, you'll never know.'"
"Your mom says that up here too. As they say on your blue pearl, you are very lucky to 'hang with' good dogs and golden moms."
"Yes, I've learned that much. So, is it possible to talk... ah, conference with God?"
"Here, as you know, everything is possible. It all depends on what God feels would be most beneficial to do at any given time in his everlasting day. Well, as usual, he's listening in. Here comes one of the clouds that he often hangs from and, as you are presently wont to say, streams and skypes through... Ah, perhaps you ought to start with something light, to see if he feels like conversing with you."
As a luminous, whitish cloud filled my monitor, a jovial voice boomed from my Harmon/Kardon speakers, "So young earthling, I see from your vitae that you have done radio talk shows. Here's your chance to do what you practice below on the universe's most powerful frequency high above the clouds you think you know," chuckled the god-like facial images that covered most of the jingly cloud while morphing into different skin colors, sexes, and jovial though scary looks.
"God, some of my earthly friends are concerned, because I'm not going to church anywhere nearly as much as I did when I was younger."
"Yes." God softly booms as I perceive what sounds like a chuckle, "Are you concerned about your attendance card?"
"Just how important is it that I go to church and pray to you a lot more?"
God's cloud jiggles a bit as I hear him say amidst his chuckle, "Wondering about your demerit card now? Let's see..."
Then his cloud turns to a 3D flashing view through the galaxies until it focuses in on our myopic blue-green earth. "If I remember correctly, among the galaxies and universes I threw together, on earth we've planted those religious stories that revolve around Christ, Mohammed, Krishna, Confucius, etc. And you were mostly exposed to the teachings of Jesus. Incidentally, how do you like the depictions of Jesus portrayed on our cloud-based monitors?"
"They are wonderful, but they all tend to look different."
"Of course, do you think I am limited by the stories I can have my creatures make up about my work throughout my universe? And limited by the physical features I can bestow on my heroes and heroines?
"If they weren't different, you wouldn't have choices to make. If you didn't have choices to make, we couldn't assess the goodness of the choices you make. The choices you make, determine the actions you undertake. The goodness of the actions you take in the limited time you have determines whether Gabriel opens what you earthlings perceive and describe as the Pearly Gates, which some of you expect and pray for in the progression of what you know as life."
The God cloud rollicks back and forth and a chuckling sound emanates as the God-like voice adds, "Do you understand the logic of that? Understand where the quality of your action and choices may logically lead in what you earthlings conclude may be Judgment Day?"
As Gabriel interjects, "God is asking what he already knows to try to impress on you earthlings the importance of logic in determining what you do. Obviously, he has been 'concerned of late' over how little you earthlings have been using the gift of logic he bestowed upon you, as well as all the research tools from learned scientists, philosophers, thinkers, and writers conveyed through books, textbooks, internets, Googles, and the organic and luminescently encased Apples He's let flower upon your planet."
"So," the powerful but gentle voice boomed from the morphing God cloud, "young man with the loving dog with the lap dancing magically wagging tail, let me ask you a few Buddhaesque questions.
"Look into the distance beyond this cloud at the wonders of my galaxies, the brilliant colors and life teaming in my evolving universe. Do you think that in all this I have limited myself to creating sentient life only on your Earth? "
"It would seem rather limiting for you, sir. So, I figure you could have splattered lots of life throughout your universe."
"And do you think I am limited in making that sentient life look like you self-proclaimed evolved humans, so many of whom are dedicated to primping and preening?"
"Sir, with all that space out there I reckon you could make life look like all those I see in Star Wars and Star Trek and more."
"Good deduction funny-looking white male earthling," chuckles God, as his cloud rollicks a bit. And a picture of Buddha rubbing his tummy evolves.
"Consequently, do you think that I am more concerned tallying the time you spend in church, mosque, temple, etc., chanting, praying and repeating words than I am with the time you spend doing good to and with the other sentient beings with which I have populated your blue pearl?"Look at my action-oriented, less patient than I, Gabriel. He observes the nonsensical talk, continued environmental defiling, climate disasters, hungry people, and stupid wars too often promulgated on my blue-green pearl? Should I acquiesce in his call for raging action?"
To avoid an answer, I ask. "Kneeling before statues counts a lot less than trying to do good where needs exist?"
"Gabriel, did you hear that? An earthling asks through a rhetorical question a reasoned, logical deduction," as God's clouds moves toward the left on my monitor and a picture reminiscent of Rodin's thinker appears -- pondering what we doth do.
"Yes, Lord. As you so often say 'There is always hope.'"
"Sir, could I raise another earthly religious issue?"
"Proceed, Earth boy."
"Does it matter what religious banner one prays under?"
"Ah, we are back to the logic behind 'choices.' On earth, you were raised under one of its largest religion, Christianity, where, as in other earthly religions, its teachings warn its followers that 'pride' is often touted as the deadliest sin, the precursor to all other, what Christians define as, mortal sins. Some of your philosophers refer to it as the mother of all sins. Correct?"
"That's how I was taught to understand it from catechism books, sermons, nuns, priests, Jesuit teachers."
"And some of your philosophers and religious historians and story tellers have me casting Lucifer out of heaven because he committed the sin of pride, correct?"
"That was one of the stories I was told."
"Yes, I know," God mused.
And while God's cloud seemed to smile, Gabriel interjected. "So, Mr. Young Earthling, with almost all earthly religions castigating an overabundance of pride as sinful, do you think it would be fair of God to let his poker-playing buddies play some head games throughout his universe of sentient beings as well as on the righteous and self-righteous populating his little Earth?"
"God has poker-playing buddies?"
"Sure, and chess-playing buddies too," Gabriel responds.
"Would I know them?"
"Some of the earthly ones you should know -- Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, Galileo, Einstein, Gandhi, Martin Luther, Mother T" as well as the likes of some of your three lettered luminaries like FDR, IKE, JFK, MLK, RFK."
"They are just fun games?"
"From some of these fun games come the brain-twisters that make life a challenge for you sentient beings, which God has scattered through his billions of galaxies that make up his multi-universes and what you call Black Holes."
"And do you think God is limited to having stories on those places limited to what you earthlings know as Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Sikhism?"
"Being 'All powerful,' reckon God is not limited to anything."
"So you accept the belief that God could, on another place in his vast universe, create a religion called JoeBobism? Founded by a character named Billy Joe Bob, who is a bearded, homeless banjo player, prone to epileptic fits, with a gimp leg, crossed eye and screechy voice, who emits guttural songs that implore people to try to live better, more useful lives? And his followers there might be called JoeBobians or JoeBobists."
"Yes. Reckon he could create that somewhere in his galaxies."
"And the stories in the Book of JoBobists could be a lot different from those inherent in Christianity's Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita , or etc., espoused on your tiny planet? And God could have a gang of Joe Bob's friends roam their planet and make up their own rhythmical songs to convey generally good ideas on how to live a good life?"
"Yes. He could plant whatever stories He wanted through the beings He created in the religions He planted or let others create them for him. According to how I was taught, God can do anything he damn well, ah, excuse me, God can do anything He wants."
"Sometimes, God often watches in bemusement as his poker and chess playing buddies create religions and the stories in them as part and parcel of the tests -- the practice fields. He wants to watch you run through this finite testing ground you all call life. He wants to see whether you play hard -- but fairly; what you will do on the field to those who share the game field with you; how those blessed with more refined skills, better equipment, and richer lands engage those with little or less of life's comforts."
"You mean God creates differing religions to test us?""Or would God smile more to see you helping those creatures he made who are in need of earthly help?
Leaning forward into the monitor, Gabriel states, "What better way to test beings on the sin of pride than to assess how vain gloriously certain they are that their way is the one and only way. How lacking in logic and just plain silly is it to believe that in all his majesty God is limited to not testing his creations even in how they self-righteously interpret religion?
"And how incongruently silly is it to believe that one who creates all this needs or commands people to pray to him in front of statues. Does God need your prayers to feel better? To do whatever he chooses?
"Might God have created a perfect universe and let you evolve into it to see if your additions to it would make you worthy of doing whatever is next in it?
"What do you believe counts more on God's Report Card?
"A Christian spending hours praying in front of a gold plated Crucifix or spending those hours working with ghetto kids or struggling farmers on activities, skills, education, and insight building that will allow them to evolve and build opportunities into their future?
"A hardened Islamists praying five times a day for Jihad or one who works to rebuild his neighbors' homes destroyed by war?
"A roaming monk who has peasants delivering their food to him as he sits in a cool shady cave carved by the poor during a hot summer or one working in the fields to better a subsistence peasant's life?
"With God, what do you think speaks louder? Words, mumbled prayers, or actions?" Gabriel asks, and then continues. "God's saying 'Doing good,' is much more important than talking about good deeds or praying that someone else do them.
"Yes, and God reminds you daily in his human design, but so many of you are so slow to learn from the obvious."
"In our 'human design'?" I ask about Gabriel's choice of words.
"We gave you at least eight parts -- mind, ears, eyes, nose, arms, hands, legs, feet -- all designed to create, build, do. We gave you another part, the mouth, to help move the doing forward. But too many of you use the mouth to just talk. Repeatedly mumbling prayers without what you earthlings call "Walking the talk' under-utilizes your mouth. Such under-performance with one of God's gifts is lamentable."
"Yes, indeed lamentable." God interjected. "The religions you name on earth as Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, etc., they all have the right words for living heavenly lives on one of my many spinning jewels, but so many of you don't live the words that the pristine atmosphere I bestowed upon you deserves.
"Gabriel," God chuckles, "since this lad got through your vaunted encryption code thanks to an animal on earth transposed as a reference to me," God chuckles again and this time the cloud creates an image of not a muscular God but a jovial one with a beer belly and happy hands tapping on it in cadence with his words; "reward him by letting him chat with you whenever he wants.
"I'm going to beam around my universe now, young man" Remember, "Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.
"Try to get better at doing that and get more of your earthly friends, a lot more, involved in doing the same."
With that God's cloud became another sheet of beautiful and zoomed away.