A week. Seven long days. When in an institution where your life is regimented, it is an eternity. Sleep and the awakening are always at specific times. Meals are bland tasteless commissary foodstuffs prepared by uncaring low paid civil servants. And the food is all from contractors that gave the lowest bid. Indeed, a week can be a mind numbing eternity. The anticipation of the meetings with his psychiatrist and now the high ranking priest are all that made the wait bearable. Without the benefit of the wonder drugs used to destroy the thought processes of the rest of the residents, his wait was indeed, nearly an eternity.
Once again, the walk to the office, the aide, Jake, was withdrawn, his thoughts elsewhere with the pleasures he might obtain at the end of his eight hour imprisonment. The emissary entered the room after the obligatory acknowledgement of the soft rapping on the door. He sat, the room had not changed, but the two that sat there seemed to have. As soon as he was settled, the Monsignor started, "Mr. Marshall, you raised an interesting question last week. Marie and I discussed it at length in the aftermath of our conversation. Let me ask you, do you really believe that whatever it is you're writing, these concepts about the universe from what you claim to be God, do you feel that you can replace the bible, or for that matter, the Quran, the Vedas, the Torah and all other holy works?"
"Replace? Sorry Jake, I'm not sure I understand you. I don't intend to replace anyone's belief in a higher spirit, god if you will. What god is giving to me is a concept, a picture of existence that clarifies what all other prophets in the past have brought to light. What those prophets before me were told was information that at that time and with the limited intellect and, I don't know, maybe let's just say, experiences, that was all they were capable of understanding. Today, with our science, our technology, our diversity, we as humans for the most part still look toward concepts pitched to what were literally goat herders and barely more than grass farmers that had little understanding of the world, the universe and for that matter how having sex resulted in pregnancy. Throw in limited metallurgy and the basics of math and limited ability to even have a written language, those people believed what they were told because it seemed real to them. But then they couldn't even understand why it rained or why if you drank river water downstream from where your cows were taking a crap you got sick. The bible gave them rules to live by. And a basic moral code, slavery and stoning your wife for infidelity included. I'm not trying to tell anyone that those stories shouldn't be a part of our past, those tales of who begat whom and how many wives and slaves whoever had and their struggles with their neighbors. Our past will always be with us, we can't divest ourselves from what has been, but we can learn new things. This is nothing more than a concept that will clarify how we should live, but also why. And what really and truly happens to us after our lives have ended on this planet."
There was a few moments of silence, then Jake began, "Well, Mr. Marshall, I think you have a rather jaded view of the Bible."
"No, I don't." he interrupted. "What is the bible to you Jake. I mean really, summarize the bible for me."
"Well, let me think about that a moment."
"Jake, let me do it for you. The bible is a collection of books and accepted by christian faiths as the authoritative guideline for a system of beliefs regarding man's origins, the ultimate end of individual lives and for societal behaviors while living. The book was not dictated to men by god but is in fact works of many different men and the writings in the book itself tell us that the specific book is in fact the true word of god and that there will never be any others to dispute it. Doesn't that sound about right for a short summary?"
"Well that sounds a little simplistic for such a profound work."
"Jake, that's all we need, a simple summary. Now, last week, I asked you whether or not you thought that what I was trying to do was or wasn't a good idea. Like I said, I'm not trying to dismiss all that you have lived your life by, but to explain that the book that you based your existence on is nothing more than outdated and full of inconsistencies and that all I am doing is providing more information and that we, as a race, have grown sufficiently where we can understand more of the universe. And sadly, now is when we need it more than ever before. Before we destroy our planet, or each other."
The Monsignor sat back in his chair and thought about that for a moment. When he leaned forward he began, "Well I think you're being pretty harsh. Granted the individual books don't always follow exactly each other in the life of Jesus Christ as there are some discrepancies between various books. That in itself isn't enough to dismiss the book in its entirety."
"Jake, I'm not. The bible was written and rewritten over and over again and sure some problems came about. But what I'm saying has nothing to do with all that. What god is telling me is that back then the world was simple, there was less need for anything more sophisticated. Realistically, that was what mankind at that time was capable of understanding. All over the earth men did the same thing that I have done and communicated with god. All over the earth there are creation stories and codes of conduct given to various cultures and each story fits the ability of the people at that time and for those people. Things are a lot different now. Men used to raise animals, farm. A few dug for iron ore and simple smelting was done. Pollution wasn't a problem. Now, what's the thing they talk about? One percent of the population owns ninety percent of the wealth. And they use whatever tactic possible to try and get the other ten percent. It's greed, which is the ultimate expression of the ultimate sin, vanity. And in the drive to own everything, those one percent have forgone caring for Mother Earth. And in reality the virtues that your God of your Bible have given mankind to live by, like charity have gone the wayside as well. The vanity of wanting everything for themselves is contagious, it seems that more and more people strive to acquire all they can at the expense of their brethren and their Mother Earth."
"Mr. Marshall, I think you're being a bit melodramatic. There is a tremendous movement toward conservation today. Certainly there have been accidents, there are accidents everyday on the freeways, does that mean that the drivers of those cars are godless and vain? "
"Monsignor, Jake, please. You are not understanding the information I'm trying to present to you. It isn't that accidents happen, certainly. Even though the big ones, Chernobyl, Bhopal and others were accidents caused by inadequate safety measures simply because it was a cost issue. That's neither here nor there, what this is about is those one percent people that have raped the earth, treated their fellow humans not just poorly but with disdain and in many cases as objects to own, use as they want and discard as needed. And the ultimate result of all that is the rest of the world wants nothing more than to be like those people. Rich. And the path, whether or not the path to the ultimate goal of untold wealth involves anything bad isn't construed as such, it isn't in the bible to treat Mother Earth with respect. And so the drive to achieve more, be more, to be like the rich the wealthy the leaders of entertainment and whoever is top dog in the media circus commands the attention of most everyone and look out world, look out everyone else, the drive to achieve overshadows any concept of not just the need to care for Mother Earth but also biblical ideas of fellowship and brotherhood."
All three sat back and were silent for a few moments. The Doctor was the first to break the silence. "How, hmmm, Mr. Marshall, how important, I mean, well, how we treat the earth I think many people are beginning to see is important. Environmentalists are in the news a lot. But, well, tell us about how, or what god considers about this."
"Doc, that's the ultimate expression of Balance. Remember, our Mother Earth is in fact not just part of Universal Consciousness. It is the Universal Consciousness. Our existence takes place on a part of ourselves. It's not such a difficult concept, if we harm our planet we harm ourselves. That philosophy has been a part of every belief system up until christianity became the dominant system. It has been a part of the messages from god to all of the prophets before me and yet somehow that part was lost when the bible was compiled. Jake, any thoughts on that?"
"Hmmm, Mr. Marshall, you seem to be jumping around a bit in your discussions with us regarding your supposed conversations with God. Today seems to be quite different from previous days. What might be the reason for that now?"
"That's pretty simple Jake, god has told me that you are not liking much nor even understanding what I've been telling you. This is all about taking a different process, one that doesn't so much attempt to destroy your vision of christianity as it has so far. I don't think we were headed anywhere positive, I offended you and gave you information that you refuse to accept and so I thought I would just go with something a bit less obtuse."
"Well Mr. Marshall, you have in fact given me a great deal to think about. And granted the revelations that you told me about an incident in my past was surprising, but not anything to force any sort of reassessment of my faith or my belief in the Holy Bible. Mr. Marshall, Christianity was born out of the New Testament belief that we are saved through our acceptance of Christ Jesus as the Son of God, who paid our sin ransom with his blood. However the inclusion of the New Testament in the canonization of the Bible does not dismiss any portion of the scriptures, and rely simply on that segment of God's Word that fits our purpose. Jesus said, "I have not come into the world to abolish the law, but to fulfill it." At the time of this declaration, the New Testament was not in existence, but its inception would transition us from attempting to gain salvation through obedience to the law. And admittedly, that did not work. Salvation was only granted through the grace and acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The Holy Bible is holistic, we either accept and believe it as a the whole Word of God, or we reject it entirely. God can only speak the truth, therefore what God spoke in the Old Testament remains true in the New Testament, for that was derived from the laws and prophesies of the Old Testament and were referenced consistently by Jesus in his teachings. There might be individual interpretations of certain specific passages that to many seem inconsistent, but most scholarly students of the Holy Bible agree that is in fact due to the manner in which it was translated, which we understand has been done many times. But the actual basic and fundamental concepts within the Bible are unquestionable. There is nothing that your visions of an alternate reality can do to shake my faith."
Another of those all so common pauses began again and the three looked back and forth at each other again and again, until finally the emissary leaned forward to start, "Jake, faith is the most difficult emotion to alter. Throughout history it has been dearly held onto by each and every single person that has ever lived. Not at all the faith that you hold in christianity, but the faith in whatever belief that person has and they are holding dear to themselves. Every single Jew that died in the Holocaust held onto the faith that they would be the one to survive. Slaves shackled to racks in the dark dank holds of ships believed that they would survive the Atlantic voyage and that they wouldn't still be slaves at the end. The absolute rationality of their hope and faith was that those slavers wouldn't stick them there and feed them a tiny bit only to have them ultimately die. They had faith they would survive. And probably good old Hitler had his faith that his god was behind him and he was pursuing the correct and wondrous path of his own weird personal belief that had so far led him to attempt to achieve being master of the world, right up to the end. Everyone has faith Jake, From the faith that the sun will rise tomorrow to the faith of the rich and famous that they somehow deserve their ability to be better than any one and every one else. Often times misplaced, but always Jake, always there is faith."
"Are you equating my faith in my God and of the Holy Bible with that of Hitler's obsession or the plight of slaves? I don't see how you can do such a despicable thing. My faith is in something pure and good Mr. Marshall. I'm offended by your accusation."
He sat staring at the Monsignor for several minutes with one arm raised, tapping the air. "No, it's not an accusation. It's a comparison. Probably an excellent one. You have faith, and will hold onto it dearly until, well, until you find out for sure, whether or not it was faith well placed."
"Do you mean when I die?"
"That, Jake, is the ultimate affirmation that your faith was indeed, well placed."
"I have no fears Mr. Marshall, my faith is unfaltering."
"Jake, as has been the faith of everyone since time began. Let's try something else. When you die, I think we all know what you believe. But here's the question, where is Heaven?"
The Monsignor looked a bit puzzled, perhaps it was the change in tactics. After but a moment he seemed composed, "Well on that, there is still some controversy. Scriptures aren't exact here, there is no defining description of Heaven, And in a modernist world view the concept of Heaven is an expression of the confluence of time and space. It is generally accepted that Heaven means wherever God is. And Jesus said, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' meaning that..." Jake stopped talking and stared at the emissary.
"Isn't that what I've been saying Jake?"
Once again, the three sat, speechless. Concepts of Heaven, Earth, God and man are intransient concepts with defining features given each observer. Finally the Monsignor spoke again, "Well, you have me there. From what I've heard you tell us, there are similarities. That's all I can say for now. Your overall concept is absurd, you can't speak to God." he said with finality.
Once again the emissary stood, and this time he shook hands with the Monsignor. "Thank you Jake, it was a good discussion. Remember that the purpose of you being here is not for you to understand what I have to say, but for me to understand how to present what I have to say to the whole world. In that aspect, today was well received. Good day to you both, I look forward to next week." And he walked to the door just as Jake the aide knocked softly on it.