The Wages Of Sin – How The Economic Downturn Affected God In His Heaven
The year is 2008. It’s a lovely sunny morning in heaven, as it always is, and God is sitting in his study. He is at his computer, but looking wistfully out of the window. Presently, Saint Matthew walks into the room, laden down with ledgers which he drops onto the desk in front of God.
God : Oh dear. Is it that time of year again?
Matthew : Afraid so Lord. I wish I was bringing you Good News, but I’m not.
God : Do you have to make that “Gospel” joke every time we do this Matthew. It’s starting to wear a bit thin.
Matthew : Sorry Lord, but it’s actually a fact this time. There have been some worrying financial developments.
God : Worrying financial developments? Remind me again Mr Tax Collector, why did I allow money into Heaven in the first place?
Matthew : Well, Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And I pointed out that “the eye of a needle” was in fact a nick name of a particularly narrow street in Jerusalem. A street through which a camel can pass quite comfortably if it isn’t too heavily laden. Hence a rich man can get into heaven if he has used some of his wealth for good. So you agreed that money was a useful tool and fine as long as you didn’t hoard it
God : So you convinced me on a technicality then?
Matthew : Yes Lord
God : Because you were bored and you missed your ledgers?
Matthew : Yes Lord
God ; Ok, let’s get on with it then.
Just then, The Virgin Mary wafts in with a tray of coffee and Danish pastries. She places the tray down gently on a little occasional table next to God and Saint Matthew.
God : Thank you dear, that’s very kind
Matthew : Thank you Immaculate Holy Virgin. I trust you are well?
Mary does not reply. She looks down her nose at Matthew, sniffs haughtily and wafts back out of the room.
God : Do you have to do that Matthew?
Matthew : Do what, Lord?
God : You know what. Say “Immaculate Holy Virgin” in that sarcastic manner. It wouldn’t kill you to at least try to get on with her.
Matthew : Look Lord, all I’m saying is that there are many words used for girls who get themselves knocked up when they’re fourteen. Immaculate, Holy and Virgin do not usually appear on the list.
God : How many times Matthew. She became with child by Me via the medium of The Holy Spirit.
Matthew : We all know “The Holy Spirit” is just a euphemism for You when You’re drunk.
God (starting to lose his patience a bit) : She became with child via The Holy Spirit. She was, and remains to this day, a virgin.
Matthew : Well that might explain why she’s so fucking grumpy all the time.
God : Please don’t swear Matthew
Matthew : Look Lord, it’s just a bit suspicious that Joseph was a carpenter and Jesus took to carpentry like a duck to water. There’s such a thing as genetics, you know.
God : Jesus being good at carpentry is what you would expect if his father was the architect of the entire universe.
Matthew : It’s also what you would expect if his father was a lecherous old carpenter who had to marry the kid’s mother so the rest of the village wouldn’t stone him to death.
God : Jesus got all of his talents form his father. Me.
Matthew : Oh, how are You getting on with that Ikea wardrobe You started on last month by the way?
God : Never you mind about that. I know one end of a two by four from the other. Can we just get on with this? My Glory isn’t going to contemplate itself, you know.
Matthew : You mean You want to carry on staring out of the window
God (curtly) : Yes
Matthew : As you wish lord. As You know, the economy of earth is in terrible shape. And as You also know, money in one place affects money everywhere else. It’s a bit like that trick You put into the fabric of creation so that the humans can’t possibly figure out how things really work.
God : Quantum, you mean?
Matthew : That’s right, quantum. Anyway, there’s not many expenses I can’t cover with a little creative accounting. There is, however, one black hole in the balance sheet that I cannot fill.
God : What’s that then?
Matthew : Practical upshot Lord, we’re going to have to shut down Hell.
God : You are joking aren’t you Matthew?
Matthew : Now hear me out Lord. It’s prime real estate and those eternal flames cost a fortune to keep going. Plus, it’s not as if there’s anyone in it anyway. Even if You didn’t keep forgiving everyone, no-one’s meant to get sent there until Judgement Day anyway.
God : You sure about that?
Matthew : It’s in The Bible Lord. John the Divine. Book of Revelation.
God : Oh, that nutcase. Anyway, aren’t we forgetting someone? Satan for instance?
Matthew : You know as well as I do that Satan and his evil minions spend all of their time walking amongst humanity causing all kinds of mischief. When You’re not letting them use Your villa on Ibiza to go on holiday that is.
God : That’s tax deductible, you said so yourself. Anyway, I’m God aren’t I. Can’t I just wave my hand and say “let there be more money” sort of thing?
Matthew : It doesn’t work like that I’m afraid. Money moves in an even more mysterious way than You. You’d run into a little problem called inflation.
God : Inflation! Don’t you use that word in front of me. Inflation gave Me no and of trouble around about the ten to the minus thirty six second mark when I set off the Big Bang. Had to fudge the thing something chronic. Hopefully no one noticed.
Matthew : Not that sort of inflation Lord. The point is that Hell is too expensive, You don’t even use it and it has to go
God : Really Matthew. Nothing you and your magic ledgers can do to save it?
Matthew : Well……There is a way the “let there be more money” idea could work. We’d have to be sneaky though. We’d have to call it something incomprehensible and hope no one cottons on. We could call it something that sounds really clever but doesn’t really mean anything. You know, Quantative Easing, something like that. It could keep the furnaces burning for a while longer.
God : Well that’s settled then. We’ll do that. Celebratory drink Matthew?
Matthew : Don’t mind if I do Lord
God then pours out two very generous crystal goblets of sherry from a decanter on His antique tantalus. God and Matthew clink glasses. They are just about to down the liquor when Mary wafts in at astonishing speed and snatches the drinks from their hand.
Mary : A bit early in the day for that, isn’t it boys?
God : What are you, My mother?
Mary : Technically, yes.
Matthew : She has a point Lord.
God : Oh I see, you choose now to be on her side do you?
Matthew : I’d best get on with keeping Hell open Lord
Mary and Matthew leave the room and God resumes staring out of the window, taking the occasional huffy sip from the glass of lemon barley water that Mary has left for him next to his computer.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2014