Do you have a minute or two? I know you’re probably busy with your heavenly and religious affairs, Bush’s war, maybe even Survivor: The Amazon, but I really think we should talk.
I, a dot in the cosmos, and you, the so-called creator of whatever was, is, and will be. That is, of course, assuming you exist… Nah, forget my asking for permission. I’d say what I have to say, whether you listen or not. Blame four years of high school Christian Living; it taught me that you gave every human being free will — a gift I’d be more than happy to exercise now.
How would you like to start a religion business with me? Don’t worry, ownership is entirely yours. All I want is to be CEO.
Our company will sell products designed to meet every Catholic’s needs: The Complete Dummy’s Guides to Salvation, watches that recite one commandment every hour (which means you have to make two new commandments for 11 and 12 o’clock), God-approved contraceptives, cell phones with speed dialing features to heaven (press 1 for the Virgin Mother, press 2 for your favorite saint, press 3 for angelic assistance), Jesus-Mary-Joseph Christmas albums (first 1000 buyers get signed CDs), and a portable gadget that beeps every time a capital sin is committed by its owner’s special someone. Our product listing will have limitless possibilities; our market will include every living Catholic.
Since we can’t risk losing to piracy and we need to maximize profit, all merchandise will bear your official tamper-proof seal, a religion facts table (Recommended Daily Allowance, Moral Value per Serving) and a sticker that says “Hurry! Buy more products to accumulate more points! Every point you earn takes you one step closer to heaven!”
It is a religion company but it’s not religion per se that we’d be selling — salvation is what your people are crazy about these days; it will thus be the focus of our marketing strategy. In the end, I’d be filthy rich, while you’d get all the good Catholic people from earth!
Now, before you send me straight to hell, relax. I was just kidding! Calm down, man. (Aww, sorry, for a second I forgot you’re a god!) Just trying to get your attention there.
Seriously though, I wouldn’t be shocked if one day I find myself walking into the religion (or should I say salvation?) section of a supermarket. I think my religion has today become too commercialized and too fanaticized to be believable.
For instance, I saw an almost full-page ad in the newspaper last month for Vatican ring tones, picture messages and logos. Since when did you endorse such pay-per-download services?
A church I pass by every weekend was demolished a couple of years ago to construct — as the billboard says — the “Church of the Millennium.” For some reason, the project was never finished and the church, in its present state, resembles a dilapidated marketplace. Tell me, what difference does it make if we pray to you in bahay-kubo chapels instead of in ornate basilicas?
Then there’s my high school teacher who reprimanded me for making the sign of the cross with my left hand, the same way my mother scolded me for removing the altar hanging on my bedroom wall. I cannot understand why. Perhaps they’re worried you might throw me into Satan’s den because of my heretical acts. Whoa! I’m scared.
Well, maybe I should be scared, unlike, say, the parishioners who spend thousands of pesos to dress-up their life-size Mama Mary images for the annual fiesta celebration; or the owners of the black Sto. Niño, of the doctor Sto. Niño, of the policeman Sto. Niño, of the sleeping Sto. Niño, of the beggar Sto. Niño and of the hamburger-addict Sto. Niño (Asereje Sto. Niño, anyone?); or the devout follower of the TV evangelist whose donation boxes are almost as tall as he is.
Things like these leave me with the question “What for?” Is it not enough that I believe in you? Frankly, I begin to doubt whether you really did create man or man created you so he could do whatever he wishes in life and yet be assured of a happy ending when he dies.
I realize I have no right to castigate others on how they worship you. After all, there’s no way of deciding whose right or wrong, is there? I’m just telling you these things because I want you to know that I’d like my salvation to ensue. If I would be praying, respecting my parents, abstaining from pre-marital sex, doing charity work or helping a stranger, it wouldn’t be because at the end of the day, I want my “good deeds” list to exceed my “bad deeds” list or because I want to get sure seats in heaven. It would simply be because I want to do these things.
Also, don’t be surprised if you see me skipping communion, if you find me confessing directly to you, or if you hear me omitting lines from the Apostle’s Creed. I’m getting tired of organized religion.
If by living this way I’m buying myself an express ticket to hell, then so be it. Maybe hell isn’t such a bad place at all. Maybe they need me there.
I guess that’s all I have to say. Thanks for your time, God. You’d better get back to work.
Ah, wait a minute, there’s one last thing: on the day I die, give St. Peter and his rooster a day off. I wouldn’t want to meet him at the gates; I want to see you there. Before you send me to my final destination — wherever that is — I’d like to hear what you have to say. That should be interesting.