Truth To Power

Entry by: Phidgers

3rd March 2017
Truth To Power

I’ve just come into my living room, and things are different. When I left for work this morning, I’m pretty sure that God was not here, playing God Save the Queen on the organ. Also, there wasn’t an organ in my living room. I don’t remember a choir of four angels floating near the artex of my ceiling either, adding jazz harmonies and rhythms, of all things, to the piece.

‘Hello David,’ God says, halting His flawless playing. His back is to me, but I still feel like he’s studying me. His robes are almost painfully white, and he has a long silvery head of hair.

‘Who are you?’ I ask, because frankly, I’m having trouble processing this.

‘I’m God,’ He replies. The angels sing the same words, in barbershop harmony. They’re all wearing halos, which float on a wire that rises from the back of their robes. I try to peer past the organ, to see if my sofa’s still there. I’d love to collapse on it about now. The instrument blocks my view. It’s a full on pipe organ, and I’m pretty sure some of the pipes are extending into my upstairs neighbour’s flat. ‘You have been chosen,’ He continues, as I lean heavily against a peeling green wall. ‘A great wrong must be seen to.’

The angels’ singing is already starting to wear on me. ‘I see,’ I say, although I don’t. I’m not at all religious. I thought God had priests especially to work His will. I thought that was the point of priests. ‘What do you need me to do, er… God?’

He stands and turns, revealing an extremely neat white beard. Meeting his blue eyed gaze makes me feel like I’m falling from a great height, and I look away. Thunder accompanies His reply, and His voice rumbles like an echoing drum. ‘David Richmond, I call upon you to start a new religion.’

The angels begin to click their fingers and sing. God glares at them and they stop, then disappear with a pop. ‘Sorry,’ He says. ‘They wanted a day out. They'll go and amuse themselves elsewhere for now. I could see they were getting on your nerves.’ His voice is slightly higher pitched and no longer echoes.

‘It’s ok,’ I say, and add ‘Your Worship,’ for good measure. ‘Why do you want me to start a religion?’

‘Because I have a problem with the truth.’ God pulls a painting from his robe. ‘Do you know what this is?’ He beckons to me, and I take shaky steps towards him. The painting looks like a set of pointed marble roofs, with a sea of gold behind it.

‘A bunch of roofs?’ I ask.

‘No. It’s a staircase.’

‘Oh. It seems the wrong way up.’

‘Exactly,’ He shouts, and thunder booms. ‘Exactly,’ He continues, more quietly. ‘Morality is a set of scales, David. Literally. When it becomes unbalanced, things tip up the wrong way. Heaven’s on the wonk, and I need your help to set it right.’

‘Oh,’ I say. I had no idea things were so bad. I imagine all the bad things going on in the world. Do they really outweigh the good so much that our actions are affecting Heaven?

‘Stop thinking internally,’ God says. ‘I can hear your thoughts anyway. But you’re wrong. It’s the good that’s outweighing the bad.’

‘Wait, really?’ I ask. ‘The news paints a different picture.’

God strokes his beard and sits on the long organ stool. He pats it and I join him on it, my legs thanking me silently yet profusely. He turns to look at me, and I avoid meeting His eyes. ‘It’s my fault, I suppose. I’ve had my priests spreading those good messages all these years. Don’t tell lies. Love thy neighbour, although I have no idea why people use the word “thy” all the time.’

‘Speak truth to power,’ I add.

‘And that’s the heart of the problem. There’s too much power to truth.’ God chews his bottom lip. ‘I should’ve seen this coming. When Lucifer buggered off and started his rebellion, I thought all of humanity was doomed. There was all this evil going on, making Hell too powerful. I had to do something to stay on top. So I loaded the game. I made good deeds much heavier than the evil ones. Several murders can be cancelled out by something as simple as giving a thirsty person a glass of water.’

‘If I may venture a truthful opinion to the powerful…’ I begin. God nods. ‘Seeing as you’re, well, God and everything, why not just change the weights again?’

He laughs and claps his hands. ‘You think I didn’t think of that? I can’t, now. Lucifer would just love that. He’ll think he’s won if I change the rules again. He’ll reckon he’s gotten under my skin, and I will. Not. Have it.’

He really is a jealous God, I think, then I remember He can hear my thoughts. I’m about to apologise when he waves his hand.

‘Forget about it. You’re right, I am. But anyway. As I was saying, I need to you to start a new religion.’

‘Won’t that make matters worse?’ I ask.

‘No, because you’re going to lie about it. You’re going to tell people that God visited you in a dream, and gave you a vision of how the religion must be. You'll be weighing down the scales on the other side.’

‘But isn’t that what’s happening? Won't I be starting a religion that way?’

‘A good lie is powered by truth. The essence might be true, but the details won’t be. We’re talking in your front room, we’re not in a dream. And I’m not going to give you a vision. I’ll lend you an instructional DVD instead.’

‘Oh.’ I wonder how I’ll get any followers to this new religion, and what the other religions of the world will have to say about my ideas. I suppose I’m a few centuries too late to be burned at the stake as a heretic, but death threats from fanatics on social media are at an all time high.

‘Don’t worry about any of that,’ God says. ‘It’s all on the DVD. You’ll learn how to imitate a few miracles too.’

‘I won’t actually be doing them?’ I ask, feeling a bit cheated.

‘No, but they’ll still be impressive. You’ll learn some perfectly natural ways to turn water to wine, and a few other tricks. But remember, say they’re miracles. I want to walk up my stairs, not stub my toes walking across them. And I want my shelves to hold the holy relics I put there. You know how many holy relics have been smashed?’

I shake my head.

‘I haven’t bothered to count either. It’s heaven. Everything’s a holy relic.’ God stands, and echo booms his voice again.

‘David Richmond, do you accept your holy task? Will you be my false prophet, to save Heaven from the curse of being on the wonk? Will you fight the power to truth, by spreading lies, and thus save the Divine realm from the terrible, tortuous tilt?’

‘Well I was going to just have pizza and binge watch TV,’ I reply. ‘But I suppose I’d better do this instead.’

We stand and God clasps my shoulders. ‘Excellent. You are forever blessed for your dishonesty, My son. Recruit followers, and live by the wisdom of the DVD. My angels will send it along once it’s finished. It’s still in post production at the moment.’

He sits back at the organ and resumes His playing. Gradually, he and the instrument begin to fade. Soon, there is simply a golden haze left, and then nothing, save for a furniture mark on the carpet and some holes in the ceiling. Then, there’s a loud knock on my front door. I hurry and open it, to find Susan, my middle aged neighbour from upstairs, wearing a dressing gown and a severe expression.

‘David, may I ask why there are several large holes in my floor, and why you’ve been ignoring my knocks for the last several minutes?’

‘Did you see the pipes in the holes?’ I ask. She shakes her head. I don’t know how to explain properly, and she’s friends with my landlord. So I decide to tell truth to power once more, before I go on my deceitful religious crusade.

‘I didn’t hear your knocks because I was being visited by God,’ I say. I reach forward and grab her by the shoulders, staring straight into her now fairly perturbed eyes. ‘I have been chosen for a grand task. Heaven itself needs me. I must found a new religion, to bring order to the universe once more. Susan, my dear friend, will you join me in this pious task?’

‘Absolutely,’ she replies, looking terrified. She pries my hands from her shoulders and nods furiously. ‘Whatever you want. I’ve just realised I’ve left the oven on. But yes, religion, of course.’ She turns and hurries away without another word. I get the feeling she’s not very interested in joining up. However, I figure that I’ve just flouted the rule about loving thy neighbour.

‘That’s got to help tip the balance a bit too, right?’ I ask. I smile as there’s a small rumble of thunder in reply. ‘I’ll take that as a yes.’