I used to talk to God; you know, get a dialogue going. Not an interaction in any religious sense but a blunt device to get my slothful butt off the sofa and working. God-based articles were not considered politically incorrect or otherwise; no one much bothered. The Almighty was a fiction designed to lighten the reader’s day and provide a shallow raison d’être for my own. Compared to the cringing politically correct standards of 2021, I got away with journalistic murder, while appearing entertaining enough to stay employed.
The God character gave me a columnist’s Bond-like licence to kill: God can make all sorts of outrageous pronouncements with impunity; stuff that would ring hollow coming from my curmudgeonly self. But these days I have to be careful with words I put into The Omnipotent Mouth, being mindful not to offend. And that’s the problem. If I’m doing my job a load of people will be aggrieved. Neither do I see it as rewarding to be fried crisp by a lightning strike if one of the disgruntled happens to be a supreme being.
So, what you thought was just some bloke shooting his mouth off is in fact a high-risk endeavour. (In one 24-hour period I had a grim Australian gentleman take a swing at me and a couple of less pedantic souls tell me I’d scratched their funny bone. Same article, different opinions, proving that writing can be both hazardous and gratifying.)
Then there are times that take no account of literary pitfalls: A booming voice like Morgan Freeman in an echo chamber once whacked me from the blackness of outer space. He/She/ It (not wishing be sexist) thundered down to scold: “I see you’re at it again Sherwood; taking my name in vain, masquerading as some perspicacious columnist in your pathetic struggle to amuse.” Naturally I was startled. “Is that you, God?” “Of course, it’s Me! Who else could be offended by your churlish gibberish?”
“Are You angry?” “I don’t get angry, I get even. If I were angry you and your stupid machine would be microscopic cinders. I’m cool these days, not vengeful like before. If you have something to say then use the proper channels, a church, temple, a Hare Krishna tent, or give money to some American televangelist fraudster for a new private jet. I’m sick of your arrogant paganus drivel, pretending that you alone have my ear.” “Paganus, God!?” “It’s Latin, numbskull. Google it. You know how many of you unenlightened beings are vying for my attention? Never mind, but its billions. Adios.”
See what I mean? Not much will electrify me these days, but a cosmic command and dire threats will get me moving. I’m supposed to gain social acceptability by being sensitive, but it doesn’t seem to apply to the Master (OK, if I must) Mistress of the Universe, and therein is the win-win. As author of this stuff, I get to trash political correctness via a deity. How good is that? So, don’t blame me if your feelings are hurt; talk to God.
Peter Sherwood has lived in DB for over 20 years. The former head of an international public relations firm, Peter is the author of 15 books and has written around 400 satirical columns for the South China Morning Post.Tags: god, out there