Saturday, March 6, 2010

Reaching out to God

Reaching out to God

On the telephone.

There have been quite a few things said about God over the ages. From the almost universal acceptance of His omnipresence and omnipotence in most cultures and societies, to sceptics and atheists who’d have us believe otherwise. The question of His being, and how to attain, or reach Him, has always concerned both the theologically-inclined as well as, by inversion, the most vehement of disbelievers.

But now, if a group of Catholics in France would have their way, all you have to do to communicate to Him is dial a number. Though almost all the Catholic leaders in France have warned the idea has no approval whatsoever from the Church, the bunch of believers working for the firm that provides the service, aver the idea behind the Le Fil du Seigneur (or The Line of The Lord) pay telephone line is to directly confess one’s sins to God.

Well, apparently, it’s not quite as if one can commit murder or adultery and be absolved by a phone call. The service, they say, is only for minor sins. Which, in our world, can be an area open to varied interpretations. But, nonetheless, there is something odd about a ‘soothing male voice’ which, reports say, asks people to ‘press 1 for advice on confessing, 2 to confess, and 3 to listen to some confessions’. The age of the instant God is here.

Sure, one could also argue that in contemporary times, generally seeming to be an era of ‘darkling plains where ignoramus armies clash at night’, some form of immediate succour for the needy and despairing is, well, welcome. One is, for example, reminded of the priest in Graham Greene’s Monsignor Quixote, a pastiche of the Spanish classic, with all its underlying seriousness, but not without its moments of hilarity.

Such as when the gullible priest devoutly rushes into the seedy, cheap cinema drawn by the matinee The innocent virgin. But then, in this context, one can also quote Ted Hughes, “Do not worship the telephone/It drags its worshippers into actual graves/With a variety of devices, through a variety of disguised voices/ Sit godless when you hear the religious wail of the telephone…” One more in an age of false Gods? Find Him in all forms? Take your pick.

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