[Ed: This is an amusing original piece, but it is quite long, and requires quite a setup, so you may want to skip it -Ed ]
Some years ago (my third year of high school, I believe), I created a new religion following a caffeine revelation. This part is not EXCEPTIONALLY funny, but it serves as a background to a (hopefully) more humorous story I wrote later which is based on this religion. The story will be posted following this one. OMNIDEISM:
The religious blanket
by Tom Newcomb
Copywrong 1984 by Nuke 'Em Associates Library of Congress catalog number 3.1415926
All lefts reserved. No part of this inane document may be reproduced (asexually or otherwise) or transmitted in any manner, including copying by hand, photocopying, and listening to a parrot who has happened to read this. And for that matter, you'd have to be pretty dumb to want to copy any of this crud anyway. Let's be serious for a moment...
whose true faith gave me food for thought
In this world there exist hundreds of distinct religions, each (with a few exceptions) knowing beyond a shred of doubt that it is correct and that everyone else is...well, WRONG. One of the few beliefs that does not hold this view is that of agnosticism, whose hazy guidelines show either open-mindedness or indecision, depending upon the individual. Most others adhere to this general closed-minded principle, often causing disharmonies between those of conflicting religious faiths. Thus we now find a need for a blanket policy to unite all of these beliefs under one roof, while simultaneously not infringing upon or doubting the validity of any of them. It must follow the definition of etiquette: not to offend anyone. With such a policy, the emphasis lies in tolerance. Widespread religious tolerance would eventually lead to the destruction of religious discrimination, a sword which hangs over our necks wherever we go. Omnideism is not a religion unto itself; it instead attempts to explain the absolutism and co-existence of other religions, beliefs, and what have you. Placing all faiths at equal levels, Omnideism serves as the United Nations of theism. OMNIDEISM: A STRUCTURAL OVERVIEW
Let us say that all religions do exist, and that all have the same measure of validity and truth with respect to...x? No... this is philosophy, not calculus! ...with respect to the supreme being(s) found in each one (Hence, "Omnideism"). Let us then say that these beings know of each other's existence, but do not interfere with the religious activities below. (On Earth, that is. I envision omnipotent entities as being "out there.") In this manner, monotheists know only their one god, while polytheists know only of their own pantheon. This can account for the singularity and closed-mindedness of all religions. One of the Ten Commandments states, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (or something to that effect). A subliminal hint, perhaps, that the Christian God knows of these others? Omnideism strikes again.... Each of us is born destined to find one of these eventually, or in the case of atheists or agnostics, not to. Only this particular deity is keyed to our soul, so we can know no other. What about the Born-again Christians? Well, these are people who were destined not to find God until a later time, but it was planned all the same. The process of selection for each god or pantheon may be some organized thing like drawing lots, or it may be random chance. We think that we or our parents decide our religion or lack thereof, but it is actually all controlled from above. Okay, but what about the atheists? Well, there are three possibilites for this one: accidently overlooked, intentionally overlooked, or controlled. The first theory simply says that somebody forgot to register the atheists, and their lots were not drawn or numbers randomly discovered. The second theory suggests that it was decided that they should be free of religion, as part of a test or perhaps just because. The test would be to find out what the lack of a supreme being would have on a person's life. The third theory says that there is a being controlling the atheists, but does not want to make him/herself known. This could account for what we call "luck" and "coincidence." Now, what about agnostics? Well, agnostics are here to stir up trouble and think up ridiculous theories about the universe. After all, an agnostic "discovered" Omnideism, right? All right, then.... They are also here to make life interesting. Arthur Clarke, a prestigious science-fiction writer, proposed the same thing: paradise in the form of a self-sufficient city, where every few hundred years a man is "born" who is different and usually stirs up trouble. After all, if paradise is boring, it isn't paradise anymore. This is the religious role of agnostics in today's society (although it as about as far from paradise as possible). CONCLUSION
That, then, is the bare bones of Omnideism. Now that you know, tell all your friends and the world will be a much better place. No more religious discrimination or one-sided religious arguments. Paradise, here we come...
Here, then, is the story that I wrote a year later. It's undergoing a major revision right now, but will probably never be finished. Hope you like it. FURNITURE OF THE GODS by Tom Newcomb
My world suddenly narrowed down to her, and the pistol she held so confidently in her hand. Mercy had no part in her; she fired once, twice.... The last thing I saw of the world was my body sprawled in the dirt. The scene changed, and I found myself waiting in line in a spotless white room that seemed to go on forever. The line moved slowly, and after four days I finally saw where I was going. It ended at a large booth set into the wall. Behind the booth sat a small man wearing a pair of mylar sunglasses, a rubber nose, and nothing else. As each person walked up to him, he would point to either his right or his left, and an attendant appeared from that side to escort the person to his destination. I began to wonder, where would I end up? I was a good boy, even though I was an agnostic. Who knows. When I finally reached the booth, the man looked at me. His rubber nose fell off. "It's you!" he exclaimed. A quick look into a nearby mirror confirmed this. He went on. "You discovered Omnideism, didn't you?" I replied that I had thought up that ridiculous theory one evening when I had nothing better to do. "But my boy!" he said excitedly, "You've realized the Sys- tem! And because you are the only human in all history to do so, we have planned a special tour for you! We are going to give you an inside look at our little operation up here. Congratulations, my boy!" He turned around and screeched, "JOE!" A tall man in a leather jacket and neon green spandex pants walked out of the wall and said, "Yeah? Whaddya want?" "This is the boy they told you about." He turned to me, saying, "Joe will be your tour guide. No smoking, eating, or drinking, and please no flash pictures." I looked at Joe critically, commenting, "You don't look like a divine being to me." "Yeah? Well, you don't look so divine yourself. Now come on, let's get this over with. I'm missing `Miami Vice'." The white room disappeared, to be replaced by a long corridor that seemed to be a different color every time I looked at it. There were doors at regular intervals along both walls, each with writing on it. We approached the first door. "Religion Room," it read. Joe opened the door and I saw a large room, occupied for the most part by a huge...a huge...~fishbowl~ filled with millions of little red capsules. A LCD display on the wall flashed the names of different religions, and as each would come up, a fat man in a blue leisure suit and swimming goggles would pull out one of the capsules and read off the name. The sign read "Baptist;" the man read off "Thomas Chris Newcomb V." "That's my son!" I shouted at him. "We're agnostics!" The man grinned at me, saying, "That'll make things all the more interesting, won't it!" He began to laugh loudly. Turning to Joe, I said, "Is THAT what you guys do for fun up here?" Joe snickered but didn't say anything. We left the room. The next door read, "New Religions." We entered to find two men and two women seated around a very large watermelon. They wore beanies and had clothes painted on to them. None of them seemed to notice our presence; I listened raptly to their conversation. "How about this: a group convinced that Roger Waters is Jesus returned to Earth." That was the man closest to me. "Who's Roger Waters?" the other man piped up. "Roger Waters," interrupted the woman on my right, "is the lead singer of Pink Floyd. He is well known for his anti-war, anti-drug, anti-etc. messages in his music. Quite a brilliant man." "Right. Let's vote. Unanimous? Great! What shall we name it?" "How about `The Waters People'?" "No, no. How about `Roger Waters? Jesus CHRIST!'" "I like that one." "Ditto." "Okay. On to the next one. This group believes that Phil Donahue is the anti-christ, grape jelly is evil, and that all dogs are atheists. In addition, they refuse to eat `Twinkies' and `Kellogg's Rice Krispies...'" We left at this point. The color of the corridor had changed subtly, and now glowed with a faint blue luminescence. Dull lines of gold slithered along the surface of the walls, traveling down the length of the corridor to disappear in the twilight far ahead. I wondered abstractedly why the story had taken such a descriptive turn. Author must be a real boob, I concluded. Joe offered some information. "We are now entering the home of the gods." Must've been a tour guide at Disneyland before, I mused. "Wait a minute." A sudden thought had struck me. "I don't believe in any of these people. How am I supposed to see them?" Joe paused and thought hard. "Oh, yeah. Here. This will allow you to see them." He gave me a dun-colored leg-warmer. "What do I do with it?" I asked, confused. Joe grinned maliciously. "Put it on your..." Pause. "Leg," he finished sedately. Wearing the leg-warmer, feeling totally foolish, I again started down the corridor, filled with anxiety and wonder. We finally reached a door. On it, engraved in white letters: God Jesus The Holy Ghost Joe opened the door, and I saw Him. All three of Him were sitting around a table, playing poker with Himselves. What drew my attention, however, was God's remarkable resemblance to Alfred E. Neuman. I whispered this quietly to Joe, who replied that the leg-warmer tended to distort looks somewhat. Suddenly God sat back and cried out, "Damn! I lost again! Jesus Christ!" "Yes?" Jesus looked up from across the table. "Sorry about that," God apologized to Himself. We left before they noticed us. The next door bore the legend, BUDDAH. Joe cautiously eased the door open, and we both looked in. Buddah sat cross-legged in the middle of the floor, his eyes closed and a smile on his face. Joe crept silently up to him and yelled, "BOO!" Then he added playfully, "Dah." Buddah opened his eyes and stared at my guide. "Did you bring the pizza I ordered?" "Oops, forgot. Hold on." He disappeared for a few seconds, and I was left uncomfortably alone with the god, who looked a bit like Fred Flintstone. Joe suddenly reappeared. "Here it is. No anchovies, right?" "Right." He turned to me. "You mortals may not be good for much, but you sure make a mean pizza!" We exited and Joe asked, "Anyone else you'd like to see?" I thought for a moment and replied slowly, "I always wanted to meet Aphrodite. Possible?" Joe laughed. "Of course. Nothing like a bit of human lust to make things interesting." We walked a few hundred more feet down that incredible corridor, and finally came to a door with the goddess's name on it. Before entering, Joe cautioned me, "Remember. Look but don't touch. Keep in mind that you're a scummy mortal." My heart began to pound as he turned the handle and opened the door with deliberate slowness. I could finally see into the room, and what I saw almost made me faint. Twenty feet in front of me stood the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and passion, her back to us. What had shocked me, however, was the fact that she was completely naked. Joe stood next to me, his mouth hanging open, and looking very silly indeed. She turned around and regarded us with an enticing smile. Her smile never changed as the door slammed shut in our faces, knocking us back into the corridor. "Holy s---," I muttered, still in a state of shock. Joe nodded jerkily in agreement. He shook his head and looked at me. "Jesus CHRIST!" he exclaimed in an awed voice. "WHAT?" that familiar voice echoed down the walls from the corridor behind us. "SORRY!" Joe called out. He looked at me again. "Jeez, but you're a lucky guy!" I gulped and nodded, still staring stupidly at the door with the name "Venus" on it. For ten minutes we just lay there, trying to recover our breath and letting our hearts slow down to a paltry hundred and twenty beats per minute. Eventually Joe sat up. "Seen enough?" "Yes. God, yes. Let's go." We suddenly appeared in the huge white hall again. The line was still there. I slipped the leg-warmer off and handed it back to him. He tossed it into a corner, where it lay in a dun-colored heap. Joe gestured with an air of wishing to wrap things up, and spoke briskly. "Well, you're dead. Where do you want to go? You're the only person ever to get a choice; don't blow it." I thought for a moment. "How about if I stay here and work for you guys?" Joe considered this. "Yeah, I guess you could do that. You wanna be an escort? The Heaven escort gets to wear a red Devil suit and scare the Hell out of people, if you'll pardon the expression. The Hell escort wears a white robe...in general, you'd really get to mess with people's minds. What do you say?" "Hmmm. I was never really into that stuff. What else do you have?" "You could have my job!" he said brightly. "What IS your job, anyway?" "I was hired about 800 years ago to act as a tour guide for you. They didn't know when you were coming, so they decided to be prepared. Anyway, that's what I do. Well?" "Oh, sure. What else?" Joe rattled off several more odd jobs, none of which really sounded appealing. After my twelfth "No" he got frustrated and snapped, "What do you want to do? Oh..." Understanding struck him and he gave me a sidelong look. "I know what you want to do." I grinned and he lowered his voice conspiratorially. "You know, I think we might just be able to arrange that. Sure you could handle it, though?" "Mmmm..." My eyes glazed over as I contemplated it. "What the heck!" Joe laughed, saying, "Let's go." We were back in the strangely-colored corridor. We walked down it, laughing and talking, until a familiar door appeared. "You let me do the talking," Joe warned. "In fact, you stay out here." He slipped inside the door while I waited anxiously outside. After several minutes he came out. "It took some finageling, but I've got it all arranged. She's kind of excited, though, at the thought of finally having some furniture." He winked. "Have fun, kid." With that he opened the door, and for the second, but certainly not the last, time I saw Aphrodite. I stepped in, and Joe closed the door behind me. Aphrodite spoke, her perfect voice sending blizzards up and down my spine. "Footstool." I knelt down in front of her; she sat on the bed and put her delicate feet on my back. "Good." Again the electrical storm in my spine; I thought I might never get used to that voice. I was furniture. I was the luckiest guy ever.
CONFESSION: One tiny part of this is essentially borrowed from an old Bloom County (Berke Breathed) strip. Yes, I'm duly ashamed. (Which is part of the reason I'm re-writing it.)
Tom Newcomb | "APPEAL, v.t. In law, to put the dice in the newcomb@ucbarpa.Berkeley.EDU | box for another throw." --Ambrose Bierce