Will World War III be a war of religion? Pursuing this question, a journalist prevailed upon the Lord God to grant an exceedingly rare interview some time after September 11, 2001 and, to judge from internal evidence, some time before before the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003. A transcript of this interview has just come to light:
Q. Would My Lord describe himself as with the Americans or with their enemies?
A. Neither one.1
Q. Has My Lord any comment about the destruction of the World Trade Towers?
A. Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? It must seem like nothing, but be strong.2
Q. Why is all this happening to us?
A. Do you ask yourself, “Why is all this happening to me?” It is because your guilt is great that your skirts have been pulled up, and you have been raped.3
Q. Does this event signal the reversal of globalization and the collapse of American hegemony?
A. The Lord will put you at the head, not at the tail. You will be at the top, never at the bottom—if you keep the commandments of the Lord.4
Q. My Lord implies that his commandments have not been kept. Why does he say this?
A. Because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes. They trample the face of the poor into the dust, and force the afflicted off the road.5
Q. Duly noted. But going forward, is there a more proactive agenda that my Lord might care to specify?
A. I say this to you: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the wicked as well as on the good, and he sends down rain on the just and the unjust alike.6
Q. What reply does My Lord make to those who call his agenda unrealistic?
A. Because you have ignored all my advice and rejected my correction, I will laugh at your calamity and mock when panic grips you.7
Q. Among contemporary American leaders, civic or religious, is there one who enjoys particularly easy access to My Lord?
A. “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Q. With all due respect, My Lord, Abraham Lincoln is not a contemporary leader. My query regarded contemporary leaders.
Q. When My lord speaks of widows and orphans, does he allude to the victims of the September 11 attacks? Would that be a fair inference?
Q. Or does My Lord regard the laid-off airline workers as those who have “borne the battle”? Do they have some uniquely large claim on American charity?
Q. Well, turning to a less sensitive topic, as a battle-tested warrior with particular experience in the Middle East, what comment would My Lord make on the American war plan?
A. A king is not saved by his great army, a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The warhorse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save.8
Q. If I may, My Lord, the question did not address the current viability of cavalry. I presume that My Lord would not deny the effectiveness of smart missiles as demonstrated in the Gulf War ten years ago?
A. Will you speak falsehood for God, or lie on his behalf? Do you presume to do favors for him?9
Q. I withdraw the question. The thrust of the question, of course, was whether our side may count on My Lord’s support or whether, against our—
A. (interrupting) The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master’s crib. I know mine, and mine know me.10
Q. Yes, quite. But turning now to the near-term prognosis—
A. (interrupting) Cast your eyes over the nations, gape, and be amazed to stupefaction, for I am doing something in your own days that you would not believe if told of it.11
Q. Right. “Amazed to stupefaction” does rather capture the mood of the moment. But with all due respect, My Lord, I keep thinking of that ghastly mound of smoking ruins, all those lives snuffed out. It may seem little from the exalted standpoint of one who has beheld all of history, but for us….
A. To the foolish, they seemed to die. Their passing was thought a catastrophe. But they are at peace. If they seemed to suffer punishment, their hope was rich with immortality.12
Q. May it be so. Surely My Lord is aware that many of my countrymen believe themselves confronted at this moment by genuine evil—by the Devil, if the term may be admitted. Does My Lord fault us for employing such language?
A. The wicked plots against the righteous, and grinds his teeth at him, but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that their day will come.13
Q. Thank you. I shall regard that response as encouraging rather than otherwise. Any final comments on the long-term prognosis—the long-term terrestrial prognosis, that is?
A. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together. And a little child shall lead them.14
(At this last response, the interviewer reports, an entourage of seraphim who until then had held their peace burst into a rhythmic “Holy Holy Holy! The Lord, the God of Armies!” “I thought the cheer rather inappropriate,” the interviewer writes, “but then how is one to know? In any case, the interview was clearly over.”)1 Josh. 5:14; Bible translations by Jack Miles except where RSV indicates Revised Standard Version; 2Hag. 2:3-4; 3Jer. 13:22; 4Deut. 28:13; 5Amos 2:6-7; 6Matt. 5:44-45; 7Prov. 1:25; 8Ps. 33:16-17RSV; 9Job13:7; 10Isa. 1:3RSV; John 10:16; 11Hab. 1:5; 12Wisdom 3:1; 13Ps. 37:12-13; 14Isa. 11:6. “Fondly do we hope,” etc.: Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address.