(First published in the 2003 Laugh It Off Annual)
God please be here now, we are in trouble.
You have reached Heaven. Pray 1 to hear your current sin balance, pray 2 to make a request or remain on hold and an Angel will be with you shortly.
You are currently 1,234,255,376 in the line.
Good morning this is Heaven, how may I provide you with excellent service?
I need to speak with God, I’m praying from Earth. The situation here is serious.
I’m afraid God is not available right now. I can put you through to our complaints department. Please remain on hold.
Good morning this is the complaints department, how may I help you?
I’m trying to get a hold of God, there’s some pretty serious stuff happening down here on Earth.
Yes. Yes. Of Course. That’s why I am here to help you. What seems to be the problem?
Well it’s really something I’d like to discuss personally with him if you don’t mind. I’m trying to write a book to take his message…
Please hold the line.
…back to the people of Earth…
Yes? Who is it? Is this a sales Prayer?
No! I’m praying from Earth and we are in some serious trouble, I think Satan and his forces are raging out of control.
And you’re taking a message from me back to the people of Earth?
I see. A prophet. Very well, what was the problem again?
Well, Satan is raging out of control…
Yes. It can’t be Satan. I happen to know for a fact that Satan is playing golf right at this moment.
He’s semi-retired! Didn’t you know? Heaven was involved in a hostile takeover of Hell a few months ago.
Oh, well we already had some of our Church’s best people well placed there. It was a cost cutting exercise really. The rental on Heaven was killing us, and since then we’ve moved most of our operation down under and retained a small Hell department. Of course the Devil is still around, but he’s really just a ceremonial figure now. Spends a lot of time playing golf, and hanging out at fashion shows.
Well then who is responsible for the stuff going on down here then?
Let me check my files quick… Ah! Yes we have subcontracted Hell operations on your planet to the American ruling establishment. We got an excellent deal really, because they agreed to do it for free as part of their regular operations. And although I think old Satan would hate to admit it, they are really rather better at the job than he was.
Yes I suppose that makes sense…
Yes. They have really done an excellent marketing job in making Hell appealing, and the people on your planet seem to be responding well. Now that we’ve taken Hell away from an easily identifiable bad guy and put it into the hands of trans-national corporations things seem to be working far more smoothly. They’ve come up with some excellent concepts. Tying up concepts of truth, virtue and righteousness with the worst kinds of stupidity, mediocrity and inhumanity. Their vision is rather breathtaking. I mean, nothing can surpass consumerism in really making Hell palatable to the masses and getting them to tune into their own worst tendencies.
Uh Huh. In fact we are thinking of moving the Hell department up to your planet because they are doing such an excellent job of propagating the right working environment for our demons. That will allow us down here to focus on the things we do best in Heaven.
It doesn’t bother you that this place may be completely overrun by evil?
Well, yes it does of course, but by moving Hell to Earth we’ll soon be able to hold your planet up to the galactic masses as an example of what happens when the forces of evil run rife. So try remember its all for a good cause.
So I guess this means you won’t be able to help us.
No, for the present moment, I’m afraid not. You’re going to have to help yourself, because if I got involved that would be akin to insider trading.
Er.. Yes I see.
Look. Armageddon isn't far off, so it would probably be easier for you to ingest some of Hell’s morphia and just hang on till we get around to shutting down its operations. We have already negotiated settlement deals with Beelzebub and several of the other senior Demons and once things are in place, give or take a few Millennia, I’m sure things will be sorted out.
I was hoping for something a little more prompt.
I’m terribly sorry, but I don’t have the time to continue this conversation. To be perfectly honest the problem lies in your brain. You can either attempt to use it properly, which quite frankly would just complicate matters for us, or else you can switch it off permanently, which is preferable and easier for you. I recommend that you attend a football match, eat at McDonalds, go to the movies or watch an hour of TV a day. Doing any of these on a regular basis is guaranteed to produce results within a few weeks. I wish you well. If you get confused just watch what the rest of the people on your planet are doing and follow their example. Thanks for Praying.
"To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm. The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson in humility, which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society—a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals." Friedrich Hayek