EPISODE ONE: God Has A Plan For Me!
Like many evangelicals who claim to have ecstatic one-on-one communications from the Great Beyond, I too have been blessed by visitations from Our Heavenly Father. While some claim visions that The Almighty asked them to demonstrate their piety by bombing abortion clinics or picketing the funerals of fallen troops, my own encounter has transmogrified me from humble entertainment journalist into divinely appointed Court Reporter for The Lord Our God.
When The Ruler of Us All appeared to me during a particularly restless night after a three-cheese pizza with kalamata olives (and in all honesty far more garlic than anyone should eat in a single sitting), I was desperately trying to grab some sleep with the assistance of what most would allow was a heroic amount of merlot marked for clearance — the kind described to me by the grocer as a wine best paired with parking lot consumption.
I sat bolt upright when the Holy of Holies appeared at the foot of my bed and bade me take up quill and scroll. I explained that we were mostly on computers these days, and he readily admitted he must not have been paying attention during most of the epoch. But since the advent of microchips and the internet are often considered miracles, he took credit for both without hesitation.
“Kevin Phinney,” he began in a sonorous voice that would make James Earl Jones sound like Pee Wee Herman, “I have chosen you to be my scribe. I will be visiting the sinners among you, living and dead, real and ficticious. And I will be trying to get a handle on what’s been happening here on the Mortal Plane while I was off posing for a chapel ceiling in another galaxy. Things have gone to Hell in a handbasket, and believe me when I say I know what I”m talking about.”
“But Lord,” I implored, “why me? I’ve never talked to any A-listers before, unless you count Walter Cronkite and Sir Anthony Hopkins.”
“Nice guy, that Hopkins,” God nodded. “Knighted, and still insists you call him Tony. I like that.”
“Yes, your Grace, but the question remains. Why me?”
“I have chosen you for three reasons. One, your heart is pure, and you have a clever turn of phrase. And you’re really top drawer when it comes to writing dialogue that sounds authentic. Two, you gave up your career for love and moved to a city where no one knew you when newspapers were closing and radio stations were all moving to automation. It takes courage to survive that. And now that you’re no one to anyone but your spouse and your dog, you are as Job. Brought low, and besides, you have all the time in the world. And you are perfect because you are nobody. You’re like the manger I chose for my son’s birth. Run down, but sincere.”
“That’s two reasons, Omniscient One.”
“The third one is . . . Because I Said So, that’s why.”
“Um, thanks, Heavenly Father. Real nice.”
The Lord bellowed a mighty laugh that threatened to break the windows behind our brand new micro-blinds. “And you suffer no fools. Even to your own detriment.” And with that, he waved his hand and I felt a sudden chill at the top of my head. “Now you’re just a little bit thinner on top. Mess with me again and I’ll give you the full friar look.”
So that “Wrathful God” reputation is based in fact, and I grew sore afraid. Well, more afraid than sore, but I’m speaking Biblically.
“You’re familiar with that ‘Christmas Carol” story I like so much?” he asked, settling into a chair held aloft by archangels, seraphim and cherubim and what seemed to be very fine strands of wire.
“You mean the one with the kid who wants the BB gun?” I rejoined tremulously.
“No!!” he thundered. “The Dickens story. Everyone’s seen it, boy — the one with Mr. Magoo, or Mickey and Donald, or the recent remake with Jim Carrey, which I hear was quite good, and now I’m sorry I missed it when it was in IMAX.”
“Ah, yes, Father. Much CGI.”
“Computers again, Heavenly Father. They make everything seem possible. Even Spider-Man looks completely believable now.”
“Hmmmm…” he mused, stroking his beard. “I was going to give man those powers, too. But the spider had nothing, and you know, it sat there just giving me that sad stare with its jillion eyes . . . Anyway, another story. I digress.
“I thought, if Dickens can transcribe the visits of Marley and the three Christmas spirits for readers, why can’t I get Phinney to set down the highlights of these subjects I want to have a few choice words with?”
“Like Larry King, eh Lord?”
“No, not ‘like Larry King’, pinhead,” he boomed with a sarcasm that seemed altogetherr unbecoming for the Creator of All That Was, Is, or Will Ever Be.
“I don’t think I care for your tone,” I said, drawing myself up.
“Someone wants to be bald for breakfast,” he smiled, twirling his finger around in a threatening circle.
“Sorry, Lord. You were saying . . .”
I will visit these men and women in their dreams and fill you with Divine Inspiration to describe the encounters as they happen. Got it?”
“Good job, Phinney,” sayeth the Lord, rising from his slightly wobbly throne, much to the relief of those holding it aloft. “I knew I could count on you.”
“How, Heavenly Father? How did you know you could count on me?”
“Because,” he said with a chuckle, “I knew you had the time. It’s not for no reason you haven’t found steady work in six years, is it?”