A wise man once told me he had no problem with God; it was His ground crew that sometimes gave reason for pause and trepidation. This was long before the Islamist Air Force attacked America, and before graffiti artists, responding to a well-known scandal, began scrawling "Our Lady of Perpetual Buggery" on some church facades.
While there's been a great deal of discussion about the overall boost religion has received from the attacks, fairness dictates greater notice of the alternative view, which considers the ongoing war another example of "faith-based" mayhem that would not occur if humans would simply accept that they are born into a godless and ultimately meaningless universe, where they will struggle, suffer, and die, but perhaps see some good ballgames and eat delicious cheeseburgers in the interim, which makes the exercise all worthwhile.
That view of course completely overlooks the incalculable good that religions do in the world, both in psychic terms and in providing relief to suffering humanity. One did not see 9/11 victims carried off to the Ayn Rand Memorial Hospital, for instance, but instead to hospitals dedicated to various saints. But there's not denying the religious component. The Islamist militants want to destroy our heathen culture. For their part, the brothers at the Southern Baptist Convention condemn Islam as a violent religion, adding that its prophet is "a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives, and his last one was a nine-year-old girl."
All of which raises that age-old question: Will this greatest mystery of life - the true nature of God (if God) - ever be settled?
As it happens, a definitive answer may be at hand. According to advertisements taken out in major papers around the country, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon has been tapped as this world's "King of Kings." That these particular advertisements were paid for by the reverend is perhaps worth noting, but only in passing.
I have no objectivity on this matter, so let's turn to Jim Remsen of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who has reported on the ad campaign. According to Mr. Remsen, Moon is "proclaiming that Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha - even God - have told him he is now 'the Savior, Messiah and King of Kings of all of humanity!'" He also reports that Moon is paying $720,000 to place the ads in papers across the country, which makes him something of a saint in this time of falling revenues. That the ads run 7,000 words, outstripping the Sermon on the Mount by a fair distance, underscores the importance of the message.
It appears Moon was informed of his new standing during "a seminar in the spirit world for leaders of five of the great religions." Explains Mr. Remsen: "40 leaders of the five faiths, as well as Karl Marx and three other Communist greats, express their obeisance to Mr. Moon. At the celestial event, Mohammad is said to have led three cheers, while God submitted a letter stating, 'I believe in the True Parents.'" Perhaps it should be mentioned here that Moon and his wife (his second, as memory serves) bill themselves at the True Parents.
This is a stunning development, to put it mildly, though it does affirm various optimistic beliefs, including the belief that there are indeed Second Acts in America. As is well known, Moon was excommunicated from the Korean Presbyterian Church, which may have been miffed by his insistence that a failed Jesus had tapped him to "finish" his work here on Earth. After moving to America, Moon did a year and a half in the jug for tax evasion. His newspaper, the Washington Times, has gobbled up hundreds of millions of dollars, will not let him have any official role in editorial matters, and has a circulation hovering somewhere around the 100,000 mark, which is nothing to crow about.
That he has now been named King of Kings - the top job on Earth and perhaps the Universe as well - only goes to show that Ronald Reagan was right: Hang around in America long enough and good things are bound to happen.
It is also true that the presence of Karl Marx at this celestial event confirms the widespread hope that everyone goes to Heaven. As Moon and his anti-communist allies (ahem) were fond of pointing out, communism has been the most pernicious belief system in history, and may be responsible for 100 million deaths, give or take. Some of us will recall rallies of the Lunar Faithful during which thundering refrains of "Victory Over Communism" shook the very skies.
Now it appears that Karl not only went to Heaven, but was given voting status. One can imagine the scene:
God: I propose a resolution in which Sun is named King of Kings. What about it, Karl?
Marx: I see absolutely no contradiction in this.
Whether this ad campaign will be good for recruiting remains an open question. And while one religion cannot be used to define all other religions - any more than the acts of a rogue government demeans government itself - one assumes that those who believe religion is madness will not be rethinking their position in light of this development.