“God of the rich man ain’t the god for the poor.”
Clouds by The Jayhawks
We once thought we were praying to the same god. And the results left us confused. Those praying for a cure for cancer, or a little more time to make that payment before the lights got shut off, or a bed to sleep in that night, those people usually waited a long time. But the people waiting for their big defense contracts to be signed, for their tax breaks to be extended, for their sons and daughters to be spared strapping on those boots on the ground, those people seemed to have an express line. And sometimes, they even claimed god talked to them.
Come to find out, he did. Or at least one of them did. One of the gods. Come to find out, there are two. And they are brothers. Theoretically, they are both all powerful, Jesu and Larry, but Larry has an inferiority complex. He could do some serious damage to Jesu, if ever he got the gumption. But he doesn’t think he can. He thinks he has to do everything Jesu tells him to do.
So Larry monitors the prayer circuits of the poor and needy. He listens to all of the sad stories, then reports to Jesu. Jesu takes the reports and files them and produces a giant marketing database for the people whose prayers he answers, the people who are just right, the ones that do seem to be made in his image. And when those people need something, Jesu gives it to them and balances the scales on the backs of Larry’s people. Divine intervention is a zero sum game, you see.
Larry can’t talk to his people. Jesu talks to his people all the time. Directly. Lunches with them, although that’s kind of a courtesy, really, because Jesu doesn’t really need to eat. But if he shows his image once in a while, sometimes his people will commission a really cool painting about the experience, and they will wind up paying a painter, usually one of Larry’s people, for the job. Jesu thinks in that scenario, everybody wins. And sooner or later, a software giant or an oil tycoon will need that money back, and Jesu will raise gas prices.
Larry always objects, of course. He’s a decent sort of god. But Jesu knows how to put him in his place. “What do you matter, anyway?” he’ll say. “For all you’ve lobbied for these people, never once have they written ‘Larry, Joy of Man’s Desiring.’ There’s not even a Latinate translation for ‘Larry.’”
Larry will sulk back to his prayer banks and listen to all of the pain and suffering, and wish liquor affected him.