I had a weird dream ... I was transported back 4,000 years and got to meet Abraham, the patriarch of all Judaism and Christianity! It was so exiting ... I was about to find out the truth about the Judeao-Christian patriarch and God himself!
But ... it wasn't quite what I expected ... did you know he and his wife Sarah were pagans? Polytheists? What a shock...
It started like this...
"You must have been overwhelmed in the glow of God's love and kindness!"
"Actually, he was pretty harsh." said Abraham, stroking his beard. "You know, you have to be pretty careful what you say when He is around. He's got quite a temper."
"A temper? But He is a forgiving, loving God!"
Abraham gave a chuckle. "Who told you that, son? You should see what He did to Sodom and Gomorrah! And that business telling me I had to sacrifice my son? And only stopping me at the last second? That wasn't much fun."
"No, well ... I suppose not. But he was just testing you! And you were loyal! I'm so in awe. But he is God Almighty, and who are we to question His reasons, right?"
"Almighty?" Abraham looked a bit perplexed. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"You know, He is the one and only God, He created the universe, and His infinite wisdom and ways are sometimes too mysterious for us poor humans to understand."
Abraham looked at me like maybe I was crazy. "Are you sure we're talking about the same Lord?"
"Of course!" I replied. "You are Abraham, right?"
"That's me. But my Lord never said anything to me about creating the Universe. Did he tell you that?"
"Well, sure! Everyone knows that!"
"Well, son, it's news to me. Around here our Lord helps us with wars and such. He's pretty good at raining down burning sulfur, confusing our enemies, spreading plagues ... you know, stuff like that. But that's about it."
"But, wait!" I was confused. "Doesn't he help you with all of your prayers?"
By now, Abraham seemed to be pretty convinced I was loony, but he was my host and kept humoring me. "Actually, that's a bit of a problem. Our Lord is pretty jealous, and he doesn't want us worshipping the other gods. But that's kind of tricky. I mean, what are we supposed to do when we need some rain?"
"Pray to the Lord, of course!"
"And what good would that do? The rain is one of the other god's jobs."
"Other gods?" I was shocked. "You mean, you worship other gods?"
"No! A deal is a deal. But that's the problem. We have all sorts of gods who could help us. Sometimes we need rain, fertility, love, all sorts of things. But our Lord put us on the straight and narrow. I made a covenant with Him - we're to pray only to our Lord, and ignore the other gods, and in return, he's going to take good care of us. I tell you though, it's hard. We've been worshipping those other gods for so long..." He looked kind of wistful.
"But ..." I didn't quite know what to say. This was shocking! Could Abraham be a polytheist? I had to ask. "You don't believe in those other gods, do you? I mean, they're false gods!"
"Who told you that? Of course we believe in them! They've protected and helped us for time immemorial! That's why it's been hard for me to get my people to worship only the Lord. They just can't see how our Lord, the God of Armies, can help us with all the other things we need. A lot of my people are afraid that if we stop worshipping the other gods, they'll take vengeance on us. But I'm in charge here," he continued, "and I told everyone in no uncertain terms to toe the line. Our Lord made a deal, and He is going to keep it, so we'll keep our part too."
By this time, I was practically dizzy with confusion, and the sky began to spin. I suddenly woke up, saw George C. Scott on the TV, and realized it was all a dream. But ... what about all that stuff Abraham said in my dream? Could that be true? Were the Israelites really pagans?
So I dug into my Bible and there it was. I was shocked! But hey, they Bible is infallible, right?
A note to my readers: I originally wrote this as the opening of the first chapter of The Religion Virus, but my agent and other readers thought it was too lightweight, so I put it aside. I ran across it the other day and it made me smile, so I thought I'd share it with you. There are a couple other deleted chapters that I might dig up some day.