Saturday, April 18, 2020

A Meeting of Minds

Jonas Dare lived on a small island in the Adriatic Sea. He owned a vineyard which he had inherited from his father. The income from it had taken care of him and his wife and their two children for over twenty years. Now the children were departed. They had gone to the mainland to seek their fortunes and to have families of their own. Neither one of them had been interested in making wine. So. when both he and his wife were gone, the vineyard would probably also disappear. The idea of that happening bothered Jonas’ wife more than it bothered him.
Jonas was more concerned with theology, and in particular, theophany, the visible manifestation of God to humans. His main desire in life was to meet God.
He told the people of the island this and they all just laughed. Even his wife smiled. But none of that mattered to Jonas.
When the vineyard didn’t require his attention, he would wander around the four-square mile island, climbing over rocks, walking beside the ocean, meandering through woods and leas. All the time he would be wandering, he would also be thinking. Will I meet God on this excursion, and if I do, what will he look like?
Jonas was fifty years old when he finally met God. His wife had just baked a loaf of bread and Jonas and God ate the bread and washed it down with some of Jonas’ wine. Even though his wife was there at the time, she later said she had no memory of it happening. Surprisingly, this didn’t upset Jonah. What surprised him was that he remembered it.
God told Jonas he was making a preliminary trip from Heaven to Earth in anticipation of making a much more consequential one at a later date. God had heard through the grapevine that Jonas wanted to meet him. Seemed like a good way of killing two birds with one stone. Jonas could meet God and God could discuss with Jonas his plans for what his Divine Council was calling the Incarnation. As God always said, intensive planning and careful preparation are the keys to success.
They were sitting under an olive tree, grabbing what shade they could. It was a warm and sunny day. There was a nice breeze.
God: Now, Jonah, relax. Just think of this as two new acquaintances having a friendly conversation over a glass of wine. This is good wine, by the way.
Jonas: Thank you, God. I imagine you’ve tried quite a few different wines over the years.
God: Well, Jonas, I never really thought about, but I suppose you’re right.
Jonas: Don’t you think about everything?
God: Oh, no, I let my subordinates do that. I only think about the big things.
Jonas: Such as?
God: Well, Jonas, I think a lot about humanity and how to save it. In fact, I’ve been thinking about that for thousands of years.
Jonas: Have you come up with anything?
God: Yes, but I’m reluctant to give it a try. It would mean a tremendous sacrifice on my part, and I sometimes wonder if I’m up to such a challenge.
Jonas: But you’re God. You can do anything! Right?
God: Physically, yes. But that’s not the part that concerns me. It’s the mental aspect. But, in a sense, the hardest part is over.
Jonas: What’s that?
God: The hardest part was deciding that humanity is worth saving.
Jonas: When do you think you’ll give it a try?
God: It’s getting close. I would say, best guess, in a few hundred years or so. There’s still the question of time and place. If I’m going to do this, I want it to be in a time and place that makes the biggest impact.
Jonas: Any candidates?
God: I prefer warm weather climates. Once the last Ice Age ended, it was just a matter of time before such places would be abundant.
Jonas: I guess my little island is not such a place.
God: Sorry, Jonas, you’ll be long dead by the time I take action. But cheer up. If I’m successful, we’ll meet again someday.
Jonas smiled at the thought.
Jonas: Tell me more about this incarnation thing.
God: It’s tricky. My thought right now is to make this thing work I’ll need to actually be born into the human race just like any other human. Only thing is to maintain my deity I’ll have to be born without the help of a human father.
Jonas: That does sound tricky.
God: The human mother will do all the work.
Jonas: So, you’ll have no father?
God: Only a heavenly one. Of course, I’ll have a stepfather. But now we’re just talking details. I’m really just here to give you the broad outlines of what I plan to do and to answer any questions you might have about me.
Jonas saw the opportunity to ask some questions that had always intrigued him. God anticipated the first one.
God: Reality comes first or perhaps the beginnings of both of us are so close that for all practical purposes, Reality and I co-exist. Reality is basically nothing more than potential energy. I needed energy to create energy; to turn the potential into the actual.

Jonas: I see the logic of that. How can you create energy without energy?
God: Exactly. I knew you would grasp the concept.
Jonas: Why the need to become human in order to save humanity?
God: I can’t save humanity unless it believes in me and it won’t believe in me unless I personally come here as a real human.
Jonas: But if you just save everyone, they’ll have to believe in you whether you come here or not.
God: Say you were on a boat in the Adriatic Sea and a storm suddenly appears and you’re in danger of losing your life. Then, somehow, the ship seems to steer itself safely to the shore. When you reach the shore, you see me standing there and I tell you that I commanded the waves and the wind to bring you safely in. Would you believe me?
Jonas: Yes!
God: But not everyone is like you. There would be some, under the same circumstances, who would doubt my words and attribute their rescue to a quirk of nature. The only way for them to believe in me is for me to swim out to the boat and pull them back to shore. For them, only seeing is believing.
Jonas: Why bother with such people? Only save those who believe like I do.
God: I thought about that, but I rejected the idea. It’s either all or none.
Jonas: Well, I’ve glad you didn’t choose the none.
Jonas poured God (and himself) another cup of wine.
Jonas: I assume it’s very complicated what you plan to do.
God: It’s all hard but the hardest part is the technological challenge. We spirit beings are used to a simple existence. We don’t need to grow food, build houses, sail seas, perform surgeries, settle minor disputes, etc. We just go where we want when we want. Humans are much more complicated than us. That’s why I need to become human. So, I can really understand them.
Jonas then said something that slightly surprised God.
Jonas: It all boils down to the mind. That’s the essence of who we are.
God was intrigued. He told Jonas to go on.
Jonas: It’s become obvious to me, over time, that our minds occupy space in an invisible yet permanent manner. But the mind is also dependent on a physical brain housed in a physical body. Once we die, I suspect, our minds go into hibernation. A dreamless sleep, so to speak. Your great challenge, as you call it, is to find a way to link that mind in a new body of your making, one that is not subject to decay and death.
God: Very good, Jonas. I see that all time wandering around the island lost in thought was not wasted.
Jonas: But I do have one last question for you. Why go to all this effort to save humanity? Shouldn’t we be satisfied with this life, no matter how brief, no matter how fleeting?
God: I guess it’s because I care about humanity and it’s also because I enjoy the company and I don’t want to see it…