In a move which may surprise media commentators and distinguished theologians alike, God – known primarily for moving in mysterious ways – has bought a full page advertisement in The Independent newspaper to persuade erstwhile admirer President George W. Bush to take climate change more seriously.
The advert appeared on page 39 of the UK daily’s print edition dated 4 June 2007 – under the banner “George, it took Me 7 days of hard work to create this planet, Please don’t ruin it for me.” The full text appears on a website entitled http://www.forgodssake.org/ . It urges people to write to President Bush at the White House ahead of the G8 summit.
The Independent has so far been unable to clarify which of God’s earthly agents placed the ad, but the paper’s Customer Services department is taking the divine communication with due seriousness.
A helpful but nonplussed spokesperson told Ekklesia: “I am afraid I really don't know who was responsible for the advert. I've forwarded your query to a colleague who may be able to help you but she's not in until tomorrow morning.”
God, whose communications are almost always widely contested, comes across in the advertisement as well-informed and rather droll.
He or she writes: “Really George, I’m disappointed in you. What you are allowing to happen to my planet is a disgrace. You claim to have a ‘direct line’ to me, you’ve even said. Yet it seems to me it’s the oil companies who are speaking through you.”
Oil magnates were unavailable for comment, but it is thought that they will suggest that God is now part of a mendacious green lobby.
God continues his message to the US supremo: “When you meet with your fellow world leaders I would like you to reduce your emissions to save my planet from being destroyed by climate change.”
This divine endorsement for the global research consensus on the small but significant human contribution to global warming will come as a relief to commentators – who may have worried that the advert’s headline was an implicit criticism of Darwin, and thus part of an assault on modern science.
“The 'seven days' thing is clearly figurative and tongue-in-cheek”, a theologian told Ekklesia. “But I’m surprised at the prosaic signature [‘God’]. I was expecting something rather more apophatic and, well, squiggly.”
Some secularist groups are said to be infuriated by the advertisement. They are seeing it as "a deliberate conspiracy by well-funded spiritual forces to subvert the democratic process of largely non-religious corporate interests running the entire world out of existence."
But it seems that God has canny advisers. The Almighty has chosen to speak through a paper with definitely secular leanings and a very humble circulation – in keeping with previous low-key manifestations in stables and elsewhere. Also there is no divine declaration of affiliation to any one creed.
The Church of England is likely to welcome the divine choice of a broadsheet, and above all English, newspaper, and will offer God membership in the Anglican Communion provided that it can be proved that all members of the Holy Trinity are in full accord with the last Lambeth Conference resolution on sexuality.
There is some Establishment disquiet behind the scenes that God chose not to use either The Times or The Church Times for the dramatic message to President Bush. And the appearance of a German translation may lead to textual disputes and a possible global schism among all religions.
God was not available for further comment.
The issue of climate change remains a serious one, with a growing inter-faith consensus on the need for decisive action.
[With thanks to Sarah Hill]