Liking old buildings, he visits a church. Inside, a man in a black dress says, “Remove your hat!”
“This is the house of God.”
“Oh, OK.” He has no idea who God is. “God who?”
“God!” The cross-dresser seems annoyed.
“Just God? Not God Smith or God Jones?”
A bit pretentious to be known by only one name. Who does this God think he is, Madonna? Never mind. He takes his hat off.
Later, he asks the man in the black dress, “When are you expecting God back?”
“God is always here.” Odd reply! There’s no-one else here.
Maybe God is hiding between pews. He resolves to come back another time & speak to him. He will tell him he doesn’t care for his janitor.
It’s Sunday. He hears that God’s visitors tend to call on him on that day. So he goes to the church. Quite a few people there this time.
The man in fancy dress monologues at the visitors. It’s quite clear from what he says that God isn’t here today.
The visitors seem to like God but aren’t bothered that he hasn’t turned up for what appears to be quite a formal event, dedicated to him.
At one point the man in fancy dress even addresses God directly. Maybe this is some kind of conference call. But God doesn’t respond.
After a while the visitors leave. They seem perfectly happy to have been stood up.
He accosts the man in fancy dress. “Where is God?”
“God is everywhere.”
What a puzzling response! Surely he doesn’t mean that literally?
He probes further. “What do you mean, everywhere?”
“I mean everywhere.”
He looks around, feeling stupid. “I can’t see him.”
A pitying look.
“So he’s invisible?”
“In a sense.”
“Have you ever seen him?”
“Not with my eyes.”
Utterly perplexing! He feels out of his depth.
“What are God’s hobbies?”
How embarrassing! He panicked & asked a stupid question.
“He has only one hobby.” With a smile: “You.”
That sounds a bit creepy. He beats a hasty retreat. An invisible man who is everywhere & takes a special interest in him!
He reads up about God. He struggles to understand who or what exactly God is. More puzzling: God’s not on TV & there are no photos of him.
Sunday. He goes back to the church & asks the visitors who they think God is. Their answers vary. Some are vague, some seem defensive.
One or two look embarrassed, as if, deep down, they doubt that God exists.
He buys a notebook for his findings about God. He writes: invisible, everywhere, nice, beard(?), all-powerful, not responsible for evil.
More jottings: God = 1 being AND 3 beings (!!?!!!?), merciful, punishes bad people, made some bits of solar system (earth, sun, moon).
Days roll by. More for the notebook: had son, WAS son (!), answers prayers (not materially), capable of anything but does nothing.
Then a bombshell: he reads The God Delusion. He’s furious! He marches to the church with his copy. “Have you read this?” he screams.
The oddly-dressed bloke is speechless.
“It says here there is no God! So what’s all this crap you’ve been telling me?
“Why all these parties for God & story books about God & pictures of a man who was God (& wasn’t God) being executed? It’s bollocks!”
The oddly-dressed man replies, “You can’t prove there isn’t a God.”
He’s no logician, but he knows this is poor reasoning.
He goes home. Those church people! He feels as if he’s been mocked by people enjoying an elaborate game, who know that it isn’t real.
But the idea of God won’t leave his head. Why would so many people risk making fools of themselves for something non-existent?
This God business is getting to him. He feels vaguely guilty for not believing in him (he can’t even think of him as Him).
He meets people who believe in God. He feels he can’t say he doesn’t. Their belief is so absurd, he’d be embarrassed to contradict them.
Then the unthinkable happens. God appears on his doorstep. He knows straightaway it’s Him. God’s face is a collage of sugar & spite.
God scares him a bit. He looks bullish. Nevertheless, there are so many questions to be answered; so he invites Him in.
God tumbles into the flat in slow-mo, all cloud, thunder & groans. Then, gathering Himself, He directs His terrible stone eyes at him.
What should he say? He feels that the usual pleasantries one would exchange with a guest would be futile or inappropriate.
He decides to get straight down to business & ask some searching questions. But he’s unnerved by God’s smoky look of judicial hunger.
He retreats to a chair & sits. God billows over to the sofa & swallows it up with His mighty rump. A difficult silence ensues.
He considers his first question. “Who created you?” he asks, eventually. Awful silence. God shifts & hisses.
He repeats the question. No response. Then it occurs to him that God may not be able to speak. Maybe he should ask a yes-or-no question…
“Did you exist before the world?” A roaring up-&-down motion suggestive of a nod. “Did you make the world?” The same gargantuan movement.
“Did you make me?” Nothing. “Did you make the first man & woman?” An emphatic yes. “Are you benevolent?”
A good question, he thinks. Why assume that the supernatural being who created everything must be the embodiment of goodness?
God considers the question, steaming & fizzing in a blackish cloud. But he doesn’t answer. His silence is incriminating.
He has another one. “Are you omniscient?” God averts his eyes. “Are you immortal?” God emits a sort of bellowing sigh.
“Omnipresent?” Pause. “Omnipotent?” God turns scarlet; whether with humiliation or wrath, it’s hard to say. Best be quiet!
It has been an awkward interview. God looks quite deflated now; wispy, pale. Why did He come here in the first place?
God arranges himself into a watery pillar & falls towards the door. Fortunately it’s still open & He sluices away, into the empty night.
This was originally written as a series of tweets (thus the regular paragraph lengths!) and became part 11 of Still Life, published in Days of the Snowman