Saturday, August 13, 2022
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The talk

W­hat am I doing wrong?

In a few weeks, I will be turning 51 and have been conversing with God nightly for almost as long. Nightly prayers are a habit drilled into me and my brother and sister by our grandparents; at first, were sented it, being made to memorize these obscure—as it sounded to us
then—supplications in English, but now, as an adult, I find myself doing it for a living. As a lawyer, I pray to the courts all the time for reliefs this and that for clients. Oh yeah, I pray to God, too.Eventually, the reluctant habit became a not-to-be-missed habit every night before I lay me down to sleep. There is something to be said about finding comfort in routine.

During all this time, though, never has God talked back. I look at myself as a reasonably devout Catholic who tries hard but stumbles every now and then, just like most people, I guess. If St. Peter were to conduct a due diligence on my soul, he will find that I have committed neither murder nor adultery. I confess to occasionally coveting my neighbor’s goods but I have never gone to the extent of stealing said goods. I may tell the occasional white lie but never
have I borne false witness against a neighbor.  I try to be a good daughter to my mom; I do not recall ever taking the Lord’s name invain or failing to keep holy the Sabbath day and definitely, I do not worship other gods.  As I said, I am not perfect and I do not try to be perfect, but I do try.

President Duterte must be doing something right if he says that the Lord talked to him. Last week, the President claimed that he requested God that those Filipinos who were victims of extrajudicial killings be received by Him into Heaven.  The President then claimed that God replied, “Pwede, pwede.”  Reassured by that heavenly guarantee, President Duterte finds himself at peace that the victims of extrajudicial killings would enjoy in heaven the human rights they
did not enjoy here on earth.  Oh, and he also made another request: he asked that God reserve the hottest place in hell for him—the President, not God—where he—the President, not God—may burn in all eternity.

Further explanation revealed two assumptions about this purported dialogue.  First is that God created—along with man, the sun, the seas, the stars, the earth and all creatures great and small—an oven. The second assumption is that only a stupid God would create an oven and then use said oven to burn his creation like a Thanksgiving turkey. And definitely, the President says, the God he worships is not stupid. So there we have it on good authority: God does not bake, he does not rotisserie, and when His creations disappoint him, He does not feel inclined to stick His Head in His own Oven and turn on the Gas.

It is hard to imagine a man like President Duterte having a nightly dialogue with the Lord. This is, after all, the man who cursed the Pope, God’s agent here on earth, and for good measure, later called the principal Himself “stupid.” This is the same man who, while tête-à-têteing with God, cut off all communications with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front to put an end to the longest-lasting rebel movement in Asia.  And this is the
man who refuses to discuss the Bill of Rights implications of his war on illegal drugs.

News coverage of the President’s alleged conversation with God implies that he was being sarcastic. Well, I hope so. I hope so because when someone asserts to me that he or she talked to God and that God actually talked back, my instinct would be to dismiss that assertion as crazy talk. I might even feel alarmed and feel a twitch of concern for this person especially when his or her eyes roll back to the back of the head and he or she starts mumbling in strange dialects, I might feel compelled to administer a slap to bring him or her back to sanity. I would feel no desire to be thanked for employing tough love because, after all, I was only doing what others
in my position would have done, as a public service.

However, I am willing to give the President the benefit of the doubt. If he says that he talked to God and that God talked to him, I believe him. He did something that other Catholics could only dream of: having an actual conversation with the Lord.  Only Moses had that honor, and Abraham, too, also Noah and the other Old Testament prophets, which places President Duterte in some mighty fine company. I wish he would tell me what God sounds like: is His voice a rumbling bass or a boy soprano?  Does he sound like Morgan Freeman or James
Earl Jones?  How did he get Him to talk?

I want tips. G


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