Cover photo: Media personnel maintain social distance as they interview health workers sanitising an area near Nizamuddin, after people who attended the religious congregation at Tabligh-e-Jamaat's Markaz, tested positive for Covid-19, in New Delhi. Photo: PTI
Do the devil and God have anything to do with Covid – 19? May be or may be not. We have a book in the Bible titled Job and this book could offer some help to answer the question. His story looks similar to the afflictions of the world these days. In a way the world has become Mr. Job. Let me very briefly describe Job and his travails. For brevity’s sake, I have omitted the conversations that Job had had with three of his friends and his wife. Those readers desiring to know more about Job are advised to read the full book in the Bible.
Mr. Job was a rich man. He had seven sons and three daughters. He had 7,000 sheep, 1,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys and many servants so that he was the greatest of all the people of the east. (Look, how world has changed: wealth is no longer calculated using the same yardstick as in the time of Mr. Job. The Ambanis and Adanis may have none of the possessions that Mr. Job had. By Job’s standard these modern day tycoons would be unreal beings and very poor too!). Mr. Job was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. His sons used to hold a feast in the house each one on his day and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. Job used to offer burnt offerings according to the number of his children after the partying was over for he feared that his children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Children continued with their partying. Well, not for long.
Up in the heavens sons of God – (my source is Gideon Bible. Catholic Bible refers the sons as “heavenly beings”, probably a word play to avoid blocking any sharp eye from picking it up and saying, “Hey wait a minute. How can Jesus be the only son when it is mentioned elsewhere that God has sons; meaning more than one”!) – used to come to present themselves to God. Satan also used to come over. After all, he is also a son albeit a fallen one. God asked Satan “From where have you come?” Satan said “From going to on earth and from walking up and down on it”. Then, God said “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Satan said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? You have blessed the work of his hands, and possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face”. That was too much of a challenge for God to ignore. Then God gave permission to Satan to do whatever he pleased except on the life of Job.
Satan attacks Mr. Job’s possessions one after the other. All his children are dead and his possessions gone. Even then, he did no curse God but said “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”. But Satan continued his work and Mr. Job was afflicted with all kinds of discomforting ailments known to men. Miserable though was he and yet he did not curse God.
Ending of the story
Evil loses out and goodness wins over. God blessed Job with a new set of seven sons and three daughters, exactly the numbers that he had lost. God gave 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys all of which were in excess of what he had earlier. I wonder why God did not resurrect the dead sons and daughters instead of giving new ones.
The writer, in his imagination, attempts to come up with an account of what must have transpired during the most recent heavenly meeting. As such everything below is to be seen as mere fictional account of the game that heavenly beings are playing currently.
We know that the godless China was inflicted with this virus first. It would therefore seem that in the usual meeting of sons of God with God, Satan must have boasted, “See, the people of China does not acknowledge you. They are in my pocket. They are very prosperous. In fact from being one of the poorest countries in 1949 when the present China came into existence, they have become the second largest economy and are on course to overtaking USA as the largest economy. Then God said to Satan, “Yes, I know it. I did nothing about it to spite the gospel preachers and other religious fanatics, who have made a business out of my name, that even without their help and saying many prayers concocted and invented rituals, it is possible for people exit, prosper and lead a good life. But now that you think that it was because of you that the Chinese are charging ahead over every other country, I will send one of my sons down to them and allow him to do everything short of destroying the country itself and then they will turn to me and curse you the devil, the fallen son. The devil said “Whatever you do; China will not leave me and shall remain godless as ever. They simply have no time for you unlike their next door neighbour India. God said to Satan, “We shall see”. Then God chose one of his sons and anointed him (just like he did with Jesus in later years) and sent him over to China.
The Anointed One and China
The anointed one began his work quite earnestly. He, in his desire to remain in the good books of God and not to become yet another fallen, began his work in a “more loyal to king than the king himself” fashion. He unleashed an unconquered virus to China (or caused China itself to release it, as the conspiracy school of thought alleges). God saw what his loyal son did and liked it and told Satan "the Chinese will now cry out to me”. But Satan was busy guiding China and the latter didn’t show any sign of bowing to God and instead went on to defeat the spread of the virus by separating the afflicted region from healthy ones. They completely quarantined the whole city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the chosen son’s attack. The chosen son had the mortification of seeing that he couldn’t do much to China. He turned to God and said, “Sorry Lord, nothing works with these Communists”. God said, “Just hang around. I will look the other way for now and leave them for another day, may be a hundred years from now. But, you don’t come back up. I see that my fallen son has something up his sleeves”.
Over to Middle East and Europe
Meanwhile, unknown to the son on earth, the Satan and God was continuing their game up in the heavens. Also, on earth the earthlings were playing games of their own. China is known to be persecuting Christians and Muslims. The earthlings belonging to these two groups began to delight at what was happening to China. Such delights were expressed sometimes internally within one’s own mind or through discussion among friends and families. The tech- savvy religiously minded people even put up videos on YouTube to the effect that China’s suffering was well deserved punishment from God.
Then Satan said to God, “Look at the Western world. They are known as Christian lands for namesake only as they have turned away from you and you are not able to do anything about it. Satan continued, “Look at Iran. They are so fiercely religious but are not so very tolerant of people who follow a different line of faith from theirs. Then God said, “I have been thinking a lot about these people. I sort of like the Western way of living. They are not going to man-made churches and bowing down before man-made gods and dropping money in the alms box as they have come to know the truth that I do not reside in man-made edifices and the money put in by them goes to someone’s pockets who laughs all the way to bank. These Europeans have been giving to Caesar what is his by paying taxes regularly, a portion of which is going towards maintenance of edifices built in my name so that they may find a place to bury their dead. Though I don’t reside in those edifice and you know well that I won’t touch the edifices even with a barge pole, now that you have mentioned it, I will have to teach the Europeans some good lessons and stop playing second fiddle to the Americans”. God then instructed the son,who was on the earthly mission, to leave China and go to Iran and work on them by releasing the virus first. God said, “They will surely become tolerant of other faiths and start begging for help from all their enemies which is pretty much everyone else”. Iran is very badly affected. Adding to their woes is the free fall in oil price on the one hand and on the other the obligation to continue to support a proxy war in Yemen. Iran stands humbled. But the devil too was busy with Iranians. He worked on their mind and ensured Iranian Mullahs with their warmongering and inbuilt hatred of the West continued. As of now, the Iranians are showing no sign of having changed themselves. Then Satan was pleased with the Iranians and told God, “Look at their rival Saudi Arabia. They follow a different branch of Islam from that followed in Iran, are always at the throat of each other. They too are intolerant towards other faiths”. God said, “Yes I know about it but spared them thus far as they have the oil and the world need them for that. Besides it gives employment to lot of foreigners. Some places like Kerala came out of poverty because of oil boom in the Gulf. But now that you mentioned, I will turn them to be more realistic to world realities and expectations”. The game continued and Saudi Arabia was immediately jolted. As of now both Iran and Saudi continue to be in the grip of virus with neither showing any sign of change in their attitude. “Who can underestimate the working of Satan? Looks like that even my (God’s) plans can go awry at times”; God thought to himself and regretted not taking back the powers of the fallen the moment he fell. God consoled himself “But then, who can run and manage the burning fire of hell without powers almost equal to mine”. God sighed.
Over to Europe
God then gave another assignment to the anointed son. He was asked to leave post in haste for Europe and begin doing what by now he has become well experienced at and gained much expertise. Italy is made to suffer the brunt of the virus followed by Spain, France – all Catholic countries or was once. Lest the Protestants may boast themselves of, God asked the anointed son on the earth to unleash the virus on to UK as well. The mayhem is playing out and taking its toll. Even the Pope is not safe. Reportedly one of his assistants died of the virus. He has managed to shift a cross known as San Marcello de Crosse that had miraculously been known to have saved Rome from the 16 CE (a period when Catholic brutality on people who didn’t toe their line of teachings, was institutionalized as the best practice to be adopted in every day living) plague that had engulfed Rome and the Pope will be doing his “For Rome and the World” blessing after placing the Cross at Vatican square. Europe is struggling as of now and hopefully will get to where China is now, reasonably completely free of virus. As of now Europeans appear in no hurry to return back to reviving Catholic practices and fill the churches. Hopefully, the Pope and his retinue of Cardinals will save themselves through their devotion to the miraculous cross. Hopefully, the devil will not challenge God by drawing his attention to the Idol worship that the worship of the cross entails. Hopefully, God will say enough is enough soonest as far as Europe is concerned.
Over to USA
By now the anointed son is really tired but here comes the order from God, “Move over to USA”. What was the provocation for God to ask so, wondered the chosen son. Unknown to him, the devil had said to God, “Look, how these Yankees boast themselves of? They had the gumption to call it “Chinese Virus” when they really had no idea of what was going on between both of us up in the heavens. Then God said, “I am really tired of these guys. Where there is trouble they are there. If there is no trouble, they will create one. They behave themselves as world policeman. For quite some time I have been thinking about them and to call America’s bluff and humble them”. The devil said, “Whatever you do, the Americans will always be Americans; treating everyone else as garbage”. God said to devil, “I will flatten their ego and teach them some good manners”. Despite being so tired, the anointed son is doing a “good” job by inflicting many Americans. In fact it has become the world capital of the virus attack. But Americans are Americans and will always be one with their bloated ego. As of now, the Americans are showing no sign of humbling themselves. The Devil says, “Serves them well. They are still shouting God save America in spite of it all. They too are my captives.”
Over to India
The devil challenged God, “Look at these Hindus in India. They have 33 crore gods. Thinking of it, it blows my head off. They worship the cow too”. They do not believe in One God concept. In spite of being under foreign occupation for over 1000 years, no one has been able to convert Hindus to worship you. Only about 17% of Indians have gone over to various other schools of faith”. God said “Variety is the spice of life. I sort of like their ways. I will keep it that way; howsoever the Evangelical lobby with deep pocket tries and makes them accept me”. Devil was somewhat perturbed and asked God, “Why do you want to keep them the way they are?" God replied, “Look, all the ancient civilizations of the earth have disappeared without a trace but not so Indian. I have allowed them to survive. Their civilization is a treasure trove of enlightenment and knowledge. The value and contents of their ancient texts are mind boggling. But I have made sure that they created caste differential among themselves and will argue and fight over it till the end of the world lest they should forget about their 33 crores gods. But I don’t want these Hindus to be like Christians and Muslims worshipping me alone. In fact the concept of one single god is alien to Indian culture. I made it that way from the time I created Indians as I knew that regardless to which god they prayed to, it will all end up at my doorstep. Look at their festivals; though most of them make me go crazy, they are a sight to behold. I love their Bollywood masala movies with many songs and dances. My only worry is that the anointed one currently on earth will not fall in love with beautiful Indian girls and produce children the size of giants as my sons did thousands of years before during Genesis period. But I won’t spare the Indians. I sense a bit of arrogance among some of the people there and the communal harmony is not all that good. I will send a small dose to them too”. As of now, India remains on this small dose. The country has locked down itself taking a cue from the Chinese. Hopefully, India will defeat the virus soon and the Hindus and their 33 crores gods can get back to business as usual.
The Devil said to God, “The prayer factories are a worried lot, the Christians the most. They have already lost out on this year’s harvest of collections during the so called Holy Week. That loss they can handle but the biggest worry is: Will the believers get too comfortable to watching the invented Holy Mass on the small screen. Will they stop coming to church altogether like their cousins in the Western world. In order to keep themselves relevant, the prayer factories are busy churning out prayers after prayers and putting them up on WhatsApp or You Tube”. God said, “I happened to come by one such prayer. A self-proclaimed and self-appointed alter ego of my son Jesus, is exhorting the faithful to recite Psalm 91. He was drawing the faithfuls' particular attention to the verse 7 “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you”.
Devil said, cunningly and very innocently, “What is wrong with Psalm 91?” God continued, “Does the priest know the meaning and full import of this prayer? Does the faithful know it either? Translated in plain language, it simply means, “I don’t given a damn if thousand or ten thousands are dying but I must be safe and you have to save me, please”. Nice way to pray! Is it not? These fools should have known that King Solomon wrote the Psalms. Solomon was made a king at a young age when others were waiting in the wings for the position. On the other hand, there were outside tribes who wanted to see the destruction of children Israel and considered the time opportune with the death of King David and ascension of Solomon. Thus, Solomon found himself surrounded by enemies from within and without. Under those circumstances, Solomon needed the kind of protections described in Psalm 91. The situation is different now. For example, India is not fighting Pakistan that Indians should all be reciting Psalm 91. The whole humanity is fighting an unseen enemy. Christians are such idiots and fools”. Devil said, “Yes I could not agree more with you. Remember, you had sent one of your sons to them and gave him the name Jesus but what did they do? They killed him but when you raised him up from his grave, they sent him back not as your son but as God Almighty himself! Why are you doing nothing about it?” God said, “I have saved it for later. When I send my son Jesus again back to herald the arrival of Kingdom of Heaven on earth, though with much destruction occurring at that time, my son will say, “Christians, all of you come to this side. Who among you believed that I was God? Then a whopping 99.90% of the assembled will raise their hands. Jesus will then say to them, “Off you go to the burning fire of hell, except those from the clergy”. Jesus will then turn to the remaining Christians, a mere 0.10%, “I thank you for knowing me as the one sent by the Father. I thank you for believing in the Father as the one and the only true God and me just a medium to reach Him. So, all of you shall share in the Kingdom of God. Devil asked, “Why the clergy is made to wait? God said, “You will see my son beginning to thrash them all, a thousand times more vigorously than he did it at his first coming. He will say to them, “You children of vipers, you taught all kinds of falsehood about me and converted houses of God into business outfits, making a fortune out of my name and creating an empire using my name and made fooling people your vocation”. God continued, “They will then be pushed over to the burning fire of hell”. The devil said, “This is good news for me. I will get more firewood than I can handle”.
Covid – 19
The devil asked God, “What about Covid – 19? When do we end our game”? God, said “You can return to where you belong, hell. I will ask my anointed son to pack up soon. Anyway, he will have to as the earthlings are making use of the brain that I have equipped them with and I have no doubt that they will discover a sure fire way to extinguish the virus once and for all. In the meantime, the world will suffer some collateral damage. Some people would have died. Economies of the world would have collapsed or be brought to the brink. But in the end and after a couple of years the world can rejoice as Job did”.
A Request to God and His Sons from this earthling of a writer
I know that I am nothing more than a grain of sand on the beach. I have this request and prayer to both of you all, God and his sons. Please play some other game for fun next time around when you meet for your usual gathering. Leave out the earthlings from these sorts of games, please. The universe that you, God, have created is so huge from what we humans have so far been able to reckon. If you must do something for the earthlings, there are thousands of nice ways of playing your games without hurting us. Please we are not your equals. I suggest that the next game that you all play, may the game be on the moon or in planet Mars or in both at the same time. We are overcrowded in this little planet and more than half of all other creatures of yours have disappeared thanks mainly to our greed. Please forgive all our excesses. I ask the devil son of you to throw a challenge at God in the next meeting. The challenge: The devil may ask God, “Can you make moon and Mars hospitable and inhabitable places and make it possible for earthlings to fly out, just like taking a flight out of Mumbai to New York, in under 24 hours. One more request, keep only 1/3 of the real estate in moon and Mars for the earthlings. Rest, please fill with all kinds of animals and plants that existed or subsequently evolved on earth before everything was destroyed so that the earthlings may start all over doing what they are best at doing – destroying for profit. I hope that God will take on that challenge. For now, please help our scientists find not only a cure but also fail-safe vaccine. Please also bless all those countries and homes that suffered just as you blessed Mr. Job with your boundless bounties.
Note: George Nedumparambil is a retired banker. He lives in Kochi, Kerala. His email id is email@example.com