A crazy golf course has been installed in a Church of England cathedral at Rochester in Kent to help build bridges with younger people (www.anglicannews.org) ….
All morning something had been bothering the Archangel Gabriel, some sense that something was different, a gentle pawing at his brain like a puppy wanting to go for a walk. Eventually he realised what it was.
The Heavenly Choir was singing Rihanna’s Umbrella.
Gabriel sighed. What has He done now, he wondered.
He went and found God, who was staring perplexedly at a list on a clipboard. He looked up at Gabriel.
“I know I’m supposed to be omniscient,” said God, “but what on earth is Bingo Loco?”
“Search me,” shrugged Gabriel. “Perhaps it’s bingo for mad people, if that’s not tautology.”
“Mmm,” said God. “What about ‘prinking’?”
“Oh, I know that one,” said Gabriel. “It’s pre-drinking drinking.”
“What?” said God.
“You meet up in someone’s house and have a few drinks before you go out drinking,” explained Gabriel.
“That makes no sense,” said God. “It’s like having a nap before you go to sleep, or pouring rainwater on your head before you have a barbecue.”
Gabriel shrugged again. The process made his wings pop briefly above the level of his head, making him look like the White Rabbit. “Well, that’s what young people -”
He stopped, and looked at God. “I know what you’re doing,” he said. “You’ve seen where that cathedral in Kent put in a crazy golf course to attract young people, and you’ve decided to try it here.”
God nodded, a little sheepishly.
“Why?” asked Gabriel.
“Well,” said God, waving his arm around, “the people here now, well, er, they’re all very nice and all -”
“Obviously,” said Gabriel. “It’s kind of a pre-requisite for getting in.”
“- well, yes,” said God, “but they’re a bit, well, old.”
Gabriel raised an eyebrow at Him. “This,” he said, “from the being who has been around since the beginning of time.”
“True,” said God, “but this lot act old. They spend all their time moaning that modern footballers are softies, that rap music is just noise, that summers used to be sunnier. They start every sentence with ‘In my day’ and then bang on about how great it was, despite the fact that their day, depending on their age, typically featured something like the Black Death, or outdoor loos, or Dynasty. I thought some younger people might liven the place up a bit, so I’ve been looking up Generation Z, as I believe they’re called, to see what they’re interested in.”
“And what have you found?” asked Gabriel, intrigued in spite of himself.
“Well,” said God, “they think they’re the greatest generation that has ever lived, but all the generations above them think they’re feckless and entitled.”
“No change there, then,” said Gabriel. “That’s been going on since Adam and Eve thought their kids had it easy because they got to wear clothes.”
“Indeed,” said God. “Also, they are very concerned about the environment.”
The two of them looked briefly around them, drinking in the gentle warmth and sense of peace.
“Sorted,” said Gabriel.
As if on cue came a shrill drilling noise. Gabriel looked around to where St Eligius, Patron Saint of Electricians, seemed to be at work.
“Why is he standing on a ladder,” asked Gabriel, “although the ladder itself is standing on nothing and he can fly anyway, and why is he drilling a hole in the air?” (and why is it, he thought to himself, that although he’s clad head to foot in a celestial robe I still get the faint sense that I can see his butt-crack?).
“Appearances and tradition,” said God. “You know how important I think they are.”
“I do indeed,” sighed Gabriel. “St Peter’s been asking you for years to introduce automatic check-in at the Pearly Gates, says it would save him hours of paperwork, but you keep turning him down because of appearances and tradition.”
“They reassure the customers,” said God, “who expect everything to be exactly as they’ve read about. Otherwise we wouldn’t actually need the Gates at all.”
“What’s Eligius doing anyway?” asked Gabriel.
“Putting in wi-fi,” said God.
“Wi-fi?” exploded Gabriel. “What happened to tradition?”
“Meh,” said God dismissively. “We need wi-fi so that the young people can -” he looked down at his clipboard – “‘Netflix and chill’.”
There was a short silence.
“I think you’ll find,” said Gabriel eventually, “that that doesn’t mean what you think it does.”
God looked confused.
“Look,” said Gabriel, “none of this is going to make young people want to come here, because there’s only one way of getting here, and they don’t want that. They have their whole lives in front of them, young lives at that, full of fire and passion – passion for causes, and for partners, and for living. Loves and break-ups, friends and unfriendings, joy, despair, boredom, Twitter, the Kardashians, Pride parades, hysterical tears but also hysterical laughter.”
“Sounds like hell,” said God.
“Sounds like life,” said Gabriel. “Let them live it.”