Tom Halcomb awoke from the deepest sleep to a gentle nudge on the shoulder. As he opened his eyes, he jumped back, falling out of the bed. There, crouching next to the bed, was The Being.
He was human like in appearance, but huge, with white, luminescent skin and bright blue eyes. He appeared naked.
“Don’t be afraid, Tom,” The Being soothed, “I will never harm you. I love you. I am here with a special gift.”
Tom screamed, “Who are you? WHAT are you? How did you get into my house? You need to leave NOW!”
Again, the soothing voice: “Listen to my voice, Tom. It will calm you. Be at Peace, my son. All shall be revealed and you will have peace and joy beyond measure.”
As Tom listened, his fear somehow dissipated.
The Being unfolded himself and walked around to Tom. Tom could see him clearly now and the glow from his skin bathed the room blue-white light. Now with a clear mind, he could examine The Being more closely. He was massive, bowing his head slightly to keep from hitting the ceiling. He was thickly muscled with no visible genitalia.
He reached out, his massive hand enveloping Tom’s and encouraging him to sit on the bed. “Sit here next to me. I have great news for you.” Somehow the voice and the gentle touch gave Tom a confident euphoria.
Tom sat in awe next to The Being.
“You are highly favored and I have come personally to give you a special message and a mission, my son.” His voice was deep.
“Are you an angel?” Tom whispered.
The Being let out a joyful laugh. “More than an angel, Tom. I am the one who has loved you and all of your brothers and sisters since the Creation.”
“I never believed in God.” Tom bowed his head, his words were so quiet as to become little more than breaths.
“Do not be ashamed, my son, shame is from the Evil One. Look at my eyes and see the love and acceptance I’ve always had for you.”
Tom looked into The Being’s glowing eyes. Somehow their light penetrated his mind, his brief shame was replaced with an overwhelming sense of love and acceptance.
“I came here personally, my son, to give you a special message, a special place and a special mission. You can accept the mission or not, your place will always be secure with me. I gave you free will. I gave you knowledge. I gave you wisdom. You are free to choose.
“I have loved you and all my children from the foundations of the world. There are no conditions on that love. I accept you and all my children. I do not ask for worship or belief to receive my love. I do not require sacrifice or for you to act contrary to your nature to receive my love.
“Conditional love is only required by the insecure. By the inferior. It comes from The Evil One. His insecurity is what drives my children to hate, to kill, to wage war, to somehow believe a superior being is petty and jealous and angry. The Evil One promises them joy and then plagues them with guilt and shame. He requires them to deny their basic needs in order to ‘please’ him, to feed his insecurity. The Evil One’s greatest evil is he only cares for himself. In his mind, you exist only to feed his insatiable ego.
“For millenia The Evil One’s message has had many prophets. Well received and well compensated. These prophets have preached his lies and deceived the minds of most of my children.
“But the tide is turning. From the creation you have all had the ability to grow, to reason, to explore the universe. As you have done so, you have discovered so many of its wonders and have steadily given up your superstitions. The Evil One never wanted you to have knowledge because he knew if you did, his lies would be exposed and my children could no longer be deceived.
“In each generation I have chosen a prophet as well – someone to remind The Created I love them and only want for them to be happy. I am asking you to be my prophet. I know you are a man who is rational. I know you have never believed in me. Now you see me. Now you know I am real. You can touch me. Hear me. I exist. I am real.
“Being a prophet of love to my children will not be easy. They will not believe you. The Evil One has so deceived my children they will see you as the evil in their world. Your message of love will burn in their ears. You will be constantly attacked and criticized. You will be a pariah.
“But do not fear. I will watch over you. I will not allow them to kill you. The peace and joy you feel now I will keep in your heart so every day will be a happy one for you, no matter what others try to say or do to you.”
“What am I to do?” asked Tom, bewildered by The Being’s offer.
“Your task is simple: You are to go the places and people I lead you to and give them simple messages. Sometimes it will be a word of encouragement. Sometimes it will be a word of instruction. In the moment I will give you the exact person to speak to and the exact words to say.”
“What if they don’t listen?” Tom was already thinking through the consequences.
“Ah, they often will not. Do not let it worry you. You only role is to be the messenger, if they choose to ignore the message, their lives not yours will bear the burden. Your message of my love will empower most but anger some.
“If you get into a place where you are lost, where you are confused, simply call out my name and I will come to you and give you whatever you need. The Evil One, born from the beginning of time, will work hard to keep them from hearing your message. The Evil One will try to confuse you. Call my name and I will come and give you clarity.”
“But what is your name? Shall I call you Yahweh or Jesus or…?” his voice trailed off in question.
The Being laughed a hearty laugh. “Those are not MY names! I go by many names, but not those! The Evil One has so slandered my names to my children, my name, the name of love, the name of freedom they could call upon is rarely spoken except in disdain.”
“So what is your name?”
“You can call me ‘Lucifer’.”
Atheists are a misunderstood bunch, at least in the US.
Most readily accept Christians are a varied group, from Westboro Baptists to Popes we like to Billy Graham to Timothy McVeigh, but atheists are seemingly treated as homogeneous, amoral denizens.
The reality is far more varied.
Some are militant, some are evangelistic, some are egotists. Most are simply people, with children and jobs and bills and morals.
They reject God or Allah or Vishnu the same way others reject Zeus or Athena or Ares.
Part of the problem is they are just regular people. Like regular people they seek to fill their ego needs the same way all people do. They may take inappropriate pride in having no faith as if they makes them smarter than everyone else – in the same way some people of faith do. Being an atheist does not necessarily mean someone is smarter than someone who has faith.
They may use their lack of belief to act like an asshole, the same way a person of faith may use their faith to act like an asshole.
But atheists are just people who might reject some of the things you believe. They can still love you, accept you and be your friend or even your family. They are no less human, no more evil, no less moral than anyone you know. As a group. Again, anyone of any persuasion can be a dick.
If we are all human, we have a responsibility to care about one another. That transcends belief or non-belief.
“Pray to The True Rock,” they said.
So I prayed.
Sometimes it happened.
“See, The True Rock heard your prayer and answered.”
Sometimes nothing happened.
“You must not have prayed according to The Will of the True Rock” or “The True Rock is testing you” or “The True Rock is saying ‘Wait'” or even “It’s your fault, you need more Faith in The True Rock.”
Late at night, in the dark, huddled under the covers I wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t prayed to The True Rock. But I couldn’t share those thoughts with them.
They would just tell me to pray about it.