An Excerpt from The Fob Bible
A few weeks ago, B10 Mediaworx released the Fob Bible, an anthology of Old Testament stories reimagined as short stories, poetry, and drama by members of the Friends of Ben–a collective of Mormon and ex-Mormon writers. (Full disclosure: I’m Ben.) Since then, the book has received a glowing two–part review from Tyler Chadwick at A Motley Vision, while here at Main Street Plaza, Chanson has been so kind as to mention us in a couple of Sunday in Outer Blogness posts and now to invite me to share an excerpt from the anthology with you.
If you enjoy the short story below, please take a look at our (free) online sampler and then get your own copy of the Fob Bible. Proceeds go to LDS Humanitarian Services.
The Changing of the God
by B.G. Christensen
THUNder! LIGHTning! Old Testament God raised his arms high and peered down at Earth through an opening in the dark storm clouds. What part of Thou shalt have no other gods before me do you not understand? Dont make me come down there with another plague!
A beam of sunlight hit Oldie in the right eye and he turned, annoyed, to see the dark clouds parting, a white beacon clearing a path through the gray. A figure silhouetted by the light stepped forward. Songbirds and butterflies danced around this tall and lanky man while fluttering cherubschubby human-looking babies with the cutest little wingsscattered pink rose petals along his path. As the white-robed figure approached his features came into view: golden blond hair, sky blue eyes, and a smile that shone like a sunrise. It was, of course, New Testament God.
Oldie groaned. You here to kick Me out? His own two cherubimfour-legged creatures each with the faces of man, eagle, ox, and lion, and great brown wingslay at his feet. One of them yawned.
No way, Man. Newbies laugh rang as a choir of childrens voices. Im here to love You out.
Cute, Oldie said with a snort. He pulled at the tufts of wooly gray beard on his chin. Youre early.
Newbie glanced down toward the Earth. You ask Me, Im long overdue.
You think You can do any better? Be My guest. Theyre a rowdy bunch of thieves, murderers, adulterers, and blasphemers, every one of them. And dont even get Me started on the gentiles!
No way, Man, dont be so hard on them! Thereve been some good ones.
Not in years. Oldie stomped up the clouds to his throne, a grand thing of gold and silver, lined with the finest diamonds and rubies. His cherubim followed close behind, the lazy flapping of their great wings causing windstorms in Africa.
What about that Ezra fellow? Nehemiah? Malachi?
Dead for nearly four hundred years now, in Paradise along with the City of Enoch and the fourteen other people whove made it in.
Whoa, Dude, Newbie said. He whistled in disbelief and the air around him filled with tinkling bells and minty freshness. Are You serious?
Oldie raised a wooly gray eyebrow.
Oh, right, said Newbie. Serious is Your shtick. Well We have totally got to do something about that skimpy Celestial population. That is like, the worst retention rate ever.
Oldies fat lips curled into a smirk. Believe Me, Ive tried everything. I laid the Law out for them tittle by tittle, I gave them a land flowing with milk and honey, I even helped them kill their enemies, for My sake! Theres not much else to do, unless You go with his plan. He pointed downward with a stubby thumb.
Oh no, no, said Newbie, waving his perfectly-manicured hands in front of him, not that. I was thinking of just the opposite, in fact. See, Youve overburdened them with all these rules. Who needs rules? Im thinking in order to get into My Heaven, you really only need one rule: He made Ls with his thumbs and forefingers and framed an imaginary word in the air. Love.
Oldie tapped his calloused fingers on his lap. Love.
Love. Like, whereas Youre all like, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy, Newbie said, imitating Oldies thunderous voice, Im like, Dude, love everyone.
Yeah, everyone! Mind-blowing, isnt it? See, and Youre all, Thou shalt not commit adultery, and Im like, Pshaw! If youre lusting after a woman, youve totally already committed adultery in your heart. And its way not good enough to just not kill, cause if youre angry with your brother, youre so already in danger of judgment.
Wait, said Oldie, frowning. I thought You said there were too many rules. It sounds like Youre making more rules, not less.
Fewer. Newbie smiled sheepishly. You mean to say fewer.
Oldie sighed. Exactly.
No, You just dont get it. Newbie stretched his arms toward the sky and his cherubs flew up, throwing rose petals about like confetti. Trumpets sounded somewhere in the distance. Its not about the letter of the law, its about the spirit of the law.
Oldie shook his head. They wont like this. The children of Israel complicate things enough on their own; they dont need their God speaking to them in riddles. They like their bread flat, their men circumcised, and their Law straightforward. No frills for Israel.
And thats another thing. Ive been thinking, didnt We create all the peoples of the Earth? So in a way, arent they all Our children? Why limit Our interaction with the children of men to just a small portion and condemn the rest to endless damnation? Im thinking of expanding, going international.
An earthquake shook the Arabian peninsula and thunder echoed in the Grand Canyon as Oldie guffawed. HA HA HA HA HA! Dont spread Yourself thin, Boy. Im telling You, its hard enough to keep track of just the twelve tribes. The gentiles have their own pagan godslet Jupiter and Odin worry about their worshippers eternal salvation.
Newbie frowned, his light whiskers bristling in the folds of his furrowed chin. Man, You used to be cool. Whend You get so darn cynical?
Oldie peered at him from under half-closed eyelids. Talk to me in four thousand years.
Right. Newbie rolled his eyes and cleared away a section of clouds with a flick of the wrist. Well, Im going to get to work here. Youre welcome to pack up and leave whenever Youre ready.
Oh, no, said Oldie. He was beaming now, in a brighter mood than hed been in centuries. Im not going anywhere. I have no intention of missing this show. He slumped back in his chair and let out a great bellowing yawn. Besides, the Jews will still want me around. Theyll never accept You.
Isnt that the problem? That they dont accept You?
Oh, they accept Me. In their way. Theyre just children, though. They need a good spanking, now and again.
The light of Newbies complexion reflected in his cherubs sparkling eyes. I dont believe in corporal punishment, he said. I believe in love.
Seriously, said Oldie, exhaling through his majestic nostrils, dont. Theyll crucify You.
If thats what it takes, then so be it.
Please, Son, dont.
Oh, so now Youre all chummy? Newbie brushed away the butterflies and songbirds fluttering in his face. Maybe You think the children of men are a lost cause, but I dont. So, Father, unless Youre going to spank Me too
Look. Oldies nostrils flared wildly now, and he gripped the armrests of his throne. His fingers pressed into the gold. Im not being a pessimist. I know these people. Theyre not ready for You. They dont want some long-haired Teacher telling them to love each other. They want a Messiah, a general to lead them into battle. They want a wrathful God to destroy their enemies. And Im not just talking about the Jews now. Im talking about humanity.
Newbie tried to snort, but it came out more as a chorus of harps. Arent You the One Whos always saying theyre just children? Its not about what they want, its about what they need. They need love. Real love. Pure love.
Im telling You, they arent ready. Wait about two thousand years, for example, and therell be a generation of people who would wholeheartedly accept Your message of love and peace. Given the right circumstances, they could change the world with what You have to say.
Good. Theyll have My Word passed down to them from their ancestors.
Oldie shook his head. By that point Your message will be so tainted by centuries of war and bloodshed in Your name, they wont want anything to do with You.
War and bloodshed? In My name? Hellooo! Mems how Im the One teaching them to love their enemy? Its You Who goes around promising inhabited lands to Your people, then commanding them to slaughter the current inhabitants. Dont worry about Me; no one will be killed in My name.
Oldie rested his chin on his knuckles, closed his eyes, and let out a sigh heavy enough to shake the heavens. His cherubim lay at the foot of his throne, snoring peacefully.
Just fyi, Motley Vision is discussing another of Ben’s stories this weekend, also from the Fob Bible.
Thanks for the excerpt, Mr. FOB! It’s an amusing take on the conflict between Old Testament and New Testament morals. Weirdly, it seems true that many people prefer the angry, vengeful, petty-rule-focused OT God (see The Authoritarians). Maybe that’s the secret of The Bible‘s success: the conflicting theology means there’s something in there for everyone.
p.s. Sorry I haven’t gotten around to discussing the book until just now (I’ve been busy…), but I’ve finally gotten around to posting my review. 😀
Thanks! The Bible is like a box of deities–you never know what you’re gonna get.
This is fun and a delightful read, Ben. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Ben! I’m glad you enjoyed it.