Mrs. Waters continued. “Next, the eighth question. What’s the most important lesson from Adam and Eve’s tasting the forbidden fruit? Six?”
“I wouldn’t touch nothin’ if anybody said it would kill me — especially Jehovah.”
Chubby-faced Seven said, “You shouldn’t go naked outdoors.”
Five smelled of the milking barn. “Stick with dairy products. They’re better than fruits and vegetables.”
The chauvinistic lad in the Two chair said, “Eve should have asked her husband first—before doing anything except shopping, washing dishes, and cleaning the house.”
Four: “Don’t expect to receive reliable knowledge about good and evil from Satan.”
Eight was a mousy girl with wild brown hair. Tina hadn’t heard her speak since she arrived at Shepherd’s Vale. The newcomer cringed when she heard her poor classmate’s first words.
“S-s-s-serpents s-s-s-scare me!”
Another Moses Mouth!
“Don’t let snakes tell you what to eat.”
Blonde Three said, “I answered, ‘Obey whatever God says without question.’”
“That’s the right answer,” Mrs. Waters advised.
Mercy and Tina signaled that had the same answer.
“That doesn’t seem fair,” Four objected. “Adam and Eve didn’t know diddly squat about their garden. God should have warned them about the serpent right after He created it. Then they could have made an informed choice.”
“God didn’t have to give a briefing to new recruits,” Two added, hoping for extra credit to keep his rank.
Mercy elaborated. “Sure, God could have warned Adam and Eve, but He didn’t. Why? That would have been cheating. He demanded unquestioning Biblical obedience not liberal ‘choice’. They didn’t get a choice until they developed consciences in the second dispensation in Genesis 3:7. In the first dispensation, they should have known to follow orders and ask questions later. God isn’t a feel-good, fuzzy-wuzzy Teletubby on socialist Public TV.”
Number Three added, “Right! Just like we follow Principal Godley’s orders without question.”
Tina raised her hand. “I think that you can’t be too hard on anyone in the story. You can sympathize with Adam and Eve because they had never dealt with a God before. But this was God’s first experience dealing with people too. It was a steep learning curve for all three of them.”
Mercy leaned forward to address Tina across the teacher’s desk. “That’s so liberal, Ten! God knew they were going to screw up, because of original sin. If they’d done the right thing, they would have been as good as God. They would have known everything, lived forever, and we’d never get around to the next six dispensations. That’s what we mean when we say that everyone has original sin. To be human is to be a rotten sinner. That’s plain common sense.”
“What a thoughtful discussion,” Mrs. Waters said, “but we still have two true-or-false questions. First, ‘Did God give the Ten Commandments to everyone?’ ”
Jeremiah explained his latest prophecy to his friends Jonah and Joshua.
“George W. Bush may not be smart enough to know he’s the Antichrist. He’s just playing the role. Losing the election only to be declared the winner by the painted harlot and the Supreme Court might appear to a simple-minded person like Bush to be a miracle wrought by God’s guiding hand.”
Jeremiah recalled additional details about the aftermath of the building collapses that he had prophesied by the bubbling brook.
“Instead of asking how Bush and Cheney could have allowed such an obviously preventable disaster to occur under their watch and holding them accountable, the American people will instead grant them more power to continue to screw up. After the tragedy, the United States will have the sympathy of the entire world. Even Muslim opinion will condemn the perpetrators. Under those heady circumstances, why would it occur to Bush that he is really the Antichrist whom God imposed on America to warn wayward Christian Republicans to wise up?”
Jonah reached over the seat and gripped his comrades’ shoulders.
“Listen guys! I just thought of this. Look at the lawlessness and deception connected to Principal Godley’s unconditional support of Isaac’s Israelis over Ishmael’s Palestinians! Ariel Sharon is destabilizing the entire Middle East. Every day he violates all the Ten Commandments wholesale. But our so-called ‘Christian’ support is based entirely on airbrushing Ishmael out of the Bible. Maybe Christian Zionism is the creation of antichrists!”
He reminded them that Ishmael was Abraham’s older son and received a divine blessing in Genesis 17:20. He was present at Abraham’s burial. Like Jacob, he was the father of twelve sons who were the ancestors of twelve tribes in Genesis 25:16.
“God gave the land to Abraham’s seed. Isaac and Ishmael should share!”
“Maybe dispensationalism is—”
“Don’t say it!” Joshua shouted. “I’m confused enough already.”
“Well,” groused Jonah, “Jeremiah’s prophecies are forcing us to think for ourselves. God gave us brains and language, not four legs and a coat of wool!”
“Good!” exclaimed Jeremiah. “Now we’re getting somewhere!”
“Somehow it’s still hard to imagine,” Jonah confessed, as he fell back into his seat, “a playboy like Bush with low academic grades, spotty military service, scant managerial experience, and a string of business failures becoming an absolute dictator like Adolf Hitler. Bush is just not smart enough to be a competent antichrist.”
“Adolf Hitler was no Rhodes Scholar,” Joshua snapped.
Jonah quipped. “Dubya can’t even paint watercolors like Hitler did. It’s really hard to imagine George W. Bush president, much less a world class antichrist.”
“Well,” said Joshua, “it’s harder to imagine Dick Cheney as Satan. He looks like an extra in Cocoon. So who is Obama von Laden?”
“Osama bin Laden,” Jeremiah corrected.
He explained how the wealthy Saudi Arabian Muslim was the political creation of the United States government. He got his start driving the “Satanic” Soviet Union out of Afghanistan in the early ’80’s. The Central Intelligence Agency funneled a billion dollars to him through Saudi Arabia and Pakistan’s secret service. After the Russians left, the United States forgot all about Afghanistan and let its people languish, so bin Laden decided the United States was the new Satan.
“First he didn’t like Russian troops occupying a Muslim country. Now he resents American ‘Crusader Christian’ troops stationed in Muslim Holy Lands, and he opposes our country supplying money and arms to keep corrupt and phony Islamic dictators in power in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. And he hates the fact we are the primary supporters of Israel’s brutality against the Palestinians and that we back the Jews’ refusal to share Jerusalem with Muslims. After all, Muslims call the Temple Mount ‘Al-Haram al-Sharif’ and revere the mosques as the third holiest Islamic shrine.”
“Well, I hate to say it,” said an emboldened Jonah, “but God seems to agree with the guy — at least according to the idea of the ‘new Roman Empire’ of Jeremiah’s prophecies.”
“Well,” said Jeremiah, “someone is going to look out after Osama bin Laden. Even after bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age and a costly worldwide manhunt, Bush and Cheney will never find him.”
“Is he a master of disguise?” Joshua asked.
“Hardly,” said Jeremiah. “He’ll keep showing his face in videotapes that he smuggles to the media. He’s hard to miss. The guy is a 6’6” Arab with a beard and turban, travels with several wives and many children, and requires regular dialysis treatments. He’d stick out even in a crowd of Muslims.”
“Another miracle,” said Jonah.
“Makes you feel religious,” added Joshua with sarcasm.
Jonah complained, “I don’t feel religious, I feel screwed. The CIA could have saved a billion dollars of the taxpayers’ money. I can’t even visualize what a billion dollars looks like. It must be thousands of millions.”
Mathematical Joshua jumped at the opportunity. He pulled out his pocket calculator from the bag resting at his feet. The practical lad’s response to morally troubling questions had always been to escape into figures — as if questions of value could be clarified by quantification.
“No, a billion is one thousand million,” he said, thumbing through his favorite little fact book. “Let’s see, the thickness of a treasury note is 0.0043 inch. The bills are all the same regardless of denomination. I have to figure the height of a billion dollars stacked flat in one hundred dollar bills.”
He calculated the stack would be 43,000 inches or 3,583.333 feet high. He pulled a set of current drawings from his architectural class folder and read off some figures.
“The height of World Trade Centers 1 and 2 are 1,368 feet and 1,362 feet. So you could stack hundred dollars bills to the top of both observation decks and you’d still have enough left over to reach the roof of World Trade Center 7 (528 feet) with 325 feet of hundred dollar bills left. That would be enough to paper a couple of layers over a round hole in the Pentagon big enough for a guided missile to pass through.”
He scratched his head and looked first at Jonah and then Jeremiah.
“That’s a billion dollars. Total margin of error three to five inches, depending on temperature, humidity, and the circumference of the Pentagon missile.”
After long moments of awe and reflection, the boys watched the Ten Commandments monument come into view. The Einstein sisters’ yellow school bus was passing it.
Jeremiah pulled the car over and looked straight into Joshua’s eyes.
“World Trade Centers 1, 2, and 7 are the buildings that Osama bin Laden’s followers will take down if George W. Bush steals the election next month.”
Joshua was shaking so hard that he dropped his calculator on the floor of Jeremiah’s VW. “Someone is going to blow up the World Trade Center! You prophesied the new Roman Empire’s fortress. Didn’t you mean the Pentagon? I thought you were talking about tall buildings in Washington, D.C.!”
“The Pentagon and the World Trade Center,” said Jeremiah. “I saw them fall in my vision!”
Joshua twisted around in his seat and shouted to Jonah, “We’ve got to wake people up! The Republicans must be stopped from stealing the next election. This is a vital issue. We’ve got to discuss it in Mr. Cassandra’s class.”
“Right!” said Jonah. “Along with the truth about Abraham’s seed. We need a special school assembly. Even Shepherd’s Vale Kindergartners are taught about Jehovah’s covenant with Abraham. Dr. Godley shows first graders messianic Israeli settler videotapes.”
“We’ve got to stop Bush and Cheney — Antichrist and Satan,” Joshua declared.
“We’ve got to stop the Antichrist, Satan, and Ariel Sharon,” Jonah corrected. “We’ve got to stop Isaac before he kills more of Ishmael’s seed.”