Tales of the Divine Comedy
by Thomas Ragazzi and Dr. Philip A. Pecorino
The EARTH SHOW
In a lighted room, somewhere, a conversation between two was going on:
“The point is that they are held in awe. This is the aim of all supernatural religion,” said one.
“Right. In order to have an adequate and proper effect, they must be held in awe,” agreed another.
“But let us come to terms on the definition of the term.”
“To define ‘awe,’ we must be comprehensive.”
“Yes, go on.”
“So in order for one to be held in awe, one must feel respect, admiration, reverence…”
“These must be felt strongly…”
“And fear. We must not forget fear.”
“Of course. Fear. Fear, but not verging on terror, for our purposes at least.”
“Yes, and only to a certain point.”
“True. Only to a certain point…”
A few days later…
In a suburban family home somewhere in America on a Saturday morning, a husband was in his living room watching the news on television. Suddenly, his eyes widened and he called to his wife:
“LeeAnn! Come over here! You need to see this! I don’t believe it! You need to see this!”
LeeAnn ran to the living room.
“What is it?! What?! What’s going on?!”
“Look at this!” he said, and pointed to the television, which was on the NTN News Network.
The broadcaster, Darin Johnston, spoke:
“Yes, ladies and gentlemen. You have heard it right. It is an unexplainable event. Perhaps a miracle…”
“What is it?! Will he get to it?” said the wife.
“Watch,” said the husband.
“An unexplainable event has occurred in Rome. Vatican City, yes folk, Vatican City has been taken, has been taken up by its roots and is now floating over Italy…”
“What?!” exclaimed the wife.
“Watch,” said the husband.
“…Catholics all over the world are taking this to be a sign, a sign from God, and they are trying to decipher its message…”
The news station showed video of Vatican City floating about 100 feet in the air.
“Is the pope alright?” asked the wife.
“He’s fine,” responded the husband. “In fact, he’s set to make a speech about this within the hour.”
“Amazing,” said the wife. “Never in my lifetime did I ever think I would live to see a thing like this.”
Within the hour, the venerable head of the Roman Catholic faith began his speech, which was televised world-wide from his chambers:
“Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“Today the world has witnessed what we may call evidence of God’s intervention in the affairs of man. Our holy city[i] has been chosen for this blessing, and a miraculous blessing it is, as our city is the seat for the one faith that Christ established on earth, the Church that always existed and will always exist. It is our one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church alone that contains all the elements that Christ Himself instituted[ii]. Therefore, it is no wonder that the seat of our Church has been chosen by God to be the vessel of His most holy message dedicated to the whole of mankind for its salvation. Thus, the most accurate reading of this miracle’s message is that we must be ever contemplative of the Way of the Cross and understand that the cross itself is a sign of God’s love as well as a calling for us to answer Christ’s call and follow His way, as passed down in apostolic succession to our holy Catholic Church.
“Let us now take comfort in the guidance of Mary, Mother of Christ, who gave birth to the Word so that we may all have everlasting life when we put our faith in Him. Amen.”
Within minutes of the pope’s speech, socialists in Venezuela and even in Russia were publically repeating their calls that “Jesus was the greatest socialist” and “Jesus was the first socialist” respectively.
An hour later, as the couple was sitting in front of the television mesmerized by the events that were occurring, the broadcaster was interrupted by someone speaking in his ear.
His eyes widened and he said:
“Viewers, you are not going to believe this, but the Kaaba, one of Islam’s holiest shrines, located in Mecca, has been ripped from its roots in the ground and is now levitating in the air. The estimates are that it is floating about 100 feet above the earth’s surface. This is truly amazing folks. Two miraculous events in one day. And from our reports we hear that many of Islam’s most respected and revered clerics are saying this is a sign from God. This is truly amazing, folks. Unbelievable. Unfathomable. No, we are not dreaming. This is no fantasy. This is real. We are witnessing real miracles, ladies and gentlemen.”
Video was shown of the floating Kaaba and all the pilgrims in a circle on the ground on their hands and knees as if worshipping it.
After the cameras at the news station went off, the broadcaster shook his head saying, “unfreakingbelievable!” and kept shaking his head.
Meanwhile in a café in Buenos Aries, Argentina, two men were discussing the events of the day.
“God is truly blessing this generation by choosing us to witness these holy miracles.”
“Correct. Why would he choose us out of all other generations? There must be something special about our generation.”
“True, but also for our Holy Catholic Church. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Vatican was chosen for this miracle.”
“But there was also a miracle in Mecca, right?”
“Yes, but the miracle in Rome occurred before the one in Mecca…”
“Ah, I see…”
“…proving the legitimacy of the Roman Catholic Church as the One True Church over all other religions.”
“Ah, yes. Agreed.”
Back in America, Darin Johnston spoke about new developments in the miracle story.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have more breaking news. This just in: The Tomb of the Patriarchs, which is located in Hebron, Israel, is now levitating in the air. For our viewers who are not familiar with the Tomb of the Patriarchs, it is the burial place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their wives. It is one of the holiest places for the Jewish people. This is fantastic, folks. First Vatican City, then the Kaaba, and now the Tomb of the Patriarchs. On a personal note, and I know I shouldn’t be saying this because I’m a professional reporter and we are supposed to be objective without bias, but I think my beliefs are changing. I must confess that I was always an agnostic, but after seeing these three miracles, seeing the video and photos, and having them verified and confirmed, I think I’m a believer now. I think I am a real believer.”
Video footage was shown of the levitating tomb and the people on the ground, mouths agape in awe.
An hour later, Mr. Johnston came on the air with this new development:
“Ladies and gentlemen, our network has asked the Vatican for their response to the fact that Vatican City is not the only recipient to be blessed with God’s miracle. The Vatican gave this response to our question: ‘The Holy See continues to affirm that the Catholic Church is the one and only Church that is in full apostolic succession and has all the traditions that Christ Himself established, notwithstanding that other churches and ecclesial communities that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church have varying elements of truth that are present in them[iii].’”
Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Rabbi David Weisenstein, a noted expert on miracles and the Jewish faith, was holding an impromptu conference sponsored by a Jewish organization about the recent series of events publicized worldwide.
“This is a blessing, my friends, a blessing upon the Jewish people. To think that Hashem[iv] would look so highly upon us, upon our generation, and give us a magnificent sign as he did with our most sacred Tomb of the Patriarchs, which houses our most revered forefathers. It is truly a blessing upon the Jewish people. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are literally being raised. I believe we can interpret this as a message from Hashem that our traditions, passed down to us by our forefathers, are most favored by Him. It is a reminder for us to continue in our faith. It is a reminder that we can overcome all obstacles before us as we have our traditions to strengthen us. I also see this miracle in Hebron as a sign that our messiah will soon arrive to save our people and our land of Israel.
“Now I have also been asked about how the miracle in Hebron relates to the miracles in Mecca and Rome. We, that is, our organization that has sponsored this conference, have hired experts to measure the distance the Tomb of the Patriarchs has risen from the ground. And our experts have calculated that it is 107.5 feet above the earth’s surface. Now let us compare the miracle in Hebron with the miracle in Rome. Our experts have calculated that the Vatican has risen approximately101.5 feet above the earth’s surface. Now our experts were not allowed near the Kaaba in Mecca, though we tried, but we can give an approximation through photos and video footage that the Kaaba can be no more than 98 feet above the earth’s surface. When one does the math, one may see Hashem’s true message here: that our traditions ‘rise higher’ than other traditions. And this is not just my interpretation here. We are being mathematically precise. Indeed, let us do another calculation. The number given to the Hebron miracle may be rounded to 108, while the Rome miracle may be rounded to 101, the difference between them being seven. And we know Hashem’s affinity for this number. The Torah begins with a verse that contains seven words. Hashem created the earth in six days and on the seventh day He rested. Shabbat[v] is the seventh day of the week. And there is much more scriptural and mathematical evidence to prove that the message of Hashem, seen through these recent miracles, is precisely for the Jewish people.”
After ending his speech, Rabbi Weisenstein took questions from those attending the conference.
Meanwhile in Medina, Saudi Arabia, Imam Ali Hakim-Jandal, a renowned scholar on Islam, its laws, and traditions, addressed his audience in a conference sponsored by an Islamic organization. The topic at hand was the miracles in Mecca and Hebron.
Imam Hakim-Jandal began:
“Good morning gentlemen. I have convened this conference for the purpose of elucidating the meaning and significance of the great holy miracles in Mecca and Hebron, and to give praise to Allah for them. These miracles are a direct message from Allah to His loyal followers of Islam and to the wider world. It is no coincidence that Allah has chosen our sacred Kaaba and the Sanctuary of Ibrahim[vi] on which to perform His miracles. This fact that two of the three miracles we have been recently blessed with involve holy Islamic sites makes clear the favor Allah has toward the children of Islam. And let us go deeper into the meaning and message of these miracles. Allah’s miracle at the Sanctuary is significant because Ibrahim, our great prophet, peace be upon him, is significant. Through Ibrahim came his son Ismail[vii], peace be upon him. And through Ismail’s line came our most holy prophet Muhammad, Khatam al-Nabiyyin[viii], the final prophet, peace be upon him. The Kaaba, of course, is the most sacred site in Islam. Our holy Qur’an indicates that Ibrahim and his son Ismail were the builders of this wondrous holy shrine dedicated to the worship of Allah. It is where we, as Muslims, must perform the Hajj[ix], which is obligatory for believers of our faith. And it is no coincidence, my brothers, that we first see the miracle at Mecca with our most sacred Kaaba, which was built by Ibrahim, and then we see the miracle at the sanctuary where Ibrahim is buried. These two miracles and their connection with the prophet Ibrahim is conclusive evidence of Allah’s favor toward His children of Islam.”
After Imam Hakim-Jandal concluded his speech, he took questions from his audience.
Back in the United States on the NTN network, Darin Johnston spoke about new developments in the miracle story:
“Ladies and gentlemen. We have more breaking news. Three new miracles have been reported. The Sanctum-Sanctorium of the Birthplace in Nepal[x], the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in India[xi], and the Hanging Gardens of Haifa in Israel[xii] are all now levitating in the air. These are all real miracles right before our eyes, folks.”
Video and photos were shown of these three recent miracles to the viewing television audience.
Mr. Johnston continued:
“We are privileged to bring you three distinguished guests who will talk about the latest miracles. First, we have Sonam Chan, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama. Next, we have Aamin Chakpram, a noted expert and scholar on Hinduism and India, and finally Mahtab Mokri, a spokesman for the Universal House of Justice, which is the supreme governing body of the Baha’i faith. First, let’s start with Mr. Chan. Mr. Chan, how should a member of the Buddhist faith view these miracles, which took the whole world by surprise?”
“Buddhists should see these miracles as a clarion call for all beings to seek the path to Enlightenment. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, has just put forth a statement to this effect saying that these miracles are a sign that mankind will soon have a spiritual awakening that will bring us all that much closer to the Truth.”
“Thank you, Mr. Chan,” said the broadcaster. “A very hopeful message. Now to Mr. Chakpram. How do Hindus see these miraculous events?”
“Sir,” responded Mr. Chakpram, “Hindus the world over are seeing these miracles as divine messages, in other words, instructions to mankind that we as human beings must not be attached to worldly desires and instead must be contemplative of the spiritual realm. We must focus our meditation on Krishna, that is, God, and not get stuck in the mire of the physical aspects of this world.”
“Thank you, Mr. Chakpram. Mr. Mokri? What is the position the Baha’is take on these miracles?”
“Yes, well this is what we Baha’is have been saying since our religion was founded and now we see contemporary evidence of it through God’s miracles,” said Mr. Mokri excitedly. “We have always acknowledged that there is truth to all religions, and this is the exact message God is sending by creating miracles at the holy sites of virtually all the world’s major religions. It is God’s call for all of us to put aside our differences and unite under our common love and reverence toward God.”
“Thank you, Mr. Chan, Mr. Chakpram, Mr. Mokri. These are some fascinating insights we have heard today. Thank you, gentlemen. Folks, we have some statements released by the offices of three major religious groups, and I will now read them to you. The office of the Anglican Communion sent us this statement: ‘The Anglican Communion and its affiliated churches acknowledge the recent miracles as divine in origin as we continue to press for a world that honours God and His only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.” The Presbyterian Church (USA) released this statement: ‘The miracles that have been occurring in various cities throughout the world must be seen as Christ’s message to all that it is God alone who must be the object of our worship and the path to God is through His Son, Jesus Christ.’ And a statement just released by the Unitarian Universalist Association says this: “We ask that the entire human race let the light of these miracles elucidate the right spiritual path that we must choose for ourselves as we follow the spirit of life as our guide.’
“There you have it. Those are the official statements of three major religious groups in response to today’s miracles. But here’s something new for you. The president of, or should I say, former president of American Atheists, Joshua Gold, has released a statement of his own. The statement reads: ‘I thank all of you who have followed and supported me as president of American Atheists, but I know when I am wrong. My pride is not so great that I cannot admit this. I therefore resign my presidency of American Atheists. And I have now enrolled in studies to become an Orthodox rabbi, as I am going back to the faith of my ancestors. I am home now. I am home once again.’
“Wow, folks! That was unexpected…But wait! This just in. The new president of American Atheists, Wendell Caruthers, has just released a statement. It reads: ‘Now that we know that God exists, it is our job as new atheists to bring Him to account, to question Him on all the crimes that have been done in His name, to question the role He has played in those crimes, and to question why He never intervenes, when He is quite able to, and ends the suffering that is endemic to the human condition. In effect, He must be called to account so that we may express disgust at His behavior.’”
After Mr. Johnston finished reading the statement, he gave a long whistle and said: “Boy, I’d hate to have his soul.” Then he shook his head in disappointment with Mr. Caruthers.
Mr. Johnston continued:
“But folks, we still have another discussion coming up. Two experts in the fields of their respective religions, Rabbi David Wiesenstein and Imam Ali Hakim-Jandal will video conference with us to discuss their interpretations of today’s miracles after our commercial break.”
After five minutes of commercials, sponsors were fighting like hell and outbidding each other for the airtime, the broadcaster came back on the air.
“Welcome back, folks. So let us now come back to our two distinguished guests, Rabbi David Wiesenstein and Imam Ali Hakim-Jandal, who are joining us via video conference. First, let us start with Rabbi Wiesenstein. Rabbi, how do you interpret God’s recent miracles that mankind has been so blessed to witness?”
“Yes, well thank you for having me. These miracles are evidence that Hashem, God, is still there for His people, that He has not left the world. It is a call for us to continue to worship Him. And I believe it is in particular a message to the Jewish people, as we see the evidence for this in the miracle at the Tomb of the Patriarchs where our forefathers and their wives are buried. It is truly a miraculous day in Jewish history for our generation to…”
“Wait,” interrupted the imam, “can I just make a comment on what the rabbi just said?”
“Sure. Go ahead,” said the broadcaster.
“How can the rabbi say these miracles are solely for the Jewish people when there are so many of them occurring in all different parts of the world? And he says the miracle at the Sanctuary of Ibrahim is Allah’s, that is, God’s message to the Jewish people. The Sanctuary is in Hebron, which is in the Palestinian Territories. The Sanctuary is an Islamic holy site.”
The rabbi was just shaking his head in disagreement.
The imam continued:
“And in addition to the miracle in Hebron, we have the miracle at Mecca with our most holy Kaaba. The fact that the Muslim people have been the recipients of two of Allah’s new miracles, the only religious group to be so blessed, is evidence of His favor toward our people. It should give all Muslims a true sense of pride.”
“No, no. Wait a second,” said the rabbi. “So you’re saying not only is the miracle in Mecca for the Muslim people, but so is the one at Hebron? The Tomb of the Patriarchs was a Jewish holy site before Islam ever existed. And now you’re stealing that miracle to make your religion look good, to make your religion look like the one, true religion?”
The imam laughed and said, “Are you really bringing up stealing? Rabbi, really?”
“No. Don’t go in that direction, imam,” said the rabbi, and he shook his head.
“I will go in that direction. You brought it in that direction. The Jewish people stole the entire land of Palestine from the Muslim people and you’re saying that I’m stealing?”
“You know for a fact, imam, that that land belonged to the Jewish people way before the Muslim people even existed. You know it, imam. It is our birthright, as evidenced in the Torah, which you as a Muslim accept, correct?”
“And your people lost that land due to your iniquities, as it states in the Torah, rabbi.”
“And we got it back, as Hashem promised He would give His people their land back, as it so states in the Torah, imam.”
“No, you stole it back, rabbi.”
“And your people are terrorists, imam. They blow themselves up, killing women and children, so that they can blackmail governments to change their policies because your people are not intelligent enough to get what they want through normal political outlets.”
The imam took off his microphone, saying, “I don’t have to take this abuse,” and stormed out of the Saudi newsroom.
The rabbi too took off his microphone and stormed out of the Israeli newsroom likewise, saying, “I don’t have to take this abuse either.”
The broadcaster, amazed at the interchange, said, “That was an amazing debate. Folks, we’ll be back after our commercial break.”
And again, during the break, the sponsors were fighting like hell and outbidding each other for the airtime, calling up the studio, yelling, threatening to get the producers fired if they didn’t get the rabbi and the imam back on the air to continue their debate, because it was such great television.
Meanwhile in Israel, due to disagreements over the miracles, another Intifada[xiii] began and the Israeli military began launching strategic strikes into the Palestinian Territories.
But within the hour after the Middle Eastern conflict erupted, something happened…
Above all the Earth’s floating holy sites, above each and every one of them, a resplendent light appeared that shone like a star. And from each and every light, a voice thundered and boomed, and each time the voice from the light thundered and boomed, the light blinked. From the resplendent lights came these words:
“I AM the Lord, your God.
You are all My children.
As My children, you are commanded to give Me honor and worship.
As My children, you are commanded to love one another.
This is the Word of the Lord, your God.”
Then the resplendent lights disappeared and the holy sites slowly floated down to their original locations.
Once the world heard the Lord’s message, there was peace…for a time. Cousins, uncles, and nephews put down their weapons and shook hands in Northern Ireland. Childhood friends abandoned old grudges and their arms and embraced in Kashmir. The Intifada and military strikes ended in Israel and the Palestinian Territories and a truce was established…at least temporarily…
The Baha’is in particular were beside themselves after hearing God’s message. Indeed, they were gloating…
Meanwhile, in a land light years away from our own solar system, people, or at least they resembled people, were sitting and watching a holographic projection of the events that had been occurring on Earth and the effect that these events had on the people of Earth. The levitating holy sites, the reactions of the people, the newscasts and interviews, were all being shown through holograms. In fact, it would seem to an outside observer that some sort of “show” was being watched. Then, holographic projections of the producers of this “show” explained the physics behind how the holy sites seemed to be levitating off the ground when in reality they never left their original positions. Also being explained was how the illusion of the bright light and the sound of the booming voice were created. There was much laughing and jollity among the viewers of these holographic projections. But not only was there much amusement, there was also much knowledge being gained in the sense that this show provided an in-depth look at how the human species views and responds to the idea of the supernatural. Once the show ended, there was a great roaring of applause. The audience was entirely satisfied with the delicate balance of humor and erudition that the producers put into their great and ambitious project, which was entitled “The Earth Show.”
[i] Vatican City
[ii] Cf. “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church” (Catholic document).
[iii] Cf. ibid.
[v] The Sabbath
[vi] The Sanctuary of Ibrahim is what Muslims call The Tomb of the Patriarchs.
[vii] Ishmael in Arabic
[viii] Seal of the Prophets
[x] Birthplace of the Buddha; holy site in Buddhism.
[xi] Holy site in Hinduism.
[xii] Holy site in the Baha’i faith.
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© Copyright Thomas Ragazzi and Philip A. Pecorino 2010. All Rights reserved.