NOTE: This is a flash friction post on faith. Use it in outreach to ignite conversations about world religions.
He was bringing the Good News to the jungle but forgot to pack his smile.
“Move away from your heathen ways!” the preacher bellowed. The sweat beaded on his fair skin, his words as out of place as his brown wingtips.
The curious onlookers strained their necks to see. They walked miles on barefoot to see the white man with the big black book, packing into his tent like sardines.
“Do good, say your prayers, and when you die, you’ll go to heaven!” he’d say.
Now a hungry mosquito was circling overhead. He too intrigued by the stranger, not by his words but by his fair skin. He decided to take part of his own Communion of sorts, diving in like a Kamikaze.
The preacher smacked the mosquito but was a moment too late.
That little skeeter gave him a bad case of malaria.
The preacher begged, “Dear God, I’m a good man, I say my prayers. Don’t take my soul now!”
But his prayers weren’t answered in the way he expected.
His soul was reincarnated a cow.
Two wayward horns and a wobbly hump on back.
Now that cow was a good cow with a good cow soul. It didn’t end up medium rare next to a baked potato. It found itself on the streets of Calcutta.
A child placed wreathes of marigolds around his neck.
A toothless man offered him his silk shawl.
The bovine admired the bling on his bony body. “My goodness, I’m hoofed deity!”
“You are sacred,” an old woman smiled, “You will bring my good luck wherever you roam.”She removed the gold ring from her nose and attached it to his muzzle.
So for years, that cow did good and no harm as he wandered around the endless slums, leaving good steamy piles of good karma behind him.
Until one day, a rickshaw crossed his path, putting an end to his wholesome life.
As the crowds looked on, the cow cried out, “Why demi-gods, why? I’m a good cow, I say my prayers! Please have mercy on me!”
But instead of advancing a few caste levels, his soul ended up a half world away, in Tangier. He was a fez wearing monkey, wandering around the white washed mosques.
Now that monkey had a good Muslim soul, swinging from minaret to minaret, saying his prayers. But one day, that good monkey thought, “I need to get me a prayer carpet.”
So he scampered to a busy market.
While jumping over barrels of green olives and baskets of almonds, he saw a big clay jar and was tempted by the sweet smells within.
“Dried dates,” he smiled.
The monkey put his small hand inside and reached for a big handful but was instantly trapped by his desires. He smashed the jar against cobbled street, freeing himself but slashing his veins.
His blood flowed out. His curious tail went limp.
As he died, the monkey cried out, “Why Allah, why? I was a good monkey, I said my prayers five times a day. I lead a righteous good life. If I must die, may I end up in Paradise!”
The good monkey died but his soul didn’t end up with a harem of virgin primates. Instead, he found himself with a grey plump body and a long ropy tail.
He was a rat in Shanghai with no god but himself.
The rat scurried down a dark alley with red swinging lanterns. He scurried past a few grains of rice, when he noticed something peculiar. His nose started wiggling, “What’s that I smell?”
It wasn’t incense leaking out of a Buddhist temple. The thick aroma, a mix of flowers and tar, was seeping out from behind an old lacquered door.
The rat pushed thru a small hole and peered inside. It was a dark smoky den, full of men who exchanged their lives for their desires. Lying on one mat, was a pile of ribs held together with skin, his twig like fingers holding a pipe. The man inhaled deeply before dropping it on the ground.
“What might this be?”The curious rat scampered towards the pipe. His whiskers twitched as he inhaled deeply. His whole body twitched as he inhaled even more. Before long, the rat had also surrendered to the opium dragons.
As his soul slipped away, the rat had no god to pray to. All he had was his assortment of ancestors. A monkey, a cow, and a stern preacher man.
“I was a good rat, I did no harm.”
The preacher loosened his collar, , “Now you can keep others from doing harm, too.”
When that rat woke up from his dreamy state, he heard parrots calling and snakes hissing. But he wasn’t in the paradise of afterlife.
And he was no longer a rat.
He was a small tsetse fly in the lush jungles of Africa.
But he was a good tsetse fly, just doing what he was created him to do, flying around the thick vines and trees, looking for a red blooded meal. That’s when the he spotted something peculiar rustling thru the leaves It was a white man with a large wooden cross dangling around his neck, the weight of it almost toppling him over.
His words were as stiff as his starched shirt.
“I’ve come to save from your heathen ways!”
Before long, a crowd of natives were gathered around this stranger, their bare breasts dangling, their curiosity itching.
The tsetse fly buzzed towards the parasite of souls, and bit into his soft sweet skin.
The missionary wilted to the ground, gazing into the tsetse fly’s thousand eyes. As life left his frail body, he asked the peculiar creature, “Why tsetse fly? I’m a good missionary man, I say my prayers. I’m just here to do some good.”
“Good?” The tsetse fly taunted .“Your religion’s good for what?”
The fly sunk its teeth deeper into the man’s flesh then watched his life slip back into dust. “It’s just a lot of good for nothin’.”