“You guys are kidding, right?”
“What do you mean?”
“What do I mean? You are collaborating on a book. One of you writes the first chapter, the other writes the second. And so on”
“Right. That’s what we did.”
“Great. But tell me something. Did either of you read what the other one wrote?”
The two authors looked at each other, and then back at the editor.
“Um, well, I mean… Not in, you know, detail,” said the first author (we will call him P). “But I thought he did a fine job.”
“Really? Interesting. You thought he did a fine job. You (pointing at P) talk about man being created “male and female, He created them” on Day 6, and your friend here (pointing at Mr. J) talks about some guy made of dust and a woman made from his rib. Did you happen to notice that the two of you wrote two chapters for one book (and a very important book, because the plan was to put it in the beginning of the whole anthology) that not only are inconsistent but contradict each other?” The editor was raising his voice.
After a brief silence, J spoke up. “I cannot change a word or a jot of what I wrote” (I don’t know what a jot is, but that’s what he said). “Everything I wrote was inspired directly from God.”
“Me too,” said P.
The editor threw his pencil down on the desk in exasperation. “Look, we all work for the same team here. If you insist I will send these two chapters upstairs, but I am sure you are both facing some major rewrites.”
A short time later, God called the editor for an audience.
“Great job on the Genesis book. I love those first two chapters.”
“Um, thank you, Lord, but…. I mean, are you sure? Don’t they strike you as… Oh, I don’t know, a bit discordant with each other?”
“Well, they were written by two fellas, each with different styles, so yeah, they are diverse all right. That’s exactly what I was going for when I assigned those guys to do this.”
“But, Lord, I am sorry to say this, and I mean no offence, but, well, they contradict each other. I mean there are two completely different versions of the creation of man.”
The Lord smiled.
“I think you are a great editor. But there is something you need to learn about this whole project. I have chosen some wonderful writers with great faith and passion. I have chosen some other writers who are not that wonderful, but whose faith and passion are even deeper. Every word they write is inspired by me, but written by them. If I think they got it wrong, I have them change it. So you never have to worry that I don’t approve of what they hand in to you. You can consider all of it to be preapproved.”
“Now, I will also tell you that I don’t care about having a book that is an easy read. It is not going to be something you can read in two weeks at the beach, and then forget the plot and the names of the characters. It is not going to have a single cliché in it. Many times it will not make sense at all. It will have violence, and poetry, love and anger; it will be exciting, and more boring than a cookbook. It will appear to contradict itself, like in those two chapters, but it won’t really. It will contain enigmas, puzzles, challenges, clues, mysteries, allegories, history, and lots of characters. Sometime the heroes will seem to be villains, and even I will come off as unpleasant at times.”
“But Lord, I thought you wanted this Book, or this series of books, to stand the test of time, to inspire generations of people, to be translated into hundreds of languages and spread throughout the word – to give comfort, advice, and inspiration to your people. Why would you want this book to be so hard to figure out?”
“Because that is exactly how it will stand the test of time and be spread around the world. This Book, My Book, will be read and not understood, until someone works hard enough to get it. It will be discussed and debated. And so people will think and learn. Believe me, I know what I’m doing. I am God, after all.”
“Oh, and by the way. Those first two chapters of Genesis that you are worried about?”
“Don’t worry, they don’t contradict each other at all. There is a hidden message in there, that might be a bit obscure, but my people will find all kinds of new ways to understand the world, and when they do, they will figure everything out, including my book. They are good at figuring things out – it’s what they like to do. That’s one of the reasons I love them. They will think and argue and do experiments…
“Do what, Lord?” the editor interrupted.
“Never mind, you will find out. Anyway, eventually they will get it all, and then when they praise Me and the glory of My creation, they will really mean it, for its glorious splendor will amaze and delight them.”
The editor sighed. Sometimes he wished God was not such a micromanager, but then He wouldn’t be God, would he?
“OK Lord, I understand. I will let it all go as I get it.”
“Good. I’m glad to hear it. Because if you think Genesis is tough, wait until you see what D hands in”