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Heavenly Discourse is a collection of satirical essays by Charles Erskine Scott Wood, published in 1927.
It is written in the form of plays or discussions between such characters as God, Jesus, Mark Twain, Tom Paine, Robert Ingersoll, Billy Sunday, and Theodore Roosevelt. Politically radical, the essays ridicule militarism, prudery, and religious intolerance.
Ten of them were originally written for and published in Max Eastman's radical magazine, The Masses, the first of them in 1914. Following passage of the Espionage Act of 1917, The Masses was suppressed by the U. S. government on the grounds that it was detrimental to the war effort. Wood continued to write more discourses and in 1927, the Vanguard Press published a collection of forty-one of them under the title Heavenly Discourse. Titles of some of the discourses include Is God a Jew?, The United States Must Be Pure, and The Stupid Cannot Enter Heaven.
In Billy Sunday meets God, Sunday is surprised to find people he condemned in heaven. "Why, there is Herman Morgenstern. I sent him to hell. He kept a family beer garden on Fourth Avenue in New York... What is he doing here?" Jesus replies "I liked him. He was a gentle, charitable soul." Sunday objects that he kept a beer salon, and Jesus replies "I lived with publicans and sinners." Sunday complains about the presence in Heaven of a woman who had had an illegitimate child; Jesus replies "I liked her. The one with her is Mary Magdalen."
From A Pacifist enters Heaven—in bits:
- BATTERED SOUL: I'm a pacifist.
- GOD: A what?
- BATTERED SOUL: A pacifist. I believe in Jesus and peace.
- GOD: So you are a Christian?
- BATTERED SOUL: O, no. I really do believe in peace.
In a discourse on Preparedness in Heaven, God decides to prepare for a war against Satan.
- GABRIEL: I am afraid Heaven won't stand for that. Jesus has preached peace too long.
- GOD: ...We must first frighten them, fill them with fear, then with hate. For example, headlines in the Heavenly Herald: "Horrible Atrocities of Satan," "Make the Cosmos Safe for Jesus," "Satan Threatens Your Halos," "Satan Disembowels a Cherub," "Satan Rapes the Ten Foolish Virgins," and so on...
- GABRIEL: But none of this will be true.
- GOD: True? Of course, it won't. Don't be a fool, Gabriel. You can't work up a war—preparedness, I mean—on the truth. This is war—I mean preparedness—and we simply must lie—the more horrible the lies the better.