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Escape from Heaven
A Novel by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 7


And Jesus spake unto me:

In the time before Time, there was but One Spirit and He was Whole and Content. This spirit was my Father, whom you now observe incarnated into a fleshly body of His own design.

My father wished a companion so he split off part of himself and created a free Spirit, the first spirit created free from prior existence becoming the Second Person—my Mother.

My father and mother, God and Goddess, played with Each Other, creating tensions and releasing them pleasurably, and They decided to make their playing with each other even more pleasurable by taking part from each of them and making a Third.

I was the First Child of God and his Goddess—the Third Person in existence, and the First Born of the race of angels that followed.

+?~

“Hold up a second,” I interrupted. “Christians always refer to you as the Second Person of the Trinity,” I said to Jesus. “You’re saying you’re the Third Person?”

Instead, Maryse answered, “Jesus is the Second Person, if you’re considering it as a royal chain of command. I do my best to be apolitical, to reign but not rule. My interests lie in the advocacy of justice.”

Jesus continued:

+?~

No one then had bodies. We were all free spirits, and gender was not yet invented. Any of us could join for a time with any other, then part again as we willed. You might think this sort of existence was perfect, but it wasn’t. We had intellect and we had fun, but we didn’t have goals and without goals we did not experience our lives as meaningful.

Mortal or immortal, no one can be content for very long without anything important at stake, and very long comes quickly when you’re immortal. We were discontent.

My father and mother saw trouble brewing with their children not having anything meaningful to do, so they decided to do something about it. My father’s introspection told him that just as he had arrived at the impulse for creation by contemplating the greater pleasures offered by the tension of denied gratification, in the same way providing the discontented angels with the possibility of denied gratification could provide their existence with a goal, a direction, a purpose. Out of this sense of purpose could grow meaning.

First he decided that the resistance necessary for delayed gratification would require creating a universe with congealed energy and a linear time line, a universe of matter and energy, space and time. He had made galaxies, stars, and planets in his previous experiments, and imported a number of already made ones into this new universe.

He spent a week evolving life on a planet around a nice, medium-sized star, designed a salad of colorful plants and a menagerie of interesting pets in a self-sustaining, self-replenishing, and homeostatic ecosystem.

Finally, he invented outer bodies that could slow down the frequency of angelic spirits, enabling matter to impose limitations on spirit—making them subject to external forces. He even fashioned a body for himself, and liked it so much that he started wearing it frequently.

On the sixth day, my father opened up Eden, the first ever theme park, and told his children that if they wanted to play in it we’d have to put on these cute new bipedal mammalian bodies he’d evolved for us to use while in the park. What they didn’t tell us kids was that it wasn’t just a playground. Eden was a kindergarden that taught through educational games, with the purpose of teaching little angels how to grow up to be big gods.

+?~

“But something went wrong,” I said.

“Not something went wrong,” said Jesus. “I went wrong. I was the first born. I claimed my rightful place as the first angel to put on a body. You know me by still another name, the name on the body I put on. Adam.”

His appearance morphed. Now he was taller, clean-shaven, fairer, more Nordic-looking.

“You ate the fruit from the tree with the knowledge of good and evil?”

“That’s a nice way of putting it,” said Adam.

+?~

Visits to Eden were set up on the buddy system. We angels each had to pair up with another buddy and put on matching bodies—one male, one female. My buddy was my best friend, Lucifer, an angel who was just a little younger than me. You guessed it. Lucifer became Eve.

Lucy was always the life of any party, the sort of angel it was always fun to be around. But she always knew I was a sucker for a game of Truth or Dare. She dared me to hack into the project Eden folder of the Tree of Knowledge—Dad’s Macintosh computer, if it helps you to think of it that way—where we found an as-yet unimplemented design for dihydrogen monoxide crystals. Snow. Lucy immediately thought of all the fun possibilities. Skiing. Sledding. Snowball fights. Making snowmen and snow angels.

You were a teenager once, you know what it’s like. Once Lucy and I got the idea stuck in our heads it seemed like wicked fun. We goaded each other into it and neither of us wanted to back down and look chicken. Our reptile brains — the serpent of legend — were tempting us.

Lucy didn’t know her way around the Tree and I did. To continue the metaphor, she was computer illiterate and didn’t know how to get past Dad’s passwords and safeguards. When it came time to go beyond joking around with each other and actually hack into the planetary operating system, I was the one who knew how to do it and did it.

So, I captured a moon, did a little work on the earth’s orbit, and the next time Dad put on his body and came down to Eden for a walk through the park, I started up the snow machine and told him to look at how Lucy and I had ‘improved’ on his design.

+?~

“Did you spank them?” I asked God.

God didn’t answer but shot me a look suggesting my question was boorish. Yes, God had said “ask anything,” but maybe I had gone just a bit too close to the line. Maryse, who has perfect manners, pretended not to notice my faux pas.

“No, Duj,” Jesus said, saving me. “Actually, Dad and Mom were pretty understanding about the whole thing, considering how totally I’d screwed things up. I’d introduced what amounted to a destructive virus into earth’s ecosystem, resulting in an ecology spiraling wildly out of control and, just a few hundred years later, in a global deluge.”

“Jesus!” I said involuntarily.

He nodded and continued:

+?~

But worse than that, I’d screwed up the Great Plan.

Lucy and I stayed on earth in our new fleshly bodies in the company of other angels who had incarnated in the park, but Dad told us if we stayed, it was under the condition that we had our access level in the Tree of Knowledge reduced until we returned to the Celestial Realm. I’d crashed Eden’s self-sustaining ecosystem and we were going to have to build a new colony on earth ourselves, by hand. We had to learn whatever lessons the earth had to give us without being able to check our answers by looking in the back of the book. No more angels would be allowed to join the colony until we had things working again; we were going to have to rely on the labor of our own human children.

Things got pretty bad. There was a lot of disagreement among those of us now on our own about what to do. There was a lot of infighting, splitting off into warring factions. You probably already know that things turned violent right from the start, when one of Lucy’s and my sons killed his brother over something as silly as which one had cooked my dad a better dinner during a visit.

Lucy was never quite the same after Cain killed his brother. She withdraw into herself and barely talked to me. She wanted to take off her body and return to the Celestial Realm. She had grown to hate earth and thought the whole Eden project was a mistake from the beginning. I insisted that there was still work to be done on earth. We had those stupid sorts of arguments husbands and wives get into where each of us was accusing the other of having caused the whole mess. Finally Lucy decided to abandon her body and returned to the Celestial Realm without me.

I stayed on earth with our kids until my own body aged beyond repair, then I returned to the Celestial Realm, leaving my human children even more on their own. With little more than a few simple rules to keep them on track, the human race fell into every sort of corruption possible.

Having lived forever, my father has a lot of patience, and isn’t one to give up or give in. If you read the Old Testament you get a pretty good idea how badly it went, how all the choices Dad had left were between bad and worse. My father was determined to get the Eden project back on track, no matter what it took, even if he had to start all over again. The worst of the lot had to be culled—forced out of their bodies and wait-listed for reincarnation — and Dad made lemonade out of the lemon I’d given him by allowing the deluge I’d caused to clean the planet of all but the best samples. There were several more times when cities of totally corrupt humans had to be culled—Sodom and Gomorrah, Canaan — but it was a holding action, at best.

It took my father a while to figure out a plan then he and mom talked it over for a while and brought it to me to see if I was willing to make up for my mistake. It was going to take all three of us, working as a team, if this was going to work. It was the last chance to save not only earth and my children now living there but the future for all the angels as well. I was so ashamed about my celestial stupidity back in the original park that I agreed eagerly, without even asking what exactly I was going to have to do.

I found myself regretting that rash decision more than once, after I found out what I’d agreed to.

+?~

Jesus continued:

“When the time came to execute the new plan, my father visited his spirit into a man named Joseph and my mother visited her spirit into a woman named Mary. Both of these humans had been approached by angels in advance to make sure they didn’t mind the joinings. You know exactly what it feels like because it happened to you for a few minutes yesterday, right?”

I nodded. “Except I wasn’t asked in advance whether I minded or not.”

“Well,” Jesus asked, “did you mind?”

I laughed. “You might as well ask whether I like flying, sex, or ice cream. I think I’d give anything to experience that ‘joining’ again.”

“I knew that,” God said to me.

Maryse gave her husband a look and punched him playfully on the arm.

Jesus continued, “While incarnate, they conceived a man child on earth, into whom I breathed my soul at the moment of birth. This was something entirely different than just putting on a body, the way I’d done the first time. I was the first spirit who, having been created in the celestial realm, was naturally conceived and born a mortal human being. I was made to be the first angel ever to die, the first angel ever to go on a suicide mission.”

“How did you stand it?” I asked.

“By the skin of my teeth,” Jesus said. “Just barely. Scared out of my wits when the time came close.”

“Then why did you go through with it?” I asked.

+?~

Because it was my fault in the first place! Because it had to be done and there just wasn’t anyone else qualified for the job. Keep in mind, nothing like this had ever been tried before. If something went wrong, existence itself might have been damaged beyond repair. But if it worked—if it could work—then all of us, angels and humans, could take on the power of imagination—learn how to dream—and be able to create universes of our own.

After the small original colony of angels had cast off their flesh and returned to the Celestial Realm, the human children that we angels had procreated on earth lived in a fleshly body that died, was a ghost for a while—sometimes wandering the earth, sometimes hanging around in dismal cities of the dead—and were wait-listed for a chance to reincarnate on earth and do it all over again. No future to speak of.

I came back to earth to bring the children of earth the good news that my father was granting them conditional amnesty and would take them into his kingdom if they’d simply agreed to get with the program again. I had to be born human rather than merely take over a ready-made human body because I was the test pilot to show the human children that they could be transported to the Celestial Realm where they could be given new bodies, grow spiritually, and evolve into gods.

They saw me die. I was dead. There wasn’t any question about it. Then they saw me alive again in a couple of days, looking like myself, without having to be reincarnated as a baby. No less a convincing demonstration of the possibility of resurrection would have worked.

But that was only part of my father’s plan.

Evolution into godhood was once again being offered to the angels. Angels could have their spirits incarnate on earth into human bodies, just like in the original Eden project. Angels who haven’t yet become human first don’t dream. As spirits they lack imagination. Without imagination, creation is impossible.

We were offering angels a chance to become human for a time, so they could learn to dream, and when they returned to the Celestial Realm, they also could become gods.

My father’s great plan was the goal of the modern revolutions: liberty, equality, fraternity. The creator of the universe, the author of history, the inventor of life, the father of the races of angels and humans, was also the first revolutionary. If my father’s plan worked, the Original Spirit would not only have a companion, children, students, and servants. For the first time, God could have friends.

+?~

“But no matter what it is, there’s always some malcontent, the fly in the ointment, a critic,” said Jesus.

“Lucifer?” I guessed.

Jesus nodded. “Lucy. Eve. My best friend. The love of my life. The mother of my children. The worst pain in the ass on earth or in Heaven.”

“Your ex-wife,” I said, understanding completely.

#

Next in Escape from Heaven is Chapter VIII.

Escape from Heaven is
Copyright © 2002 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust.
All rights reserved.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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