Good God! It's a chat session!
What is it to chat with God? What will one ask and what will one be told? Scott MacGregor, at least, seems to think God wants us all to be good human beings.
Scott MacGregor: `God wants us to be his friends'.
I CAUGHT a glimpse of God the other day, through his voice on earth. No, it was not a head-on encounter with a prophet. Just the soft launch of Scott MacGregor's God on God at a media meet at the Taj West End, following a release in August by Penguin India.
Why God, did you ask? "It's a title that's a little puzzling at first glance, but it is short and describes exactly that this book is," explains the author in a handout. "God is telling about Himself, his likes and dislikes, where He lives, what He does for fun, and on and on. It is an interview with God! A crazy idea that spent a great deal of time bouncing around in my mind before I got the gumption to try it. My initial trepidation is depicted in the foreword. "Who was I to interview God?" were the words that echoed in my mind. "Well, why not?" was the quiet but persistent reply. Obviously, if God wanted to do an interview, humankind has certainly kept Him waiting long enough."
Whom did God grant this extended "interview" to? A sandy-haired, expatriate New Zealander, who's 50. A guy who had a profound spiritual experience at 20 that turned the Catholic-born agnostic into a secularist, even a believer. Based north of Washington DC today, he has been engaged in social service projects in the 11 countries he has worked in to date.
Unlike Neil Donald Walsh's best-selling Conversations with God series, or even Fynn's charming Mr. God, This is Anna, this book takes off from MacGregor's unusual premise to offer Q&A sessions that can be dipped into at will. Sessions on, say, Angels and Spirits, Mayhem and Mammon, Heaven and Hell, Virtue and Vice, Naughty but Nice, to pick a random sample.
In MacGregor's words, it took him four weeks to put down the interviews, with the last full stop in place on December 2, 1999. It was at the New Delhi book fair that Penguin India decided to publish the results of his communing with God, mediated by the computer. That is sound sense in the context of the world's biggest English-reading market.
What is the author trying to communicate? "Basically the personableness of God," MacGregor responds, "not a holy canon. I think God wants us to be his companions, even his friends."
Does that work for the reader? Surprise! Surprise! A quick read bought over the meet's sponsor Raju Shahani, President and General Manager, Resort Condominiums International (RCI) for India, Turkey, Middle East, and South Africa. "Spiritual fulfilment is another effort of our team to recharge the mind... God on God is a unique new experience that will elevate the spiritual quotient. It answers all the questions that people have wanted to ask God," he offers.
This spiritual manual is MacGregor's third book. The first two were short historical novels addressed to the adolescent market. The Perfect Ones was based in southern France during the Crusades, while The Saga of Comrac is set during the early Viking incursions into Ireland. "I've always wanted to know why things are the way they are," he says of his writing quest. "Or why France is France."
MacGregor, who disclaims the idea of a notional audience, doesn't quite see himself in a prophet avatar. "Maybe in a minor way," he stresses, "just to pass on a message. But not predictions of the future. Definitely not John the Baptist type of a prophet. God has used me to inspire faith and love. The purpose of us being here is not to do great and mighty deeds, but to be kinder and gentler to others." These colloquial chat sessions, couched in everyday speak, are easy to enter into. And may spark a thought or five, whether of belief or scepticism, though the primarily Christian slant may alienate some readers. How does MacGregor envision God? "He's an awesome character. He is caring, clever, understanding, humorous, compassionate, thoughtful, and everything positive ad infinitum," he says. "What I want to promote is that God very much wants to love us. The book is just a spark to propel people in that direction."
How did MacGregor's transformative experience touch his life? "At 20, I realised that my life was not my own, I had to share it with other people. I came to believe that God was very real," he adds. The upshot? He has helped the underprivileged, worked in orphanages and taught English in Japan, the Philippines, and Hong Kong, a far cry from the laboratory technician he initially set out to be.
Of his three book-writing experiences, MacGregor recalls: "I had no idea where they were heading, but each time I sat down to draft a chapter, I knew there was someone there beside me, directing my thoughts and my fingers. I am aware of the names now of those spirit guides, and my experiences with them were memorable."
Is a sequel to the 182-page, Rs. 195 book already in the works? "I've prayed about it. It's for other people to write it," he says with conviction. "I'm nobody special. If I can try it, why not anybody else?"
I just had a small chat with Ganesha, and it doesn't seem totally implausible. Ma Durga would probably give it her blessings, too. I'm not a MacGregor convert yet, but I'd like to keep the communication lines free. To open-ended chat sessions with the powers-that-be, no matter their name, face or location.
Send this article to Friends by