Good news. God is making himself available these days for brief conversations with selected individuals in politics and religion.
Just last week he told Southern Baptist Jess Moody to move his church from Van Nuys to Chatsworth to keep the West San Fernando Valley free from Satan's grip.
Earlier, he had instructed radio evangelist Pat Robertson to run for the Republican presidential nomination.
"You know," I said to my wife the other day, "God is talking to so many people in L.A. lately, I think it's time he granted an interview to a journalist. A columnist, maybe."
She looked at me with a mixture of terror and incredulity and said, "You wouldn't."
The hell I wouldn't.
I sat right down and, using the unlisted number I was given in my days as a Catholic, called God's press secretary, an old campaigner from the Jimmy Carter team, who arranged a telephone interview with God.
I didn't have to pick up the phone at all, but just left the instrument in its cradle. God, lacking faith in General Telephone, arranges for his own direct connections.
By the way, I believe it is the first interview he has ever granted to a print journalist, his only prior media contact having been with television's Geraldo Rivera.
Question: My name is Al Mar . . .
Answer: I know what your name is.
Q: Oh . . . yes . . . of course. Well, sir, I'm interested in exactly what you said to the Rev. Jess Moody about moving his church into Chatsworth.
A: You're interested in a Chatsworth preacher when a big-time radio evangelist is claiming my support for the presidency?
Q: I realize that does seem kind of strange, Your Honor, but, you see, I'm a suburban columnist. We care a lot about Chatsworth down here.
A: Don't call me Your Honor. I'm not a judge.
Q: Well, actually, you are.
A: I don't believe this. You're arguing with God? Your wife is right.
Q: You talk to her?
A: Get on with the interview.
Q: It just surprises me to hear that you talk to wives. I always suspected it, of course, but . . .
A: Get on with it, boy!
Q: What did you say to Jess Moody to get him to start looking for a church location in Chatsworth?
A: I told him to get his Baptist tail out there and put a stop to sin. "Branch out, Jess." That sort of thing.
Q: Sin? Even Minnie Mouse couldn't get groped in Chatsworth. What kind of sin?
A: Topless clubs! Sex shops! Porno flicks! Ever since the liberals . . .
Q: Excuse me, Your Lordship, but I'm trying to keep this non-political.
A: Your Lordship?
Q: Well, then, what do I call you?
A: We're on a first-name basis up here. It's the new corporate psychology.
Q: Like in St. Nick?
Q: What do you know. Well, getting back to sin in the West Valley, I thought City Councilman Hal Bernson was in charge of smut-smashing. He says he's your best friend in L.A. and hints that you gave him the exclusive anti-sin franchise.
A: I told Hal to do what he could about smut but to leave me out of it. So naturally he went crowing all over town that he had God in his hip pocket. Hal's a nice guy, but sometimes I wonder if all the lights are on.
Q: Many of us do, sir. But, actually, I haven't noticed much sin in the West Valley. There are better places, it would seem, where Jess Moody might go head to head with the devil himself.
Q: You took the words right out of my mouth.
A: I put them there in the first place.
Q: Uh, right. Anyhow, Hollywood would be one place. The downtown area another. There you've got your hookers, your dopers, your gamblers, your . . .
A: I know, I know. But churches are going for prime locations these days. They tend toward the white suburbs with healthy per-capita incomes.
Q: You could change all that.
A: I don't tamper. I merely suggested to Jess he ought to go where the need is, and he went scratching around in fat-cat country.
Q: I can personally vouch that there is no sin in Chatsworth.
A: I'll bet you could.
Q: Even in our newsroom, where sin is known to have festered on other newspapers, we are as pure as the driven snow. We are so suburban, in fact, that the soup of the day is announced over the editorial PA system, a little box containing discount grocery coupons is affixed to a wall, and birthday cakes are brought in for what is known as "Yummer-Doodle Day."
A: Yummer-Doodle Day? Really? (Chuckling.)
Q: Drinking gin gets you a urine test.
A: (Wild laughter.) Nevertheless, we'll give Jess a shot at sin in the West Valley, then work him up to maybe something in Watts.
Q: He'll love that. One last question: Regarding the American League playoffs, will Reggie Jackson . . .
A: I don't prophesy in sports.
Q: Hey, Nick, I just . . .
Click. Man, I only wanted to ask him to yummer doodles this afternoon. I hear it's devil's-food cake. We've got a lot of cute in Chatsworth.