“Do you have any questions before we go on?”
Not that anything at this point could be cleared up. There was thirty seconds before the show started and Tobias was not really in the mood to talk to Aaron anyway. He had him on because his producer was worried about the dip in ratings over the last two weeks. Tobias had tried to explain that the numbers were down because the election was over. He was a Bible Belt conservative heavyweight, author of Why is America Afraid of Jesus? , people would come back around with the midterms. But he didn’t get his paycheck to have good ratings every two years, andAaron Duffy was right at the tipping point where he’d be irrelevant in another week.
“Why is it called Faces of Faith if it’s on the radio?” Aaron asked, functioning as always in a mindset that was impervious to sarcasm and rhetorical questions. People who met him recently thought he was like this because of the accident, but he had been prone to this social faux pas since early high school. His mother and wife found it charming.
Tobias scowled and looked back to his technical director. She mimed a countdown from five seconds and signaled to him at one. An arpeggiated piano piece played through Tobias and Aaron’s headphones, as well the speakers of the 1.2 million listeners across the country. The piece finished and a firm but gentle prerecorded voice spoke.
Announcer: This is Faces of Faith with your host, Tobias Joyce.
Tobias: Good afternoon and God bless. Welcome to this Thursday edition of Faces of Faith. I’m Tobias Joyce. Joining me later in the program will be Reverend Michael DeWitt out of Raleigh, North Carolina to talk about his new book Faith and Finances: How Fiscal Responsibility Can Improve Your Relationship with Christ. But first, a man who has become a controversial figure in the last few months. Please welcome to the show Mr. Aaron Duffy. Welcome to the show, Aaron.
Aaron: Thank you for having me.
Tobias: Now, for our listeners who may not be aware of who you are, could you give us a little background into what happened to you last November?
Aaron: Yes, well, I was driving home from a weekend shift at work. I work at a hospital and my wife and I had just recently moved two towns over so it’s a bit of a drive. Anyway, I was on the highway when a truck in front of me blew out a tire. I tried to stop, but I really had no chance. I hit the side of the truck going about sixty-five.
Tobias: And you sustained massive injuries from this accident?
Aaron: Yes, the doctors told me later that I had substantial brain damage. They got me stabilized after some surgery, but I was still unconscious. My wife was told that it didn’t look good. Even if I was ever to wake up, I’d be severely disabled.
Tobias: But clearly that’s not what happened.
Aaron: No, I woke up three weeks later in what all the doctors described as “miraculous shape.” It took two months physical therapy to get me back to one hundred percent, but other than some atrophy I made a full recovery.
Tobias: Did the doctors have any explanation for your sudden change in condition?
Aaron: They couldn’t explain it. They thought my best scenario was soiling myself until I died young of complications. A full recovery wasn’t even on their minds.
Tobias: What do you attribute your recovery to?
Aaron: I was cured by God Tobias. I was given council by representatives of the Lord and sent back to the land of the living in full health so I could deliver a message.
Tobias: Yes, now before we get to your message, can you give us the details of this…council as you called it?
Aaron: Of course. I remember being in darkness first. I was awake in a way, though I couldn’t open my eyes, speak, or hear anything. I was just aware that I was unconscious. There was no light and it sounded like someone had left a vacuum on. I don’t know how long I was like that, but at one point I heard a voice, which sounded more like a trumpet than a person really. It told me that everything was going to be okay and that I was there for a reason.
Tobias: Did this voice introduce itself?
Aaron: It did, it belonged to the angel Raphael. He told me I was to be humanity’s representative at a meeting between the divine and creation. That’s when I found myself sitting in a room that looked like something out of the Wizard of Oz, only blue instead of emerald. It was a grand hall that didn’t seem to end.
Tobias: Were you afraid that you were dead?
Aaron: Actually it never crossed my mind. I was in awe of the place, but I was also completely comfortable. People seem to think heaven is either some type of absolute ecstasy or a form of higher understanding, but really it just feels right. It’s like coming home after a long day.
Tobias: So you believe you were in heaven?
Aaron: I was in heaven.
Tobias: How can you be so sure?
Aaron: Saint Francis told me.
Tobias: So Saint Francis was in the room with you then?
Aaron: Yes, he and Raphael were sitting across from me at a very large table when I became aware I was in the room. Raphael was going on a very long, theatrical introduction about what had been written was not what had been said, and he being I am or something like that. I was overwhelmed by the whole display and couldn’t quite get what he was talking about. Saint Francis interrupted him at one point, saying “That’s enough now. That type of thing is what got us here in the first place.” Raphael looked disappointed, but allowed Saint Francis to finish the introductions. All St. Francis said was “Welcome to the Kingdom of God, I must apologize for the abruptness of your visit, but it is time humanity received the truth.”
Tobias: I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’d like to remind our listeners that our number is 1-800-989-8746. We’re speaking now with Aaron Duffy, a man who claims to have been healed of serious injuries after meeting with both Saint Francis of Assisi as well as the Archangel Raphael while in a coma late last year. Now Aaron, can you tell us what message you were given at this meeting?
Aaron: In basic terms? Well, there is no such thing as Hell and there is no such thing as the Devil. Or more specifically the Devil and Hell are misinterpretations made by humans who were given divine visions.
Tobias: Well, this would certainly be a large misinterpretation if it were true. Could you explain exactly what was missed when the scriptures speaks of Hell and Satan?
Aaron: Not missed per say, just…misunderstood. It starts with Lucifer’s relationship with God. It is true that God created man, and that the first humans, who didn’t really have names so Adam and Eve will suffice, did live in Paradise. Lucifer did come to The Garden and tempt Adam and Eve with… well again, we’ve come to know it as “The Apple.” What it was though was a question. “Is this all there is?”
Tobias: So Satan did in fact tempt Adam and Eve?
Aaron: That is true, though the details got twisted. Once Adam and Eve spoke to Lucifer, they went to God to ask him if they could have any say in what Paradise was.
Tobias: And how did God take to his creation questioning him?
Aaron: He wasn’t very happy. Raphael explained it as The Tempest of the Divine. God had created everything and then molded that to be perfect for his favorite creatures. Now here comes humanity, asking for an opinion in his eternity. He was extremely close to setting the whole thing back to zero. Luckily, Lucifer spoke up on our behalf.
Tobias: Now wait one moment Mr. Duffy. You’re suggesting that The Devil defended us from God?
Aaron: Well….yes, but to call him The Devil is a mistake. He is Lucifer, an Angel of God just as Raphael is. He is Satan, the opposer, but he serves God’s purpose just the same.
Tobias: But how can a being who rebels against God also serve his purpose?
Aaron: Very similar to the way that an activist may help the country when he speaks out against the government, or the way a spouse will argue for the good of the marriage. Lucifer saw potential in God’s creation that God perhaps overlooked in his intimacy with us.
Tobias: Well then, moving on, what occurred once Satan had decided to, as you say, “speak on our behalf.”
Aaron: Well, after he was able to calm God down, he presented him with the idea that humans be allowed to create their own version of Paradise. God, after much deliberation with his angel, went to Adam and Eve and asked what it was they wished for.
Tobias: What was their response?
Aaron: Well, according to St. Francis, when presented with this choice humanity was paralyzed by the question. Nothing had ever been offered to them before, they were simply given perfection. Again, Lucifer had to act on their behalf.
Tobias: Now Mr. Duffy, you seem to be telling me that Lucifer, The Devil, the evil presence that tempted Christ in the desert, is in fact our official spokesman?
Aaron: Well…I don’t know if I’d go that far.
Tobias: What would you call him then?
Aaron: The patron saint of rebellion?
Tobias: Very well then. So what did the good “saint of rebellion” do when Adam and Eve had no response to God’s question?
Aaron: There was a conference between humanity and Lucifer and they came up with their proposal. They asked that humanity be allowed to leave The Garden and be given a fertile but less refined land where they could spawn and improve without God’s intervention. God agreed to these terms, but with a stipulation. Humans would have his teachings to remember how their creator believed they should behave. Also, when the ravages of age, disease, or any other type of death that existed outside of The Garden took the life of a human, they would return to God and explain to him what progress they had seen. After the report, they would be let into the heaven that was theirs from the beginning.
Tobias: If this is true Mr. Duffy, if the Devil is some sort of go between for God and humanity and Earth is a trial run before we are let back into Heaven, why does The Bible talk of Hell and Lucifer’s betrayal?
Aaron: I was told that as man spread through the world and generations passed from the original seed, God’s lessons began to be forgotten. Lies were created by men seeking power and false idols were propped up to keep the children of God in fear and servitude. God saw this as a breach of the agreement and sought to remind people of their true creator. Prophets were chosen to tell the people of their origins. This plan had a flaw however.
Tobias– What flaw was that?
Aaron: People had spent too much time away from God. We forgot what it was to be in his presence and his voice became too much for us to comprehend. We understood that he was our creator and that he was wise and just, but we also understood that he had his reservations about our new way of life. What we could not comprehend was that the ultimate authority would be angry with us and not move to punish us. We could not fathom his mercy. Our imaginations focused on what a being of his awesomeness would use to punish us and we came up with an eternity of suffering unimaginable on Earth. When we received images of Lucifer moving our ancestors out of paradise, we could not comprehend that he was helping. We made him the ruler of this kingdom of pain and so were born the Revelations of John, a case of author misinterpreting source.
Tobias- Yes well, again this is Faces of Faith and we are speaking today to Aaron Duffy, a man who claims that he has had a divine vision explaining to him that there is no Hell and that the Devil is a sort of, well…..emancipator of humanity. Our number again is 1-800-989-8746, we have Carol on from Bismarck, North Dakota. Carol welcome to Faces of Faith.
Caller: Hello Tobias, thank you for having me on. I have a question for your guest, and I think it’s what’s on everyone’s mind who’s ever heard him talk. What about people like Hitler or Osama Bin Laden? Are you saying when monsters like this die they go to heaven?
Aaron: Um, well yes they do. Or I guess they did.
Caller: And God sees it fit to let evil men who killed so many people and caused so much suffering into an eternity of happiness?
Aaron: This is something I had trouble coming to terms with myself, but God sees evil as a product of this world, not of humanity. When we pass, he allows us all back to where he thinks we should have been all along.
Caller: And what about the victims of these people! What about the fucking people who…
Tobias: Ok, well we have to cut that caller off now. I’d like to remind our callers that while this is a controversial guest, we should conduct ourselves as proper Christians. With that reminder we’ll take another caller. Chris is with us from Salem, New Hampshire. Chris welcome to Faces of Faith.
Caller: Thank you Tobias. My question for Mr. Duffy is why God choose now to tell us that it was a misunderstanding?
Aaron: It was honestly a matter of the Lord being fed up. He let the misinterpretation go for a long time because he believed the world was inherently corrupt and we needed the threat of eternal damnation to stem the tide of sin. But he wants to lay it out on the table for us and say whatever we do, we’ll be forgiven and allowed back into The Garden. So no more guilt, no more worries, just direct consequence and release upon death.
Tobias: Well thank you caller. Mr. Duffy, do you have anything to say before we go to break?
Aaron: Just what Francis left me with. Knowing that you can have paradise for free is tempting, but perfection comes with limitations. God put everything he had right at the beginning, and maybe that’s all there is. But we have been allowed to prove the Alpha and Omega wrong with his permission. Can we not imagine that we can do better than Heaven?
Tobias: Yes, well…I’ve been talking to Aaron Duffy. After the break we’ll talk to Reverend DeWitt about his new book. I’m Tobias Joyce, this is Faces of Faith.
Piano music once again ran through the headphones and Tobias looked to his technical director. She gave the all clear sign.
“Thank you, Mr. Duffy.” Tobias said in a gruff and immediate way. He rose from his chair to meet Reverend De Witt in the green room.
“What do you think, Mr. Joyce?” Aaron asked, cutting Tobias’ hustle out of the room short.
“I think it was a fine segment.” he responded “Outside of the ‘fuck’ girl anyway.”
“I mean about what I’ve been told” Aaron said as Tobias made another lurch for the door. Tobias stood still for a moment, and then decided that now that the segment was over he could speak freely.
“I think you’re a sick man Mr. Duffy.” he responded, channeling the southern evangelist tone of knowledge and fear that had got him the show. “I don’t know if you are confused by the accident or being influenced by some evil force that wants us to believe there is no punishment for sin, but you must stop speaking these lies or face Hell for them.”
Aaron sat stunned as Tobias left the room. After a moment of contemplation he said to himself and whoever was listening. “Wow, I really hope not.”