a must for any atheist worth their salt. Heavenly Discourse is a collection of satirical essays by Charles Erskine Scott Wood written in the form of plays or discussions between such characters as God, Jesus, Mark Twain, Tom Paine, Robert Ingersoll, Billy Sunday Theodore Roosevelt Politically radical, the essays ridicule militarism, prudery religious intolerance Ten were originally published in Max Eastman s magazine, The Masses, the st inFollowing passage of the Espionage Act of , The Masses was suppressed by the US government on grounds it was detrimental to the war effort Wood continued to write discourses InVanguard published a collection ofof them under the title Heavenly Discourse Titles include Is God a Jew Marriage God Receives a Delegation Freedom The Monkeys Complain Birth Control Anthony Comstock in Heaven Prohibition Billy Sunday Meets God The US Must Be Pure Billy Sunday Instructs God A Fly Bothers God St Peter Loses a Soul Preparedness in Heaven Prayer Satan Brings the US into the War A Pacifist Enters Heaven in Bits The Stupid Cannot Enter Heaven TR Enters Heaven Prince Buttinsky God, Paul Satan on Christianity Satan Loses His Mind God s Picnic God s Picnic the Playwright Rabelais Censors Censorship God Christ Have a Merry Christmas Denver Prays for Rain God on Catholicism the KKK God Advises Peter as to the Church Bishop Wm Montgomery Brown Enters Heaven God St Peter Discuss Theology Joan of Arc Heretic Saint Satan Regains His Reason Charles Evans Hughes Visits Heaven w out a Passport Is Deported England s General Strike The Lame Duck Imperialism The Golden Rule Satan Asks for Help Noah s Cruise God s in His Heaven All s Wrong w the World 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 th Avenue in New YorkWhat is he doing here Jesus replies I liked him He was a gentle, charitable soul Sunday objects that he kept a beer salon, Jesus replies I lived with publicans 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 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 SatanBRIEL 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 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 we simply must lie the horrible the lies the better This, I believe, was another book recommended by a high school teacher, Jim Gottreich, which happened to be in the family library in the edition pictured Although I didn t get all the references at that age, it was funny, sometimes moving as in the story of the unwed mother For years afterwards everything I knew about Billy Sunday was what Wood wrote of him within it Reading the satire got me interested in learningabout who and what Wood was satirizing. Not quite as clever as it sounds at first blush but still an interesting satirical philosophical discussion, Heavenly Discourse is a rumination on what would follow if Christians and professed Christians heeded the spirit of their own books and dogma rather than adhering to the letter of it or as isoften the case picking and choosing what they adhere to As Wood was writing in the US at the time of World War I, Heavenly Discourse tends to focus on that time and place as part of its satir Not quite as clever as it sounds at first blush but still an interesting satirical philosophical discussion, Heavenly Discourse is a rumination on what would follow if Christians and professed Christians heeded the spirit of their own books and dogma rather than adhering to the letter of it or as isoften the case picking and choosing what they adhere to As Wood was writing in the US at the time of World War I, Heavenly Discourse tends to focus on that time and place as part of its satire While interesting, the book suffers from its own rumination on current events around the time of World War I This can make the book feel irrelevant or make the reader think it is irrelevant when it actually makes valid points about the moralizers and hucksters that exist in this country that both exploit people and usurp basic freedoms in the name of our betterment The author is occasionally a victim of his own dogmatism, however Being a socialist at the time of WWI, he tends to fall in line with what anyone writing for the Masses would say about Soviet Russia at the time Additionally, he tends to use his own in group jargon and phrases that are as self limiting as the in group jargon and phrases of Fascists or Anarchists or Republicans of the last 20 years for that matter which is to say, when you dress an idea up in the clothes of your own group, you won t often persuade anyone but persons in the group or the people who don t want to think too hard about the idea.I liked it alright Ultimately, anyone who wants to read some fair criticism about Christianity and the United States will get a kick out of the book Published in 1927, this collection of satirical plays or conversations between God, Jesus, St Peter, and various souls such as Voltaire, Mark Twain, Socrates, Billy Sunday, and notable people of the first half of the 20th Century consists of ideas that are as applicable today as they were when these were written during the period of WWI and the early 1920s I became interested in this book when I found out that this book was held in high esteem by John Steinbeck Considering the recent wars the Published in 1927, this collection of satirical plays or conversations between God, Jesus, St Peter, and various souls such as Voltaire, Mark Twain, Socrates, Billy Sunday, and notable people of the first half of the 20th Century consists of ideas that are as applicable today as they were when these were written during the period of WWI and the early 1920s I became interested in this book when I found out that this book was held in high esteem by John Steinbeck Considering the recent wars the U.S has engaged in, the influence of religion in our politics, education, other life choices and the detrimental impact of religion elsewhere , the talk of building a wall, restricting Muslims, and growing income inequality, and other issues these dialogues are still relevant today It s easy to substitute contemporary issues for the issues used to highlight hypocritical policies and thinking in these dialogues The satire is as thought provoking today as these were when originally wriiten The collection can be read in one sitting, but are best read spread over days or weeks Warning if one is set in their thinking on religion, this book may offend