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I was reading an article yesterday about the history of the NFL, and some of the legendary teams that gained nationwide fame. The “front four” defensive linemen of the Los Angeles Rams were known as the “Fearsome Foursome.” The Minnesota Vikings had a great name for theirs:

“The Purple People Eaters.”

That name just stuck in my head for some reason. When I went to bed last night, I dreamed that I was shopping for veggies at the local farmers’ market when a guy walks up to me, smiles in a very friendly manner and says:

“You have a Flying Purple People Eater hovering right above your head.”

I wasn’t born yesterday, and I knew that childhood trick that kids play on each other. They point up in the sky and say “Look at that!” and when you do, they play some trick on you.

So I look at the guy, smile, and say, “I don’t think so.”

But he is very serious and insistent. So finally, just to get rid of him, I glance quickly upward but I keep an eye on him and a hand on my wallet.

“I don’t see anything.”

“Of course you don’t. He’s invisible,” he says.

“If it’s invisible, how come you can see it?” I ask.

“I can’t actually see him, but I know he’s there.”

This is getting ridiculous, but I’m intrigued. I decide to play along to find out what he’s trying to do.

“If he’s invisible, how does he avoid being hit by birds and airplanes?”

“Oh, he’s very smart and very quick.”

“Well, he has to eat. How come we don’t see the food in his stomach? And he has to shit. Why aren’t we getting hit on the head with his turds?”

He’s smiling and shaking his head. “He’s a supernatural spirit. He doesn’t have to eat or shit. And he lives forever.”

Now I think I’ve got him. “Wait! You said he doesn’t have to eat, but his name is ‘people eater.’ That doesn’t make any sense.”

He shrugs. “He gave himself that name. I’m not sure why. Maybe he feels that he has to be a little bit scary to get people to pay attention to him. He’s really gentle and loving unless you do bad things. In fact, he’ll protect you if you believe in him.”

I cannot resist a smirk. “That sounds familiar. Gentle and loving until you do something he doesn’t like or you doubt his existence, and then wham!  Not so gentle and loving. Most of the people on this planet believe in a god like that.  How does he know if I believe in him?”

“He knows everything you think.”

“How many of them are there?” I ask.

“Only one,” he says, “but there are some copycats. I met a guy the other day who was telling me about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And I think somebody is pushing a Cookie Monster. But they’re all fakes. Mine is the only real one.

“That’s what all religious believers say about their gods,” I tell him.

He nods. “Yeah, I know. It’s a shame. They are all wrong.”

“Well, I agree with you there, but I am not convinced that you are right either. Tell me something that will convince me.”

He shakes his head. “That’s not how it works. You have to convince yourself.”

“Yes, but there has to be some reason, some rationale. Something more than you telling me that it’s hovering over my head.”

He smiles. “You mean like a Bible or a Koran? A sacred document? Those things are all frauds.”

Now it was my turn to nod. “No argument there. Let me put it another way. Give me a reason why I should believe in your Purple People Eater.”

“Flying Purple People Eater,” he corrected. It is important to get his name right.


He shrugs. “He is very insistent about it for some reason. And if you write it down, you must capitalize it.”

I was starting to get tired of this, so I tried to cut off the conversation.

“Okay, well it was nice meeting you…”

He held up a hand. “Wait. You asked for a reason why you should believe in him. Here it is.”

And then, dear reader, the cat jumped on the bed and woke me up.

Bert Bigelow is a trained engineer who pursued a career in software design. Now retired, he enjoys writing short essays on many subjects but mainly focuses on politics and religion and the intersection...

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