1. Rather than a God of occasional disaster rescue miracles, I want a God whose miracles prevent the disasters in the first place.

2. Rather than a God who needed to retreat in order to leave room for human freedom and love, I want a God who finds a less painful way to make freedom and love work.

3. Rather than a system set up so that those who suffer most are also the most vulnerable (usually those who are poor), I want the wealthy to be the most vulnerable. An increase in money beyond one’s necessity could inhibit the body’s production of antibodies.

4. Rather than children being at the mercy of nature and of other people, I want no one to die or be physically or emotionally traumatized before turning twelve years old. Nobody. And the only ones who die between thirteen and eighteen should be those whose decisions represent a clear and present danger to others.

5. For every unethical action, there should be an equal and opposite reaction—immediately. If you inflict suffering, you should immediately suffer accordingly.

6. I want a small indicator button, like a low­ battery light, on the prominent C7 vertebrae that protrudes slightly on the cervical spine at the base of the neck between the shoulders. A gentle red light would glow forty-eight hours before death is irreversible, when the downward spiral toward unconsciousness or pain has won. It would indicate time for final goodbyes with loved ones and that a final welcome from God is imminent: “You’re released from this life. Welcome into the next one.”

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KENT ANNAN's writing has been published in literary journals including Utne Reader, Subtropics, Geez, Adbusters, The Sun, Natural Bridge, Pilgrimage, Puerto Del Sol, and Orion. One of his essays was cited as a “Notable Essay” in the Best American Essays series. He has been featured on national TV and radio shows including “The Hour,”  “100 Huntley Street,” and NPR’s “The Story.” Author of After Shock and Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle, he lived in Haiti for more than two years and now travels there regularly from South Florida, where he lives with his wife and two young children. He is co-director of Haiti Partners, and all proceeds of After Shock go to Haiti.

3 responses to “Excerpt from After Shock

  1. Jessica Blau says:

    I want all that, too!

  2. jmblaine says:

    Welcome to the next one.

    Are you listening, God?
    We want.

    Here, here.

  3. Caleb Powell says:

    Well done. There’s some good stuff here. I’ll agree with eveything, except #3. Demonizing the wealthy is absolutist. Demonize greed, corruption, or exploitation, I’ll buy it. Champion the poor, cool. Eliminate poverty, ok. But “fuck the rich” sentiment gets no one anywhere.

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