From the Desk of Garrison Keillor
A prolific writer, Garrison Keillor is a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and abroad. To the right, you find a selection of articles published since 1989, and a few unpublished pieces.

Faith at the Speed of Life
From Time Magazine

June 14, 1999

"Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."

—William H. Gates III

Bill Gates was the richest man in America and after he had gained a good deal of the world, God sent him e-mail:

Beloved Bill: I saw how you allocated your time resources last Sunday morning and was not impressed. Riding a stationary bike? Watching people talk on The Men's Channel about triglycerides and p.s.a. counts? Shifting a half-billion into Abu Dhabi municipals? You ever hear what happened to the rich man who was so rough on Lazarus? I caused a general protection fault and he has been offline for centuries. Anything you'd like to talk about? I'm here. Your Creator, God.

Bill Gates typed out a reply: Dear God, Wow. Omniscience. Cool. But how do I know you're omnipotent too? Gates --- and the moment he clicked on Send, the entire Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington, went dark. The a.c. shuddered to a stop. He heard the keening and wailing of employees grieving for lost data. His office got hot and stuffy, and sweat dripped off his nose. Acrid smells drifted in. The floor was covered with billions of microscopic ones and zeros. Digital had become analog. He heard the clatter of hooves and stuck his head out in the hall: a herd of crazed swine wearing employee IDs trotted past, little pink eyes aglow, squealing. He heard chanting and found, in the Executive Data Center next door, monks in black robes patiently copying his e-mail.

When power was restored, a message flashed on his screen: B.B. That was only the screen saver. I can put a virus in your software that will bring the Information Age to a shuddering halt. I did a big flood, I did frogs and flies and firstborn children and I can also do viruses. Or I can do love and redemption. Your move. God.

It didn't take Microsoft long to recover from the blackout. The dromedaries were sent to a theme park. The monks were retrained. Under the Americans with Disability Act, the swine had to be kept in their current jobs, but most of them were vice-presidents and so it didn't matter.

Bill Gates ran "Sabbath" through a database search and found that it was the day on which God rested after He programmed the world out of chaos in six days, the fastest start-up in history (also the first). He commanded his Designated Population Group to keep the Seventh Day holy and dumped a lot of pretty detailed other legal stuff on them, like what to eat.

He wrote: Dear God, Can we talk?---- and suddenly was dumped into a chat room.

LUCI: I see that Bill Gates, that bug-eyed little weasel, is ignoring you. Want me to deal with him?

THE LORD GOD: It takes longer to get smart guys up to speed. But he'll get there.

LUCI: The guy is a closed circuit. Let me at him.

THE LORD GOD: Let's see how it goes next week.

BILL GATES: Hey, guys. It's me. The aforementioned weasel.

But God had signed off.

LUCI: Hey, Billy. How'd you like to own the phone company? I can get it for you wholesale.

The next day, Microsoft developed Stained-Glass Windows, the most advanced spiritual software ever. The user could get an entire worship experience including Scripture, sermon, and sacraments in ten minutes flat. Bill Gates sent God a copy by e-mail attachment and got no reply.

The next Sunday morning, Bill Gates went into Stained-Glass Windows and the Scripture reading was a screechy passage from Jeremiah, and the sermon was very anti-money, anti-entrepreneurship, and it went on and on and on, and when he clicked onto the sacraments, he saw This program has performed an immoral function and will be shut down and in that moment he went blind.

He was on his stationary bike, the keyboard on his lap, a glass of cranberry juice in one hand. He did not cry out. He breathed deeply. He managed his panic. He swung a leg over and dismounted and set the keyboard and juice on the floor. He made his way to the door. So far, so good. He navigated to the dressing room and showered and dressed and headed upstairs to his office.

It's simply a new program, blindness, he thought. You work with it, you figure it out, and pretty soon it becomes second nature.

Past Articles
  • Phil Keillor Benefit for the Tenney Park Shelter (04/17/09)
  • Bill Holm, 1943–2009 (02/26/09)
  • Happy New Year, Friends (12/29/08)
  • Talk of the Stacks (11/17/08)
  • What Makes St. Paul So Great? (09/03/08)
  • GK On Historic Preservation (10/05/07)
  • Welcome to St. Paul (09/23/06)
  • "Homegrown Democrat," Chapters 1-4 (08/10/04)
  • Sing the National Anthem—and Try it in the Key of G (07/02/04)
  • Holiday Greetings from Garrison Keillor (12/23/03)
  • Remembering Plimpton (10/01/03)
  • Crankiness in Decline, Says the Old Guy (04/19/02)
  • A Governor Works in Mysterious Ways (10/19/01)
  • In Praise of Laziness (09/10/01)
  • I Just Needed a Valve Job (09/13/01)
  • A Eulogy for Chet Atkins (07/03/01)
  • A Foot Soldier in God's Floating Orchestra (04/01)
  • Exile on Main Street (10/02/00)
  • Walking Down the Canyon (07/31/00)
  • The Mysteries of Prom Night (05/15/00)
  • How I Write (12/04/99)
  • The Christmas of the Great Flu (12/99)
  • Let Jesse Be Jesse (10/10/99)
  • The Rice, the Bat, the Baby (09/06/99)
  • Faith at the Speed of Life (06/14/99)
  • The Republicans Were Right, But (02/15/99)
  • Minnesota's Excellent Ventura (11/16/98)
  • The Dangers of Christmas (04/06/98)
  • Gasgate (11/10/97)
  • Talk Radio (10/97)
  • The Seven Principles of a Successful Christmas (09/08/97)
  • The Seven Deadly Sins—Envy (04/97)
  • You Say Potato (04/04/96)
  • The Poetry Judge (02/96)
  • With All the Trimmings (11/27/95)
  • In Autumn We Get Older (11/06/95)
  • Minnesota's Sensible Plan (09/11/95)
  • The Art of the Embrace (02/95)
  • The Voters are Angry (08/94)
  • Word Play (05/18/90)
  • We Are Still Married (12/18/89)
  • Elevator Tales
  • A Graduation Speech

  • Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

    Old Sweet Songs

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