I can imagine angel gabriel (AG) consulting a public relations manager (PR) on improving God's "image" in the light of the current disillusionment. If I am allowed some latitude to set this imagination of mine free, I suppose the discussion will go something like this.
AG: You know people are beginning to think that he's a figment of their imagination. Some of the believers are even entertaining second thoughts, but such doubts are repressed for the sake of tradition, continuity and livelihood. I guess they figure that rocking the boat now may just sink it. (sighs) What should I do? How can I improve his image?
PR: If I may be frank sir, (waits for AG to return a pensive nod) I think the problem is two words, gratuitous suffering...
AG: (chimes in) I know. I know. What can he do in that department to burnish his credentials?
PR: Well, the answer is quite obvious. Can't he stop it (catches a glimpse of AG's expressionless stare and continues). I mean...can't he make it go away?
AG: Well, the plan was for his son to endure the worst of injustices, pain, and abandonment in their stead. He overcame it all and became a symbol of redemptive hope for them. Isn't that what suffering is all about?
PR: Yes, I can see that. The calvary message has given much hope to the people even today. But that message is...erm getting old for an increasing number of them.
PR: ...I mean suffering is subjective. Only he who experiences the whole nine yards of it knows how much it hurts and how long he can endure it. And a distant memory of the exemplary suffering at calvary is just not personal enough to persuade those who have to endure endless and apparently meaningless pain to keep the faith. In fact many of them are raising tough questions only he can answer. What's more, the image he has been projecting since the beginning of time sorely contradicts with that of his son's.
AG: (squints) I think I know where this is going. But go on...
PR: (swallows the bile in his throat) Sir, the perplexing issues raised in the paradox of evil and the calvary of redemptive suffering just don't cut any ice with the people. They are more confused than they are enlightened. And so far, the apologists' debate has generated more heat than light, so to speak. Compound all that with gratuitous suffering and the information, internet age, you get the perfect storm of disbelief. Essentially, the people have evolved to be more informed and inquisitive. They no longer accept OB markers for their faith. They have outgrown the post-Eden age of knowing good and evil. They can in fact distinguish between original light and moonshine. You can call this development the rebel spring.
AG: But...but that's the point of faith isn't it? Evidence of things not seen?
PR: Sorry to be a wet blanket sir but that too I think is getting a tad old.
AG: Hmm...you don't think faith is persuasive or credible anymore?
PR: (shakes his head) I'm afraid not. To many people out there, faith is nothing more than a child accepting the existence of santa claus because there are presents underneath the tree. That's all. It's non sequitur logic to them. It's the fluff without the cream. And most have grown out of it. Faith actually adds nothing to the debate in their view and it's not helping that science is more engaging, informative and credible. And didn't Popper once say that a theory that explains everything explains nothing at all?
AG: Ah...that Popper guy, that epistemological imp. Anyway, talking about science, she used to be the mother of theology you know.
PR: Well it used to be that way sir. But now, the spin of science is better accepted than the spirit of faith. You see, many see faith as ignorance disguising as confidence. It is no different from saying that I do not know and what I do not know is what I know and what I know I do not know is knowing enough for me.
AG: (narrows the brows) How about the new heaven and earth? Don't they know that the end will justify all the sufferings, even gratuitous ones.
PR: Well, that's another bummer sir. Nobody knows when that final curtain call is happening...erm except him. And I don't...erm suppose he will be tweeting out the date anytime soon? So, short of a total annihilation from a vindictive act of nuclear holocaust, global warming, a crashing meteor or the burning out of the sun which will then consume the entire solar system, and mind you, the latter is forecasted to take place about 5 billion years later give or take a few million, I'm afraid the patience of the people is fast running out. What I'm trying to say is that I think most of them are not going to bite that eschatology bait hook, line and sinker anymore.
AG: Hmm...I guess what you are trying to tell me is that the situation is far worse than I first thought?
PR: I am afraid so sir.
AG: Assuming you are right, what should he do then?
PR: I don't really know sir. I am not him. I am not God. But whatever he decides, he has to do it quick.
AG: (musing) Well, he can't send another flood. That ship has sailed. And that son-option is a once-in-an-eternity's deal...
PR: Sir, if I may be so bold, I think this time the solution will have to be nothing short of a personal, surprised guest appearance. And I am not talking about a burning bush, exclusive audience of one kind of experience. It needs to be big, grand, on an armageddonic scale, kinda like a divine flash mob. He has to show himself to all 6 billion of them!
AG: (forces out a wry smile) Ok. Appreciate your suggestion, especially the last bit. Will just have to pass the message. That's my job anyway. Thanks.