There are no atheists at Consolidated Edison. Ever since the New York blackout Con Ed lawyers have been working day and night to prove that what happened was an "Act of God." If they can't prove that the Lord did it, they will be spending their next 20 years in court fighting law suits from the Bronx to the tip of Staten Island.
I stopped by to see how Con Edisons's lawyers were doing.
"God bless you," the receptionist said as she looked up from her Bible.
"I just wanted to speak to one of Con Edison's lawyers," I told her.
Thou comest at the wrong time," she replied. "Mr. Flaberty is at mass, Mr. Bradley is at a prayer breakfast meeting and Mr. Seligman is with his rabbi."
"My, this sounds like a religious office."
"Con Edison would never hire a lawyer who didn't believe in God," she said.
"They must have been pretty shaken up by the blackout," I said.
She sighed. "The Lord moves in mysterious way. We must not question his decision to black out New York at a most inopportune time. He must have been very angry at the city or he would have never sent down those bolts at lighting to smile our power lines."
"Then you people believe that it was God who did it?"
As Mr. Flaberty wrote in his brief yesterday, "the Lord giveth light and he taketh it away. The power of Con Edison is in his hands."
"So you are not looking for any other reason for the blackout?" I asked.
"What other reason could there possibly be? Every safeguard known to man was in operation at the time. But there is no failsafe when the Lord turns his wrath against sinners.
"Is it Con Edison's position that New Yorkers are sinners?"
"Verily," she said. "You have only to walk down 42d Street or Eighth Avenue to know why God was enraged. We are living in a virtual Sodom and Gomorrah," she said.
"Why didn't God just black out the porno shops and theaters showing X-rated movies if he was so mad?"
"Even the Lord cannot smash one of our circuit is without putting in the summertime and there was sinning going on all over the city, particularly in apartments and houses where the wives were away on vacation."
I forgot about that."
"Con Edison knew about the sinning and our engineers feared the wrath of God for a week before the blackout. But we felt that, as a power company, it was not our place to warn the popular that if they continued their behavior the Lord would loose the fearful lighting of his powerful swift sword."
"Do you think the 'Act of God' defense will hold up in court?"
"We con only pray it will. If the courts decide against us, then no one will ever believe the Lord is trying to tell the people something. As Mr. Bradley said to his Bible class yesterday, "If this blackout doesn't make people believers, nothing will."
I heard an organ in the background.
"What's that?" I asked.
"It's the beginning of vespers. Con Ed has vesper services for its employees every day."
"We started them the day after the blackout. It was the legal department's idea."
"Is it an electric organ I hear?"
"No, it's manual. The Lord only knows when he will strike us again."