The God Market

The young couple snaked their way through the stalls, peering at faded books and would-be antiques and paint-chipped furniture. At one particular stall, a maze of racks under a bright red and white awning, a large hairy man stood behind a desk.

‘Sorry mate,’ he continued on his phone, ‘but I’m afraid it ain’t gonna happen, I only deal with the major suppliers. Yes, yes … no … look, sorry but plain fact is you’re the fifth new prophet in India who’s called me this week. I’m impressed by the output of you guys but I just don’t deal in that market. Okay. Okay, yeah. No worries, bye.’ He snapped the phone shut and dropped it in his jeans pocket. He turned to the young couple standing in front of him. ‘Sorry about that. Can I help you guys?’

‘Yes please,’ smiled the young woman, blushing. ‘We’re getting married in a few weeks, so…’

‘So you need to get a religion sorted out?’

‘That’s right, do it properly,’ nodded the man, looking more serious.

‘Well you’ve come to the right place!’ The trader smacked his lips and rubbed his hands joyfully. ‘Got high-quality religions to suit every customer. What kind of thing are you after?’

‘Well we’re not sure,’ started the woman nervously. ‘Do you have any suggestions?’

‘What about Christianity? Good old body-and-blood-of-Christ. We get regular shipments of genuine bits of Christ, very high quality, grown ’specially in Utah.’

He handed her a copy of a dusty bible, and a suspicious-looking jar to the fiancé. It contained some grey flesh in alcohol.

The couple looked at each other awkwardly. ‘Well,’ said the woman, ‘we thought Christianity was on its way out really. It’s not very, you know, “in” these days.’

‘Oh you’d be surprised, Christianity’s making a strong comeback at the moment,’ enthused the trader. ‘Of course it’s largely down to the expanding package-market in America. People want their religious views to come with opinions on abortion, gays, death penalty, whatever. You name it, I can get you a good deal.’

‘Oh no, no thanks,’ frowned the young woman softly. ‘We don’t want anything as abrasive as that.’

‘Bloody Americans eh?’ joked the young man with a clumsy smile.

‘How about Islam?’ The trader unrolled an ornate scroll with elegant Arabic script. ‘Good solid religion, Islam. Lots of high-quality proverbs.’

‘Doesn’t Islam have a negative attitude towards women?’ asked the man sceptically, squeezing his fiancée’s arm.

The trader bit his lip. ‘Well, y’see, it’s complicated. There’s lots of different interpretations of Islam. Like I said, we do lots of tailored packages. Our Turkish clients, for instance—’

‘I heard Islam makes women wear a veil and men wear beards,’ remarked the young woman. ‘And there’s all that fighting and people blowing themselves up. Doesn’t sound a very safe option for children.’

‘Islam doesn’t seem to be very modern,’ added the young man.

‘No, it doesn’t, does it,’ mumbled the trader, giving them a cynical look. ‘Well what about Judaism? A very family-friendly choice is Judaism.’

‘Oh we’ve heard lots of good things about Jews,’ she nodded enthusiastically. ‘They have lots of money and career opportunities, right?’

‘But honey, you know I don’t like wearing hats…’ the man whispered.

‘Sure, sure, they’ve got careers, money, government jobs, the lot,’ the trader nodded, smiling under his beard. He handed them some stone artefacts carved with Hebrew. ‘There are a few risks of course, but-’

‘Risks? Like what?’

‘Well, you may feel a vague awkwardness over your spiritual home,’ admitted the trader, holding his hands up. ‘But it’s a very, very popular option, and with just a small genetic transfusion you get all these benefi-’

‘Excuse me?’

‘There’s surgery involved?’ The couple had mild outrage written across their faces. ‘I don’t think we want to muck around with any of that.’

‘Well look I’m really trying here, right?’ The trader looked rather flustered. ‘I mean, what do you want, some sort of airy-fairy one-world religion that encompasses the best bits of all the major faiths?’

‘Ooo, what about that sweetie? A “best of” would be quite nice wouldn’t it?’

‘No I think he was joking, darling.’

‘Too right I was,’ the trader muttered.

‘Have you just got something more in my size?’ she said, biting her lip a little nervously. ‘Something a bit more lightweight?’

‘Huh, well you can go and see Bertie if you’re after some kind of misty spiritualism,’ the trader replied in a gruff dismissive voice. ‘I’ve got no truck with that. I only work with the good stuff, the real deal. That said, he does some good work with Druidism, I’ll give him that. Four stalls down, next to the fruit and veg.’

‘What about Buddhism?’ the young woman persisted.
‘Buddhism? Don’t make me laugh,’ sneered the trader in a loud voice. ‘That’s not a religion. If you want a lifestyle, go get yourselves a personal trainer.’

‘Actually we’ve already got—’
‘I told you, I only deal in proper products,’ snapped the trader in frustration, rubbing his fingers together like a chef. ‘Real solid religion, with hierarchy, authority. Beliefs with backbone! The stuff I deal in has been telling people how to live for thousands of years.’

‘Sure, and telling people what they can’t have and what they can’t do, eh?’ retorted the young man.

‘Hey, don’t look at me pal,’ the trader replied loudly. People near them around the market began to look. ‘People have wanted organised religion for tens of thousands of years. Fills the hole in their lives. Sure, we’ve had to diversify into the pagan New Age market recently, but you can’t blame honest traders like me for giving people the structured spirituality they demand.’

‘Come on honey, let’s look somewhere else,’ said the man shepherding her away with an arm, giving the trader a dirty look. ‘I’m sure we can find some quality products from a more reputable dealer.’

‘Ha! You’re all the same you lot,’ the trader said, shaking his head as the young couple walked away. ‘Never go to church in your life, but when a wedding or a baby comes along, you want a fancy church event and the “respect” that only established religion can offer. I’ve got friends who’re atheists. At least they’ve got the balls to say where they stand.’

He puffed out and tried to relax. Then his mobile phone rang again.

‘Hallo Steve? Yeah what’s up. You’re kidding? Crap. Okay cheers.’ He dropped the phone back in his pocket and yelled back into the racks. ‘Sally! It’s Steve from the States – says the Scientologists are switching to digital distribution.’ He rubbed a chubby, hairy chin. ‘Better get started on that downloads website.’

The God Market


Rotherhithe, London, United Kingdom

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 7

Artist's Description

A cheeky little story showing both sides of the God Market :)

Artwork Comments

  • Dan Elbourne
  • jezkemp
  • murals2go
  • jezkemp
  • Patricia Anne McCarty-Tamayo
  • jezkemp
  • Patricia Anne McCarty-Tamayo
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