The Obituary of Brian Tamaki, Died April 1, 2052by David Slack
This story was first published in the January 2015 issue of Metro. Illustration by Daron Parton.
Brian of Tamaki, New Zealand’s greatest holy man, is probably dead. He was 94.
Followers have been gathered by the lagoon in Bora Bora where he slipped from his jet ski, deep in prayer.
Brian walked a simple path in his early years. He was, he said, a Mark-II-driving, rugby-playing, beer-drinking guy working with falling trees, bulldozers and 15 hard men when his life changed.
Someone told him that if he asked God to reveal Himself, He would. He gave it a try and got an out-of-body experience. “I knew I was in my bedroom, but I saw a couple of birds fly past and I could see the trees in the wind and I thought, what the heck is going on down in my body and I knew it was God.”
That changed everything. He stopped smoking, stopped drinking, stopped swearing. “And I just consumed the Bible for a solid year, just read it. It’s quite a thing, coming from Playboys and Penthouses and suddenly going to a Bible. That’s the only things I’d read, if I read at all, and I’d left school at 15 and I didn’t care; I didn’t do School C. My mates were earning money and I wanted to do the same. But the thing about this was I could read it and somehow got the story behind the story.”
His ordinary life was over. An extraordinary one was about to begin.
Brian would become not just a follower of Jesus, but a man with many followers. They built a church, they built a bigger church, and that church would grow tenfold and a hundredfold.
A Sunday service was a marathon of devotion, with giant screens, a rock band and eftpos facilities for the collection. At the centre of it all would be Brian, his jet-black hair lacquered and glowing, his robes glowing, his words glowing, on and on, for one hour, two hours, three hours.
He would speak of salvation. He would deplore the demons of gambling and alcohol and fornication. He would take a simple point and refrain it for a short eternity. It was a John Rowles concert without the low lights, or the hard liquor, or the flying underwear.
Brian was against sin in all its forms and the one that troubled him most was envy. Television shows like Campbell Live would see footage of services with banknotes spread across the stage floor like autumn leaves in $50 and $100 denominations and get entirely the wrong idea.
It was trying, “but if the Bible tells us anything about trying”, Brian would tell his congregation, “it’s that God loves a trier”.
His church did good. It mended broken lives, it gave addicts of gambling and alcohol and fornication something else to do with their hands. Brian and his church asked for only 10 per cent in return.
This would grow to 20 per cent and 30 per cent and 40 per cent because, as his wife, Hannah — who tended to do the speaking when TV reporters knocked on the door — explained, “We’ve just had a virtual-reality resurrection experience put in, and it’s state of the art. These things don’t come cheap.”
Brian, having found God, never left Him. He would spend hours each day reading his Bible and pondering its message as he watched his 120-inch TV, or roamed the streets of the people on his Harley-Davidson, or searched his soul on a pool lounger, balmed by a restful Caribbean breeze.
Authorities have speculated that he was taken by a shark, but his followers at the water’s edge fervently cling to the hope he lives yet, to rise again.
“That story he used to tell about the whale, I bet that was a clue,” one said. “I say he’s in a whale, right now, chilling, and when he gets out, it’s going to be awesome. I’d put money on it. Fifty, or even a hundred.”
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