Both of my sons are too young to have The Talk with. They know that babies come from a mommy and a daddy, but it hasn’t yet occurred to them to ask about the mechanism by which this happens. Unfortunately, they are around and alert enough to know when a tragedy has struck a member of our family or that of a friend’s. Given that they are still scarred by the pre-credits scene in “Finding Nemo,” it’s not easy to find something to say that will give them comfort or make any positive impact in their understanding of the universe.
I can’t say that I have or will ever figure out what to say to the kids when confronted with tragedy. But I know what I’m not going to say. I will absolutely never, ever, say “God has a plan for all of us.” This is a TERRIFYING thing to say. There’s some omnipotent all-knowing entity in the universe that has plans for me and I have no way of knowing what they are? I’m sure my sons will sleep much better at night if I tell them that God might have a plan to have my wife and me sucked through the roof in a tornado that night. Who can know his plans? Anyway, go to bed. Have good dreams! Now I’m going to stay up all night wondering if God’s plan is to have me sit at a sports bar watching amateur improv in between innings of a never ending MLB game? Screw that God.
Why is God making plans for me anyway? I don’t make plans for Him. I don’t say, “Hey God, you’re going to go watch an evening of experimental gamelan/bluegrass music and there’s nothing you can do about it because I am an all powerful plans maker! ” I bet God would’ve appreciated it if I told Him of my plan. Or maybe God would’ve prefered I keep my nose out of His business and let Him make His own plans. Hey, God, ever hear of do unto others as you’d have done onto you? I read that in a massage parlor once. Why on earth would I pray to a God who can’t follow the golden rule? Screw that God.
“God has a plan” is of a piece with the other terrible thing people say, “the Lord Works in Mysterious Ways.” So I’m supposed to spend hours every weekend praying my head off to an eccentric and erratic deity? Would you be friends with someone who gave you a beautiful house and a beautiful wife, but also was really into genocide, massacres, famine, disease and Fleetwood Mac? You wouldn’t, because friends don’t let friends listen to Fleetwood Mac. More importantly, you’d probably realize you could have had the beautiful house and the beautiful wife on your own. And you wouldn’t have to wonder what kind of friend would give you stuff while so clearly getting off on human suffering. Screw that friend, and definitely screw that God.
When God closes a door, he opens a window. God could be playing with nebulae, quasars, mountain ranges, and He’s messing with the entry points to my house? Why? Why not leave the door and the window open? I’m not aware of anyone ever being made to feel better by telling them that God wants them to climb out of a window. I just lost my job and I’ve got a mortgage and a family, but all I’ve got to do is find which damned window God opened. Thanks., Maybe the Almighty could’ve brought down the vacuous and small minded sycophant that shut the door to my employment in the first place. You ever think of that, God? So now I’ve got to figure out if you opened a window to a different job? Screw you, God.
If I ever become God, I’m going to be a whole lot nicer. As a higher being, I’m not going to dole out favorable treatment only to the lower beings that suck up to me. I try to be kind to animals, not because they wear symbols of my earthly demise around their necks (though a squirrel with a little CTA bus charm would be cute), but because I recognize that I have the power to make decisions and an ethical background that rejects cruelty. Are we to believe that somewhere in the universe there’s a God that can’t be kind because he never got the basic behavioral rules for kindergarten? We’re praying to an emotional five year old? This is a God, after all, who after creating the world, decided he didn’t like it and flooded the whole thing. My sons do the same thing with sand castles and Lego forts. Ahh! I messed up! I’m just going to destroy it! My sons will grow up, but God doesn’t? Screw that God.
For the last couple of millennia, people of Abrahamic faiths have been praying, pleading, and hoping that God would speak to them. And who does he speak to? George W. Bush. Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Michelle Bachmann. Michael Vick. With all of the terminally ill people in the world, the starving, the refugees, the people at Fleetwood Mac concerts, God talks to these bozos. And he didn’t even give them good guidance. He talked to Rick Santorum, but didn’t tell him that sweater vests and meddling in people’s sex lives are both passe. He didn’t tell Herman Cain not to molest women. And he didn’t give Michelle Bachmann a functional frontal lobe. God told George W. Bush to run for president and told him to invade Iraq, but never mentioned in any of their chats that Iraq had no WMDs and Dick Cheney was actually the devil? Seems like that would have been good information to have before all the dying and destruction. Screw you, God.
I know that some people during trying times in their lives have felt like someone is watching over them. I think that’s less reassuring than it is very, very, creepy. What if the feeling that a higher power was always watching you wasn’t God, but the NSA? What if the warm feeling you get inside after praying isn’t His love, but the gas you didn’t want to release during the quiet parts? I’d say that the NSA and gas are certainly the more likely answers, what with Obama’s national security state and the popularity of Jamie Lee Curtis’ colon-blowing yogurt.
Then there’s dream you had, where during the most difficult times of your life you only saw one set of footprints in the sand? Was that God carrying you, or some creep who just slipped you a roofie and is carrying your limp body off?
I don’t find any of this comforting at all.
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