God’s Golden Years

The other day, as I drove down the street near my home, I spared a glance at the sign board of a Baptist church. It read, equivocally, GOD’S RETIREMENT BENEFITS ARE GREAT. Yes, yes, I know what they meant, especially since it was spelled out at greater length on the reverse side: “Work for God; His retirement benefits are great.” That by itself is pretty crass theology. As Romans 4:4 says, “Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due.” But I can’t blame the signboard writer for sacrificing theology for the sake of a good joke. And the joke was on him! At least in the abridged version, what was I to think but that the Almighty had decided to hang up the gloves, to throw in the towel? One might find him henceforth strolling, with white belt and loafers, along the sidewalks of Miami Beach.

Nietzsche’s mad prophet proclaimed, with great drama and wide eyes, spittle flying, that “God is dead!” Compared with that, the news that he has merely gone out to pasture seems anticlimactic indeed. But it does explain a few things. If God has died, why, then, you and I are left to don the mantel of the Superman, the Übermensch. It is ours to create values, as the founders of our civilizations did. It is ours to create the beauty of meaning. It is ours to shoulder the burden of fateful greatness, and not another’s. But what if God has only retired?

It appears to mean that the firm has been left intact, but in the less capable hands of inept junior partners. Look at the leaders of the religions in our day. There are the unspeakable mullahs of the Islamic Republic. Maybe they ought to drop the “I” from the name and just call their religion “Slam.” Because that’s what they’re looking to do to everybody else. Maybe they ought to change the spelling of their radioactive nuclear fuel to “Iranium.” The sorcerer’s away, retired, and the apprentices are filling the world with dangerous, perambulating brooms. One glad day, when their regime falls, my fond hope is that the people of Iran will erect a nice marble public latrine over Ayatollah Khomeini’s grave.

Gaza, the Palestinian state, hitherto run by corrupt anti-Semites, al-Fatah, is now to be “governed” by a set of even worse anti-Semites, the rabid thugs of Hamas, who are so stupid that they believe the old Russian hate-hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion which fancifully predicts a cabal of Jews conspiring to take control of the world. It is all worthy of Dale Gribble. What makes these anti-Semites worse than al-Fatah? Hamas is run by religious zealots, in short, more self-appointed spokesmen for Allah. Religion is so often idolatry pure and simple, and this is what happens when devils make God in their own image. But they don’t know what else to do! Allah has pocketed the golden watch and gone out to stud.

American religion seems no less under the management of inept subordinates, baffled bureaucrats, self-important school administra-tors. Roger Cardinal Mahony recently told his flock not to obey a new Immigration law, should it pass, that forbids sheltering illegal aliens. This is just why Protestants always suspected Catholic involvement in politics: the Cardinal has become a kind of liberal mullah who tells his congregation that they must follow the laws of God (as defined by man) instead of inferior, merely human, civil laws. Uh, isn’t that precisely the thinking of Osama bin-Laden, only applied differently? Don’t you see: it is only by the luck of the draw that it is applied differently! It’s like monarchy: it might be just what you need in certain circumstances, but it’s the flip of the coin. The next king might be a tyrant.

But let me not let Protestants off unscathed. I saw the insufferable wolf in sheep’s clothing, “Reverend” Barry Lynn on TV tonight representing American United for the Separation of Church and State. That is by no means their agenda. Instead they work to scour any expression of religious identity from the public square. They are about as friendly to religion as Hamas is to Jews. You don’t have to be a theocrat, a fundamentalist, or even a religious person to recognize the right of religious Americans to celebrate their faith in public ways. One can always approach it with the generous pragmatism of Montgomery Burns: “Let the fools have their tartar sauce!” Anyway, the Judas Goat Lynn was charging new Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito with violating the sacred, er, I mean, important line between church and state by sending a thank-you note to James Dobson (admittedly a right-wing goon) for his support during the nomination process. And yet Mullah Mahony’s antics were all right by Vladimir Lynn! Oh, why didn’t God pay more attention to the line of succession when he decided to leave the firm he founded?

But, come to think of it, it was never easy to get in to see God even before he retired. In fact, that puts me in mind of the previous week’s signboard at the same church: “God will be here Sunday, February 12. Come and meet him.” Less than a mile away was a fast food joint with a similar signboard, announcing a soon-coming photo-op with Elmo. Come have your kid’s picture taken with him. The next week, it was Skooby-Doo, and after that Sponge Bob. A real parade of stars. You don’t suppose that in a rare moment of candor, the Baptist church was admitting that God, too, was just some advertiser-created figurehead like Ronald MacDonald, do you? Maybe the firm has always been run by a bureaucracy of inept hacks. Yes, that might explain a few things, too…

Or so says Zarathustra.

Robert M. Price
March 2006


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