I've been giving some serious thought to the reason for the season, and I've come to some serious conclusions. Sit down. You're not going to like this.
My American brethren, we need a new God. The one we have has gotten awfully pushy and, like an un housetrained Rottweiller in a one-bedroom apartment, He's getting damn hard to ignore. Soon as we get this holiday crud behind us, I say we shop around for something a bit more humble and a lot less ruthless. An un-jealous God, if you will, who doesn't throw a hissy just because every Tom, Dickstein and Abdul isn't continuously on their knees singing His hosannas.
Our conservative friends like to deregulate everything else, from the phone company to the Endangered Species Act, yet they seem perfectly satisfied with the idea of centralized sanctimony enforced by an overbearing, invasive bureaucracy of angels, saints and televangelists getting mixed up in every aspect of our lives, from who we fall in love with to what weapons systems we give to Israel. Listen, if your chief bitch is about Big Government, what makes Big Theology so much better?
So, as much as it pains this lefty, I'm suggesting what we need is a free-market God, instead of this monopolizing, big brother, Ma Bell God the moral socialists insist we sign up with. A God who won't be chucking everyone who strays off the straight and narrow down to a long rot in Hell, or maybe even a God with a sense of humor, is that too much to ask? Any Creation that includes concepts like "post-modern," "rap music" and "born again" needs a Creator who knows sarcasm when he sees it. (Besides, a funny God would almost certainly come up with more things like penguins and chimpanzees and less things like centipedes and Southern Baptists.)
Oh, and what say we drop the omnipotence bit? As far as I'm concerned, that stuff was dumb long before Darwin and it never amounted to a hill of beans anyway. Think about it ... if the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses is so all powerful and all knowing, why would He let them put Jerusalem in an earthquake zone, huh?
Another thing: Let's make sure our new God sticks with what He puts down on paper. For instance, if our new God's good book says, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter into Heaven," then He'd better see to it that either 1) rich guys don't get in to Heaven, 2) needles get way bigger or 3) camels get way smaller.
What set me off on this crusade was seeing Jerry Falwell on a talk show recently, can you believe that bloated boil is still blaming gays and Hollywood for 9/11? He says it wouldn't have happened if all Americans had God in their hearts like--of course--he does.
Well, pilgrim, I decided then and there I don't want anything in my heart that's been in Jerry Falwell's heart.
But that leaves me in somewhat of a quandary. Let's say that some day I have to explain to a small child where her Granny went when she died. Or better yet, what if I find myself in a foxhole? And seeing's how there's no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole, I have no choice but to believe in something larger than myself. At least until I get out of the foxhole.
First of all, there's no chance I'd ever foist Jerry Falwell's Supreme Bogey Man off on a kid. I may have done a lot of rotten things in my time, but I draw the line at scarring children for life. And as far as a foxhole conversion goes, don't count on that either. If I have to rely on some Gomorrah-busting, world-flooding, heretic-burning, birth control-nixing, Adam&Eve-banishing, Bush-backing brute for my salvation, I'll take my chances with the enemy's bullets, thank you very much.
Still, like everyone else, now and then I seek answers to unanswerable questions. And please, don't give me another Jesus pitch. I've heard it all before and you bet, he seems to be a perfectly nice, blue-state kind of fella. But frankly, after being marketed by 2,000 years' worth of powerful Popes, proselytizing Protestants, millions of pesky missionaries and most recently, Mel Gibson, Jesus comes with some pretty ambiguous baggage. And besides, who's really running the show up there? ... The Grumpy Father (who doesn't think twice about hosing the planet off and starting over), the Son (that proto-hippy who came to save us all, and then take the rap for the ones he missed), or the Holy Ghost (whom, word is, Ashcroft is trying to make part of the Patriot Act before he goes).
Nope, even were I to learn you can buy the Shepherd Son and pass on the Sociopath Dad, the acorn never falls far from the oak, I say.
I guess what I'm looking for is a God smart people can believe in, too. Darnit, the barely aware masses have been making God in their image long enough, so it's our turn. A God who keeps up with modern science so we won't be bickering over what gets taught in schools, wouldn't that be nice? Seriously, it feels like a whole plague of locusts are crawling down my back when I think about getting stuck in Sunday morning services with a herd of needy, grasping, fearful souls who will buy on faith whatever a used-religion salesman with a Bible school certificate tells them, but reject everything that comes out of Stephen Hawking's mouth. Hey, would it kill God to watch Nova now and then?
Also, I want a God who, when he says "free will," means "free will." Being endowed with free will, then being damned to an eternity of unimaginable suffering as punishment for exercising it isn't what I call free will. Might as well tell a slave, "Shor, ya'll juss go 'head an' vote. But when I catches ya', don' be surprised that I hang yer ass from that there hickory tree."
And I have no problem with making the Heavenly Father a Heavenly Mother this time. Couldn't hurt.
Last, but certainly not least, I don't want any God who's merely a substitute addiction for booze hounds, skirt chasers, gamblers, junkies, overeaters and compulsive shoppers. You've known your share, I'm sure ... folks who can't get from one day to the next without some sort of fix, then they get hooked on God and act like their dependency days are over. That's not God in their hearts, brother. It's more like methadone.
Okay, I think that about covers it. And look, I realize a week before Christmas probably isn't the best time to announce we need a new God. But consider this ... I could have saved the thought for Easter, so be thankful for what little sensitivity I have.