I was driving on the freeway this Memorial Day weekend and saw a car with a big bumpersticker that read "God is Pro-Life." I've seen this sticker before and never really thought about it too much. I see a lot of bumperstickers in Los Angeles, since there's so many bumpers around upon which one can stick things. I once saw a bumpersticker that read "Real Men Don't Rape." While I wholeheartedly agree with the message, I wasn't quite sure exactly who the bumpersticker was aimed at. Talk about niche marketing. But it was a well-meaning and completely true bumpersticker.
However, as I drove along and considered the "God is Pro-Life" sticker, I suddenly found myself thinking something to myself, something that might upset some people in this country these days. And I'm not trying to upset anyone. But I just couldn't help it. What I was thinking was:
"Is God REALLY pro-life?"
I mean, I know that if one believes in God, then one believes that He gives all things life. And that would make him about the most pro-life guy in the immediate universe. Or would it? I guess it would actually make Him more of a "pro-active life giver," but there's no saying that the Guy is truly "PRO-life." That's a little like saying that a guy who makes kitty litter is "pro-kitty litter." Sure, the guy would be all for kitty litter because without it he wouldn't have a job. But there's always a chance that a guy who makes kitty litter doesn't really like cats and therefore doesn't really support the actual existence of something they go to the bathroom in. He'd be more aptly described as "pro-the manufacturing of kitty litter by a company that pays the employees who make it." But that's ultimately a pretty detached view of the whole issue of the existence and protection of kitty litter. So, by those standards, who knows what God's opinion is on life in general?
Why would I say such a terrible thing? I don't know. I don't mean it to be a terrible thing. I was brought up in a very religious household and did a lot of praying throughout a big part of my life and always thought of God as being not only a powerful father figure and the ruler of all time and dimension but also as a friend with whom I could chat and ask questions to and get advice from. But it's just that as the years go by a heck of a lot of people seem to get killed all the time, and a lot of those people aren't even what some would consider to be bad guys who might be deserving of such a fate. I'm talking about nice people and innocent people and children and people who are doing good things for the world. A lot of them seem to have gotten killed all throughout history, and they seem to still be getting killed all the time today.
Now, it'd be one thing if we just said that God was the "Creator" of life and then left it at that, meaning that He's sort of like a very talented manufacturer. You know, kind of a "Hey, once it leaves the factory I can't control what people do with my products" sort of Guy. But the whole thing about God is that He's supposedly looking out for us all the time, intervening and helping us when we ask for help, no matter how small the favor. Heck, just look at all the Grammys and gold medals and SuperBowl and World Series rings He's gotten people. He gets thanked all the time. He's our go-to Guy, and I've been told since I was little that He's always there whenever you need Him. And maybe He is. But He doesn't really seem to be so overwhelmingly pro-life that He spends most of His time actually SAVING lives. Hence my concern over the validity of the "God is Pro-Life" bumpersticker.
So, why do I say I'd like to be Him for a while?
No, it's not some big ego trip. I'm not looking for people to bow down to me or do things in my name or even pass around a collection plate for me. I say that I'd like to be God for a while because He really can get away with anything. I mean, ANYTHING.
Seriously, no matter what He does, He never gets the blame. Everyone makes excuses for Him. It's like after 9/11. I thought for sure people were going to really let Him have it. I thought they were going to fire God. After all, if you were in charge of something and on your watch a few thousand innocent people got killed, don't you think you'd get fired? Even if you had the world's best contract and the strongest union protecting you, I'd think that you'd still at least get hit with a major suspension, and at the very very least everyone working under you would lose a lot of faith in you. But very few people did. If anything, they started to believe in Him even more. And God got to remain completely blameless.
Can you imagine being THAT teflon?
It's like whenever I've gone to the funeral of someone who's died early and tragically in life. The religious official presiding over the ceremony says some version of the same thing: "Whenever something tragic and senseless happens in this world, we have to ask ourselves 'Where was God? Why did He let this happen?'" And whenever the priest or rabbi or minister or whoever is there representing God poses this question, I always sit forward, desperate to get an answer that will make sense of the whole thing. But, alas, I always hear this instead:
"I cannot answer this question, and neither can any of us. God does things that we cannot understand, and He has His reasons. But we must trust that what He does is all part of His plan." Or something to that effect. They're usually way better with those kinds of words than I am.
But the point is always the same. God does things that fly completely in the face of what we've all been taught that He is supposed to do and everytime He does this, we all just say, "Oh, well, I guess there must be some good reason why He did that."
And THAT'S what I want to be able to have people say about me. Can you imagine how great it would be?
"Why didn't Paul pick us up at the airport? He said he would."
"Well, he must have his reasons. Even though the cab ride is going to cost us a fortune, don't get mad at him. It's not for us to know why he didn't show up."
"Paul burned our house down. Why would he do such a thing?"
"Well, it doesn't make sense to me but he wouldn't do it unless he thought it was going to be a good thing for us. We actually should thank him."
It's foolproof. No matter what you do, people not only let you get away with it, they attach deep meaning to whatever you did, no matter how bad it was. Or, if it's really really bad, they just convince themselves that you didn't know about it or that it wasn't your fault or that the people to whom the terrible thing happened must have somehow deserved it.
And that's why I'd like to be God for a little while. If for no other reason than to have a little time off from people being mad at me for not returning their calls, not emailing them back, or not reading their screenplays.
Or for writing a blog like this.