My dear friend, the Reverend Dr. Vici Derrick of Joy Cathedral in Seattle, often says, “God made man in His image; then man returned the favor.” It’s not a new phenomenon. About 2,500 years ago, Greek philosopher Xenophanes said pretty much the same thing: “If horses were to create gods, they’d look like horses.”
Speaking of horses (or parts thereof), New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin now admits that remarks he made during his Martin Luther King address were “totally inappropriate.” I think he meant “totally inane.”
On Monday, Nagin told the mostly black audience gathered to commemorate the Nobel Peace Prize-winning King that God was “mad at America” and its misbehaving black people, so He sent Katrina to the Gulf Coast to destroy everything in her path.
What Nagin is saying is that God has uncontrollable fits of violent, destructive, murderous rage. Why is God so full of wrath? Well, C. Ray says it’s because black folks in New Orleans have uncontrollable fits of violent, destructive, murderous rage.
Ooh! Ooh! I think I see a pattern forming here.
Nagin also said that God has designated New Orleans as a “chocolate” city. In other words, it has been divinely decreed that most of the residents in a city built dangerously below sea level and inadequately protected from the surrounding waters should be Black. If a white man had said that, I’m sure Nagin would be the first to call him a racist. Instead, he calls him God.
So if we follow Nagin’s admittedly inappropriate logic, God sent Katrina to do what, exactly, chase the white folks out of New Orleans and re-establish it as a “chocolate” empire? Most of the homes destroyed belonged to black folks or white folks? Just checking.
Even if God were human (or inhumane, as Nagin and others believe) I can’t imagine that altering the racial composition in New Orleans would be on the to-do list, since so many of the King’s Kids are starving in Africa, dying of AIDS everywhere, and being bombed wholesale on the streets of Iraq and Afganistan.
I think 18th century poet and satirist Alexander Pope was onto something when he wrote, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” He makes a clear distinction between human acts and divine ones. The Divine forgives the inane rather than destroys, punishes or kills them. The Divine is Light Years above vile thought and violent behavior.
Unfortunately, the minister who inspired Nagin’s “totally inappropriate” remarks wasn’t aware. That minister, Nagin, Pat Robertson and their brothers and sisters who believe that God behaves like humans haven’t fully opened themselves to the Awesome Allness. They have shrunk God into something small enough to wrap their human brains around.
There are lots of those folks out there. Remember last week’s blog about Pat Robertson’s cheerleader, Scott Ross, who dug up an Old Testament scripture in which God threatened the destruction of any nation that attacked Israel? I received an e-mail disputing Ross’s prediction that the worst was yet to come.
Ross’ prediction was inaccurate, this writer said, because “God is no longer a Zionist after he sent His Son Jesus the Christ…. Read John1.” You heard it here first: God has changed religions. Help me out here: Jesus was Jewish throughout his human life, right? Just checking.
The writer went on to say that God would strike Ross and send him to hell for characterizing God as a Zionist. (But apparently, the writer can call God a sadist with impunity.)
When I responded that I was sorry he felt that God was so inhumane, he said God might strike me for insulting someone who worshipped the Almighty. Yeow! No doubt, he’ll say it again when he sees that I’m as impudent this week.
I was quite disturbed by this non-Christlike behavior, but I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. This was the same person who told me that God flooded the Earth because He was trying to rid it of sin. In other words, infallible God failed. And in this failed attempt, God heartlessly killed many a newborn, handicapped person, senior citizen, and playful toddler, not to mention all of the non-sinning fauna and plant life.
This dear soul can now bond with Brother Nagin and a host of others throughout the ages who have mindlessly shrunk the image of the Almighty, All-Knowing, and Everywhere Present Spirit of Unconditional Love that we know as God into that of a human who is bereft of any divine qualities.
Don’t let my sarcasm cloud my gratitude for these folks. They perform a great service. It’s not until someone publicly gives voice to a judgmental, punitive, angry, vindictive bully and calls him God that we get this wonderful opportunity to re-think our own image of the Almighty.
So thanks, Pat Robertson, Scott Ross, and Mayor Nagin. You’re doing more to help us embrace a Divine God than any old loudmouth in the balcony could. Woo hoo!