March 22, 2010

Snarky Before it Was Cool -- Scotticus Talks to God in 2004

In a stunning display of laziness and general contempt for my reader(s), I am going to reprint an op-ed that originally ran in my hometown newspaper in April 2004. The only part that feels especially dated is the John Cusack fawning, but remember that prior to 2004, one could still appreciate the High Fidelity, Grosse Pointe Blank, Pushing Tin, Say Anything Cusack without knowing that those of us in the distant future would have to endure the Must Love Dogs, Martian Child, War Inc, 2012 Cusack.

Speaking of Cusack, join me in our very own Hot Tub Time Machine:
Dear God: it’s me, Scotticus. First off, I want to thank you for so many things -– springtime, basketball, The Sopranos, John Cusack movies -– so as not to seem overly critical. As for Earth, I love what you’ve done with the place. Your sense for drama is absolutely Scorsese-esque, especially that bit with Saddam Hussein coming out of the spider-hole with his Lyle Lovett hair and Jim Belushi demeanor:

"I wish to negotiate." Classic.

Having said that, I’ve got some pretty serious clergy-stumpers that I’d feel much better having answers to. For instance, I saw Mel Gibson’s new movie about your kid, and it got me to thinking: that was your kid. Yeah, yeah, "part God" and all, but if I have my theology right, when Deus Jr. was on the cross –- bleeding, bruised, broken -– he was flesh, blood, scooped-him-up-when-he-fell-off-his-bike human. So from there I began to wonder, was that really justice?

The way I learned it in Vacation Bible School, Jesus had to die in my place because he was perfect. For me to die wouldn’t have paid even the interest on my debt, having once lied to my mom about drawing on the furniture with permanent markers, so you called in a Holy Ringer. That’s where the logic gets muddy to me. Why am I absolved through the breaking and destruction of the only perfect human you ever made? In which part of your wonderful universe is that just?

If I saw a man murder my family, I wouldn’t sigh the great sigh of closure by seeing his sweet, elderly, Wal-Mart-greeter aunt writhe in the electric chair in his place. People point to your fourth-quarter Messiah substitution as proof positive of just how much you love us, but that doesn’t feel like justice at all; in fact it kind of makes my stomach churn.

I want to be on your team. Believe me, I love Max Lucado books as much as the next guy, and Mike Breaux can flat-out preach. Your theme songs are always catchy, and your pleasant promises of paradise take the acid-reflux out of life, but I’m not the first who needed to put his finger in the wounds to believe -– and Thomas used to fish with the guy.

I see your chosen people getting sand kicked in their face by everyone from Pharaoh to Hitler to Arafat, and that leaves me almost as dumbfounded as the fact that you have a "chosen people" to begin with.

But all digression aside, my overall point is so disturbing that I cannot be content to fully claim it without begging, pleading, even praying to be shown the light which so many insist is there; so here goes:

I think maybe you’re wrong.

Now hear me out. I know the Bible says you are infallible, but to be fair it was your book. Richard Clarke practically claims he foresaw terrorist attacks in tea leaves in his book. If I wrote one, I’d be the coolest character in it too. I’d see the future, possess a perfect sense of justice, love everyone, and be able to pull off that trick where Superman could see Lois Lane’s undies through her nightgown.

It’s not that I don’t think you are who you say you are. Evidence and instinct screams that there is a creative, even artistic force behind the universe, and I believe that force is most certainly you. But I was created with a mind capable of astounding feats of reason (in fact it is my gift just as bears have claws and puppies have cuddliness) and there are moments among your record where you and I seem to simply disagree. Remember that time when you and Moses commanded the Israelites to pike the heads of the Midianites, scolded the army for leaving the women alive, then ordered them to take the virgins -– most likely preteens -– for themselves (Numbers 31:3-18)? I wasn’t on board for that. And earlier, when you put Pharaoh up as a patsy to show off your best tricks, one of which was killing firstborn children (Exodus 10:1-2), well you left me with a little head-scratching then too. But the real rub is the crucifixion. What parent expresses love to his naughty children by nailing the one who behaves to a tree?

In the end, it’s your world. Even if you are wrong, you wrote the rules and you pick the winners. But you created this brain in my head, and if the ultimate gesture of humanity as you created it is to deny the very rationality and morality that sets me apart from the gerbils in favor of blindly following you, then I’m afraid I cannot suit up this time. Give my regards to Walter Matthou, and if I’m wrong, then I truly pray you help me piece it together before the final horn blows.

PS – Thanks again for the springtime.


  1. Just ran across this repeat from your earlier column. I know that I can not match your wit or intellect, but I hope my faith can somehow encourage you to reach that point for yourself. From the failure of Adam to accept a single rule, the ability to choose that God gave us all invariably leads us to make wrong decisions occasionally. As much as God loves us, his holiness demands repentance and some type of sacrifice before we can have a relationship with Him again. From the time of Adam until Christ that was done with the blood sacrifice of animals. But throughout the accounts of the Old Testament, there is a coherent plan revealed for a better way. Through over 300 prophecies, all of which were fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God gave us the gift of salvation by simply believing and accepting the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb. That was not a punishment of a perfect, sinless being, but the gift of the Trinity, sending a part of that Trinity to bring God directly to us as a living human being for about 33 years. That being experienced an undeserved (but planned and predicted) death, but then arose, appeared to over 500 people, then returned to His place with God and sent another part of that Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to live in those who accept His reality and the sacrificial gift He gave to us. That death was not about justice, but grace, an undeserved gift. Knowing that we could never deserve, on our merits, to be in the presence of a holy God, He provided the perfect Sacrifice and asks us only to accept that gift and allow the Holy Spirit to help us to live in a way more pleasing to Him, manifested in the simple rules of loving God and loving our fellow man. Even those seemingly simple rules cannot be perfectly followed by us as humans, but the Holy Spirit gives us the help we need to continue to try. And that is all He asks of us.
    I hope this helps. Read "The Shack" when you get a chance. It may help with the issue of bad things happening to innocents. Not sure about how to "Comment" other than "Anonymous", but this is from Dad with love.

  2. You SAT Me @ ReasonMarch 31, 2010 8:08 PM

    SF,did not know what to expect after your confusing offshore drilling and smoking 'SAT question' but I can relate to this story. I liked Must Love Dogs but I have the right equipment for that movie. Your dad's response was the best thing I have read and yet I don't believe that the bible is literal. His post was so sweet, it made me cry.

  3. Glad to get any spillover from Hit & Run!

    And yes, my Dad is the very best kind of Christian: evangelical out of earnest love, a daily example of "walking the walk" as best he can, and still working every day to learn something new.

    He's not perfect though. He really likes CSI: Miami.

  4. You SAT Me @ Reason said...April 01, 2010 12:20 PM

    He needs to write a blog. I really did cry reading it! His angle could be: walking the walk, Miami-CSI style.

  5. You SAT Me @ ReasonApril 01, 2010 12:37 PM

    "Glad to get any spillover from Hit & Run!" Lol! That would be my nightmare! I wouldn't even want me (under my handle), to post some of the things I write on Reason. Btw, thank you professor. I needed schooling on the post comment profile and found your one-most-of-you-can-skip-working-title to be useful.

  6. H&R can get crude and ridiculous sometimes, but I owe a good part of my politics to discussions there over the years (for better or worse!).

    I'll pitch my Dad on the blog idea. He's actually pretty tech-savvy for a geezer. ;)

  7. Say man, when God plays pool, sometimes he's gonna scratch, dig?