God, The Blog: Part The Second
To recap, here is our menu of options about the existence of God, which we plan to discuss in no particular order:
1. God is compassionate, but if he steps in every time you'll never learn.
2. God isn't compassionate. We are so fucked.
3. There is no God.
4. There was a God, and He was getting all ready to help out, but then He DIED.
5. It's complicated.
Nietzsche, of course, always picked #4, though he postulated a long illness. True, he never sent flowers, but fundamentalists are wrong to think he was gleeful about the event.
(Oh, and by the way? Putting a “Nietzsche is Dead – God” bumper sticker on your maroon Taurus with aqua detailing does not make you cleverer than Nietzsche. He was really fucking clever. Seriously, no matter how many miles you put on that hideous car, you’re never gonna see what Nietzsche saw. Christ, just writing his deathless monograph The Birth of Tragedy, let alone the often-cited but never-read-by-us Also Sprach Zarathustra, turned his soul inside out, like, six times.)
In the interest of full disclosure we must report that Hitler liked Nietzsche a lot. He liked Wagner, too. Simon’s dad loves Wagner, and actually subjected his wife, Harriet, to the totality of The Ring Cycle, which takes an entire calendar year to perform. Did you know that? It’s not true at all. (Even so, Daddy-o, when your wife says she’d like a nice ring for her birthday, this is not what she means. You should know that by now.)
In any case, his apparently sincere disdain for Hitler does not prevent Dick Glickman from rocking out, in his way, to Dick Wagner’s interminable saga of Siegfried. So we can’t always ask “What Would Hitler Do?” and then not do that. (Although it’s not bad as a rule of thumb.)
At this point you may be saying, “I hate Nietzsche. And opera. And Simon. That ‘God is Dead’ shit is depressing! Let’s talk about #1, where God is at least alive.”
Okay, let’s. Let’s say there is a compassionate God, whose shiny essence is always trying to steer us in the right direction. Could not this God be like the one sane member of a family, who always tries to keep the peace but is roundly ignored by the noisy and self-absorbed claque of alcoholics, abusers, compulsive shoppers and Republicans who turn every holiday dinner into a psychic battleground? Maybe he exists, he’s around, he’s compassionate, but no one’s allowed him to get a word in edgewise in over a century. And even when they do, they’re too sloshed to pay attention.
Or let’s imagine that God is not so warm ‘n’ fuzzy, but is more like an implacable sheriff on the moral frontier. The Old Testament is filled with obstreperous assholes who disregard God’s generally reasonable dictates, and they usually get smote (smoted? Smited?) right quick. But today’s equivalent of the Bible’s bloodthirsty creeps don’t have to worry about punishment by lightning – they’re more likely to get promoted to CFO. What if thousands of years of human indifference to holy design had worn down the Almighty’s resolve, causing Him to put down his tin star and retire to the eternal saloon?
Of course, if there isn’t and never was a God (that’s Door #3, for all you Nihilists out there), that would explain a lot. It would explain why leaders who murder thousands or millions of people are generally rewarded with still more power and oodles of fly bitches. It would also explain why you can get pretty far in politics by trying to put the Ten Commandments in public spaces even if you not only can’t name them from memory but regularly break all ten, frequently at the same time. It would even explain “Fear Factor,” on which TV producers pour buckets of maggots on the heads of contestants in between commercials for meatball subs. And the popularity of Jessica Simpson. (Seriously, Ms. Simpson: the thing with the singing? Stop it.)
Simon, in case you’re wondering, generally leans toward #3. (Sera “kinda” believes in God, but then, she also “kinda” believes in Nixies, which are those two-tailed mermaids pictured on a Starbucks cup,
so Simon elected to leave her perspective out of this otherwise post-Medieval section.) “Getting to #3” is all part of what Simon likes to call a lifelong journey of spiritual “unbecoming.” He considered himself a pantheist and clung loosely to this cosmic catch-all for a while back in the ’90s, but that ship has sailed (to the sounds of a fantastic Cameron Crowe movie soundtrack). Now he’s come to the conclusion that asking “what happens after we die?” is a bit like asking “what happens after the movie?” Credits roll. Fade to black. So enjoy the fucking movie.
In our next post: onward to #5: It's Complicated!