God the favor dispenser

29 Jun



God, the favor dispenser

by L. Stewart Marsden


What’s your mental/emotional image of God? The relaxed muscular gray-bearded guy in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel work, his finger just beyond that of Adam’s?

The angry, fire-breathing god that the members of the Westboro Baptist Church promote?

The distant, I’ve-done-my-thing-so-don’t-mess-it-up god?

Maybe it’s the quid pro quo god, who works — in a way — like a dispensing machine. Or even a slot machine. The god of health and wealth.

The do-something-throw-the-quarter-in-pull-the-arm-down-and-voila!-I-give-you-something-back god.

I get these posts on Facebook that make me grind my teeth.


IF YOU HATE CANCER, LIKE THIS POST (How do you like something you hate?)



Most such posts into the category of IF YOU HAVE A DAUGHTER AND YOU LOVE HER, LIKE THIS POST! Or, fill in the following for “daughter”: mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, 2nd cousin four times removed, pet hamster, VW Passat . . .

Of course you want to “like” all these — or most of these — or some of these — or . . .

I got to thinking of some of the “heavy hitters” of the Bible and the kind of posts they get on their Facebook pages:

If you love this flaming bush (and forget the innuendo of the term “flaming bush”) . . .
If you love these plagues . . .
If you love these ten commandments . . .

If you love one woman in your life . . .
If you love fruits . . .
If you love spare ribs . . .

If you love DIY projects . . .
If you can count to two . . .
If you love animals . . .

If you prefer light, easy-to-carry assault weapons . . .
If you want to learn the guitar . . .
If your palace overlooks the house of a hot MILF . . .
If you need a little cash . . .
If you question your successes . . .
If one wife is not enough . . .

No one in the New Testament has a Facebook page. I checked. I think the rules changed between the prophets and the gospels.

So, what’s your god like?

I pulled into the parking lot of my local Walgreen’s so my daughter and I could pick up a few last items for the beach trip. I drive a Honda Insight — which is Honda’s sort-of-answer to Toyota’s Prius (If you love your Insight . . . ).

The engine shuts down when you slow to a stop, which surprised many. Scared the hell out of me when I first drove it off the lot and thought my engine had conked out at a stop light.

So a guy in the passenger side of the car parked to my left was startled when I pulled into the space.

“Wow! That a hybrid?”

“It is.”

“You could kill a person with a car so silent.”

“You could kill a person with any car — if that was your intent.”

“I’m around dead people every day.”

“Yeah?” Thinking he worked in a mortuary, I asked stupidly, “What do you do?”

“I die daily. Paul said unless a man die daily . . . ” and finished his evangelist task for the day.

In Boy Scouts, we had a motto: Do a Good Turn daily.

I guess in evangelical Christianity, the motto is: Spiritually harass someone you don’t know from Adam daily.

That must be the “like” on the motto post.

If you love JE-SUS, like this post and he will give you something in the next 120 minutes.


It’s early on Sunday morning. I’m at the beach, and my cottage faces the Atlantic.

Not everyone gets to do this, I know and realize.

While not smooth calm, the ocean is relatively peaceful after a night of heavy thundershowers.

Waves are maybe one to two feet, and gently exhaust themselves onto the sand with a sigh.

No surfers. A couple of fishermen with plastic buckets and more rods and reels they need for the tiny fish they are not catching.

Gulls of various types are flapping into the wind, or soaring on its currents, kreeing muted calls that I barely hear.

A brown pelican glides inches from the surface of the water — looking ever-so-much the modern counterpart of its dinosaurian ancestor.

There are no burning bushes here.

No one-arm hit-the-jackpot god-vending contraptions.

The masses of beach-goers are still asleep. The ocean lulls them into the final dreams of their overnight sleep.

And, for me, God is right here. Not asking me to like him. Not promising something in 120 seconds. Not whispering into my ear, “Give me and I’ll give you.”

God and I are enjoying a brief moment on the coast, where the great ocean waters meet the shore. Where one lone man is awed by the greatness he does not understand.


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 29 June, 2014

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