So where are all those guardian angels when you need them? You dangle them from your car’s rear-view mirror, you buy gaudy God-y figurines, you wear 14-carat necklace wings, you send schmaltzy hellos with haloed greeting cards, you give Swarovski crystal-accented lapel pins to your loved ones for protection – and then you get shot in your own livingroom while leading an afternoon prayer meeting for your local church group.
Mercifully, no-one is killed when a shotgun blast bursts through the ceiling of a Marion, OH, duplex this past week. One elderly woman is struck in the leg, forearm and cheek. Another woman is hit in the right leg. Police are quick to say that the injuries aren’t life-threatening, as if this exonerates the responsible gun owner upstairs who somehow discharged his weapon into the floor.
Does this also exonerate the guardian angels who’d apparently just stepped out for a quick cigarette? Grandma has lead embedded in her face and they say, “Ooops! My bad!”
I know that God is a very busy man. I’ve been scolded about this for half a century, now, for the sake of my imperiled immortal soul. The same god who counts every hair on our heads can’t be bothered with petty personal petitions. He purports to love us, yet looks on with a yawn at our desperate and dire straits.
Without breaking a sweat, without so much as lifting a finger or batting an eye, God could put an instant end to all starvation and war and cruelty and pestilence and horror. If He cared, that is. He doesn’t. And so I henceforth refuse to capitalize his pronouns. That’ll show ‘im.
We’re supposed to bow down meekly and say, “Please, sir, may I have another?” We’re supposed to accept abject suffering as part of god’s inscrutable divine plan. What plan, god? A bunch of pious old ladies holds an earnest little prayer meeting to further your glory and stroke your ego and ease their own terror of death, and you allow some woodchuck upstairs to take them out with a firearm he can’t control?
God as we like to imagine him – smiling, kindly, white-bearded, and loving, a fond grandfather type – is in fact a swarmy sadist. He gets his jollies watching our various agonies, like a little boy pulling the wings off flies or drowning ant colonies. All that “he sacrificed his first begotten son for us” stuff? Spare me. The crucifixion is nothing but torture porn. We on this earth are just extras in a big snuff film our lord and master tunes into for a turn-on now and then.
Here’s the thing: Perhaps Satin won the epic battle between good and evil, and that’s who’s actually up there overseeing everything.
Yes, satin. Its treacherous influence is everywhere. But my mother counseled cotton long ago – I’m safe from such seductions.
I’ve inexplicably wound up on a wildly funny fundamentalist church insider email list. The group does not realize that it is wildly funny. It is in charge of Drama Ministry at a big JesusMart here in town. It is working very hard to produce a skit for the Easter service.
Daringly, the scriptwriter is setting the Easter story in contemporary America. Jesus is a rebellious gangster type with a heart of gold who at one point is supposed to appeal to Obama for mercy rather than to Pilate. That idea got shot down faster than those old ladies in Ohio – there were reams of fervent correspondence about refusing to answer to foreign princes (much less liberal democratic African American ones who carry forged birth certificates), with quotes from the bible added carefully in red, in an Old English font. God switched colored pencils to emphasize the good stuff, after all; we should all therefore play with The Word in Word.
Controversy within the Praiseworthy Players is now raging over the writers’ decision to kill their homeboy Jesus quickly, with a bullet, instead of making him suffer prolonged death throes on the cross (see “torture porn,” above). The director of the skit division has quit over this heresy:
“Even though it is *just a play* we need to stand firm. As all Christians know there is NOT ONE THING that satin cant turn around and for the bad.”
The Players all have their panties in a bunch. That’s what happens when satin is involved. Perhaps that praying granny in Ohio was wearing one of Satin’s slips, and hence deserved what she got. Her guardian angel was busy with a Victoria’s Secret photo shoot at the time.
Ultimately, it matters not whether our guardian angels are sent by god or the devil. They are immortal intermediaries condemned to the eternal boredom of babysitting (yet more torture porn). What good is being a godlike creature if you’re stuck watching me clean my toenails? I’ve long resented the violation of my privacy by those prying spying eyes, and was absolutely horrified when Sister Mary Herman explained it all in third grade. “You mean they even watch me pee?” I blurted out, unwisely. “Miss O’Brien! Remember yourself! Drop and give me ten!” She meant Hail Marys rather than push-ups, but it was still drill sergeant catechism.
Lately, I’ve begun seeing things from the angels’ point of view. It’s no wonder they nod off now and then, or have one drink too many and get careless. Since god’s not perfect, why should they have to be?
No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, for to His Angels God has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. Psalms 91
I can handle dashing my foot against a stone, thank you, but wouldn’t mind a little help if bullets ever befall my tent. Maybe the secret is NOT to pray in there. The angels think god is paying attention, then, and relax their guard a bit.