In the beginning, God got to put His feet up one day a week. There it is, in the Bible, much like a carefully negotiated labour contract: On the seventh day He rested. He’s a busy deity, there are floods to push back and penitents to forgive. He needs his downtime.
But no, the God-botherers can’t let him have moment’s peace. Instead, God has been run off His pins, like a suburban mom answering the endless demands of her brood. Except that it’s not “Can I have a Pop Tart, please?” It’s “Do you think you could send me some swing voters?” in the house of the Almighty. If I were God, I’d stop answering the phone.
God’s busy days start off where you’d expect, on the basketball court and the football field, and in the vast halls where celebrities gather to thank each other, and Him. “First and foremost, I just got to thank God for this opportunity,” said Chris Brown when he won a Grammy this week, as if the supreme being had spent the past month in Wal-Mart, piling his cart high with copies of the singer’s CD F.A.M.E. while trying to forget about that little assault problem.
It’s amazing God has any time in his day, what with constantly saying “You’re welcome” to Tim Tebow, and engineering the unlikeliest success of the year, Linsanity. Jeremy Lin has graciously said that his success has “God’s fingerprints” all over it, which must mean that God’s giant footprint is outlined on the Toronto Raptors’ backsides. He doesn’t have room in his day planner to pencil in failure.
Nowhere is God’s multitasking more visible than in the race for Republican nominee. One day soon, there may be a book called Are You There, God? It’s Us, the GOP. Many of the current and former contenders – including Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and the duo of holy Ricks, Perry and Santorum – have said that God personally invited them to run. In fact, Mr. Cain said that when God called on him, he responded: “You’ve got the wrong man, Lord.” Mr. Cain was of course right in that case, which just proves you can’t always trust the judgment of an omniscient deity over a pizza salesman.
Ms. Bachmann felt a “tugging on her heart” when she prayed for divine guidance, and while most of us would attribute this to too many enchiladas at dinner, we don’t have the congresswoman’s track record. After all, in 2006, when pondering whether to seek public office, God had the answer: “He called me to run for United States Congress.” (He also told her to go to law school, and to look “hot” on his behalf, so maybe it was actually Satan on the line.)
This does raise the question of how, exactly, the Lord advises his favourites that he’s anointed them. Does he send St. Michael to Earth with a flaming iPad? Bang out a text with his all-powerful thumbs? At least he wouldn’t have to worry about roaming charges.
In the case of Mr. Santorum, who is apparently God’s No. 1 BFF, the answer came in prayer – or, more specifically, his wife’s prayer seeking guidance. The former Pennsylvania senator rarely misses a chance to name-check the big man upstairs, whether it’s on the subject of birth-control or babies born through rape – they are “a gift from God,” apparently. Mr. Santorum seems to think that he, in particular, treads the path of righteousness, as if he has a direct line to God’s cellphone while everyone else has to make do with the office number.
Oddly, though, he doesn’t seem to like piety in others: During one of the Republican debates, asked why it was wrong for Iran to have nuclear capabilities, he said: “They’re a theocracy that has deeply embedded beliefs that the afterlife is better than this life.” Because, of course, no Christian would ever think that the afterlife was preferable to this one. This week, Mr. Santorum, the great critic of theocracies, announced that “America belongs to God.”
I have no problem with people who genuinely speak to God – mystics, visionaries and my mother, who was once told by the Holy Spirit that she had forgotten to buy butter (true story). Actually, that seems one of the few reasonable uses for a chatty deity: reminding you about your shopping list or tapping you on the shoulder when you’re engrossed in a book and about to miss your bus stop. But choosing a political candidate? The poor thing’s got real work to do. And games to win.