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The Truth, Mainly - 07/08/2002

Big Guy talks about Pledge squabble

So I'm walking through the park thinking about whether "under God" should be a part of the Pledge of Allegiance. "I wonder," I say to myself, "what God thinks about it."

And all of a sudden I fall into a religious swoon.

Next thing I know I'm sitting on a bench under a tree and this Big Guy in a white beard and a white bathrobe is reaching down out of the tree with His forefinger pointing right at me. So I reach out and point my forefinger at His forefinger.

"God?" I say to the Big Guy.

"What do I look like?" He says, climbing down out of the tree. "A hippie who's been hiding up there since 1968? Of course Iím God."

"You look just like Michelangelo's painting on the Sistine Chapel ceiling," I say.

"Yeah," He says. "I like the way I look in that one, but sometimes I get a touch of acrophobia up there."

"Well, I'll be darned all to heck," I say, watching my language, "here I am talking to God Himself."

"Calm down," He says. "I've talked to you before. Just a couple of weeks ago—on Father's Day at the Super Saver. Remember the little bitty girl who hollered 'Gampaw!' at you?"

"Sure," I say. "Got my attention."

"That was Me," He says. "Sometimes I kid around like that. And sometimes I don't. Remember the picture of the Vietnamese girl running down the road with her clothes burned off by napalm? That was Me too."

"But those were girls," I say. "You're a Boy."

"I am large," He says. "I contain multitudes."

"Hey," I say, "I'm an old English teacher and that's Walt Whitman's line."

"So?" God says. "Where do you think he got it? I gave Walt some of his best stuff."

"Funny You should show up," I say. "Just before I fell into my religious swoon I was wondering what You thought about the Pledge of Allegiance thing."

"Can you say Divine Omniscience?" He says. "I already knew what you were wondering."

"So whaddya think?" I say. "Should 'under God' be part of the Pledge?"

"Who cares?" He says. "Nobody means anything by it—any more than they mean anything when they say "God bless you" when somebody sneezes. So I don't bless people for sneezing any more. Itís just a bit of ceremonial deism unconnected to any cogitation about transcendence."

I think about that.

"And that doesnít bother You?" I say.

"Nah," He says. "I knew it would be that way. I'm amused by the presumption. Thatís the main reason I created all you twerps—to give Me a celestial guffaw every now and then. And it's a real hoot to see you all getting your underwear in a knot about 'under God' and never worrying about the words that come after that."

I have to say the whole thing to myself before I can remember what comes after "under God."

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America," I think, "and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, invisible, with liberty and justice for all."

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"It's 'indivisible,' dummy," God says. "Invisible—that knocks me out."

"I knew that," I say. "So why should we worry about 'indivisible, with liberty and justice for all'?"

"Think," He says. "Does anyone in the whole country really believe you're indivisible? Jocks indivisible from nerds? Democrats indivisible from Republicans? Rich indivisible from poor? You're all so divisible that most of you are afraid to go out at night. Your divisibility is what keeps the NRA in business."

"Hah?" I say.

"And liberty and justice for all?" He says. "Get real."

"Hey," I say, "the Declaration says weíre all equal."

"You've got the kind of equality Anatole France wrote about," God says, "the kind that 'forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.' Good line. Guess Who gave it to him."

"Hah?" I say.

"Poor guy steals a car and thereby goes to jail," He says. "Rich guy cooks the books so he can steal his employees' retirement funds—and thereby goes to the Caymans to live tax-free on his $100 million severance deal. Justice for all?"

"Hah?" I say.

"Woman does same job as man," God says, "for 75% of his salary. Straight guy marries girl and gets all sorts of marriage benefits denied to gay guy because Amendment 416 outlaws gay marriage. Liberty for all?

"Thatís democracy," I say. "Amendment 416 passed by a 3-1 majority."

"Every citizen of your country," God goes on, "is guaranteed legal representation, no matter the charge—unless he's the dark-skinned US citizen with the Muslim name who's been in jail for about a month now and denied a lawyer."

"Hey," I say, "that's what we did with our Japanese citizens during WWII, and that worked all right, didn't it?"

He gives me a look.

"Cosmically amusing," He says, shaking His head. "And to think I created monkeys and beagles because I thought I might need more comic relief."

He climbs back into the tree and by the time I point my forefinger to where I think His forefinger might be, I'm out of my swoon and the Big Guy's gone.


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is: leonsatterfield@earthlink.net.


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