Monday 3 December 2007


According to The Good Ol' Good Book:
God created man in his own image. In God's image he created him; male and female he created them.

It was the German philosopher, Ludwig Feuerbach, who reversed this assertion and observed (in a phrase later borrowed by Marx) that:
Man first unconsciously and involuntarily creates God in his own image...
Indeed, whilst the Jewish religion always avoided depicting the deity (in line with the third of the Ten Commandments) the classic Christian imagery of God is of a benign, bearded figure like a Father Christmas with an extra aura of holiness...

Examples are legion from Michaelangelo's paintings for the Sistine Chapel (top) via William Blake's 'The Ancient of Days' (above), and a zillion stained-glass windows, to Mel Calman's My God cartoons, of which the following one is known to be a personal favourite of Bishop Desmond Tutu:

In films God has had various representatives from Rex Ingram as 'De Lawd' (bodily manifested as a black Southern preacher-man) in the 1936 film, Green Pastures ("Gangway for the Lord God, Jehovah!") through to Morgan Freeman as a contemporary black deity in Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty.

My personal top-movie-God is to be found in the seriously under-rated Oh, God! (1977), where he takes on the bespectacled, cigar-smoking persona of George Burns.

Jerry Landers, an assistant manager of a Los Angeles Food World supermarket (John Denver), receives a mysterious note that says, "God grants you an interview tomorrow at 11 am, in Room 2700, 1600 N Hope St."

Landers thinking that the note is a prank, throws it away. But it reappears. So he rips it up. But it reappears. So he finally goes to 1600 N Hope St.

In an all-white room Landers finds himself facing a small white speaker resting on a small white table. "Don't smoke," says a disembodied voice, claiming to be God, "Tobacco is one of my big mistakes."

Landers is staggered: God has just said that God is fallible! So, has God has made any other mistakes? According to God He has...

"Ostriches," comes God's reply, "Silly looking things. And avocados. I made the pit too big."

Oh, God! is full of wise witticisms that suggest that God is not just smarter but also more street-wise than, in our skeptical age, we might suppose...

Jerry Landers:
If you're God, how can You permit all the suffering that goes on in the world?

I don't permit the suffering - you do.


God: The reason I put everyone here naked... I wasn't trying to be cute. It's just that with clothes there's right away pockets, and pockets, you gotta put something in 'em.


Jerry Landers:
People are always praying to You. Do You listen?

I can't help hearing. I don't always listen.

Jerry Landers:
So then You don't care.

Of course I care! But what can I do?

Jerry Landers:
What can You do? You're God!

Only for the big picture. I don't get into details.


God: I know how hard it is in these times to have faith. But maybe if you could have the faith to start there, maybe the times would change. You could change them. Think about it. Try. And try not to hurt each other. There's been enough of that. It really gets in the way... However hopeless, helpless, mixed up and scary it all gets, it can work. If you find it hard to believe in me, maybe it would help you to know that I believe in you.

But, then again, Mel Calman may have been the one truly speaking for God...

Images: My God © Mel Calman, 1970

1 comment:

Boll Weavil said...

I always thought that the idea of us being the same as God was only referring to our being an immortal entity rather than any physical characteristics. Still, if we're going to go with the man on the white cloud, he looks very unthreatening and that's certainly what we want of a twenty-first century deity.Mind you, we could always stick with his replacement -the man in the red suit who, by coincidence, looks like that anyway !