This is the opening of Shalom Auslander’s personal essay “Playoffs”:
When I was a child, my parents and teachers told me about a man who was very strong. They told me that he could part the sea. They told me that it was important to keep this man happy; when we obeyed what the man had commanded, he liked us. He liked us so much that he killed anyone who didn’t like us. But when we didn’t obey what he commanded the man didn’t like us at all. He hated us. Some days he hated us so much that he killed us; other days he let other people kill us. We call these days “holidays.” On Purim, we remember how the Persians tried to kill us. On Passover, we remember how the Egyptians tried to kill us. On Hanukkah, we remember how the Greeks tried to kill us.
“Blessed is He,” we prayed.
As bad as these punishments could be, they were as nothing compared with the vengeance the man himself meted out: plagues, famines, floods. Hitler may have killed the Jews, but this man drowned the world.
Good ol’ God, that monstrosity.
I’ve posted a few times just lately on God and evangelists, haven’t I? I’m vaguely interested in the topic, partly because, being gay, I am a target of the god-infected, those who hope to hurt my life in order to something their own, that something being, I don’t know, distract themselves from? Distract themselves from their own awful sinning? I don’t know, frankly. The power they claim they claim to take from faith, as though, having no idea how one comes to do something, one claims power trimphantly from not knowing how the doing came to be. I find this puzzling, usually, and appalling, sometimes.
Faith and God are two terms that can be used in non-noxious, non-invasive, non-violent ways. Probably you could say that they most typically are used that way, just as one could say poisons are most typically used in ways that don’t hurt anyone. One may say our medicines are poisons used judiciously. So it may be with ol’ God, that monstrosity. Like holding a carefully diluted dose of evil under the tongue. Maybe it inoculates you against the worst. I hold that out there. It’s something.