Stretch logic a tiny bit, and God's a poor sot

MIKE ROYKO

March 05, 1993|By MIKE ROYKO

Looking up from his newspaper, Slats Grobnik shook his head and said: "You ever wonder if God has a drinking problem?"

A what?

"You know, if he goes on benders once in a while, really gets tanked up."

No, I have never wondered about that or given it a passing thought, and I don't think it is an appropriate topic of conversation. I don't even know why you would ask such a question.

"OK, I'll tell you why. I'm reading the paper about this guy in Texas who shot it out with the federal agents."

Yes, the leader of the Branch Davidians, a rather violent religious sect. What about him?

"Well, he was going to surrender. But then he said he talked to God and God told him not to, so he's going to stonewall it for a while."

What does that have to do with your question about God's drinking habits?

"Lemme go on. Now I look at another story in the paper, and I read about people who are worried about the national debt. So some of them are sending their own money to Washington to help cut it."

Yes, one can make a donation of that kind. So?

"So this. There's this woman in North Carolina, and she's putting the arm on her friends to send in some dough, and you know why she's doing it?"

A misguided sense of patriotism, I assume.

"No, she's in some religious group and she says, here, I'll read it to you, she says: 'The Lord talked to me about it and I asked what should I do, and that's what he told me to do.' Now, I ask you, can you picture that?"

Picture what?

"God looking down and telling some woman in North Carolina: 'I know you and your friends work hard for your money, but here's what I want you to do. Everybody chip in a few bucks and send it to Washington to reduce the deficit so Congress don't have to cut out some of the swindle projects they put in for their lobbyist pals.' Does that sound like something somebody sober would say?"

You should put your questions to an expert on such matters: a theologian or maybe a bartender.

"And if he was sober, would God say to that guy in Texas: 'Look, young man, don't surrender to those federal agents. You got enough good ammo to hold them off for another week, so do it.' "

Obviously, that would not be rational advice. But you can't attribute two separate incidents to heavenly imbibing.

"I'm not. But it's part of a pattern. I look at the news, and I see people all over the world doing crazy things because they say God wants them to. You got Israel and the Arabs, and both sides say God is on their side. Then you look at the countries around India, and they're going at each other because they say God wants 'em to do it. Same thing in Bosnia. And you're saying you don't see a pattern?"

What kind of pattern?

"A guy gets loaded, and the next day he says: 'Oh, boy, did I say that? I told them to have a war? I told 'em to shoot it out with the feds? I told them to send their money to Washington? I think I better go on the wagon.' Except with God, time not being too important when you got eternity to play with, the binge could last 50 years before the hangover sets in."

I suppose if you believe all the individuals, the religions and the nations that attribute their action to God, one might think that booze could be the problem. Or even a malicious sense of humor. But I really doubt it.

"Well, it's just something to think about. See, there was a time when I thought that maybe God was a bookie."

A what?

"A bookie. You know, someone who takes bets."

What gave you that idea?

"You mean you never noticed? All you had to do was watch TV and every time somebody would win a championship, the star of the game would go on TV and say something: 'I guess the good Lord wanted me to score that touchdown.' Or some fighter would knock another guy's head halfway to the balcony and then he'd say: 'I just trusted in God.' So I started thinking, why would God want one big bunch of clunks to beat another bunch of clunks? Or one palooka to deck another palooka? And the only thing I could figure was that God was making book and wanted to cover the spread or something."

That sounds unlikely.

"I know, because every bookie I know stays sober because he's got to be careful with his odds. So if God is a boozer, he can't be a bookie or he'd lose a bundle."

Look, I don't think either of your theories are credible. Nor would most theologians.

"Why not?"

Because the more reputable ones believe that God lets us determine our own destinies.

"You mean God is sort of an innocent bystander?"

I suppose that is one way to put it, yes.

"Then I'm right about God being a boozer after all."

What makes you think that?

"Because sitting up there watching what goes on down here would be enough to drive anyone to drink."

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