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Merriam-Webster Word of the Day

Cartoon of the Word vol. 1

Northside Madison
Ambrosavage's Cartoon of the Word (of the Day)

God Stories 

I have been thinking about God lately. Lots of people do. Even Senator Packwood's last words to the Senate were "Good luck. God speed." God knows what Bob meant by that. Probably that God is "fast." And lucky. You know, with the babes . . .

But I have been wondering if it is possible that God is as awful as the Religious Right would have us believe. Okay, it is easy to believe the worst about an almighty power that would create Phil Gramm, but I tend to believe that the Religious Right is as wrong about God as they are about everything else. So does my friend Mohammed, and he should know. He just had a brush with God.

Mohammed opened Brattleboro, Vermont's first Seattle-style espresso stand this year. I was visiting Mohammed and his wife Marsha earlier this summer, and things were a little rough. Besides his cart being Brattleboro's only espresso cart, Mohammed is also Brattleboro's only Mohammed, and the town is not quite sure what to make of either of them. So, between being ignored, rained on, or asked if there is any coffee in espresso, Mohammed has been a trifle down. Which is why, after a particularly violent thunderstorm, the kind that breaks up whole families, and drives people from positions of power, I was surprised to find Mohammed behind his cart, dancing to a Jimi Hendrix tape, and wearing a golden crown.

Mohammed said: "I was miserable, standing behind the cart, soaked to the skin, the rain coming down in buckets. It was dark, there was lightning, when suddenly this old man appeared in front of the cart. He had pure white hair and a beard. He looked exactly like God in a Gary Larson cartoon, or Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street. He said: 'Young man, I've been watching you, and you looked like you could use a crown and some music.' He handed me this crown and this tape. And that was it. Except for his parting words which were: 'Try and stay dry.' I put on the crown and it stopped raining. I put on the tape and it was Jimi Hendrix. Here's the strange thing, John, I have always loved Jimi Hendrix, but I have never, ever owned a Jimi Hendrix tape!"

Okay, the crown was a plastic one that God could have picked up anywhere, but still, chills went up and down my back. It also reminded me of a story my friend Ralph, a small-town Pennsylvania attorney, tells of his college days. Ralph, who is as religious as a potato, says: "I fell asleep on my bed, surrounded by books, while studying for finals. In the middle of the night I was awakened by a voice that said : 'Ralph, this is your father.' 'Dad?' I asked. 'No, Ralph, your heavenly father.' I started crying profusely, and the next morning, when I woke up, my bed was covered with crumpled tissues. Here is the one thing I remember God telling me: 'Ralph, wipe your nose.'"

Wipe your nose? Try and stay dry? I like these stories of a kinder, gentler God. In these days of such religious hatred, violence, and intolerance, it is nice to hear of a God who is much more likely to suggest cleaning behind one's ears, than ethnic cleansing. A God who might, who just might tell Pat Robertson : "Please be quiet and give someone else a chance to talk."


- Cartoonist John Ambrosavage creates graven images for a living.

Contents on this page were published in the October/November, 1995 edition of the Washington Free Press.
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