God in a Box

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“Have them make a chest of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high.” (Exodus 25:10)

Call it God’s studio apartment. Or maybe a porta-goddy. The box that is the Ark of the Covenant is one of the strange wonders of the world. The size of a large Igloo cooler, the ark functioned as a Wi-Fi divinity receiver where the Supreme Being of the universe could drop by for a visit from time to time. This transportable iGod was the Israelites’ prize possession. They were the only kids on the block to own this cutting edge religious technology.

Made to exacting specifications, the God box was covered in pure gold and sported nifty handles for easy hauling. The big technological advance, however, was two gold antennas situated on top, one at each end of the box. Cast in the form of angels, these powerful devices focused the vibes of the omnipresent deity between them. There, God notes in the instruction manual, “I will meet with you and give you all my commands.” The ark was the ancient prototype for the now ubiquitous box used by televangelists.

God himself abandoned the increasingly awkward box in favor of the new personal communication operating system launched at Pentecost. (Depending upon dispensational perspective, the new system is referred to as either OS 1.2, OS 2, OS 3, OS 4, OS 7, or OS 8). Yet among Old Covenant enthusiasts (arkophiles), the original God box is still the sexiest and most appealing of the divine innovations. There are many, even among those with the Pentecostal upgrade, who would enjoy its return to the religious stage.

The ark’s disappearance is a mystery. Nobody knows what happened to it, though some claim it’s been secretly kept in Ethiopia for over 2000 years. Even if this is so, it’s unlikely that the box would work anymore. The original batteries are probably long dead, and since the move to the new OS, the manufacturer has shown little interest (and some hostility) in making new ones, dismissing the idea with the curt promotional slogan: “The old has gone, the new has come.”

Arkophiles and others interested in religious technology can take heart, though. Regardless of where it is now, the Box is slated for a special appearance at the heavenly temple. Announced with great fanfare, its unveiling will be accompanied by explosive special effects: Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm. God likes retro.

I myself am not an arkophile. Even when it was working, the ark was too easily stolen and was unsafe to operate. A number of professional box boys got themselves zapped into charcoal for the wrong move. Yes, the God box did have some cool features. (The Philistines were the first to discover that it was equipped with a built-in GPS.) But it became increasingly clunky and had only a point to point broadcast capability, which was impressive for its time nonetheless. Its biggest drawback, of course, was that it was not upgradable. Alas, as hip as it was, the box was only a box and couldn’t handle the demands of next generation spirituality.

The future was in Ghosting.

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