God Shop

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)

If you’re going to have a God, you want to make sure it’s a good quality one. Nothing’s worse than getting stuck with a divine lemon. A lame deity is nothing but a pain in the butt, an inert, half-baked In-A-Gadda-Divinity taking up valuable spiritual real estate. A deific clunker eats up cartloads of metaphysical resources just to stay airborne, and the only thing you have to show for it is a useless warranty and supreme being you’re ashamed to park in front of your house.

Though there are many options to consider when you’re in the market for a God (holiday count, moral latitude, divine sense of humor, afterlife preferences, etc.) there are three essential qualities any respectable deity absolutely must have. The God must be

  1. Eternal. This means that the deity in question has always existed and will always exist. That’s a lot of existing. When it comes to God, the more miles on him the better. But being eternal is more than that. Being eternal means that there’s no always to always be. An eternal divinity hasn’t got time for forever. Forever needs time to develop. Forever needs all the time there is in order to be forever; one second short and it’s not forever anymore, just a long time. But as I say, God doesn’t have time for that; he’s not into time at all. God exists without time. Some theologians say that he’s outside of time, but that’s ridiculous, mostly because then there would be a place where God is not, and everybody knows God is everywhere. Some say that eternity is everywhen, that eternity is all time—past, present, and future—at the same time. I sure as hell hope not. Can you imagine the noise?  Let’s just say that eternal means that God doesn’t need an alarm clock to know when to get up for work.
  2. Immortal. Technically immortal just means not mortal, as in not going to end up dead anytime in the foreseeable future. Humans are called mortals because they up and die on themselves. This is good for the funeral industry but makes for significant attrition rates in just about every other field. If you’re going to have a God, you probably want one that won’t croak on you. Why have to break a new one in every few years or so? Be sure to get a God with an indefinite shelf life.
  3. Invisible. Some people like to see their God, but if you want a premium deity, you need to insist on an unseen one. A visible deity is concerned about what he wears and how he looks. This could mean waiting for hours, if not millennia, for him to get back to you, a major risk if you happen to be dive-bombing in a 747. An invisible God, on the other hand, doesn’t worry about bed-head or under-dressing for a religious gig. Not only that, if your God is invisible in the first place, you’re not going to worry about him not being there. The occasional absence of an invisible being is less noticeable, which allows him to take time off without jeopardizing his reputation for omnipresence. But maybe most importantly, an invisible deity isn’t likely to burn your face off by an accidental glory leak. An invisible God is definitely safer all around.

If these qualities are nonnegotiables, it’s easy to eliminate most of the God options out there. You’re not going to waste your time diddling with third or even second tier divinities. The only real deities worth considering are the Gods of the three major monotheistic religions. From there you can play around with the minor options to discover the best God for you. Allah works well for misogynists and explosive experts but not so well for gays or standup comedians. YHWH, the favored (though by no means the only)) deity of the Jews, has history on his side and a flair for fireworks, but he also takes long vacations exactly when you need him most. The God of the Christians is nicer but has a pronounced case of multiple-personality disorder which makes him almost impossible to take to parties.

Whichever God you choose, don’t be hasty. Wait a little bit before taking the plunge. Sometimes they go on sale.


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