Sunday, June 14, 2009

God's Odds

I am not a religious person. I haven't written off the idea of a supreme being, but neither have I committed it to incombustible paper and indelible ink. At best, Our Heavenly Father is scrawled on a Denny's napkin with one of those little pencils they give you at putt-putt golf and filed away between a rejected Jack and Jill Magazine manuscript (I shouldn't have patterned the talking squirrel after Simon Cowell, and the kidnapped princess after Amy Winehouse), and a rough draft (written with a Sharpie marker on the back of some High School Musical -themed holiday wrapping paper) of a pilot script for a proposed Englebert Humperdinck sitcom. I'm sorry, but stuck as I am on this third rock from the Sun (I've got a decade old rejection slip from them, too, along with a Jane Curtin refrigerator magnet), I see no evidence of divine intervention, divine revelation, miracles, guardian angels, the supernatural, the paranormal, Bewitched -caliber magic, or an 8-ball reading not fraught with internal contradictions. The closest I've ever come to spiritual transcendence is the occasional coincidence.

The occasional coincidence.

That might be something to grasp at, a reason to make that leap of faith. If you could only form a religion around a coincidence. Only problem is what often happens after a coincidence occurs, which is often nothing.

I remember once I was driving home and decided to put on an oldies station. The first song to come on was "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head". About halfway through the song, guess what happened? It started to rain! I pulled my car to the side of the road, got out, and started dancing with joy. A coincidence had occurred! Suddenly, the universe made sense! Hallelujah!

Just as suddenly, landing smack dab in a puddle, it made no sense at all. What exactly was I supposed to do next? Cast aside all my possessions and follow B.J. Thomas to the ends of the Earth? I didn't even know where the hell B.J. Thomas was! Was he still alive? Was he performing in Branson, Missouri? Was he on The Surreal World ? So many questions. So few answers.

No, if you were going to form a religion based on a coincidence, I'm afraid it would need some other savior than B.J. Thomas. Well, I suppose you could also throw in Burt Bacharach and Hal David. That would be some Holy Trinity, wouldn't it? Still, it just doesn't seem weighty enough. It doesn't seem historic enough.

There are indeed historic coincidences. One involves September 11 and the twenty dollar bill. It came out shortly after the terrorist attacks that if you fold a twenty a certain way, you'll have a picture of what looks like the twin towers on fire. And if you fold it another way, you'll get a burning Pentagon. Well, that's certainly a historic coincidence. But there's already too much religion surrounding the events of September 11. And as for the twenty dollar bill, I think our society worships money enough as it is.

When I was a kid I had a comic book that featured an ad for a two-headed Lincoln penny. Why Lincoln's head was on both sides of this penny, I have no idea. I suppose it could have been a mistake made at the mint, thus worth a lot of money, but numismatists have their own publications, don't they? I suppose the coin could be fake, but a counterfeiter is taking quite a risk advertising in a comic book. Don't G-men read X-men? Anyway, in a kind of sidebar, this ad contained some amazing coincidences between the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations, such as:

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846. John F. Kennedy was elected to congress in 1946.

Lincoln was elected President in 1860, Kennedy in 1960.

The names Lincoln and Kennedy both contain seven letters.

Both were involved with civil rights.

Both lost children while living in the White House.

Both were shot on a Friday.

Both were shot in the head.

Both were assassinated by Southerners.

Both successors were named Johnson.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808. Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

John Wilkes Booth was born in 1839. Lee Harvey Oswald in 1939.

Both assassins are known by their three names.

Both assassins names are comprised of fifteen letters.

Booth shot Lincoln in a theater and was caught in a warehouse. Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and was caught in a theater.

WOW! Those are coincidences of historic proportions, ones you could build a major religion around. Welcome to the Church of Coincidental Assassinations. Lincoln could be the Old Testament, Kennedy the New. And just as Judaism has Jerusalem, Catholicism has Rome, and Islam has Mecca, so, too, this religion could have Dealey Plaza as a place of pilgrimage. Or maybe it should be Ford Theater. Hmmm. I see a possible schism developing.

Another historic coincidence involves the very founding of our country. On July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both signatories to the document, died within hours of each other. Well, I don't have to tell you the religious implications of that coincidence. The United States is God, and God is the United States. American exceptionalism by divine decree! We can do anything, because God is always on our side! We can invade other countries! We can invade countries with oil fields...

As with any religion, any god, doubt always rears its ugly head.

3 comments:

  1. Seems I'm asking my guardian angels to find my misplaced car keys 3 or four times a day. They almost always come through. is it concidence or divine intervention. I guess maybe it depends on the definitions we use about life, the universe and everything. Or maybe its the size of the coincidence. I will call holding the winning lottery ticket a freakin miracle and the image of the Virgin Mary on my syrupy waffles an assault on my imagination.

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  2. That might have been Mrs. Butterworth you were looking at.

    Welcome to the blog, tag.

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