Creating a Pliable God


In a meme that seems to have originated with the creator of the Red Starbucks Cup Outrage, Joshua Feuerstein, there is a picture of a good looking white guy with long hair and suitcases under his arms and caption reading “On My Way Back to the White House.” It’s supposed to represent Jesus, who has apparently been missing for a few years, heading back to Washington D.C., now that we’ve got a new president. Also, Jesus is a white guy. From the middle east.

It was shared by Christian singer Vicki Yohe (who has since erased her entire social media profile) with the caption, “You know you are doing something right when there is so much opposition!!! #excitingtimes.”

During the inauguration on Friday, Franklin Graham took to the podium and commented, “Mr. President, in the Bible, rain is a sign of God’s blessing. And it started to rain, Mr. President, when you came to the platform.”

I get it. We want to encourage our friends and we want to feel like we’re backing a winner. It’s why we like underdog stories (kind of). So if our friend is facing adversity, we say, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” It’s why rain can be a good omen on a wedding day, even if Alanis thinks it’s ironic.

When one is a Christian, they’re not supposed to be beholden to things like superstition or omens. They’re supposed to quote the book of Proverbs, not quaint colloquialisms. But the human desire to lift up our friends or put ourselves on the winning side is hard to overcome, and so faith is profaned and God is forced into the worldview that most closely resembles our own.

Suddenly rain during an inauguration isn’t “good luck,” it’s “God’s blessing.” Protests against an unqualified, vulgar president are a sign that Jesus is taking his bags to visit the White House.

We have seen it before. God sent a tornado to protest the ELCA ordaining LGBTQ ministers. God caused an the tsunami in Japan that killed nearly 16,000 people because the White House repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. God stopped protecting America from terrorist attacks because of the ACLU.

It’s convenient, because this pliable God also shows approval if the weather is lovely and if people are lining up behind the person you support. No matter the circumstances, God can be bent and twisted to back that which is most pertinent to the person doing the bending and twisting.

When we twist things often enough, they begin to weaken. The same applies to God. If we tack God’s name onto every view that we already hold, we diminish God’s power. We take what is holy and make it profane when God is used as a stamp of approval for that which is already believed. After all, if God destroyed people because you think it’s sinful to support marriage equality, couldn’t it also follow that God killed people in recent storms in Mississippi because I think it’s a sin to have supported Trump?

It may feel like honoring God when we invoke that power into our discussions of politics and culture, but claiming to speak for God is serious business and we should treat it with reverence and awe.

In other words, we shouldn’t boil down God’s power to a weather report.

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