Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Conversations with Santa God

My brother-in-law saw my recent post “God talks back”, and sent me an email with a link to the trailer for the “Conversations with God” movie, which had been forwarded to him on the same day.

I have not read the book, but the movie certainly didn’t make me want to. The plot, as near as I can tell, is:
  1. Man has tough breaks

  2. Man starts journalling his brains out, calls it a “conversation with God” and sells it as a book

  3. Man is showered with millions of dollars, so now he can smile at the cameras, wave to the crowds, and drop fifty-dollar tips

For some reason, this is supposed to inspire me.

I kept watching scene after scene of Mr. Walsh receiving all kinds of approbation, and I kept waiting for the boom to fall, for there to be some kind of reversal, in which God punishes him for his hubris in taking all the glory that really belonged to Him. But the fall never comes. Presumably this is so moving because someday, if we listen to Him with an open heart, God might someday make us into millionaire authors who can smile at cameras.

Although God managed to get into the title of this movie, his agent couldn’t make him the star . . . or even the co-star . . . and not even the love-interest of the lead. Some reviews had said the book had “rare wit and verve,” but evidently none of God’s biting one-liners managed to make it into the trailer.

Mr. Walsh is not the first author to write a book that put words into the mouth of God. There was a book about a decade ago, Joshua, that was a paper-thin reimagining of what Jesus would be like if he came to the modern world. The only problem with such stories is they tend to take the author’s (often asinine) opinions and attempt to elevate them by attributing them to someone much more important than they are. Such stories do not usually succeed in portraying Jesus’ love in any new way, though they do make a point that he’s a vegetarian, an environmentalist, and would probably vote a straight Democratic ticket.

Mr. Walsh’s heresy is not that he presumes to have spoken to God – that is actually the most plausible thing in his book. The real heresy is that he could write anything so shallow, insipid and boring and still think it was coming from God. If you’re going to give God a part, give him a funny, interesting part, like George Burns in the movie O God!

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