Wild Fires & God
By Neil McKinnon
Recently, a Colorado woman was interviewed on network television about wildfires burning in her state. She said that though the fires were devastating, she knew that whatever happened, it would not be God’s fault. I found this statement profound. She had hit the nail on the head…or perhaps the omnipotence in the underbelly. Her assertion also cast a new light on my old buddy Melvin. He is more god-like than anyone dreamed—nothing has ever been his fault, either.
If the fires in Colorado and any result that may come of them are not God’s fault, then how many other things have we, in our naivety, either gave Him credit for, or blamed on Him when it was not warranted.
The questions are endless. For example, is it or is it not God’s fault that I failed to become a millionaire … or a famous Hollywood actor … or a major league baseball player? Is it His fault that I failed to get into Terri-Lynn McCaddam’s pants in high school? Should He or I get credit for me passing Grade XII Physics even though I stayed up all night necking with Faye-Louise Fowler on the night before the final exam? How about the fact that on the only occasion that I ever got a date with Mary-Ellen Hipbanger, the most desirable cheerleader at my high school, the largest zit in history grew on the end of my nose?
Is it God’s fault:
that Tiger Woods got caught,
that he got away with it for so long, or
that we care?
Is God personally responsible for:
the invention of Viagra,
the outcome of the U.S. election, or
my wife’s allergies?
This leads to another question. If God neither takes credit nor blame, is He not capable of influencing human transactions, or does He simply choose not to exercise His primacy?
After pondering this question during most of my last latte, I believe that I have arrived at a reasonable hypothesis. I think that God has lost interest, that He’s bored. Think about it. What does the modern world have to offer? How can drug wars, Obamacare, African despots or climate change compare with masterminding the survival of all the animals during a world-wide flood, causing the parting an entire sea, turning a woman into salt in front of a backdrop of destroyed cities or making a bite of an apple the progenitor of all sin? Whereas, He once used a burning bush to attract Moses and hence kick-start one of the great migrations of all-time, nowadays an entire state on fire does not warrant a passing shrug.
If it is true that God is bored, then that also is not His fault. It’s ours. We humans are just not exciting enough. Therefore, it is incumbent on us to recapture God’s interest. We must abandon drug cartels, despotism and fossil fuels as burning issues and strive for something greater—something wide enough in scope that God cannot help but get involved. We need a project and it must be huge.
I deliberated on the problem during my last cappuccino and determined a number of potential undertakings were unsuitable as follows:
Unsuitable Project #1 – Identify a new species by proving the existence of Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster. Adding new creatures to world bio-diversity seems a worthy enough endeavor to attract God’s interest. However, this project is unsuitable because humans are always finding new species and that has never so much as received a spatter of attention from God. Besides, it would be boring if Nessie turned out to be a Plesiosaur and Sasquatch a relict Gigantopithicus. Worse still, what if Nessie and Bigfoot are hoaxes and we prove the actuality of something that doesn’t really exist? Do you think that God would be amused? Proving the existence of something that doesn’t exist might be familiar territory for Him … if He exists.
Unsuitable Project #2 – Turn a vast tract of land into a desert wasteland.
Instead of destroying cities like God did, a feat we humans have duplicated many times—London, Hiroshima, Dresden—we could simply obliterate all forms of intelligent life in a huge area. At first glance this seems like a laudable undertaking—we’ve come close before. But it’s unsuitable because it really is old hat. Think Saskatchewan.
Unsuitable Project #3 – Annihilate an entire culture.
Unfortunately this too has been done. Two examples should suffice: 1) Ishi the last member of the Yahi tribe died in 1916. Most of the Yahi were murdered during the California gold rush, and 2) the last Beothuk woman died in 1829 after her tribe was hunted to extinction in Newfoundland. In light of these tragedies, destroying something like the Justin Beiber fan base, while praiseworthy, seems rather pointless.
On inspection, all of these projects were flawed. It wasn’t until I was sipping green tea one muddy afternoon that I finally had a eureka moment. I ran to the library and checked the Guinness Book of Records. As I suspected, God is not listed. Though he created the world in seven days—an all-time record—the feat is ineligible for inclusion in Guinness because there were no witnesses. The answer then is simple. We must get God to create another world in seven days or less. He must do it in front of independent observers who will provide original signed statements of authentication typed on their own business stationery. The witnesses must confirm that all Guinness rules were followed and provide acceptable video or photographic evidence.
God’s a shoe-in and given the Guinness incentive there is no doubt that He will once again take an interest in earthly affairs. No Guinness record is safe so He will not ignore humans and their wildfires for a long time to come.
(Ed. Note: Neil is the author of Tuckahoe Slidebottle (Thistledown Press) which was a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Humor Award and the Howard O’Hagen Short Fiction Award.)