A God Too Small

I enjoy a story about baseball great Joe Garagiola. He once stepped to the plate when his turn came to bat. Before assuming his stance, however, fervent Roman Catholic Joe took his bat and made the sign of the cross in the dirt in front of home plate. Catcher Yogi Berra, also a devout Catholic, walked over and erased Garagiola’s cross. Turning to the astonished batter, Berra smiled and said, “Let’s let God watch this inning.”

If I were God (and thank goodness I’m not), I think I would have wanted to simply watch the inning.

I likewise appreciate the story about an old Quaker who stood during the church meeting and told his fellow Friends about a young man who was not a Quaker and who lived an undisciplined life. This young man invited a pious Quaker friend to go sailing one day. A sudden storm came up and the wild young man was drowned. Having made his point, the old Quaker sat down.

Silence returned to the meeting until the old man once again arose. This time he said, “Friends, for the honor of the truth, I think I ought to add that the Quaker also drowned.”

And if I were God (and again, thank goodness I’m not), I think I would have felt sadness for both losses. Neither was a greater tragedy than the other.

I know that religious piety can be a wondrous and beautiful thing. But it disturbs me the prominent role religions have historically played in wars and brutality over the ages. If I imagine a god so small as to favor those who think like me, worship like me and act like me, then I know very little of life and less of faith. I can’t help but think this world would be in better shape if the gods most of us believed in were a little bigger.

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