As we get older and, let's face it, most of us do we have a tendency to look back at ourselves and wonder just how in the world we got this way. Being excessively introspective by nature, I do more of this than most folks, and with Easter at hand, I find myself with the discovery that a substantial slice of my own personal theology comes from a Bill Cosby monologue.
Seriously. It comes from the double LP 8:15 12:15, so named because it represented two versions of Cosby's late-Sixties standup act, the 8:15 "dinner show" and the late-night version, which latter one may presume to be slightly bluer, though not that much bluer: we're talking Bill Cosby, after all. Some of the same bits, though, appear in both, and one of them has to do with using the Lord's name in vain. Gamblers the recording was made at Harrah's Lake Tahoe are apparently notorious for this:
I hear it at the blackjack table. "Oh, God, give me a seven for twenty-one!"
This is trivial, but, says the Cos, you're distracting God: "He's working. He's working on problems. He's trying to solve the racial problem, trying to solve Vietnam without having it look like a miracle."
Now obviously "don't call on God" didn't make any impression on me "Jesus Christ on a crutch!" is one of my milder expletives but that last bit stuck, and stuck hard. God works, we are told, in mysterious ways; apparently the idea is to make sure that those ways remain mysterious, so they don't "look like a miracle." What your insurance company calls an "act of God" probably isn't; on the other hand, entirely too many prayers get answered for me to believe that it's all just a roll of the dice. (And there's always the possibility that all of them are answered, but sometimes the answer is "No," which makes a certain amount of sense to me but which, as a concept, I haven't quite embraced.)
I don't catch a lot of flak from atheists, at least partly because I don't give them the stereotypical "See you in hell" speech. I mean, if I see them, I'm there, right? And if I'm not there, well, I still think it's bad form to look down upon the damn