SUNDAY SERMON — The Gospel According To Me

God help me. Or else, God dammit.

Oh God. And no, I don’t mean the George Burns movie which might very well prove there is a God simply because country singer John Denver wound up with an acting job.

It’s Sunday morning and all over the world people are waking up and getting ready for their weekly (monthly, random, regular) visit to the church of their choice. Catholics, Presbyterians, Jews, Baptists; Christians of all shapes and sizes and denominations, as long as its not an NFL Weekend.

Me? I’ve got Sports Center on the television, some coffee at my side and I’ve got a list of errands I need to do before I go to work. No church for me.

By the way, welcome to my “Sunday Sermon: The Gospel According To Me.”

My topic on this first Sunday: Is there a God?

No answers will be forth-coming because I haven’t a clue. I’d like to think that there is a God and that He is good, but all too often the signals I get are mixed and confusing.

How does a ship, the strongest ever built to sail the Seven Seas, sink, taking with it thousands of innocent people, yet an airplane lands on the Hudson River and all are saved?

How does a person on death’s door, whose body is ravaged by illness, walk out of a hospital and live a productive live when everybody knows they should be dead? How does one person live to be 116, yet another dies within minutes of being born?

How does God, if he’s out there, allow a mad-man to walk into an elementary school so close to my home and kill 20 innocent children?

So,  I suppose, there is a God. Or maybe not. I think. After all, there is just as strong an argument as the idea that God doesn’t exist. Like I said, confusing.

It’s all in the eyes of the jury and, let’s be honest, it would make a helluva reality TV series on one of the news networks: Two lawyers arguing the case and calling witnesses and in the end, you, The World, get to cast your voice. They would come up with some catchy graphics to draw people in. The internet would be abuzz with post-show live chats. It’s a sure-fire hit.

Of course, depending on the network, you’d end up getting three different finishes because you know the — ahem — Fair and Balanced FOX News would have stacked the deck in its favor and would decide that God was indeed real and adds the fact that President Barack Obama is not a true American since he was not born in Hawaii.

Surely, such a show would be the new “American Idol.,” wouldn’t it? And, it would bring the religious argument to the forefront once again. And then in the biggest moment of the show, Ryan Seacrest would give us the answer everybody wants to know … Is there a God? … Right after these messages.

Spirituality, I suppose, is in the eye of the beholder. Some believe, others do not.

Take the good, the things that give you strength when you need it, and embrace it. Leave the bad because, let’s face it, there’s plenty of it out there when it comes to religion.

When I was young, I remember a priest in our area who got busted for stealing church funds. As young and naive as I was, little did I realize this was just dipping the toes into the Lakes of Shame by the Fathers and Brothers and Monks of the world. By the time I grew up, the stories about the collared ones had grown far more heinous, forcing anybody to question a God who would allow his people to do things that were so wrong to children around the world.

People will tell you that God is all about love, yet people who read the same bible can’t seem to agree on two men, or two women, loving one another.

Mixed messages, everywhere you look.

Much of my world is spent in the arenas of sports, where God is as decisive and equally as vicious as any place.

A winning player thanks God, who, of course, made it all possible. Which means what? God hates the losing team because the coach doesn’t go to church, so he makes them lose? Maybe God is tipping off The Pope, telling him who He is going to make win or lose, so the betting can begin and the church can make some big-time money. Maybe, in fact, they can make so much money that The Pope can afford to retire — Holy crap, I think I’m on to something.

Or, maybe not. Like I said, when I really think about it, the whole question confuses me.

Growing up, there were flashes of religion in my head. I remember being taught the prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray to God my soul to keep, and if I die before I wake, I pray for God my soul to take.” I also remember the words “If I die before I wake” scaring the hell out of me. Why would you plant such a seed in a child, that he or she might die in their sleep?

I remember occasionally attending a church down the road, but it never seemed to me the right place to be. I don’t know why, I just never wanted to be there.

I remember being dropped off at a Sunday School — which was run by a church who was later operated by a man of religion that I actually admired a lot — only to find out that he would later throw himself off a bridge, taking his own life, on the same day he was questioned about an improper relationship with a young boy many years ago.

I remember crying my eyes out because I didn’t want to go into that Sunday School, so for the longest time I stood behind the building, or sat on the front step, refusing to go in.

Religion scared me as a child. To this day, I don’t know why. Maybe it was the knowledge that the entire entity was so powerful that it could force me to die in my sleep and take my soul.

Sounds absurd, I know, but I’ve got nothing else.

I was married in a Catholic Church (And, yes, to keep up with this running theme, the Catholic Priest who married The Ex and I was forced out of the church for “minor” misgivings back in the 1970s). And, I’ve attended a rare Midnight Mass or two, with a certain girlfriend or two.

Religion, however, never took.

Instead, I grew up and decided on my own what I believed and what I didn’t. The bible? Great work of fiction with some great morals and great stories. Surprised it hasn’t been optioned into a movie yet. Oh wait, Charlton Heston did do “The Ten Commandments”, didn’t he?

I don’t know if there is a God or not. I hope so, I suppose, because it would be pretty cool if there was. And he’d be a helluva interview for The Heaven Times, when I land that job at the end of my last cold winter.

My first question to Him: “How much money did you and the pope make when the Giants beat the Patriots the year David Tyree made the catch with his helmet?”

May God Bless you all this day, this week, this month and beyond.

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