Volume 74, Number 8 | June 23 - 29, 2004

Godfight: A hat, hormones, the Supreme Court

By Andrei Codrescu

The Supreme Court delayed on a technicality deciding whether the word “God” belongs in the Pledge of Allegiance. When the issue pops up again, I suggest that the word “hat” be used instead. This is not as frivolous as you think. Most people respectful of the mysteries of the universe wear a hat to protect themselves from being zapped from above by that-which-can’t-be-understood. In order to keep “God” properly mysterious a hat is both practical and an admission of the fact that we’ll never rise higher than our hat in knowing what we’ll never know.

The trouble with “God” is that the word gives rise to ideas that have nothing to do with decent people. Most people raised in our religion-contentious world get about five ideas about God a day. These ideas are stimulated sometimes by sentiment, but most of the time they are just passing through like birds through the air. Even very depressed people who’d rather sleep than think are often thought by ideas passing through their skulls with no other connection to them personally other than that they’re en route. Most people don’t even notice that an idea’s gone through them; they are mostly startled by the aftereffect, the ripple it leaves behind.
Also, it would never occur to most folks, bless ’em, to say any such ideas out loud, unless they could somehow turn a profit. A preacher, for instance, or a shaman, is professionally invested. Now and then “God” creeps up in conversation, but after it’s turned over once or twice it is quickly and properly relegated to the realm of the unknowable and dismissed, so the talking parties could return to the only proper subject for conversation: themselves.

Happily, most adults in their right mind, so to speak, grow out of that disturbance as soon as their hormones settle down. It’s well known that wildly firing hormones in adolescence are mostly responsible for “God.” The Supreme Court might also consider making the whole Pledge of Allegiance optional for anyone over 13. Until then, wear a hat.

Codrescu wrote “Wakefield,” a novel about a motivational speaker at the end of the last century.


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