Trickster God Good God

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136)

A west wind is pushing a brocade-like eastern sky back upon itself. It’s a contrary wind. It gives the air an edge. Today anything could happen.

Today, according to the ancient lyric poet, we should give thanks to God because God is good. Because this God, implies the poet, is not like all the other gods.

The other gods tell us their goodness is all beyond our comprehension. What seems bad is good if only we could see it. And what is good, they say, just might not turn out to be. Our flannel-graphing Sunday-school teacher, they say, got it right. It’s simple when we remember the rules: Too much questioning leads to weak faith. This Father knows best.

Not true says the poet. Be quizzical. Question God. Study the surface of things, it will reveal many true nuances.

And then give thanks because God’s love, says the poet, is steadfast and enduring. She’s not like all those other capacious gods who use love like a stick. They stroke but could strike at any moment.

And she’s not like those gods who use love as a trick to get us interested but when you need the company, they are always out of town. These gods cast their heavy brocade shadow and then just when you’ve got them by the hem they find a phone booth and do a quick-change.

I talked to an old friend last week who realized he was still giving thanks to an impetuous and secretive god, a god who acts like an angry and petulant parent. He says he knows about the projection…but it’s so hard to escape that deep and layered god.

In that induced state he absolves god and thinks that any descent thing that happens to him is not merited and any bad thing is almost welcome because it comes as deserved punishment and relieves the guilt felt over the good thing.

The sky is turbid. We wait for it to settle out.


No need to pray or try to do anything spiritual. Just wait for as long as it takes. In time that old west wind will shift the sky good and then we’ll be able to see which god to thank. And then old things could happen in shiny new ways.

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