2016-06-30
In "Bruce Almighty," Jim Carrey takes a turn at being God and at first uses his power to achieve mundane victories--like potty training his dog--before realizing the full measure of his responsibilities. We asked our contributors what they would do if they had a day as the Supreme Being.




If I were the Supreme Being for a day, I would have every person in New York City step outside at 12:00 noon and dance the tango. Appropriate music would play throughout the five boroughs and, because of my special powers, everyone would dance in perfect step.
--Edward I. Koch,
former mayor of New York


I would will that the Buffalo Bills win the Super Bowl--no, wait. Not even God could cause that.
--Gregg Easterbrook,
author of "The Here and Now"




I'd make the driver ahead of me wait in the intersection to turn, not back where he might miss his--and my--chance.

I would also make people say they "couldn't" care less, which is what they mean when they say they "could." I would make people say figuratively, which is what they mean when they say literally, as in "I literally died when I heard that." And finally, I would have them know intuitively that this is all for their own good and that I really am a nice guy and not an annoying grammar cop. Literally.
--Jerry B. Jenkins,
co-author, the Left Behind Series




I'd resign promptly. It is--as Morgan Freeman makes clear in the film--an impossibly difficult job!
--Father Andrew Greeley,
novelist and social scientist




If I were Goddess, I would send a wave of understanding, love, and wisdom throughout all of Planet Earth so that humankind and the rest of the web of life would be in better relation, not only for that moment, but for times to come.
--Rev. Selena Fox,
Wiccan high priestess & Ecospiritual minister




I'd stick the actual, historical Jesus smack in the middle of American Christendom today, like in a megachurch on Sunday, and then I'd sit back and watch all hell break loose. Jesus wouldn't speak English, of course, so there would be an instant suspicion of his true identity. The poor guy wouldn't know the book of Romans or Revelations. Worse, he wouldn't get the "Left Behind" series, and he'd be baffled when the pastor, through a translator, thanked him for the new gymnasium.

The hardest part, as God, would be what to do when the crowd turns on him.
--John D. Spalding,
author of "Pilgrim's Digress"




I would, with the noblest of intentions, make a monumental mess. Having seen the sort of messes I can create in my personal and professional life with my tiny little powers, I can only imagine what horrific catastrophe I could engineer with omnipotence. I'll leave God right where he is, thank you
--Phil Vischer,
creator of VeggieTales and voice of Bob the Tomato

On political talk shows, I'd input, ventriloquist-like, better arguments into the mouths of pundits on my ideological side. Then I'd force pundits on the opposite side to utter the words I have longed to hear from them: "Yeah, I guess you're right."

--Paul Glastris, editor-in-chief,
The Washington Monthly




Recalling the line,"If I had a hammer, there would be no more folk singers," let me say, "If I were God, there would be no more God-movies."
--Jack Miles
author of "Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God"




1) Feed the children
2) Lose 40 pounds
3) Let my parents live long and enjoy their grandchildren
4) Stop war for one generation, at least
5) Find a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli crisis
6) Let my wife get 2 extra hours of sleep a day
7) Get countries to spend their military budget on education, food, and the environment
8) Teach my children Persian
9) Cure AIDS
10) Get my siblings through their schooling
11) Remember the sound of my daughter laughing for the rest of my life.
--Omid Safi, Department of Philosophy and Religion
Colgate University




I interviewed the philosopher Sidney Hook in 1989, toward the end of his life. He did not believe in God, but thought believing in God was a good idea. I asked him one day what he would say if, when he died, he found himself in The Presence. Hook said: "Lord, you didn't give me enough evidence."

So I would give us more evidence of God's existence. Hurl a few thunderbolts, maybe? But as soon as I say that, I can't help thinking: Well, God must have a reason for not giving us more evidence. What is his reason?

He wants us to have faith. Faith is a zone of wobbly uncertainties. And the requirement of faith increases our freedom, to do both good and evil. An indubitable, manifest God would reduce our freedom to choose, and a thrower of thunderbolts would reduce us to slavery.

--Tom Bethell, senior editor,
The American Spectator




I'd ban women priests forever, strike down various people who have personally offended me and ban all hymns written after 1942 (the year of the collection I grew up with). I might freeze Jim Carrey's face into one of those silly expressions in retaliation for making the movie. But I'm sure he's a better God than I'd be. Besides, I couldn't be God. I'm a woman.

Maybe Charlotte Allen would be a better God?
--Charlotte Hays, editor-in-chief,
The Woman's Quarterly




I'd ban nuns in pantsuits, the New York smoking ban, waiters who introduce themselves, "Hi, I'm .," Maureen Dowd, Martha Burk (lowest circle for her), The Nation, people who say "between you and I," the color orange (especially in hair), vegetarians, nails with stars, stripes and smiley faces, helping professions, green chewing gum, Corona beer.
--Charlotte Allen, former senior editor,
Crisis magazine and author The Human Christ




I would try to find a way to share the love and blessings and healing of Christ with everyone on the planet at least for a day. I would also let everyone know that God wants to forgive and redeem every human being regardless of their past life or sins because "God so loves the world... and does not desire that any should perish, but rather have everlasting life" (Jn. 3.16-17). I would also work it out so that the Red Sox won the World Series during my lifetime.
--Ben Witherington, professor of New Testament Interpretation,
Asbury Theological Seminary




My first act would be to stop the world a while so I would have infinite time to think and act.

Being born is a lonely fact and dying more lonely. Most lonely would be to be invisible in the sky. So as God I would go down to New York, borrow some clothes from Barneys, put them on in Washington Square, maybe pick up a lovely lady, learn how to dance, make love, chat in the shower, walk the beautiful dawn streets of the city. With that modern and ancient knowledge, as God I would feel more comfortable dealing with the human situation as a man or woman.

Then, as a good alchemist, I would invent gold and give it to all the peoples of the world so that they could buy what they want on the proviso that they destroy all weapons great and small.

I would reinvent water for the desert, reinvent bacteria and viruses so that they could make us fit rather than sick, and finally I would invent love, not for purposes of eternal ecstasy but for modest wisdom and hope, and these I would put in bottles labeled analgesic aspirin, so that one would consume them sparingly.

At the end of the day, with some nostalgia, I resume the position and wish that God (not me but the real celestial figure) would wake from absence and dedicate him or herself to the classics, the tango, Jack Benny, and make frequent visits on earth to perform acts of good and never of punishment.

--Willis Barnstone, professor
Institute of Biblical Studies, Indiana University


Other Views
If I were God, and the world treated me as it treated Him, I would kick the wretched thing to pieces.
--Martin Luther


If I were God, I would be ashamed of myself.
--Various


If I were God's lawyer, I'd have to tell him to bust his butt over to the Library of Congress and copyright the Bible.
--Nicholas von Hoffman




If I were God, and I found a house where the family was living happily, I would drop in.
--Rev. Sung Myung Moon




If I were God, I'd forgive everyone.
--Grushenka in "The Brothers Karamatsov,"
Fyodor Dostoevsky