What You Will

Another Burma Shave billboard on the information superhighway. Random thoughts about arts, faith, culture, music, language, literature, and the shortcomings of the Hegelian dialectic. (OK, just kidding about that last bit.)

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Location: Edmonds, Washington, United States

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Choose this day whom you will serve

Who Hath Known the Mind of God?

The latest proclamation from septuagenarian televangelist Pat Robertson has me pondering.

If you haven't already heard about this, I hesitate to bring it up, but here goes. After Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage, Robertson opined that God was punishing Sharon for "dividing God's land," an apparent reference to Sharon's forced withdrawal last year of 9,000 Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip. He also suggested that the assassination of previous Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was a similar case of divine retribution.

(Of course, the modern State of Israel has controlled the Strip only since 1967. Whether the Strip was ever part of the historical, Biblical kingdom of Israel I haven't yet been able to determine. So how exactly did the Strip become "God's land"? Does winning some territory in a war create a permanent divine mandate for how the territory should be managed in the future? Apparently Robertson thinks so.)

There are two contexts that might shed light here. One is that Robertson is a card-carrying, dyed-in-the-wool, award-winning Zionist who has met with both Rabin and Sharon, so his remarks aren't only political, they're personal. Sharon figured that getting settlers out of the Strip was the best way to guarantee their long-term safety; apparently Robertson disagrees and is using Sharon's illness as a way of saying, "See, God is in my corner." Such pronouncements, naturally, are entirely subjective. How does Robertson know that Sharon isn't being punished for, say, building the West Bank security fence?

The other context, of course, is Robertson's penchant for interpreting certain unfortunate events as acts of divine retribution. He's threatened Orlando, Fla., and Dover, Pa., with assorted natural disasters — the former because of a "Gay Day" at Disney World, the latter for voting out a school board that added intelligent-design theory to its science curriculum. He endorsed a statement by Jerry Falwell interpreting the 9/11 attacks as divine judgment. Through prayer, he claims to have steered no fewer than three hurricanes away from his Virginia Beach headquarters. (Which, of course, would mean that he was responsible for steering them into other cities—and if he's ever apologized to those cities, I haven't heard about it.) He's also suggested that it would be a good idea to nuke the State Department headquarters and assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

All of this is probably too long of a setup for the following question, but here it is anyway. Just whom does Pat Robertson serve? Take your pick:

a) God the Father?b) The Godfather?

Vote now! America is watching.