What if This is All there Is? What if I’m not Right?

John Hobbins shared this story which he heard at AAR/SBL in San Francisco, and I thought it was worth passing on (it is apparently a variation on a joke told by Stephen Colbert):

A guy commits suicide. And he goes to heaven, which is not what he expected.

God greets him there, and the guy said, “I’m so surprised I’m here. First of all, I thought there was no God. Second of all, I thought if you killed yourself, you know, you were damned forever.”

God said, “I admit it often seems I’m not around. It’s not the people who don’t think I exist that worry me; it’s the ones that think I do and are convinced that their wishes and my wishes are identical.”

“As for suicide, you know, it’s complicated. You have to take into account things like depression and jilted love. Everybody at least thinks about ending it, you know, about killing themselves at some point.”

And God adds, “Even I’ve thought of it.”

The guy said, “Can I ask, why didn’t you do it?”

And God said, “What if this is all there is?”

I think I like it because it deflates the assumption of knowing it all, of having all the answers, of being right, that so many people have, in mutually-exclusive fashion. David Hayward’s recent cartoon illustrates this point too, from a different angle:

  • Brian

    I remember that joke, Stephen Colbert is very funny and Father Martain, his unofficial chapel is too, since the theme of Martain’s book is that laughter is at the center of the spiritual life perhaps you can share how this is so. I don’t know what lectionary baptist follow but I’m sure that all those eschathological readings can make one a bit anxious. So lighten up this holiday season.


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