God Almighty: Good Enough for Northwestern
By Tom Jemielity -- Contributing Author [Email This Story]
In an effort to forestall criticism about its selection of a commencement speaker, Northwestern University officials in Evanston, Illinois, announced that the featured speaker at its 2009 graduation exercises will be God. Confirmation of God’s acceptance was posted yesterday at saintgabriel.com, the Almighty’s website. University officials began consultation with God immediately after the well publicized flap over their selection of Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago as this year’s speaker. Students argued that the long-time mayor of Chicago was simply not prominent enough to speak there. When the mayor did speak at the university’s mid-June commencement, he received a lukewarm reception at best. In their interview with God, the Lord expressed great surprise over the controversy generated by the selection of Daley. "I’ve voted for him several times in each of the elections in which he was a candidate," God admitted. "Vote early and often has always been my motto in Chicago elections." God also revealed that he is a registered Democrat in Chicago and, save for one occasion, has never been challenged by a poll watcher. In the one exception, the Republican poll watcher was struck dead by an unexpected bolt of lightning, a case that had remained unsolved in Chicago police files. "Now that we know the story," the police superintendent said, "we’re closing the case." No prosecution is planned. "His lawyers are not ones to be trifled with," the superintendent added cautiously. The Almighty also reminded Northwestern protesters that Moses was a very bad public speaker and that St. Paul is known to have stuttered. "It’s the message that counts," he added. Northwestern officials began the interview by apologizing to God for not dealing with him through an authorized church. "I don’t know what an authorized church is," the Almighty observed, with some puzzlement.
Response has not been wholly favorable. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago reminded Catholics that they are not permitted to attend public appearances of the Almighty unless his remarks have received prior approval from diocesan officials. "You never know what embarrassing thing he’s liable to say," admitted a diocesan official who asked not to be named. "He’s worse than Bill Clinton." Protestant churchmen took umbrage as well at God ‘s ignorance of an authorized church. Quoted at an ecumenical meeting of several Protestant denominations, the remark touched off furious infighting among the clergymen present. Police who were called to the scene expressed astonishment at the degree of violence. Several of the injured clergymen were taken by ambulance to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where they were reluctant to receive treatment. Jewish leaders, on the other hand, were quite calm. The official reaction of the Jewish Council on Divine Appearances was representative: "He’s been popping up and speaking out for centuries. So what’s new? We’re very accustomed to this sort of thing. Of course, he does tend to speak his mind."
Among non-religious groups response has been uniformly unfavorable or, at best, cautious. A feminist organization at Northwestern was planning a large rally, but when news of the thunderbolt incident became public, the rally was cancelled. The Environmental Protection Agency sternly warned Northwestern that several possible kinds of appearance would be in clear violation of federal law. "A burning bush or a pillar of fire," said one EPA official, "is definitely out." Former Vice President Al Gore was livid in his denunciation: "If the ten plagues of Egypt are any indication, his environmental record is disastrous." The National Weather Service expressed its hope that the Lord would not choose a whirlwind when he speaks in Evanston: "That’s just going to scare the hell ... oops, sorry about that ... out of a lot of people with false tornado reports." Designers, however, are feverishly attempting to influence the divine wardrobe. The Archangel Gabriel reported that the website has been flooded with e-mails from Calvin Klein, Banana Republic, Armani, and Kenneth Cole. "God has not yet decided what he will wear. We’re keeping our options open," the archangel said in response to a reporter’s question. As for student reaction, characteristic was the response of Adam MacDuff, a Northwestern senior-to-be. "On the whole, I would have preferred Harry Potter."
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