If you ever happen to take a moment to look over the profiles of the finalists on the official American Idol page you might be struck by the same thing I was. An awful lot of the contestants mention God rather prominently and most plan to thank God if they happen to win. Not a single one of them wants to thank America, the ingrates. No wonder that family wanted Simon Cowell to go back to French.
Melinda Doolittle and Haley Scarnato mention God repeatedly. Jordin Sparks and Chris Sligh were a bit lower key about it, but have made their beliefs clear in other ways. This led me to ask what role God really plays in the show.
It does make sense to me; God’s second commandment is “Thou shalt not worship false idols,” so he/she clearly has a strong interest in helping to ensure that America picks the right one. It did strike me as a bit odd that Chris Sligh, who also serves as a youth minister and whose preferred musical genre is “Christian Rock”, got voted off the show before, say, Sanjaya Malakar singing about “Bathwater.” I mean if God has so much to say about the outcomes each Wednesday, what was up with that?
I was a little shocked to start getting text messages not from Gabriel, but from God himself.
God: So Gabriel sent me your shout out from his Myspace page and for now I have you on my friends list.
(I dropped to my knees immediately and began confessing.)
CL: I really shouldn’t have lied about where I was that night. I was young, but it was still wrong…
God: You want to confess, go to church or something. I thought you wanted to talk about American Idol.
CL: Sorry, I’m pretty bewildered here. Text messages, Myspace? What happened to the burning bush and hearing voices?
God: Al Gore helped us with something called Ether-Mail back when he invented the Internet. It keeps an Akashik record. I can send messages to multiple people. You wouldn’t believe some of the confusion we had with the old system. Look at what happened to Lot’s wife. No way that had to happen. Lot just didn’t believe it was really me and as I think about it, who can blame him? So many things I might have done differently. I mean I probably didn’t have to torture Job for 720 years just to win a bet with Satan. A hundred and seventy-five would have been plenty. You realize that after I restored everything to him threefold all the warranties had expired and the community property laws had changed?
By the way, that ten commandments font I'm using is pretty cool. You think?
CL: But, you’re texting me? What’s that mean? I’m no saint.
God: Hey whoa! I talk to everyone. Don’t get any ideas there. That’s how the Taiping rebellion started and don’t even get me started on Joseph Smith or Mary Baker Eddy. By the way, I sound and look nothing like George Burns.
CL: But shouldn’t we be texting about the end of days or something? American Idol is just a TV show.
God: You remember in Genesis where it says “On the seventh day I rested.” Enough with this work ethic stuff, I need time off. Gabriel’s into music, so we watch the show . We don’t watch the auditions, way too mean-spirited. I hear that Lucifer does though.
CL: Okay, as long as you’re not going to smote me or anything. I’m honored to be texting you about the show.
God: Well, you came recommended by Elvis.
CL: So why Chris Sligh?
God: Hey, you want to hear a joke? St. Peter calls Sigmund Freud up to see me. Freud’s happy to get out of hell where he spends the eternity being tantalized by pictures of his mother while she yells at him about what a stupid idea penis envy was. Anyway, he gets up here and says, “But why does God need a psychoanalyst?”
Peter says, “Well to be honest Dr. Freud, he’s having delusions of grandeur.”
Freud scratches his head for a moment, pulls out a cigar, then asks,”How could God possibly have delusions of grandeur?”
Peter shrugs and points him to this room where I’m sitting at the end of a long table with three chairs. Freud says “The Last Supper?”
“No, worse than that. He thinks he’s Simon Cowell.”
(pause) Hey, you’re not laughing.
CL: Honestly, I thought it was funny, but I don’t always laugh out loud at text jokes.
God: Look, it’s me. I can look into your heart. You’re not laughing.
CL: Well, maybe it was the timing.
God: I’ll work on it. Henny Youngman and his wife have been asking for a better room, maybe he can help.
CL: Okay, let’s talk about what you want to talk about.
God: You know what a Pharisee is?
CL: Were they a doo-wop group at the end of the fifties?
God: Everyone’s a comedian these days.
CL: But how was my timing?
God: Okay, Chris Sligh’s rhythm was off. Paula was right, he’s ahead of the beat, but that’s not what happened to him. He’s a nice fellow… it’s certainly not like I didn’t like the guy. Look at the wife.
CL: But, Chris said Jesus was his biggest inspiration.
God: Yeah, but that Ponyhawk was pretty awesome. That kid Sanjaya’s awfully entertaining. You know as much as Sligh talked about “beating the system”, Sanjaya figured out how to get more out of less.
CL: But he can’t sing that well.
God: You think I care? I hear the music of the heart anyway. You saw how he handled his sister. I’m not a big Diana Ross fan, but she said “Sanjaya is love.” That’s all good with me. And I like looking at my creations sometimes, so I helped keep Haley on the show.
CL: Does this mean that you’re male? The Wiccans are really going to be disappointed. By the way, what’s up with Haley dressing like that and talking about praying all the time?
God: Look, you’re sweating the small stuff there. It was fun, maybe you don’t have to analyze everything. You have to understand that I’m sort of beyond gender. You humans are always trying to anthropomorphize me. I have to say I kind of like the way the Qu’ran does me.
CL: Whoa! You telling me that you’re the same God?
God: Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jesus… they’re both sure there’s only one of me. You connect the dots.
CL: But why do you let people kill each other over those dots?
God: I’d love to talk about that stuff some time, but maybe we should get back to Chris Sligh. Yes, the rhythm was a problem, but it was the Simon thing.
CL: Il Divo and Teletubbies?
God: No, that was sort of funny. People don’t get the fact that it might have been a mistake, but we all make mistakes. It’s always the cover-up that gets people.
CL: I guess I shouldn’t ask about the U.S. Attorney thing.
God: Yeesh. Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but that entire administration is run by Pharisees. They run around telling everyone that they believe in me and want to enforce all the written rules, even the ones that aren’t really written, but you look in their hearts and yikes! Sometimes, I tell myself this “free will” business was not such a good idea.
CL: I wish you’d talk more in public about this stuff.
God: I wish people would listen with their hearts more when I do.
CL: So, you didn’t like something about the way Sligh apologized?
God: He said he didn’t disrespect Simon with the remark. It was a lie. He was doing exactly that. In that moment, it was more important to Chris Sligh to stay on the show than to show real integrity. After that, instead of being the jester, he tried to act all humble and I’m not sure he really was.
CL: So it didn’t matter that he told the world that he’s your servant.
God: You know the debate in Galatians about deeds vs. professions of faith.
CL: Well, to be honest…
God: Paul was really dealing with the question of whether you had to be Jewish first in order to be Christian and I think the underlying circumcision debate was a false dichotomy. Both matter, but what’s in your heart matters even more.
CL: Wow. Chris Sligh is going to hell for that?
God: Whoa, whoa — no way. He’s going home and I hope coming home to me. He has a lovely wife, a band. He may even learn to sing in rhythm. He just lost his way on the show. Besides, he just didn’t sing all that memorably. [In a British accent] After all, it is about the music.
CL: Wow, how’d you do an accent in a text message?
God: It's too bad really. You know for the End World Hunger night, I was thinking of turning over the original musical settings for King David's Psalms. Now, that would have been the bomb, Dawg!
CL: You talk to Nigel Lythgoe?
God: Where do you think this Idol Cares stuff came from?
CL: But how do you know Nigel?
God: I shouldn't be telling you this, but Satan's the silent partner in 19E. You know I was going to be on the show for Songs of Inspiration Theme Night.
CL: Now that would really have been hot.
God: Yeah. It was too bad Bono insisted on top billing. Maybe next year.
CL: (laughing) Now, that one your timing was perfect.
God: Before you get any ideas, I really don’t mess with the show. He did it to himself. Gabriel and I do vote though. Last year, busy signals all the time. This year, it’s much better.
CL: If you didn’t vote for Chris? Can I ask who you two are voting for?
God: (MP3 ring tones of "Heaven Knows" mysteriously begins playing on my cell) I really shouldn’t say.
CL: I hate to say this, but I don’t have an unlimited text messaging plan. It was good chatting with you.
God: C-ya. But, one little bit of advice, CL.
CL: I’m all eyes.
God: It’s just a TV show. You don’t have to write these reviews every week. No one pays you. Maybe cook dinner for the wife instead. Go for a walk. Help out a little bit. Think about what really matters and live your life accordingly.
I wanted to type “You’re not the boss of me,” but all I could do was nod.
Postrcipt: I’m thinking somewhere in a church in Greenville, South Carolina in the next couple weeks, the music director might be thinking, “God works in mysterious ways, but when Ryan said I was one of the cleverest contestants ever on the show.. that wasn't the message I should have left America with."