As I drove south through Oklahoma City, I saw the billboard again. On a stark black background, the message in white letters said "I love you" in English, Spanish, and Chinese. It was signed "God."
Last month when I'd also been passing through here during a family reunion, I'd seen the same billboard. And another one that said, "One nation under me." It too was signed "God."
Now Oklahoma is squarely in the middle of America's Bible Belt. When I lived in Tulsa in 1972, I remember you couldn't walk far without running into a church. One I remember had orange flames of hell painted outside, no doubt warning you what lay in store if you strayed or was some sort of heathen.
Why does God need billboards in such a place?
And did he go to Clear Channel or CBS or whoever owns the billboards, turn in an application, a design of his own choice, and submit a rental fee? Did he have to show a bank account or a credit card? Was he asked for his SSN? Did he pay month to month or for eternity?
While he was filling out the forms, did he pause to consider alternative means of getting his message across, such as skywriting? But that would have required him to hire pilots and rent airplanes, and again, there would be pesky forms to fill out. He'd probably need clearance from Homeland Security.
Would it not have been simpler for God to simply shape some cumulus clouds into letters and words? And if he'd done that, wouldn't people have marveled at it and found it more believable?
Of course it is not a super being that puts up billboards, it is humans with cash. A web search reveals that many people have donated money to put up these billboards. I am confounded by humans who presume to speak for a being who according to their beliefs must be so much larger than them. Perhaps such a God could say, "I love you" towards the inhabitants of this earth. But could such a being really say 'one nation under me'? There are so many nations on the face of the earth. Could a universal being favor one nation above all others? I myself come from one country and live in another. Does God want both these nations to be one? Would that not be some sort of world government? A global nation? The billboard makers would probably reject such an alternative, though if it was united under a single religion they might acquiesce.
During our family reunion, our bus that took us for a day trip to Tulsa stopped on the way back at the memorial to the victims of the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing of April 19, 1995. Some individuals had presumed to act on behalf of a higher calling and take down a building with the lives of many people in it.
Each day someone or the other is going out acting on behalf of God: killing, maiming, making people miserable. Would the world not be a better place if people were a bit more humble and modest, spoke just for themselves and did not claim to know what God wants or doesn't want? Or to speak and act on his behalf? Individuals acting on their own can commit atrocities, for sure, but it seems the scale of atrocities often mounts when they act on behalf of greater powers or a higher calling.