God and Herb the Archangel were walking through Heaven’s Gate Park, a pleasant little corner of utopia.
“This park might be my best idea ever,” God said.
“How can that be?” Herb asked. “All your ideas are perfect, and there are no degrees of perfection. Something is either perfect, or it’s not. And you, my man, are incapable of an imperfect idea.”
“You know, Herb, you’ve got to stop hanging around those old English professors,” God said. “Besides, I’m God, and if I want to say this is the best perfect idea I ever had, I’ll say it.”
“OK, OK. So why’s this park the best perfect idea you ever had?”
“It’s twenty-five miles from the Pearly Gates,” God said.
“I don’t have to put up with Pete’s whining. All he does is complain about people who bring their lawyers along, and he whines about having to listen to all the whining of the people who don’t make it in. He says it makes his job hell. If he wants hell, I can arrange it.”
“I don’t blame him,” Herb said. “To put up with that stuff you’d need the patience of Job.”
“Well, he’s no Job. But he’s got a job, and I wish he’d stop complaining about it. He can be replaced, and I know just the guy to replace him with.”
“That might not be so bad,” Herb said. “I mean, it’s either listening to the damned complain, or listening to you whine. And with them, at least there’s a chance they’ll be wrong. It gets to be a drag having to listen to a know-it-all who knows it all.”
“Shut up, Herb”
“Little testy, aren’t we,” Herb said. “Something got you upset?”
“Yeah,” God said. “Tim Tebow.”
“That’s what I said. You deaf or something?”
“No, I’m not deaf,” Herb said. “It’s just that I don’t understand how you could be upset with Tim Tebow.”
“I’m God; you’re an angel. You’re not supposed to understand what upsets me. Or what pleases me, for that matter.”
“This doesn’t have anything to do with you being a Steelers fan, does it?” Herb asked.
“OK, I’m a Steelers fan,” God said. “All the best people are. But that’s not the problem. The problem is I’m tired of all these athletes making a big deal of thanking me when things go their way.”
“Geez,” Herb said. “When are they supposed to thank you?”
“If they’re going thank me when they are the heroes, they should also thank me when they screw up.”
“When they screw up?”
“Why when they screw up?”
“You spend Sunday afternoons watching football,” God said. “And you’ve watched thousands of post-game interviews of the players who scored the winning touchdowns. What does the hero always say?”
“He says, ‘I want to thank God for giving me this opportunity.’”
“Exactly,” God said. “But what do the same players say when they fumble two yards short of goal line?”
“They grouse,” Herb said. “And blame the officials for not making a call.”
“You have been paying attention,” God said. “But if I put the hero on the field and gave him the opportunity to score, who put the goat out there?”
“Then he should thank me, too,” God said.
“He’s making a million or two a year, for one thing.”
“That’s true, I guess,” Herb said. “But why should he give thanks for screwing up.”
“Because he had the same opportunity to win the game as the hero.”
“If you weren’t so perfect, I’d think you were weird,” Herb said.
“I can’t be ‘so perfect,’” God said. “I’m either perfect or I’m not. Isn’t that what you said?”
Herb shrugged and said, “I suppose.”
“Look at this way,” God said. “If I spend Sundays making heroes of some players and goats of others, that’s going to keep me pretty busy, isn’t it?”
“Sure it would.”
“And besides football, there’s baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer and countless other sports. If I’m helping all the athletes who claim I’m helping them, there must be a lot of things I ought to do that I don’t do because there isn’t enough time. Pretty soon, Tebow and all those other guys are going to create an image problem for me.”
“If you had a choice, which you don’t,” God said. “Would you want a God who helps Tim Tebow win football games, or a God who helps families without health insurance get it, who helps starving people get food, and who helps the families in Afghanistan stay out from under the bombs falling from drones?”
“I get your point,” Herb said. “When you think about it, these athletes are all saying, ‘God likes me more than you.’”
“You got it. Besides, if I had had anything to do with it, the Steelers would have won.”
“We can’t have everything,” Herb said.
“I could. But that’s a topic for another time.”