Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • Recently I came to feel that I should be doing more to help people better understand each other. So I decided that I needed to become more ecumenical. Ecumenical is when different religious sects stop beating on each other and join hands and sing for world peace and harmony. I want to be part of that, be that.

    I thought, "what can I do to bridge the religious and cultural divides all around me?" After considering this for a while, I remembered the Arab Spring and how it joined together Arabs and many others of us for a few weeks. That inspired me to try my best to make it last.

    After protesters in Tunisia and Egypt got their wish for freedom, I heard that many of them cried "God is great!" at learning of their victory. That's it, I thought, I should emulate these beacons of liberation. I will tell everyone I meet that God is great! It's like telling them "Have a nice day," but in a most ecumenical way.

    As I understand it, "God is great!" isn't just an exaltation, it's also an admonition: don't roll dice again without breathing on them. So whenever anything goes better than expected, praise the Lord immediately. If you're really hard-core this way, you also say it when things don't work out quite as well as you wanted. Basically, you are admitting you screwed up and will take any help you can get.

    Yet when I told my wife about my idea, she looked alarmed, and then told me "I think most Americans associate God is great! with grainy videos of guys in turbans brandishing Kalashnikovs after a truck bomb blows up a school. Are you sure you want to identify with that meme?" I told her I was convinced that re-associating the phrase with good things could change all that. All she could say was "Do what you gotta do, but couldn't you just tell them God is pretty great! instead?" Nope. I wanted to go with the full monty.

    So I started to try it out on people. If someone held a door for me entering a building, instead of muttering "Thanks," I exclaimed "God is great!" Mostly they just pretended not to hear me. I figured they needed to hear it more often, so I kept at it.

    I went shopping for pants at T.J. Max. A clerk pointed me to a rack of slacks that were 60% off. I smiled and told her that God is great! She then started to back away as she replied, "Yessir, God sure is good." Aha!, I thought, this is starting to work.

    When I read on Huffington Post that the Libyans finally got rid of Ghaddafi, I posted a comment. You can guess what it was. Within seconds, from someone named Paytriot came the comment "... and ..." So I responded "And what?" and Paytriot said "and you are coming to kill as many Americans as you can." I decided Paytriot doesn't get it, so I typed "Had a nice day, so far?" and logged off while wondering why my appeal for universal tolerance wasn't getting through.

    Later on I realize my mortgage payment is a day late, so I rush to the bank and ask for the loan officer. I write a check and hand it to him with the words "Here is your payment. God is great!" And do you know what he says? "Tell your God that my God says 'next time don't be late.'" I'm still not sure how this is going.

    Then, on my way home, a town cop pulls me over for running a stop sign. I hand him my license and registration. He goes back to his car and after good five minutes hands them back to me with a ticket and says "I'm giving you a warning. Don't do this again or it will be a violation." So of course I reply "Thank you, officer. Surely God is great!" He gave me a long, squinty look and told me I could go.

    So last week I tried to fly to Cleveland but something went wrong. I handed my ticket and a government-issued ID to the airline clerk, asking if the plane was on time. When she said it sure was, I of course uttered my new mantra. After taking what seemed like a long time, she looked up and said "There seems to be a problem with your reservation, sir. Would you mind waiting over there for now?"

    I stood at the designated location until a man came up to me, flashed a badge, looked me up and down, and said he was from TSA and wanted to ask me a few questions. "On what television show did Desi Arnez play a long-suffering husband? How many episodes of Star Trek were made? How many people died of sunstroke at the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Festival?"

    I was able to answer the first two. The third one stumped me until I realized it was a zinger. So I said "Nobody died of sunstroke at Woodstock because it rained most of the time." The agent responded, sorry, I couldn't go; my name is on the Don't Fly List. As I walked humbly away, of course I had to let him know how terrific God is.

    He grabbed my shoulder and shouted "Don't blaspheme me!" The next thing I remember I was at the curb outside the airline terminal, face down on the sidewalk. People were staring at me. Slowly I got to my feet, realizing that I was not in custody. So I gazed up at the concrete roof, raised my arms and cried "God is great!" It was my best performance so far, but everyone in the crowd around me edged back.

    I decided I had better go home. At the taxi stand there was no line, and as a cab zipped up alongside me, I again cried "God is great!" The driver, a swarthy young man wearing an embroidered skullcap, responded "Allahu Akbar!" In the back of the cab I wept. Seeing my distress, the driver handed me his copy of the Koran. After I leafed through it, I asked him to help me commence my conversion.

    My experiment changed my life and paid huge dividends. I have found a new calling. Now I understand that I was always meant to be a cab driver.

    @Image: Lietuvi┼│: Jazzexpress taksi automobiliai Vilniuj, from Wikipedia Commons
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.