God, Death and Billiards

Irony – An outcome of events different than what was expected.

It is the basis for most great stories and jokes, which twists to an end seemingly from nowhere. Letterman and Leno are greats at this technique in their monologues. But does God use irony?

I was visiting family in New York City this last week for parent’s 39th anniversary and sister’s birthday (years unreported). Though we were not affected, there was severe weather in the tri-state area. Possible tornados, lots of rain and high winds. Of course, accompanying the rain was lightning.

So the story goes like this. Late in the week,  New York’s assistant Attorney General, Richard Schwartz, was walking his dog past a church.

No-no-no. Let me start further back.

Rabbi Shais Taub, left, and Rev. Steven E. Boes, Boys Town's president, spoke with each other after a meeting.A Rabbi and a Reverend were playing golf. The rabbi’s game was up to par but the reverend’s was going to hell, bogeying the first two holes and double bogeying the fourth. On the fifth green the Reverend had a three foot putt to birdie the hole. The golf ball circled the hole and lipped out.

“God damn it,” the reverend said in frustration.

“Now, John. We are men of the cloth and I don’t think God would welcome the comment.”

After apologizing, the reverend lined up his second putt, struck the ball a bit too hard and it rolled past the hole.

“GOD Damn it!”

All the rabbi had to say was “John…”

The reverend lines up his third putt, now a seven-footer, hits the ball and it rolls up short of the hole.

“God damn it, missed again.”

A bolt of lightning flashes and hits the ground about a foot away from the reverend. God’s deep baritone voice comes from the heavens, “I’m Damned. Missed again.”

1944 Photograph

Now back to the real story from NYC.

Evidently the attorney’s pooch decided that he (or she) needed to be walked right in the middle of the unpredictable weather. The path of their walk would take them past Christ Church in Cobble Hill New York City, which is being renovated and has scaffolding surrounding its steeple.

http://www.thechurchreport.com/index.cfm?objectID=158208As Mr. Schwartz walked next to the scaffolding, a bolt of lightning hit the steeple, which in turn knocked shingles off the roof. In a Rube Goldberg kind of way, the shingles hit the scaffolding and knocked it apart. The scaffolding fell on the ADA killing him.

Now, I am not sure if the ADA was a Christian, Jew, Muslim or atheist, but I can tell you this…


Wait for it…



Wait for it…



Here it comes…


God is much better at a billiard’s bank-shot than putting for a birdie.


I’ll stop this tomfoolery and get to the point. Just because a church was involved does not make this an act of God. Just because a church was involved does not make this punishment for the ADA’s errors, if there were any. This was not God’s warning to the neighborhood or the district Attorney’s office to mend their evil ways. This was a tragic accident and a person’s life was taken too soon.

My condolences go to the Schwartz family. I am personally sorry that this man’s life was cut short.

Yet to believe that this tragic and untimely death was part of “God’s plan” is ludicrous.  There is no plan. It just happened, which is why we call it an accident, an unfortunate and unplanned event usually resulting injury, damage or death.

Sometimes there are happy accidents, mostly happening during a scientific experiment.

If God did plan this incident, then I want Him (Her or It) arrested for first degree murder.

There is no solace or comfort from claiming death is based on myth of an unknown plan. There is no reason that any of us should be involved in an accident, whether or not fatal. Accidents just happen. That is their nature.

From Col. Robert Ingersoll’s 1882 “Eulogy at a Child’s Grave,”

Here in this world, where life and death are equal kings, all should be brave enough to meet what all have met. The future has been filled with fear, stained and polluted by the heartless past. From the wondrous tree of life the buds and blossoms fall with ripened fruit, and in the common bed of earth patriarchs and babes sleep side by side.

Blaming a mythological god or gods for our ills and the pains within our hearts when death confronts us does not provide comfort. The myths of an eternal life, the belief that we will soon see those who died again does not ease the sorrow or sadness of the loss of life.

Solace and comfort come from friends, family and community. It comes from touch and voice, and the knowledge that the life lived, even is for a few minutes, had moments of joy and laughter, of goodness and caring. It is human behavior and endeavor to provide comfort to those within our community, micro or macro.

This is why the great outpouring of emotions for the senseless shootings in Aurora, Arizona and elsewhere around the world. Death during war. Death from accidents.

We are but human and it is our Secular Humanism that prevails, not faith in God or gods.


David Rosman’s book, “A Christian Nation? An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs,” is now available through Amazon.com in paperback or eBook versions.

His second book, “The Clobber Passages: The biblical denouncement of homosexuality examined,” in which the nine biblical passages used to denounce homosexuality are reviewed, is due for release on September 1 as an eBook and September 15 in paperback.

David is an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and preforms weddings as well as divorce and unbaptismal ceremonies

You can contact David to speak to your group or organization, or to officiate your wedding, divorce or unbaptism by writing him at Info@InkandVoice.com

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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