“When he said ‘Let there be light,’ light did appear. God probably surprised himself as well as man.”

To continue the Eden motif one more day.…

Isn’t this delightful? (No pun intended; it’s early in the morning.)

I don’t think she meant the second sentence to be funny. My first temptation was to consider this an example of the second-guess ending, where the student writes a perfectly good answer and then thinks, “W-a-i-t a minute…!” (See my post at “Jesus was raised Jewish but crucified a Catholic.”)

But after some thought, I’ve come to believe that the student is expressing wonder here, not second-guessing.

Now, if God knows everything and sees all time, then he would be incapable of surprising himself (pace “Can God create two mountains without a valley in between,” to which a student of mine answered “God can do anything he wants!”), and the second sentence is as funny as it first appeared.

But several years ago I put together a show I called Season of Miracles, seven medieval plays plus interludes of medieval music. The first piece was God’s creation of the world. Chris Bassett, the actor I cast as God, was quite a young man, and even in a flowing white wig and beard he looked not much older than his twenty-some years. Rather than play God as the Ancient of Days, then, or even as ageless, he played God as quite young too. And as we worked on the scene, he asked me, “Was this the first world God created?” I decided to take the word of Genesis and say yes. So Chris played every deed of God, in the Creation play and in the Fall of Man and Noah plays too, as first-time events. The show opened in darkness. When Chris spoke the words “Let there be light,” we brought the lights up (“light did appear”!) on a God who took a look around, registered moderate surprise, and then smiled, quite pleased with himself. It was a moment of great charm, and the device worked well all the way through the show.

So I knew what the student meant…and, I believe, so did she.

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About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

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