The Wind Chime of God

Do you know the book Bagels for Benny (by Aubrey Davis, illustrated by Dušan Petričič, Kids Can Press, 2003)? It’s really great. Benny helps out in his grandfather’s bakery; the grandfather tells Benny that his customers shouldn’t really thank him for his bagels, but instead should thank God, since God made the wheat from which they’re made; to thank God, Benny starts taking bagels and secretly putting them in the ark at their synagogue every week, where they promptly disappear (Benny and his grandfather eventually discover that a homeless man has been eating them; it’s the mitzvah of anonymously helping someone get back on his or her feet).

When the grandfather discovers what Benny’s been up to, they have this conversation:

“What are you doing?” Grandpa bellowed.
Benny spun around.
“Grandpa!” he gasped. “I’m thanking God.”
“You’re putting bagels in God’s Holy Ark!” cried Grandpa.
“But he likes the bagels,” insisted Benny. “Every week He eats them all.”
“Oh, Benny!” Grandpa laughed. “God doesn’t need to eat. He doesn’t have a mouth or a stomach. He doesn’t even have a body.”

The last time I read the book to Toby, when we got to this line, Toby said, “God does have a mouth!”

I told Toby (and I’m paraphrasing myself here), “No, he doesn’t—God isn’t a person. God is—well, the idea of God means different things to different people. He’s—”

Toby interrupted me. “He’s a monster,” he said. “He’s a kangaroo. He’s a blanket. He’s a yogurt. He’s a crown.”

I quickly jotted those things down. Then I asked Toby what else God was. “He’s a wind chime,” he said. “He’s a giraffe. He’s a cup of tea.”

All of which, I believe, is—from many, although not all, theological vantage points—entirely correct.