Two months ago, I got the opportunity to sit down with God. We discussed his personal life, science, philosophy, and hockey, among other things.
When I walked into Toro Sushi in Genoa, Italy on March 15th, God was standing awkwardly at a table for two, trying to stay on his feet without having to step out from behind the table. When he confirmed that I had spotted him, he fell back onto the vinyl booth and slid his rear end back to meet the backrest.
A waiter arrived to greet me as I reached my seat, holding a Californian IPA, one of my favorites from home. I had asked God to meet me there at 2:00, and it was 1:35 when I sat down.
“Have you been here long?”
“Nope,” God shook his head. “Just rolled in right before you. I figured you’d be showing up early, and I like to catch people off guard so I can sort of set the tone of the interview.”
“But it’s been a while since you did one of these.”
“Yes,” God told me. “I like to lay low, but shit has been pretty tense lately, so I thought I’d speak up.”
“With Trump and Brexit?”
“That’s a pretty white-ass question. But, well, among other things,” God hesitated, “Yeah.”
He asked that we eat first, because he had the sushi all coming up right then. I asked how he had placed the order if he’d just arrived. He told me he called it in ahead of time.
“You have a phone?”
“Haha, no I just tapped in to their—come on. Seriously?”
“But you speak Italian.”
“About as well as I speak English,” God said. “None of these joke languages are my native tongue, but I can get by with most of them.”
Fair enough. It was my first time speaking to God in person. We chatted a bit when I was in elementary school, and had exchanged several e-mails at the beginning of the year to coordinate schedules.
We had California rolls and a bunch of other stuff. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was not a fan of sushi, but I got the feeling he just liked the stuff too much to care anyway. We went through all the food, and I had to choke down some of the apparently more obscure things he gave me only the Japanese words for, so I was diving in blind for the most part. It was fine, though. I made sure the staff connected our bill to my reservation. I had taken down two heavy brews and received a third before we got down to business.
I started with a little bit of personal history… before it all went south. The following is the full transcript of our conversation.
So you have been doing this for a while, now?
And boy, is it tiring. I’ve been taking some time off lately, but man…
Are you currently based here in Italy?
Haha, no; you’d think, though, right? Nono. I live in Indy these days.
Are you serious?
Dead serious, yeah.
I moved there because I like the way the government is run, and I started taking some classes at Butler to pass the time. Have some cool professors. Got used to the life there. I dig it.
Butler? Not Notre Dame?
I’m doing my best here. You are pretty guarded with personal information.
Yeah that’s fair. No. I’m a Bulldog. More into basketball than football, and I moved there in 2010, right after we lost to Duke in the finals.
I see. I like Indy well enough. Very different from California where I was born and Florida where I went to school. Believe it or not, I went to Indy every year for a while to cover the race for the Sentinel.
I know. So random. Out of the ordinary for you, eh?
So why here in Genoa?
What, you don’t like Genoa?
First time here.
It’s my first time in Italy, actually.
Well, I was in town for a conference and I’m starting a tour of Africa on Friday evening, so I didn’t want to fly all the way back to the states.
What will you be doing in Africa?
Just assessment. I haven’t been there in so long that I thought I’d get reacquainted with how things are shaping up. Be there about six weeks. Going all around. Well, not ALL around, but you know.
I noticed you’re drinking a Budweiser.
But you ordered me a Stone.
I hate IPAs.
Didn’t you create them?
Lufe can’t always… (God pronounces “life” incorrectly) What is that? Loof? LIFE. Life can’t always be fair. I needed to make it interesting. If it was all almond milk, hammocks, and Turkish women, it would be pretty monotonous, wouldn’t it?
A lot there. I’m going to take the safe road. Almond milk. You’re… kind of a vegetarian. Is that right? Pisc—
Pescetarian. I’m not just going to not eat sushi. You ever go to Jiro’s restaurant in Tokyo station?
Fool. Get there ASAP. It’s a religious experience.
I’m going to dodge that one too. Good sushi in Indy?
Brad, I have to be honest… no. I mean. I get out of town enough to where it’s not a huge issue, but I don’t have a go-to there.
So Indy is a cool enough city to outweigh the lack of good sushi…
Well again. Don’t want life too easy. A little adversity—
Not having easy access to good sushi is your adversity?
Haha yeah. I guess. Lack of sushi is my adversity.
Anyway, thank you for the invitation, and of course, thank you for getting in touch with me of all people.
I liked your work. The Obama interview was astounding. You think you have a guy figured out…
Yeah. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to untie my name or my legacy from—
From a US President? Not to be cocky, but…
Touché… Mr. God? Your holiness?
Just God is fine.
OK, God. If you don’t mind, I’d like to get to five questions from subscribers, and I think some subscribers’ kids, and then everything I’ve decided to ask you.
Question 1, from Tarik in Asheville, NC. Tarik is a fourth-grader at Greenlake Elementary, but this might be the heaviest of all of them: Which religion is right?
You mean a hundred percent right? None of them. Haha. Sorry. I can’t really go deeper than that. Well… not Scientology. I’ll give you that. (God let out a pretty good belly laugh and bumped his Manhattan enough for a bit to just breach the rim.)
2. Xiao in Harbin wants to know: Are there intelligent beings on any other planets?
Other intelligent beings in the solar system?
I think Xiao means the universe.
That’s all you’re going to give Xiao?
Sorry Xiao. Well, no, I guess we can read into that a bit. Next. 3. I’m going to butcher this…
Little D sound. Wah. Lay. aDWAlay.
Thanks. Adewale from Lagos wants to know: What should I study in college?
Mechanical engineering or some kind of computer programming.
Just like that?
Just like that. Another beer?
I don’t know if I can take it. I want to make sure not to stray from the script too—
(God orders another round) You’ll be fine.
4. Here’s an exciting one. Former US President George W. Bush wants to know if the current turmoil around Israel will be resolved in his lifetime.
Pretty self-important, isn’t that? Anyway… nope.
Direct. 5. This was good, and it was from an anonymous subscriber, or perhaps someone who stole the entry form from a subscriber, but we liked it. How do you justify the amount – they mean the number – of infants who die before they make it out of infancy?
Alright, Brad. That’s kind of a cheap shot. Obviously, babies dying before maturity is not ideal. Let’s move on.
Let’s move on, guy.
Bonus fan question: My mom wants to know next week’s Powerball numbers.
2, 9, 27, 29, 42, 9
Get on with the shit you want to ask me.
[Note: Obviously, he was serious. Obviously, I told my mom and she did buy the ticket. I’m sure you heard about what happened.]
Just so you know, I’m not too pleased about that. I’ve got my guard up now.
Understood. I apologize. This is a fair question. So, we have a lot of religions and a ton of religious history in human civilization. A lot has been done in your name, or in the name of some interpretation of your existence. Do you see this stuff, the good included, and how does it make you feel?
Look. I have had a policy of non-intervention since the games in ’80…
…and it has served me well. I don’t have the attention, energy, or patience to get involved in everything, and as much bad news as has come out, the world is doing OK. The nukes happened in the 50s—
Whatever. Did you see any more?
We saw a second one.
Listen Brad, can we get back to the—I told you we’d talk hockey, my music, and some philosophy. I’m not going to sit for an ambush.
I’m sorry. How about hockey, then. Who do you like in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year?
Well the regular season isn’t over, but I like Anaheim if they can get past Nashville, and Ottawa otherwise.
Who’s the playoff MVP?
It’s going to be a good year for goalies, but I like a kid named Rickard Rakell. Ducks. It helps that I’ve known his family for a while, but he’s pretty good.
You know his family? Is that why you’re going with the Ducks?
Well, they can play, too.
OK. You’ve knocked me off track a bit with the beers. I don’t typically drink when I do these, but you’re persuasive. I’ll try to pull myself together. There are a lot of very smart atheists around. People like Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. Their books are hugely successful. They get around the internet. What do you think?
It’s fair. I put a lot of work into this. These guys and ladies are not stupid. I just didn’t reveal myself, really. They use the information available, and that’s commendable. Those two you named are some of my absolute brightest ever.
Who is the smartest?
You wouldn’t recognize her name.
I guess that makes sense. Lot of people in the running.
Right. But those people are not wrong to deny me given the lack of evidence, but I find their lack of faith disturbing.
Darth Vader quote?
You a Star Wars guy?
Well, yes, but… and you should know, I’m not a guy, per se.
OK. I’d like to get back to the bigger questions.
Let’s do it. I only have until 4:00, by the way. Another 45 minutes.
Sounds good. So there has been a lot of talk about Mars lately. SpaceX wants to go there. Elon Musk. It comes up in science fiction every 30 seconds. People think it’s humanity’s destiny, or at least an existential imperative to get there and become an interplanetary race. What are your thoughts on that?
I think it is a wildly exciting goal. I, personally, would love to see it happen. I think great progress is being made, but anybody alive now who thinks they are going to eventually live on Mars, let alone comfortably, is going to be disappointed if they put any sort of emotional stock into the idea. It’s cool. I want it to happen. I am confident it will. But I want you to take better care of Earth first.
I’ve heard that last part before.
Yeah from people who are thinking. You have a planet right here that is millennia ahead of Mars in terms of habitability.
Well it’s only been around for six of them.
So, I guess the next question. So many people live in despair, and many of them turn to you for help.
Hang on. This world has so much to offer, and so many people who don’t benefit from those offerings.
Brad, I’m warning you. We had an agreement.
No. You sit there in your living room in Indianapolis while people sing your name as they tear apart with fire and shrapnel others who had been singing your name hours… minutes prior—
Fuck this shit. Thanks for the shitty sushi.
… and you watch hockey and— you picked the restaurant, your holiness. I don’t know Genoa.
Thanks for lunch you fucking piece of shit.
Yeah. No problem… God. Thank The New Yorker.
FUCK THE NEW YORKER, ASSHOLE.
[End of tape]
I would like to note at this point that I have a signed and notarized contract with God in which permission for the publication of this interview transcript is explicitly given. All audio files were deleted, as per contract.
All content property of The New Yorker.