The giant wobbly two-legged naked mole rat

Okay, I’m going to out on a bit of limb here. I mentioned a while back that I was doing some teaching with the high school group at my church on the gospel. Along the way, I’ve been doing some writing and trying to decide if I was going to try and work this into a book. Since my previous writing experience has been entirely academic, this is a very different style of writing for me. So, I may post something every now and then just to see what you think. I realize this is a bit risky since you are not really the audience I”m writing for, but I’ll take my chances.

To give you some context for responding, the basic idea is to tell a “thick Gospel narrative” – that is, to tell enough of the story for the good news to make sense – to a lay audience. You’ll see pretty quickly that I’m trying to have some fun with the material, even while engaging some significant issues.

With that background, let me throw a clip out there and see what you think. Right now I have this positioned as the beginning of a chapter on the imago Dei and how that relates to the Gospel. I’d appreciate any and all feedback you want to toss in my direction.

So, God is busy creating things. And, when God creates stuff, he usually does a pretty good job—mountains, canyons, oceans, rainbows, stars, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (okay, that one came later, but it’s still genius). I like to imagine that each time God finishes creating something, it joins all the others in watching what he’s going to do next. So, after God makes Earth and Sea they stand quietly together and look on as he makes the plants grow and bear fruit. I can even see Earth leaning over to Sea and whispering, “Ooh, kumquats!” Then Earth, Sea, and Kumquat watch in amazement as God produces Sun and Moon. And together they witness God’s creativity unfold as he makes Jellyfish, Dodo, Rhinoceros, Orangutan, and all the other animals that fill this new world. I’m sure that through the whole process, the world rang with the ooohs and aaahs of all creation as it bowed in amazement before God’s creative power.

As the sixth day drew to a close, I think they all knew that God’s work was reaching a crescendo. The firework-like display of God’s glory was reaching an end. Surely God must have something pretty impressive in mind for the grand finale. But, what could it be? What could possibly compare with the power and brilliance of Lightning and Thunder, the fragile beauty of Snowflake, or the nearly transparent wonder of Mist in the Morning? I can see all of creation leaning forward, holding its breath, wondering what God will do next.

Look, he’s doing something. I think this is it! What could it be?

Then, all creation watches in amazement as God brings creation to a climax and out steps….Um, what exactly is that?

“I think it’s another naked mole rat,” Dodo whispers.

“No,” Jellyfish responds, “It’s too big.”

“It looks pretty unsteady,” Rhinoceros says. “And, it only has two legs. I bet I can knock it down.”

Orangutan doesn’t say anything. He’s a little embarrassed for the new creature. It looks like God forgot to put the fur on. Maybe it’ll grow some later. Or, it could go roll in some mud.

And, they’re all thinking the same thing. This is the climax of God’s creation? This is his crowning achievement? What was God thinking? What is that?

We’ve already seen that the first part of God’s plan was to create the whole universe as a demonstration of his grace and glory. This would be his “place”, the theater in which he would accomplish his purpose. But, God had even more in mind:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

Seriously? The giant wobbly two-legged naked mole rat that God just created is supposed to have something to do with his “image” and “likeness”? How can that be? What does that even mean?

Okay, fling away. But, be gentle. It’s Tuesday.

So, God is busy creating things. And, when God creates stuff, he usually does a pretty good job—mountains, canyons, oceans, rainbows, stars, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (okay, that one came later, but it’s still genius). I like to imagine that each time God finishes creating something, it joins all the others in watching what he’s going to do next. So, after God makes Earth and Sea they stand quietly together and look on as he makes the plants grow and bear fruit. I can even see Earth leaning over to Sea and whispering, “Ooh, kumquats!” Then Earth, Sea, and Kumquat watch in amazement as God produces Sun and Moon. And together they witness God’s creativity unfold as he makes Jellyfish, Dodo, Rhinoceros, Orangutan, and all the other animals that fill this new world. I’m sure that through the whole process, the world rang with the ooohs and aaahs of all creation as it bowed in amazement before God’s creative power.

As the sixth day drew to a close, I think they all knew that God’s work was reaching a crescendo. The firework-like display of God’s glory was reaching an end. Surely God must have something pretty impressive in mind for the grand finale. But, what could it be? What could possibly compare with the power and brilliance of Lightning and Thunder, the fragile beauty of Snowflake, or the nearly transparent wonder of Mist in the Morning? I can see all of creation leaning forward, holding its breath, wondering what God will do next.

Look, he’s doing something. I think this is it! What could it be?

Then, all creation watches in amazement as God brings creation to a climax and out steps….Um, what exactly is that?

“I think it’s another naked mole rat,” Dodo whispers.

“No,” Jellyfish responds, “It’s too big.”

“It looks pretty unsteady,” Rhinoceros says. “And, it only has two legs. I bet I can knock it down.”

Orangutan doesn’t say anything. He’s a little embarrassed for the new creature. It looks like God forgot to put the fur on. Maybe it’ll grow some later. Or, it could go roll in some mud.

And, they’re all thinking the same thing. This is the climax of God’s creation? This is his crowning achievement? What was God thinking? What is that?

We’ve already seen that the first part of God’s plan was to create the whole universe as a demonstration of his grace and glory. This would be his “place”, the theater in which he would accomplish his purpose. But, God had even more in mind:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

Seriously? The giant wobbly two-legged naked mole rat that God just created is supposed to have something to do with his “image” and “likeness”? How can that be? What does that even mean?

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on May 25, 2010, in Anthropology, Biblical Theology, Old Testament and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Like it – like the style, the vibe, and the narrative flow.

    Couple of quibbles:
    * Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream is, while ultimately God’s creation, is a result of the image-genius of the wobbly giant naked mole rat. I’m not sure if you want to go in that direction, but at least one aspect of Imago Dei is humanity’s creative-inventive capabilities
    * (with Samuel Clemmens) what’s with the mosquitoes??

    Not only is this crescendo creation like a giant naked mole rat, but its head is horribly distorted: mushed in at the front and bulbous in the back.

    • No, I’m pretty sure that God slipped chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in there all by himself when we weren’t looking. It just took us a while to find it.

  2. Marc,

    I think this would be a great project for you to continue to pursue. It is easy to read, engaging, and fun.

    Aside from the obvious unitarian concerns (!) I like it. Press on!

  3. For the most part I enjoyed it and I could definitely see my youth group enjoying a reading.
    If you are looking for critique… the transition from epic beauty to raucous humor was a bit challenging at times. Going from the beauty of a snowflake to a naked mole rat in just a few lines was a difficult transition for my mind to make.
    I found myself enjoying the humor most when it was in thought form (like how the Orangutan felt) and I found it distracting and less funny when it was actual dialogue. I’m not sure what that means or if it is useful for you, but there you go.

    • I am definitely open to constructive criticism. That’s the whole reason for putting the excerpt up there. So, thanks for the comments. I’ll see if I can smooth out some of the transitions in the second draft.

      The dialog was a total experiment. I never write dialog, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I like how it played out reasonably well, though I am concerned that it won’t work in the book as a whole since there really isn’t any dialog anywhere else.

      • I was thinking that you would write nothing but dialogue, i.e. a theological re-telling of Genesis 1-4 and John 1. If you wanted more didactic material, you could put boxed off material in the text that wouldn’t be dialogue, but anchor points. I think you should keep doing the dialogue format all the way through.

      • Hmmm. I’ll have to think about that. What I’m writing now is more didactic in orientation, using pieces like this as points of introduction, illustration, or application. A more fictionalized account could be fun, but it would be a pretty different project.

  4. Kendall Azeltine

    My mom-in-law Lisa Dodd sent the link to your blog to me to check out!
    I think the way you presented the creation was very creative and I was encouraged by it. I found it very entertaining as well as convicting. God made me in his image for HIS glory not my own! How awesome is that! And it made me laugh 🙂

    • Hey, I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it and were challenged by it. That’s encouraging. Thanks for checking it out and dropping me a note.

  5. (Forgive me for over-analyzing a fantastical story and intentionally missing the point of the narrative entirely.)

    I believe the angels and any other cognitive being around at the beginning of creation holding their breath waiting for the unveiling of the climax of creation beheld the naked man and went, “Wow!” (I must quickly interject that I am a happy heterosexual male.)

    Christianity has a body-image problem, especially in the image conscious youth department. There is a nobility to the form of man and a grace to the form of woman that is trademark to Divine creative genius.

    We have spent so much time hiding and ridiculing our own nakedness, we forget our rightfully endowed beauty.

    A correct attitude and appreciation for human beauty is a necessary part of theological anthropology, and taught well could do wonders for the American church.

    Again, I profusely apologize for ripping your story out of its fantastical context in order to make my own itchy point.
    : )

    • Thanks for the input, Stephen. And, you’re right that my point wasn’t really to make fun of the human form, but to help us put ourselves in perspective. I think there’s a tendency to think that humans are so much more incredible than the rest of creation that of course God chose us to be his image bearers. It’s as though we think that we deserved it in some way. So, part of the point of the story is to help us recognize that we are special because God chose us, not the other way around.

      But, I’ll definitely take another look at that story and see if I need to rethink it at all. Thanks.

  6. Hi Marc,

    I like the way you write. It’s very engaging. Here’s one thought that ran through my mind while reading God creating Sun, Moon and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream:
    His Holiness is not being projected as much as it should be. And maybe that sounds ridiculous, but I think it may be something to think about. Young adults crave the supernatural because it is part of the Imago Dei in them. They want to know that there is someone greater than them who watches over them, omnipotent and omniscient. They reach out to movies with superhero themes or movies like Twilight because they want the spiritual aspect that they seldom see or get from the Church. “Churches have a form of godliness but deny the power…” and kids will look for it elsewhere.
    Not sure, though, how you’d go about projecting His incredible holiness in writing, maybe through prayer. God bless you as you reach out to them. It’s an incredible tasks and it matters in eternity.

    • Thank you very much for the feedback. I can definitely see what you’re saying with this post in particular. I think it will balance out once I’ve placed it in the book and it has other material around it, but I’ll certainly keep that concern in mind as I’m assessing how the whole thing comes off. Thanks.

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