CHAPEL HILL -- God has announced that he is quitting the religion business, belated media reports indicate. As CEO, CFO and COO of the world's largest religion conglomerate, God has been a major industry fixture since its origin. Industry insiders say that they had seen this move coming for some time.
"I'm out," God said. "This whole operation has really run its cycle. Like I said in Ecclesiastes, there's a time to sow and there's a time to reap. And, as you may know, I haven't had a day off since Genesis 2. I could use a breather."
God made the brief announcement last Saturday evening before the assembled press in the media room at the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center on the University of North Carolina campus before taking questions.
Asked where he is going from here, God said he plans on expanding his personal-potential consulting business. "I always enjoyed working with people one-on-one. Without having so much bureaucracy to manage, I'll have much more time to spend with individuals who are seriously interested in personal growth and development," he said.
In response to a follow-up from Gilbert Klein of the Wall Street Journal, God said that he is, of course, considering spending some time writing his memoirs but first wants to work on a revision of his all-time-bestseller, The Bible.
"Right off, I'm looking for a new title. 'The Bible' is kind of pretentious, don't you think? Or at least it used to be," said God. "Calling something "The Book," once that seemed a little over the top -- even for the eternal truth -- but the way the term has been devalued these days, I mean, everything's a 'bible' now. If you don't believe me, which I know a lot of you don't, then try googling 'The Bible of'. You get 853,000 results -- only a fraction about the Bible," he said with a tone of mild frustration.
"Look at this stuff they call bibles these days. Seriously, I don’t know where to start: The Bible of Options Strategies; The Bible of Hip-Hop Music, Culture and Politics; The Bible of Booze; The Bible of Six-Man Football in Texas; The Bible of Deer Management; The Bible of Spatial Indexing; The Bible of Computational Fluid Dynamics -- trust me I could keep going. In fact, I will, look at these two: The Bible of Poodle Pedigrees and The Bible of Wedding Toasts. This has gotten ridiculous," said God.
Then, with a soulful look in his eyes, God added, "It’s a wonder the Gideons, bless their hearts, can even give the real things away. What's a franchise worth with a brand as diluted as ‘The Bible’? About the same as Frigidaire, I'd guess."
While some analysts speculated that God's resignation was made "under duress," he said that he made the decision "of his own free will." The consensus among analysts was that this was the same straight talk that the street had grown used to hearing from God, who John Welker of Forbes magazine calls "the greatest figure in the history of the religion industry."
"I think he left on his own terms," agreed Lev Gottlieb, a religion industry specialist for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. "The way I look at it, nobody is telling God he has to go, anymore than anyone could tell Dean Smith to pack up and leave," referencing former UNC head men's basketball coach whose name was lent to the facility in which God, like Smith, chose to announce his "job transition."
God also said that he hopes to get in a "little travel" during his "non-retirement." People don't understand, God said, that when you're "everywhere all the time you don't really get a good feel for specific places. I’d really like to get a nice look at the Sistine Chapel."
After the surprisingly lightly attended press conference, one media observer, Gans Ebert of Business Week, said the sparse coverage was "a result of a typically poor scheduling decision," with the event being in conflict with NCAA men's basketball Final Four which included the University of North Carolina.
Public relations guru Hector Polloy said that this miscalculation was "characteristic of such decisions lately," Polloy asked. "Just as an example, I know it was tradition and all that, but keeping weekly worship on late Sunday morning even when the Atlantic Coast Conference was broadcasting the tournament championship game at noon -- that was just stupid. That's giving away regional market share."
Wall Street gave a lukewarm verdict on God's decision as the IRI (the Index of Religion Industrials) held steady, losing less than one point to finish the day at 776.
Gary D. Gaddy, who isn't retired either, is also writing his memoirs -- one line at a time.
A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday April 10, 2008.
Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy