BOOK REVIEW: How to be God by George Mikes

How to Be GodHow to Be God by George Mikes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Amazon page

Humorist George Mikes’ main premise in this book is that humans created God in their image. The book is a series of essays designed to instruct God, if he or she exists, in being a more reasonable facsimile of the ideal human–dear old mom.

Actually, the micro-essays that make up the chapters of this book cover a wide range of subjects. Some of them stay on topic more closely than others. A few of the chapters seem to be stories that the author found interesting (and they are), but which didn’t have a lot to do with supporting his argument. For example, he discusses the two good deeds he has done in life, and he has a chapter on episodes of coincidence. The former may be a tongue-in-cheek support for the argument that even the worst of us are good sometimes. The latter may have been an attempt to bolster a more general argument for atheism by stating that coincidences are not miracles. However, if that is his point, while true, he doesn’t explicitly close that loop in any but the most gratuitous way. At barely over 100 pages, it felt like some of the material, while entertaining, was in the book not to address the topic but to hit the lower bound on a page range.

Mikes weaves together amusing anecdotes with shock-essayist statements that are not so much humorous as gratuitously provocative. With respect to the latter, I’m thinking of his discussion of Hitler and Stalin as basically good guys–if at least in their own minds.

The book is a mixed bag. It’s sometimes though-provoking and humorous, but other times it drifts into shock and awe gratuitous assertions. I suspect he could have hit his page mark by supporting his arguments better and still maintained the humor (realizing that exposition can be death in humor writing.)

A prime example of the book at its best is a story about a woman meeting with her doctor [paraphrased herein.] This is in a section about mini-gods, i.e. those people that we quasi-deify–such as judges and medical doctors. The doctor is trying to convince the woman to have surgery, but the woman refuses.

The doctor asked, “how did you get here today?”

The lady replied, “I took the bus.”

“And you trusted the driver, a complete stranger, with your life. But you won’t trust me–an expert in my field?”

“Yes, of course, the difference is vast.”

“How so?”

“The driver was on the same bus.”

If you find a copy, this book is worth a read. It’s not much of a time investment. It’s an illustrated 105 page book.  If your attitude is, “Sacred cow? it’s what’s for dinner,” you’ll probably like it overall. If you are pious, you’ll probably hate it. If you are neither, you’ll probably find that it has its moments.

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