There Is No Dog
by Meg Rosoff
Turn out, God is one of us (sort of), and his name is Bob. Let us introduce you. Or, rather, let Bob introduce himself:
I come from a galaxy about four hundred million light-years away, and came here ages ago when the job of supreme Godhead was unexpectedly offered to me. Then I created everything, heaven and earth, beasts of the field, creatures of the sea and sky, etc. (26.31)
This tells us (1) that he wasn't exactly prepping for this job, and (2) he doesn't seem to take it too seriously. See that little "etc" at the end? We didn't add that. That sums up what Bob thinks of his job—it's an afterthought. Items in a list, and he's not even necessarily going to check them all off.
And laziness is just the start of it. Think of all the annoying things that people say about high school boys: they eat truckloads of food, they're lazy and sleep all the time, and they're sex-crazed. Of course, none of this applies to you, our dear Shmoopsters, but that's God/Bob in a nutshell.
He's got an emo haircut, smooth eternally youthful skin, and he's dyslexic. (We think he probably looks a little like this). And Rosoff really rubs it in how pretty he is. When Lucy meets him, she says, "too young, too awkward, too skinny. And yet . . . those deep-set eyes. The beautiful face. The strange intensity. The smile" (15.1).
Even his drunken, gambling mom thinks he's pretty: "His face, when not screwed up in resentment, was not a bad face. He had fine cheekbones, a straight nose and clear skin, and at this moment his eyes (so often glazed over from too much sleep or self-abuse) looked bright with anticipation" (26.4).
Get it? This is one cute kid. No wonder he's managed to seduce so many women over the millennia.
What if God Was Super Awkward?
You'd probably think Bob was pretty weird if you met him. He has a strange accent that no one can place, he talks like he was born 100 years ago, and he can't figure out basic things like zoo tickets and handshakes. He's pretty awkward.
At the same time as all this adolescent awkwardness is going on, Bob is still definitely God. He can change form into anything that he wants, from a minotaur or Cyclops to a sad mopey cloud. We're just going to let that one soak in for a minute: a handsome, sex-crazed teenage boy, with god-like powers. Scratch that—God powers.
Yeah, it sounds like a recipe for disaster.
The thing is, mixing godliness with adolescence puts a spin on our normal concept of God. It's easy to get mad at a perfect grown-up, God who is supposed to be responsible enough to take care of a planet properly. It's a little harder when you think that God is just a kid trying to figure out things like everyone else. Even though Bob is totally detestable, we get the feeling that maybe we're supposed to be the responsible ones here—like Mr. B. Yeah, the world is seriously messed up—but asking God for help is probably just going to make things worse.
It's all on us now.
As you probably guessed by now, Bob isn't a very good God. At all. Like seriously, no wonder the Earth is in such a mess. In fact, he only got the job through dumb luck (if you can even call it luck). His mom won the job in a poker game and gave it to him, since no one else wanted to be responsible for our little ball of dirt all alone in a random part of the galaxy.
Our only saving grace as a planet is Mr. B, and boy does Mr. B see another side of God: "arrogant, badly brought up and monosyllabic, patently un-interested in sharing the job and unembarrassed by his general ignorance" (3.10). So, basically the worst boss ever. (Although, this is good news for teenage boys: evidently, the real problem with Bob is that his mom botched the job.)
Some other things Bob is bad at:
(1) Lighting. He can't figure out how to light the planet properly (glow sticks don't work as well as the sun, it turns out)
(2) Playing nice. Instead, he plays horrible tricks on us like making us all speak different languages and making the weather tied to his moods.
(3) Wielding power. He's actually more than a little power-mad. When Mr. B doesn't want to help him, Bob says, "I can make you help me" (5.21). The weird thing is, he can't actually. Even though he's God, Bob isn't all-powerful. Hey, he still has to listen to his mom.
Not only all this, but Bob totally loses interest in Earth after only six days! A baby would stay interested in something longer than that. He doesn't care that there are floods or famine or global warming. The only things he cares about are himself and people that make him feel good, like pretty ladies.
This side of God seems to be the rational answer for all those people that say that the world sucks and what kind of God would let all this suffering happen? This kind of God. Instead of the infallible Judeo-Christian God who is all knowing and all good, Rosoff has created a totally fallible, stupid, bad God who has no idea what he is doing and doesn't care about us at all.
This is where things get interesting. Bob may have a lot of flaws, but he also does have one or two good features. As Mr. B says, "You had to admire the kid. Thick as two lemons, but with flashes of brilliance so intense, a person could go blind looking at him" (12.59). Bob's not generally the brightest, nicest, or even most eager crayon in the box (weird crayons) but occasionally he is brilliant. Or, at the very least, impressive.
Okay, so giant chandeliers for lighting a whole planet are not very practical, but doesn't that sound awesome? And what about eagles, butterflies, swans, and tigers? Or, dude, porcupines! Those are hilarious! Who else but Bob would have decided that the best way to save the whales was to make them fly? True, after each brilliant moment, "a minute later, the vast tangled mountain of chaos reveals itself" (46.30)—but what, you expect him to be perfect?
Rosoff couldn't make Bob all bad. Look at this place. It's messed up, but some of it is pretty awesome. Ice cream, rainbows, puppies—you get our drift. We imagine that this is the side of Bob that the Bible writers were talking about when they said that God was good and loving and kind. This is the God that made miracles.
God and His Crew
Ever notice that we don't see Bob doing much God-type stuff? Bible God is always looking for sinners and creating covenants and stopping the sun and stuff. Bob, however, is most often lazing round, going on dates, or annoying the people around him. And if we look at Bob's relationships with Mr. B, Lucy, Mona, and Eck, we can learn a lot about him.
Let's start with how Bob treats Eck. He is basically the worst owner ever. PETA would be protesting outside his house for sure, if they knew about him. Bob lets his mom gamble Eck away. He kicks him. He treats him like a servant, and he even tells him "You are nothing" (32.28). That's kind of bordering on sadistic, isn't it?
And his relationship with Lucy isn't much better, seeing as he pretty much forgets about her after they have sex. He wants to marry her right up until he actually has sex with her, and then—poof! She might as well not exist. He doesn't ever call her "nothing," the way he does Eck, but he sure treats her like nothing.
Then there's Mr. B. Bob relies on Mr. B for everything, even making his breakfast and his laundry. Bob may be God—but he's also completely incapable of taking care of himself. In a way, you could see Mr. B like Bob's conscience, reigning him in. Like when Bob starts getting carried away about Lucy, all Mr. B has to do is raise "an eyebrow" (28.82) for Bob to start backpedaling. But Bob sure doesn't like to listen to Mr. B. Even after living with him for millennia, Bob is still the same careless, negligent God that he always was.
Let's close with an excuse, just like Bob probably would. Is any of this really his fault? Check out his mom, Mona. Mona is just as self-centered as Bob is, if not more, with a gambling (and possibly drinking addiction) to go along with it. With a mom like that, can you really blame him?Bob's Timeline