Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What DOES God Look Like?

I'm spurred to this question by an anecdote in Jon Acuff's recent post "Wishing the Bible was a self help book"

Cosby as God?
What DOES God look like? Jon with some humor envisions God on the back of the Bible in a picture wearing a sweater and standing next to a doG. Is that a Cosby sweater, Jon?

Could Bill Cosby be the personification of God? OK, maybe we should start with would he be believable as God on television?


He is well liked.

He rarely curses.

He is respected.

He does talk to God as Noah in one of his earliest comedy routines and can get the "big voice" going for the role.

But, no beard? I've always felt like God has a beard?


Over the course of cinema, God has been portrayed by many actors and in many ways. But what are we comparing him to? He spoke to a lot of people in the Bible, but he was always in the form of a burning bush or something, so it is really tough to get a bead on him. We were created in his image the good book tells us, so I'm not expecting a burning bush or a bright light when I meet him. I assume I could pick him out of a crowd, but have no idea what he looks like. The Sistine Chapel holds Michelangelo's best guess at God's likeness, but there is no guarantee. How many of us saw similar pictures growing up and formed our opinions at an early age?

Now, Charlton Heston, though seen here as Moses in the Ten Commandments was the kind of imposing figure that I always thought could be what God looked like. But again, is that because Biblical figures were molded to look like the God of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel? He certainly has the Beard, and the wise look, he clearly rocks the robe, he looks a bit powerful, yet a certain kindness in his eyes. Charlton certainly would be in the running.


In 1977, Carl Reiner introduced us to a new face for God in the Octogenarian George Burns. As unbelievable as he was in the role, there was a certain charm that George had to bring to the character. Charm only goes so far and beyond the obvious lack of BEARD, I don't envision God as decrepit. I never got the angry father vibe from George either. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think God comes home to have a case of beer and gets stupid angry at people, I just mean the healthy, disapproving "you didn't have permission to take the car last night" kind of angry.

But then, in 1984, George was cast as both God and the Devil. All the good stuff you could lobby for old George, I'm certain playing both roles limited his appeal to many people as the face of God. Did I mention still no BEARD? Seriously people. Don't get me started on the flannel shirt and hat look, either.



1999 brought us the movie Dogma, and Alanis Morissette as God. The singer had a somewhat controversial song around the same time called 'What if God was one of us" which is widely believed to have lead to this cameo appearance in the film. The lyrics were rather thought provoking even if she intended them otherwise.

So, beyond the gender issues, I'm not saying a woman couldn't be God, but wouldn't she be referred to as 'She' and Goddess? The God of the Bible, though seen in the form of a burning bush, would probably been distinctly voiced as a woman if she had been so. That and the whole Jesus going to be with his Father thing. I'm just saying. Points awarded for the pretty white dress and the kindness in her eyes. Here is a portion of the lyrics that are quite thought provoking:

If God had a name what would it be?

And would you call it to his face?

If you were faced with him in all his glory

what would you ask if you had just one question?


If God had a face

What would it look like?

And would you want to see

If seeing meant that you would have to believe

In things like heaven and Jesus and the saints

and all the Prophets


And that brings us to the God of Bruce Almighty (2003). Morgan Freeman is very high up in the running for me. He brings the sagely wisdom, as well as a bit of mischief that seems very God-like to me. I have no doubt he could show me angry, but it's almost as if the lesson he would teach could be done without it. I don't doubt his power and his ability to kick the devil's booty. Mad bonus points for the white suit and all his other white outfits which he keeps clean in a very God-like manner. Who doesn't like the deep voice that we hear behind so many commercials? I know I stop and listen. Did I mention the beard? Just the right amount of grey, distinguished but not too old.

So what (or who) do you think God looks like?


  1. I think I like Ellen Degeneres description from one of her comedy specials.  Ellen goes to God's house to ask God the meaning of life and God is a beautiful 47 year old black woman.  No beard. Sorry!

    Fun Fact: One of Us was a hit for Joan Osborne (no relation to Ozzy), not Alanis. (Sorry, I really couldn't stop myself from saying that.)

  2. "Do we hug?"

    Join me on my next blog entitled, Lainey visits me in Hell.

  3. Elaine beat me to it.  It was Joan Osborn and her nose ring that created that ear worm.  As far as what God looks like...  I have no idea.

  4. Playing safe, nicely done. Didn't A.M. cover the song? And I should get props for at least remembering her from Dogma, since Mynd had eyes for the Muse-y Salma Hayek in that flix.

  5. I loved that song, both from the radio and when it was played as theme music for the tv show Joan of Arcadia.  Joan is a teenaged girl starting at a new high school and God wants her help. "He" appears to her in various forms, including a child.  It was a favorite show of mine and when it got the axe I was a bit disappointed that they didn't have the opportunity to tie up the loose ends. 

    Also, Morgan Freeman rocked as God.  Your description "bit of mischief" made me flash back to him in Evan Almighty (which I preferred to Bruce). I loved the glint of humor in his eyes!

  6. Couldn't have said it better about Freeman. thanks!

  7. Wow, I have to think about this. What if God looks like Keith Richards?

  8. That would mean that Johnny Depp is like whole world has crumbled!

  9. Check my blog, yo.  You got an award.

  10. Much love brother, and now paid forward!

  11.  While not positive, I am relatively sure that Alanis didn't cover it.  I've never seen Dogma, so I couldn't comment about it.

  12. YOU haven't seen DOGMA? Mallrats? Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back?

    All horribly offensive movies, kids, so stay away!

  13.  I've never seen Dogma, but have certainly seen Mallrats and Clerks (but not the sequal) and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.  While I *do* think Kevin Smith is funny, he isn't nearly my favorite...

  14. I always was preferential to George Burns b/c I watched those movies as a children but specifically the sequel that was "Oh God Book 2".  The little girl had made all those signs that said "Think God".  Well recently I was driving down the road and I saw that on a huge billboard.  Think God.  I don't know if anyone but me remembers that as being from the movie but looks like they're using it now in real life too!

  15. Thanks for the comment. I like George, but Morgan was better.

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  17. hes like standing at the edge of a dry buble making machine with only holly water he can not waste so he uses the tap go figure thats you not so blessed until you have a beer with him and he desides youre cool than he gives you bread wine fish trees ashes???

  18.  god told me his patients are horible he needs to make it past the year 2012 so we can all play and enjoy  x box 720 madden and even siners can be winners to

  19. Alanis doesn't sing that song you idiot. Check your facts before you just go making broad generalizations about what is believed to have inspired the cameo. Believed by whom? Just you?




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