Saturday, December 15, 2012

An Unspeakable Horror, and An Unspeakable Theology

The children's bodies hadn't even been moved yet from where they had fallen when the self-appointed spokesmen for god grabbed the microphones to tell us the real reason this carnage had befallen the most innocent among us.

Speaking to Fox News, Mike Huckabee opined: "We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed god from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?"

Meanwhile, on his rightwing talk radio program, Focal Point, Bryan Fischer claimed that had he wanted to, god could have protected the victims of this massacre, but he chose not to intervene because "god is a gentleman" and "he is not going to go where is not wanted." Since 1962, Fischer explained, we have systematically removed god from our public schools, and now god would say to us: "Hey I'll be glad to protect your children, but you've got to invite me back into your world first."

Now let me see if I'm picturing this correctly. There sits god on his throne. Some messenger angel comes up to him and urgently informs him: "God, God, Maker of the Universe, Embodiment of Love, Thou from whom the smallest sparrow cannot fall unnoticed, Your loving, merciful Highness, I think something horrific is about to happen. A young man is breaking into Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. School is in session, it's filled with teachers and small children, and this man has guns! It looks like he's about to start shooting! Can you do something? Please??!! Now??!! Oh God, please!!!"

God looks where his messenger points and slowly and calmly speaks: "Well, I could do something. But they haven't invited me in lately, have they?"

"But sir, look! He just shot a teacher, he's pointing his gun at the children!"

"Yes, I can see that," god continues calmly. "But you know, since 1962 the US has been systematically shutting me out of its public schools. And this is a public school, isn't it?"

"But Your Loving Highness, he's shooting children! Little children! Innocent little children! Look at them! He's riddling their little bodies with bullets! Some are already lying in pools of blood! Can't you stop this?!! Please God, please!!!"

"Now, now, don't be so dramatic. I could allow far worse things to happen if I wanted to. Heh, heh, and I do from time to time, don't I? But seriously, if the citizens of the US don't want things like this to happen, then they'll have to bring back prayer in school. Until they do, well, let's just say it's open season. Now, let's have a look over here. I haven't looked in on Myanmar lately. What are those godless Buddhist monks up to these days? And speaking of godless people--those Swedes don't believe much anymore, do they? I wonder whether an earthquake or two might be in order."

I think that for most of us, when something as horrific as the Sandy Hook shooting takes place, our immediate gut response is to just melt inside with shock and grief--for the utter senselessness of the carnage, for young lives cut short far too soon, for the sheer terror no child should ever have to experience, and for the profound loss so many parents and grandparents and brothers and sisters are suffering. Many of these families will turn to god for comfort. I'm personally not a believer, but I do not begrudge those who are, particularly when tragedy hits. If it brings comfort to someone to believe their child is now in the arms of a loving god--if that belief brings them peace, if it allows them to go on and live out their lives with meaning and grace--then who am I to take issue with them? At a time like this, it is for me to leave judgment aside and to simply hope--hope that people so deeply wounded can find some measure of solace.

Who I do begrudge are the self-righteous and self-appointed spokespersons for some almighty deity of their own making. Self-appointed spokespersons who, in the face of unspeakable horror, invoke their deity not as a source of comfort, but as a source of cold judgment. Maybe in the twisted theology of the Mike Huckabees and Bryan Fischers of the world, the god they describe is a god of comfort. But it's hard to see how. I find the picture of god they present as unspeakable as the horror just visited upon these most innocent of victims. May their families find peace. I know not what to wish for the likes of Huckabee and Fischer.

1 comment:

  1. At 3:17 P.M. March 18, 1937 in New London, Texas, the New London High School exploded killing 293 students, faculty, and others. This is prior to 1962. This is in the Bible Belt where god was allowed in this school. This was an accident caused by the school administrators trying to save tax dollars by bypassing the local gas company and plumbing natural gas directly from the oil refiners. This natural gas was not treated with the artificial gas smell and in fact had no smell. A leak in the plumbing filled the crawl space under the school just waiting for a spark.

    If conservative gun lovers wish for liberal non gun lovers to look at the issue of gun ownership seriously, then they need to quit their knee jerk reactions like saying such things as "guns do not kill people, godless people kill people."

    And liberals need to rationally look at the overall picture and quit saying guns are an unnecessary evil. As Eddy has so logically shown in previous posts, gun ownership has dramatically increased over the years as has automobiles. Yet, both automobile and gun involved killings and injuries are less and less each year. Automobile accidents per capita is at its lowest. Gun safety, when you consider all the millions of guns bought each year has a much better record than automobiles.

    The problem, of course, is we are witnessing consistent terrorizing tragedies where innocent people are victimized and guns are used. And the guns of choice seems to be semi automatic military assault rifles fired up close and personal except for the two killers shooting long distance from their vehicles in the DC area a few years ago. A half century ago, the choice was hunting rifles fired from school bell towers or building tops.

    The question is--if all guns are outlawed will these terror episodes stop? In China where civilian gun ownership is banned, last week twenty-two young children in a school were attacked and stabbed by an adult. No one died, but the terror had to have been similar to that in Sandy Hook elementary school a day or two later.

    As usual I am clueless as to the whys and solutions to these tragedies. Mental illness is considered by many as obvious along with those who cry about evil people amongst us. I tend to think more about society as a whole. Who amongst us are truly innocent of stigmatizing those who seem different? How does one know whether they are mentally ill or not? If you suspect you have mental issues are you willing to get help? Insurance companies tend to discriminate mental illnesses. Classmates, neighbors, relatives, etc tend to not socialize with those deemed different. Shoot, even young Mitt Romney bullied a young man who he decided was different from his biased view and then totally forgot about it!!!??? Who among us can claim innocence when dealing with others who our biases tell us are different or weird? I think we as a society need to learn how to be introspective and rational in our reactions to these tragedies rather than just saying the perps are just plain godless evil gun toting crazy people. As the presiding preacher said at the wake where President Obama spoke Sunday night--we are all in this together--Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, those with no faith, etc. I might include those of us who think we are normal, not evil, righteous, may in fact be the opposite. How do we know we are normal? The guy shooting innocents from the Texas school bell tower in the 1960s never knew he was afflicted with a brain tumor that made him feel and act the way he did. What laws are there that can protect us from ourselves?