Chatter in the Blogosphere
One of the things I spend time doing, and I’m pretty sure other folks are doing the same thing, is meandering around the ‘net and dropping in on other people’s conversations. For example, from time to time I get a ‘like’ on one of my posts from someone I don’t recognize. Chances are, I’ll click on that person’s gravitar to find their blog then poke around looking for a post that interests me. From there, I’ll find a comment I can relate to and follow that person’s gravitar into their blog. On and on. I might end up anywhere. The wonder is that I haven’t landed on Kevin Bacon’s blog!
Over the past few days, it seems, everyone is discussing the same thing: “Why would God allow Sandy Hook to happen?” Am I the only one getting tired of that question? It seems that every time something bad happens we obsess ourselves with the “Why would God allow <fill in the blank> to happen?” question. As if it were a new question. As if we never before realized that life is peppered with horror upon horror. As if the foundation of faith were just now being put to the test.
The question, however, isn’t even the worst part of the problem. It’s the answers to this question that set my head spinning. Everyone imagines himself qualified to issue pronouncements about the omniscience of God, and the omnipotence of God, and the inscrutability of God. Self-appointed apologists for the Almighty paint themselves into a corner and render a depiction of God that is as unappealing as it is illogical. Just as blood draws sharks, the unbelievable arguments of believers draw bemused comments from atheists. Thank God for atheists! The atheists state the obvious, which is that the believers are talking poop — big smelly mounds of poop — and then the believers concoct defenses that are even more incredible than their initial assertions. It’s enough to tempt a fellow to turn in his crucifix!
When I have to choose sides I join the atheists. After all, the god they don’t believe in is the same god I don’t believe in. Plus, the atheists get off all the witty remarks — some of which are hysterically funny. Once the “Christians” realize they’re being made fun of, they trot out their Bibles and quote Matthew 5, 10-12 — which is their way of saying that being held accountable for the absurd things they say is the same as being persecuted for witnessing to the truth.
These fruitless discussion actually do serve one purpose, though, which is to enable us to overlook what really matters. What matters, of course, are the truths that: 1) All the factors that intersected to cause Sandy Hook to happen are within human control and 2) All the factors not implemented that might have prevented Sandy Hook are also within human control. People are scratching their heads, trying to figure out why God “allowed” such evil. Apparently, if God “really” existed, He would be forever protecting our sorry butts from the consequences of our own actions. A God who “saves”, I suppose, is a God who saves me from myself.
If that’s God, I’m definitely an atheist! And happy about it!! As screwed up and infantile as our human race is, it would be even more screwed up and more infantile if we got the God we seem to be asking for.
Here I am, griping about the fact that people are raising their eyes to the skies and asking “Why?” What do I want people to do? If you really want to know, I’ve got an answer for you. I want us to look in the mirror and ask “Why?”
“Why would God allow Sandy Hook to happen?” That, to echo Falstaff, is “a question not to be ask’d” (1 Hen IV, II 4, 289). What we should ask, while we ponder whether the Son of England should prove a thief, is whether all the Sons of Man are proving negligent in our duty to be human. The real question is, “Why would I allow Sandy Hook to happen?”
I’m doing the wrong things, and I’m blaming God for my shortcomings. Sandy Hook happened for reasons that are well within my power to understand and a thousand Sandy Hooks are going to happen if I keep doing what I’ve been doing.
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
“Funny you should ask…”
Christian bloggers are expected to supply their readers with Bible quotes. Here’s mine: “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” (Jonah, 3, 4) Why? What am I doing wrong? Well, it’s like this, I consider myself a ‘good’ person because I care a lot about the folks in my set, my kids, my kids’ friends, the parents of my kids’ friends. I care about the beautiful, respectable people. As far as I can see, they’re the only people in town. The poor, the elderly, the immigrant, the ex-offender, the mentally ill — I not only don’t care about them, I don’t even know they’re around. I don’t even believe they exist. I’m trying to figure out reasons for believing in the existence of God when all the time I deny the existence of other human beings.
We know that we’re supposed to love and we do love; we love our friends and we think that’s plenty good enough. But it’s not. We’re looking for God, but how about this? Maybe we should look at the fact that the mess we’re in is a mess of our own making, and that it’s in our power to clean it up — that it’s our duty to clean it up. I get the idea that a lot of folks are waiting for Jesus to fly out of the clouds and come down here to straighten us out. I’m not saying that’s going to happen and I’m not saying that it’s not; but I know that if it does happen we’ll discover that God’s finally given up on us.
I got behind a car, one day, and read a bumper sticker that purported to be the words of God: “Don’t make me come down there.” Ha Ha. We could laugh or we could straighten ourselves up. We could man up, and woman up, and grow up. We could change our ways. We could repent. As far as I’m concerned, you can believe in God or not. It’s entirely optional. What’s mandatory is a major change of direction.