“You all must be crazy to put your faith in me. That’s why I love mankind. You really need me”. – God’s Song, Randy Newman
Once again the all-too-familiar headlines. Another mass shooting in another part of America. More appalling violence for no apparent reason by yet another deranged young man…followed by pundits asking why and wondering who to blame. I am disgusted by my country’s love affair with guns, and I am disgusted with the religious hypocrites who tell us that God is punishing us or testing us somehow. Have we not been tested enough over the past several thousand years, and is it not painfully obvious that we keep failing the tests? Are you telling me that the same God who can impregnate a young virgin with his son and can also allow twenty innocent children to be murdered? What kind of a god is this?
When I was a child my folks, out of some sense of religious obligation, sent me to the nearest church every Sunday which just happened to be Lutheran. I sat through confirmation lessons wondering how the creation story fit in with my love of dinosaurs, wondering why according to the bible animals had no souls and babies were born with sin. And what was this business of having to “fear and love God” all the time? There was no joy in this teaching, only intimidation.
I went to church last night to hear my wife sing Christmas carols in the choir. And along with the rest of the congregation, I willingly prayed for the victims, both living and dead, of this most recent tragedy. I prayed not because I believe in God but because I believe in the power of the human spirit and the potential of positive human energy. Isn’t this what prayer is really all about anyway? God doesn’t answer our prayers. We do. And guns don’t kill people. Humans do.
We moronically submit to the gun lobbyists over second amendment rights when the fact of the matter is that our Founding Fathers could never have conceived of the kinds of weapons that now permeate our society. If they had had any inkling about the deadly effects of assault rifles and similar tools of destruction, might the second amendment have been worded differently? It is laughable to be applying 21st century logic to 18th century thought, as if the Bill of Rights creators could have been prescient enough to perceive the lethal efficiency of modern-day technology.
I am tired of arguing with people whose entrenched point of view has blinded them to reality. I am tired of the toxic atmosphere that seems to be spreading throughout our society. Whether it is a shopping mall in Oregon, a movie theater in Colorado, or an elementary school in Connecticut, this is not God’s will. It is the product of an amoral and indifferent society and we have to assume culpability. We can’t blame God. And we can’t blame the NRA. We have to take some personal responsibility somehow.
It is hard not to be cynical in the wake of such senseless violence. But on a good day, I can see examples all around me of the divinity that individuals are capable of whether it be raising money for a young child’s operation, feeding the homeless, rescuing abandoned pets, or gathering in a church just a week or so before Christmas to share in fellowship and song.
It is 5:30 in the morning and it’s raining outside and I don’t have any answers, just lots of questions. And all I will want to do today is curl up on the couch with my daughter as the rain turns to snow.