This blog isn’t big on examining life’s more crucial issues. There are plenty of other folks who do that, and do it with far more acumen than yours truly could ever hope to muster.
Once in a harvest moon, however, something sticks in my craw and it becomes necessary to put aside the desire to delve into history, economics and whatnot to address the truly idiotic.
Case in point: within hours of the horrific shootings at a Connecticut elementary school last Friday, myriad half-wits were hard at work on outlets such as Facebook and Twitter doing their best to show the world their inept grasp of theology, common sense and overall human decency.
I write of those who posted such foolishness as the image which showed the following rhetoric: “Dear God, why do you allow so much violence in our schools? Signed, a concerned student.” To which God responds: “Dear Concerned Student, I’m not allowed in schools. God.”
Insulting, insensitive and illogical, all in 25 words.
First off, I write what follows knowing full well that those who forward such ill-conceived Internet memes aren’t going to be swayed by any amount of reasoning. Most aren’t even interested in being swayed; they’re simply seeking to push a point of view and will use whatever means available.
As the old saying goes, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Still, one has to be at least somewhat astonished at the concept of a purported Christian who believes that God’s presence in a school could be inhibited because said school no longer, it is presumed, allows public prayer.
This is the same all-seeing, all-knowing God who, as many Christians believe, created the universe, who helped Moses led the Israelites to safety by parting the Red Sea and destroying an Egyptian pharaoh’s army. Yet He can be ushered out of the classroom by the dictates of, say, the Yazoo City Unified School Board?
Is He “God Almighty,” or “God, Pretty Powerful but Unwilling to Take His Chances in Circuit Court?”
Do the philosophical pinheads who subscribe to the concept that God no longer inhabits public schools believe that once public prayer had been prohibited God physically slunk off campus, then stood and peered back longingly?
That sounds like a god who would have trouble operating the universal remote, never mind creating the universe.
I was reared to believe that God is omnipotent and omnipresent, all powerful and everywhere; rather than a deity that can be sent to and fro depending on man’s whims. To think that man has any control over what God does or does not do is nothing more than hubris.
Sadly, one almost gets the impression that some folks get a sick sense of satisfaction with each tragedy, as though it allows them to swell their chests out and say, “See, I told you this would happen once we got rid of school prayer.”
No matter how much passive-aggressive Schadenfreude these types may exhibit with this kind of stupidity, there are some things they tend to forget.
First, the worst mass murder in a US school took place in Bath Township, Mich., in 1927, when a deranged individual detonated a pair of bombs and killed 38 schoolchildren and six adults.
I wasn’t around then, but I’m pretty sure prayer was a mainstay in public schools at that time. Perhaps God was off touring Henry Ford’s factories in Dearborn, Mich., that day.
Second, we can force kids to pray from the first bell in the morning until class gets out in the afternoon and it’s not going to change the fact that evil exists in our world.
Not because prayer doesn’t have impact, but because of something called free will. Various denominations may define free will somewhat differently, but I sum it up as the capacity to choose good or evil in our lives.
Over the millennia, man has employed free will toward many horrible ends: genocide, innumerable wars, wanton cruelty against the society’s most innocent. Man has also used free will for many good things, too, of course.
The bottom line is that without free will man would be little more than an automaton, unable to relate meaningfully to God.
For humans to truly love God, they must be free to choose or reject God’s love. If God were to put an end to all evil in our world, we would also lose our freedom and our capacity to truly love God. As Francis Collins explains in The Language of God, God cannot give us free will while also restraining us from evil acts.
It’s a double-edged sword, but one that a Christian, or at least a Christian able to examine his or her faith honestly, should be willing to ponder rather than resorting to theological claptrap of the weakest sort.
The world would be a better place if the next time a mind-numbing tragedy occurs – and sadly there will be a next time – some of those eager to trot out trite platitudes like that above would instead take time to delve into deeper issues and resist the urge to employ the misfortune of others as a cudgel for pursuing personal vendettas.