This is going to be a tough one, and much will go unsaid. But I’ve seen it on the horizon of my psyche: a storm of questioning and doubt and disgust with religion. Yes, disgust even; because personal history has proven that I have a hard time with people who put God first. Once someone puts God first they seem to think they’ve got a sort of license to feel bad for those who haven’t seen the Light. They make a personal decree of sympathy for those that don’t go along. Oh, they mean well. They’re going to do whatever they can to save the heathens. They pity the gays and those who would have abortions and the Muslims and all the non-believers out there.
Except, the problem with pity is that it’s just one shade grayer than the black of hate.
I want to be one of the ones who can go to church and feel bad for my sins and have it all washed away. I like ritual. I like Christmas and Easter. I like the concept of Jesus. I like the ancient hymns and the smiles of welcome. But I was cursed with being a thinking individual. Somehow the rules aren’t enough for me. I also have a keen perception of those around me. I see the judgment in their eyes that stems from the judgment of God. It’s hard to feel forgiveness and forgiven when the people around you are filled with such judgment.
After reading Greg’s essay on Christianity and with all this tumbling about on my mind, per chance I stayed up late and watched “Bowling for Columbine” last night. No, I hadn’t seen it before. I’m not much for propagandist documentaries. (“propumentories?”) Besides, I live in Colorado. I watched as Columbine unfolded. I waited for those kids to get out. I saw those kids, thirty minutes away, running away in terror from the guns in the hands of their psycho classmates. My son was 9 months old and it hit me more acutely than it might have at any other time. Nothing like your beautiful, smiling baby on your lap to bring shit home.
And I saw the aftermath of Columbine. I live the aftermath.
One of the most potent after-effects is an utter taboo on toy guns. I don’t know if it’s nation-wide, but here in suburban Colorado it’s pervasive to the point of law. I think it’s ridiculous, though I follow along. (Yes, “Baaa!!”)
But boys like toy guns. And if you don’t give them one, they make them. The kid next door brings over elaborate hand-made paper guns all the time. These things have trigger guards and safety releases, for crying out loud. And so the kids still shoot each other dead in the backyard. Anybody can make a gun out his hand anyway. We don’t buy them guns, but they still play guns.
I’ve broached the subject with other moms. “Maybe it’s no big deal. Every man I know played with toy guns as children. None of them are psycho about guns, or killing, or fascinated with violence, or threaten people if they don’t agree with them, or any of it.”
But these moms look at me like I might as well just throw out the car seats, too. No matter how well adjusted, you give a kid a gun and he's gonna go kill someone. As parents, by taking away the toy guns we’ve done our part to stop another Columbine from happening. Keep all guns, even plastic, out the hands of children.
A simple solution to a complicated problem.
The film got me to thinking about the media; and not just its interesting premise of the media's role in the perpetuation of violence in the US. With the Rise of the Right, the US media must do what it can to sell to the Right as well as they have to the Left. It’s a quandary because the media is so Leftist, yes? Leftists aren’t argumentative by nature; they love to say: “Let everyone think what they will, just don’t push it on me.” Hence, the media tells the Left what they want to hear to get them to tune in. It’s worked for years.
But the Right is trickier to reach. The only thing a Good Ole Boy likes more than bullying his way through a rousing argument with some lib is the perpetuation of the fear that is the rationale behind their philosophy. The argument part is taken care of by the media being Leftist. But the fear; now that has proved tougher. Thank God the Muslims stepped up when they did, because the Gays and the Blacks weren’t quite cutting it. The Right had been like a sleeper cell; biding their time, waiting for when their message made a shred of sense. In turn, the media had been biding its time with the Right, waiting for its opportunity to tap into that market. But now the media has its chance to make sheep of the Right, just as they’ve done with the Left. Fear, that ultimate justification, sells to Right quite well. By some great cosmic stroke of good fortune, the media is able to kill all the damn birds with one shotgun shell.
Another simple solution to a complicated problem.
What does gun control and the media have to do with religion? How did I get off on these tangents, except by virtue that the gun advocates seem to often be the same Bible-toting, gay-hating, fear mongering horde? Besides that obvious similarity, I saw another, more frightening correlation glowing faintly in the light of my television screen. So much of what is wrong about religion is that it, too, tries to provide a simple solution to a complicated problem. I wrote last night on Greg’s blog:
"...Against my lifetime commitment to "knowing"; I think God, or whatever the hell it is, is something we are better off giving up on entirely knowing. I don't think we're capable of knowing all of it, and I don't know that trying is all that important. In fact, not trying (but with some intelligence about it) may be what's important...
Wow, I might have just stumbled on a personal definition of faith."
Amber writes that someone told her once:
“Energy moves in a circle. God is energy. Therefore, God is a circle.”
Silly what people come up with.
Yes, silly. And, you notice, simple.
We can’t know all of what makes the world ticks. It’s just too rife with complication and dichotomy. We can’t know what God is, not entirely; just like we can’t put our finger on one single thing that would keep two kids from picking up assault weapons and killing their classmates.
Many would argue that our inability to know shouldn’t keep us from trying to learn all we can about our world and our God. Ok, so it shouldn’t. But that effort is only really worthwhile when we realize that we’ll never know the whole Truth. In fact, Ignorance may be the only Truth, and perhaps in that Ignorance lies Faith. I guess this might come down to being ok with never knowing, and that's a difficult reality for a thinking person to accept.
And I can't keep from wondering is God ok with it?