I’ve been kicking around a couple of ideas for the past twenty-four hours, trying to conflate them into one post. It isn’t working, unless I write a couple of thousand words, and that violates most known rules of blogging. So, I’ll spare you a tome and split the two.
A few days ago, I posted about the death of Dr. George Tiller. I offered the hypothesis that the inflammatory words offered by some, make them at least morally responsible for the actions of their listeners. Most “liberals” seemed to agree, most “conservatives” seemed to feel otherwise.
Worse, this issue was raised by others on a forum. For the first five or so comments, the same sense of sadness and outrage was expressed. Then came the “call me what you will, he got what he deserved” post, and the gates burst open. What followed was a barrage of ugly “we reap what we sow,” “murderous, bloodthirsty, killer,” “residing in hell for eternity, meeting all the dead babies he killed so mercilessly” and on and on.
Throughout was strewn the usual “I don’t condone,” “it was wrong,” “I hope he had time to repent,” rhetoric all followed with “but. . . ” and then one of the self-righteous remarks from the paragraph above. Of course they don’t really mean any of this stuff about “I hope he had time to repent.” They don’t of course hope that at all. They hope, want, and are mostly sure that he is in hell and that’s where they think he belongs.
These are Christians, or so they claim. One woman said, “I shall not shed a tear.” I remarked, “If a Christian cannot find it in themselves to shed a tear over the killing of another human being, then what are we to say to the non-believer whom some say can have no moral compass in the first place?” Of course I got no reply.
My argument there, the same as expressed here, was met with mostly derision. I was aligned, by a number of the religious right, with Hitler and the death camps, masters who mercilessly beat slaves, Muslim fathers who murdered daughters who were unchaste, and any other horror that came to mind. We “pro-abortionists” were as inhuman as the above.
No way they were morally accountable. They but “spoke the truth” as God most clearly told them to. Legalities cannot stand in the way, nor can stupid juries who can’t see the truth. The man was an inhuman waste, and fuzzy liberal feel-good sympathy was just the sort of thing that hampered the “cause.”
I often think that types such as this don’t often read the Bible. They of course say they do, but it seems they only know the parts that give them, through their selective interpretation, the permission they desire to think what they think, hate whom they hate, and do what they do. The rest, well, it’s that liberal fuzzy feel-good stuff. First we got to shape up the ship, separate the chaff from the wheat, wreak all that vengeance upon an evil world.
In this they always claim to speak for God. Given what I know of the bible, I find little solid ground upon which to base any conclusion that would give me the comfort to “speak” for God. And I’m not sure it’s not a bit presumptuous to do so in the first place. The only theme I get, and really get again and again, is that Jesus said that God was love, and the most important thing we can and should remember is to love God and to love neighbor. Somehow that “love the neighbor” thing seems to be a major impediment.
It doesn’t say “love the neighbor you think is worth loving.” It pretty much is absolute, LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR. And I don’t think it means, say the words in your mind, all the while telling your neighbor he’s a good for nothing sinful piece of crap.
I think, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, that I am to love my neighbor as myself. Because, dang, much as I try, I’m a sinful person still. My neighbor undoubtedly is too. And no where do I find a test or method by which I can separate some sinful neighbors from others as worthy of my love. We all share sinfulness, and we honestly have no clue how God views it all. ”
I have my view. To me, God upholds our goodness, sees only that in us, and encourages that. He weeps at our failings, and comforts us. That is what forgiveness is all about isn’t it? Isn’t that they most wonderful way to encourage us to do better? Well I may be wrong. Certainly my extreme right wing Christians tell me that all the time.
But it seems to me, that if you want to change a situation, you don’t engage in divisive language. You don’t harden hearts. You don’t inflame mentally deranged individuals to destroy lives. This cannot be what God wants. It is not fuzzy liberalism to mourn the death of a human, no matter how sinful we may privately feel he or she might be. It is our small and meagre attempt to mimic our Lord, if we are religious. If we are not, it is our human attempt to recognize the human condition is not perfect and that we all share in our successes and failures and are responsible for each other as a species.
So I’m sad. Sad that those I would look to to uphold this as the tragedy it was, are sadly absent from the scene. I trust, however that they are but a minority of those of faith. I trust that most people of faith see this event as the ugly horror that it was. Words matter, and if we are ever to heal our many wounds, we must learn the language of love, forgiveness, empathy, and compassion.