We hurt with you, Newtown

Simmah down Dave…

I have waited a couple days to do just that. It has helped. Somewhat…

Many of us are still numb from the news of the school shooting in Newtown, CT. And I hope I don’t quickly “get over it” and move on with the business of life. It’s hard to comprehend how a person can do what that young man did. It’s impossible to imagine the pain that has the families in that small town reeling.


There are no words.

But apparently some people think there are words; and they are not reluctant to share them. Instead of saying something like “I don’t know”, some of our religious and political leaders feel obligated to explain to us how this could have happened.

Where was God? How could God allow this? People of faith; those who hold that God is active in the lives of his creation; and that he watches over them and protects them- inevitably ask these kinds of questions when something so obviously evil is inflicted on people who are so obviously innocent. It shakes our world.

Mike Huckabee opined in a Fox News interview that the reason this happened is because we have removed God from our schools. He really said that. He backtracked somewhat the next day and tried to soften the language a bit, but still held to his theology. And that’s what it is. It’s a theology; a conservative Christian theology. It says something like this: God watches over societies and nations who honor him. He protects them from bad things happening to them. And conversely, when those nations or societies or cities refuse to honor God, he brings judgment upon them; or allows it to happen…however you want to phrase it.

James Dobson said essentially the same thing a couple days later. And Newt Gingrich has added his voice to the choir today. Ugh. That kind of thinking makes me ill. I have a few questions for Mike and James and Newt and those who share that ideology (there have been many others in the past few days- less notable radio hosts, bloggers, preachers, etc…)

1.     I wonder…I just wonder…would it have been God’s judgment if one of your precious babies had been gunned down? Or one of your grandchildren? I wonder. We won’t know- because they weren’t, or you would have been too grief-stricken to climb up on your soapbox.

2.     Why does God rain down judgment upon innocent children in this country for our collective sins when there are many nations around the world who are far less “Christian” than we are. We have more violent (especially gun-related) deaths in America than any industrialized nation in the world- by far. And we have a greater percentage of Christians than say, Belgium, or England, or Spain, or Sweden or China… Consider Japan as a clear example:

…from the Atlantic Mobile: “What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world’s least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12,000 firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced 11; fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.”

Where is God’s judgment on those wicked nations? Why don’t we read about mass murders in those schools? They have had God “out of” their schools for decades. Why is God picking on American children?

3.     Mike, how do you “put God back in the schools”? Does God leave when you take down the Ten Commandments? Does God leave because they don’t start the school day with prayer- or Bible reading? Is he not there? It’s a very small God indeed that can be “kicked out” of a school. Did they lock the door? He might try to get back in; you can’t be too careful.

4.     And which God do you put back in the school? The Jewish God? The Muslim God? The Mormon God? The Hindu God? I suspect Mike and James and those guys are talking about the Christian God. And not just any version of the Christian God; but the one to which they ascribe. I don’t imagine they would want the Pentecostals from east Tennessee bringing their version in there with the snakes and the poison and the tongue-talking and such as that…Are the Muslim families and the Jewish families who also pay taxes in our cities and states just supposed to shut up and swallow their faith because a majority of the people hold to a different faith? Do they not have the same rights in a nation formed “by the people, of the people and for the people”?

5. Where did we get this idea that God sends judgment on societies and nations that don’t honor and obey him? Is that an archaic Old Testament idea? Is that a theology you guys really want us living under? Ok. Well let’s go all the way with that. Our women will need to stand outside the city on the highway and yell “unclean” once a month during their special time. Our rebellious children will need to  be stoned to death, we cannot wear anything made of mixed fabrics, nor can we eat any pork…and on and on ad nauseum… This concept of God judging America is just as ridiculous as us trying to live under the yoke of these ancient laws.

What is saddest about the pontificating of these talking heads is the overwhelming lack of compassion and sensitivity on display here . Imagine one of those parents; in the midst of unbelievable grieving, seeing Mike Huckabee on TV sharing his opinion with the nation that the reason their baby was killed was because God had decided he had enough and he was going to let a little judgment loose.

In a small town in a small state in our great nation, God is going to send a message. Little children have to die so that God can let us know- again…that he is fed up with our immorality and that he wants back in our schools and he wants his commandments back on the walls of our county courthouses and he wants us to pray to him at government functions. He’s mad at us, and someone has to pay. It’s too bad that some little children were in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s just the price of divine judgment. God is holy and righteous and just and his laws have been broken. And we better get the message loud and clear or there will be more casualties.

That’s what Mike and James and Newt and others of that mindset would have us believe. It’s pathetic. It’s disgusting. And it portrays an image of a very small God indeed.

Instead of trying to figure out where God was or wasn’t or how these kinds of things could happen, can we just be quiet for a little while and grieve with those poor parents? Those moms and dads and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and grandmothers and grandfathers and friends and neighbors and teachers…these folks have suffered the worst of the myriad pain we experience as humans. Can we just hurt with them? Weep with them? That doesn’t require any words.

For there really are no words.

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