Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm with Camus on this one: At the very least, He's left the building


I never went to church as a kid.

I sort of wanted to go to church at one point, but being the type of person who chafes and bucks at rules, being the sort of person who gets cranky when told what to do, I got over the desire to pursue a religion pretty quickly.

Not long after I graduated from high school, I ran into an old school friend who was a very pious born again Christian.

She had recently started college at a small Christian school and she glowed with a happiness that was and still is completely foreign to me. Her faith warmed her, it fed her.  

She told me this little story about how good God was to her.

Seems her school was just sqeeking by, there wasn't much money for niceties like food, heat, and toilet paper.

The girls dorm was out of toilet paper, when behold! Somehow, God provided! A case of squeezably soft Charmine appeared, was delivered right to their door.

Wow! Isn't God good?! Exclaimed my beatific friend.

This story seemed somewhat anti-climactic.

I had heard stories of water into wine, bread into fishes, manna from heaven.

Toilet paper just didn't seem to be in the same league. Although really now that I think of it, conjuring toilet paper out of the ether is a significant accomplishment.

Also, I was thinking that while the college girls were squeeling in delight over the God given gift of toilet tissue, the actual real person who bought and delivered the stuff might have felt somewhat ignored and neglected.

Moving on.

I have often wondered what it would be like to be a person of faith
I imagine there would be a wonderful calm, a sense of rightness in the world, things unfolding and happening according to God's plan if you only follow God's will, God's word.

Anything bad that happens is God's will, a test of your faith, and nothing you can't endure.

Anything good that happens is attributed to a loving God bestowing His gifts upon a deserving disciple.

Anything bad that happens to people of another faith or no faith at all, is just desserts, punishment for not believing. 

I have a friend who is a Born Again Christian.

I love my friend's optimism. 

Nothing seems to slow her down, dampen her spirits.

After all, God is on her side.

It's like when you had the best kickball player in the 5th grade on your team, you didn't worry, you knew no matter what, your team was going to walk back in from recess heads held high, victorious.

My friend believes in miracles.

She feels that God answers her prayers daily.

Examples of these daily miracles include:

getting an unexpected check in the mail. What a generous God!

finding a parking place close to the store. You're a rockin' god, God!

Scoring the last bottle of Tide Fresh Scent detergent at the Walmart! Oops, He did it again!

The cantaloupe ripens right in time for Sunday brunch! Woot in the name of the Lord!

She chalks all these coincidences to her unshakable belief in the All Mighty.

I am not mocking her.

Well, I sort of am, but I'm not trying to be mean.

Her life is good, she is happy, she feels connected to a loving God.

For a moment I think, Wow! Maybe there is something to this miracle thing.

But being a skeptic with not one ounce of faith in a traditional God, I can't go there.

I can't believe.

I mean, why would God be involved in these mundane details? Parking places? Soap?

I would think that after a few thousand years of this sort of miracle granting, He would get bored.

I would think God would be busy elsewhere. 

I think of the young woman who narrowly escaped being shot by a crazed gunman in a Toronto mall only to be shot and killed by another crazed gunman in a movie theater in another country a few weeks later.

I think of the woman shot in the throat, lying paralyzed, in a coma, unaware that her 6 year old daughter is dead.

I think of the others who were shot and killed in that movie theater that night.
Popcorn, teargas, gun fire. 

I think of all of the atrocities that occur every moment of every day all over the world.
Someone somewhere is hurting, hungry, frightened
Right now. Right now.

Where are you God?

Are you there, God?

Yeah, I'm gonna say it:

It's Me, Margaret.

Are You wasting Your time bestowing cheap gifts on Your devotees while all around You people suffer?

Many of those suffering love You deeply and pray to You. Why do You ignore their entreaties for food, shelter, relief from pain?
 
So, hey, God, Big Guy, I have to ask you a personal question.

Are You Omnipotent or impotent? 

Are You the God of the Cosmos or the god of the sandbox. 

You are either all powerful and don't intervene when You are most needed because You do not care or you care but are not all powerful.

God if You can deliver cases of toilet paper and checks and parking places and laundry soap, why can't You stop bad people from killing innocent people?

Why didn't You push that innocent child out of harms way, stop the bullet that killed a young man defending the woman he loved.

Why did You choose not to grant a young woman enough grace to escape with her life a second time?

Why did You even let this deranged monster start shooting?

You could have smote him.

You have a record of doing that smiting thing.

You could have jammed the gun before he had a chance to fire off the first round

You could have intervened and prevented this abomination from being born.

A powerful and loving God would do that.

If there is a God, and I doubt there is, and He is indeed All Mighty but chooses not to intervene on behalf of the innocent, I want no part of him.

If there is a God, and I doubt there is, I think he is a small god, a charlatan, a slight of hand conman,  bestowing cheap gifts in exchange for blind devotion.

In the name of all who suffered and begged for mercy, who crouched in terror in the dark and called out, in the name of those who have prayed to a deaf god, 

Amen.