Saturday, 15 December 2012

Why would a loving God...

Drop this blog post in the ocean of opinions that is circling the ideasphere today.  Like everyone else out there, I watched the news today and was deeply troubled by the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.  I saw the pictures of the kids running terrified from their school, and I still can't think of it without choking up. 

The life we live feels so stable. 

It's vapour. 

We build all these routines and structures on the assumption that tomorrow will pretty much behave the same way that today did.  There is NEVER a guarantee of that.

That doesn't stop us from living our lives that way.  Our brains are wired for patterns.  And there's beauty and joy in the patterns that make up our lives.

There are some things that I avoid thinking about, and children dying in violence is one of those.  Even in this blog post, I won't talk about that, except to say this: I prepare myself for a lot of contingencies, but not that.  I will not spend any energy thinking about that.  Because I don't believe there's a way to recover.  Life would change in so many ways that I just couldn't imagine.  And I don't want to think about it.  Take my job, my health, my money - I will be okay.  Do. Not. Take. My. Child. From. Me.  That's the one thing that the current form of myself could not withstand.  All of our love should go out to these people who have to try and create a different life out of the burnt, damaged pieces that are left.  But I can't imagine.  I won't put myself in their shoes.

There is no denying that there is unspeakable evil in this world.  No. Not evil.  Pain.  Because how much pain exists in the mind of a person who could commit an act like that?  There is no end to the suffering and sorrow.  And an act like today's pushes our minds to the very edge of the kind of depravity that humans are capable of.

Then you hear someone say, "It's all part of God's Plan."  Every time someone said that today, 12 people walked away from their faith.

I'm not an apologist.  The closest I come is, "Sorry Christians have done so much stupid stuff in the world." However, my faith has proven to be stronger than my cynicism.  And that's pretty strong.  And I can't speak for any church.  I'm no theologian.  And I can't speak for God, because I don't know him well enough to do that.  But the God that my faith sticks to is not a God who had this anywhere in his plan. 

Don't take this as an argument for the existence of God.  Because I've never tried to make a logical argument for the existence of God.  It's like the toilet seat argument - no one's ever gonna win that argument, but we're all gonna lose while we fight about it.

The God that I can believe in? Here's how I imagine he sees a day like today.
1. When you have a child, your heart doubles in size.  If you have a second, you don't divide the love over two kids - your heart doubles again.  This is how I imagine God views the world.  His love busted open and he created people.  Who he loves.
2. He created a world we can live in that follows it's own rules.  So that we know that the coffee cup is going to remain where we put it down.   And one of those rules is that we are able to make our own choices. And bear the consequences of them.
3. Just like a parent, God watches us make the decisions we make with love. And sometimes our decisions compound into a collossal hot mess.  And sometimes into catastrophe.
4. Just as I weep as I write this, God weeps when bad decisions collide. He saw the car.  He saw the kid run out onto the road.  But he promised us a predictable, cause/effect world. And it kills him to watch.  Just like it kills me when I see Silas struggle with something I know I could fix for him.  Or when I watch him stumble and fall, but I'm too far away to catch him.  But way worse. Way, way worse.

 Like parents love their children.  That's how the God I believe in watches situations like todays.

But then there's the next part.

So, the Bible says that God IS love.  It says, 'everyone that loves, has been born from God, and knows God.  And whoever doesn't love, doesn't know God.  Because God IS love.'

So, when I see love in the world, I see God. Directly.  It's his signature.  His scent. Whether you recognize it as such or not.  When we love others, we are embodying God.

Which leads me to Mr. Rogers.

Look for the helpers.

Earlier on today, I tweeted, "Nothing heals sorrow but blessing. And time."

The other thing about the God I've managed to keep faith in - he finds a way to restore.  I'm not saying he makes hurt go away.  Oh, no.  We're damaged for good.  But what he can do is the final insult.  The depravity and chaos doesn't win.  Because the God that I believe in, when he is set loose on a terrible situation, finds a way to fill it with cancerous goodness. People's lives are destroyed, and yet they find ways to use their pain to inspire others to love more; to give more. 

Before the evil act is finished, there are already people showing up with love in hand - protecting children, helping, caring.  Standing beside dumbstruck people with their hands on shoulders.  The situation still sucks.  But before it has a chance to be perfectly evil, God's there, fucking up the evil.  Busting it up with good.  And it's little help at first.  But over time, the evil shrinks and is forgotten and the love grows.

We carry our scars with us as we grow.  But our unique scars and pains - the damage we accumulate as we fumble through life - these are the very things that make us more beautiful, should we choose to learn from them, to fight to keep our hearts soft. Like this lady:

I hope and pray that a day like today might raise my eyes off my daily grind.  And maybe a few other people's too. 

You know what?  My heart can't bear the pain of those 28 people's families. My heart can't even bear the pain of all the people in Red Deer that I interact with in a day.  It's a painful world.  But, as Mr. Rogers might remind us, there are so many helpers.  And I hope that maybe I reflect the God I have faith in to a few people on a given day by being a loving person.  I don't need to fly to Connecticut to find people who need kindness.  Who need love.

So, instead of turning to blame and playing politics, let's try a new game.  Let's try and love our neighbours.  Evil is not conquered by fighting it.  It's not conquered by legislation.  Know how evil is conquered?  By displacing it with love.


  1. Thank you Dan. Well said and heartfelt. **hugs*

  2. Beautiful Dan! I believe God was with each of those children today - but particularly those who he held close as he accompanied them to heaven. Thank you for your words.

  3. Replace "God" with "Life" and I agree with you 100%

    I think we all share the same feelings, just with a few different names and definitions.

    What I find reassuring is that despite the anger and attacks you see in retaliation to the events of the school shooting, they are far, FAR less for some reason this time than you'd think they would be.

    When Columbine happened, people went nuts. It was overboard, reactions were completely illogical, they attacked music and video games and everything was about blaming something and crucifying it.

    This time, it feels like everyone just understands what happened. They're saddened by it, some are still angry, but there seems to be a level of tact in the handling of this tragedy that I have never seen before.

  4. Cool perspective. One of the ugliest parts of an event like this is all the vitriol that gets spewed around by people after the fact, trying to find something to blame that's going to placate their uncomfortable feeling.

    And yeah. Whether it's your intrinsic value system, your philosophical inclinations, or the flying spaghetti monster that's inspiring you to love instead of hate, more power to you! Why would I be anything but supportive of that choice?