I have mostly stayed away from responding to tragedies. This is mostly because I have no idea what to say. I know my words could never calm the pain that a mother, father, sibling, wife, or friend could feel. I tend to keep quiet and reflect, asking God to answer questions, heal, and comfort. That’s the only response I know. Even this response isn’t well thought-out. Today’s post is mostly a venting table for me, so feel free to move on.
The one thing I know how to do pretty well is not say ignorant things, at least concerning unanswerable suffering. I’m sure we have all seen, by now, the videos of Mike Huckabee and James Dobson saying ignorant things for all the world to hear. (In short, Huckabee said that the cause was prayer not being allowed in schools, and Dobson attributed it to abortion and homosexuality.) It’s so hard for me to treat these Christians, and other extremist right-wingers, with any sort of love. Things like this are said in ignorance, as if they have a direct line to God who tells them why He allows certain things to happen.
My only response to people like this isn’t really my response at all. Rachel Held Evans, one of my favorite bloggers, has the best response I have heard:
Reality Check: It is perfectly legal for students to pray in public schools. Public schools just can’t sponsor prayer events. This is to protect religious freedom in our country. And if you think this makes God absent from public schools, then your view of God is quite small. Personally, I encountered God in powerful, life-changing ways in high school, and am grateful for my public school education. To suggest that what happened this week in Connecticut happened because God is angry for being “taken out of public schools” is disgusting. It makes God into a petty and retributive monster, not the God I know. (via Facebook)
If you think that God has left us because school-led prayer is not allowed, or because we allow equal rights for all, or because of whatever your answer for tragedy is, I would urge you to rethink your view of God.
The Advent season, which is currently upon us, is supposed to be a reminder that God’s promises have come true, and will continue to come true. But, I think, when faced with tragedies such as Sandy Hook, it is a reminder of something else: That humanity is dark, and capable of unspeakable evil. It is because of this that Advent and Christ’s Gospel is necessary.