A friend of mine is an up-and-coming singer/pianist/songwriter. One of his songs, the title of which I stole for this post, has become a favorite of mine. It’s come up in my head over and over since last Saturday morning when I woke up and heard about the shooting that had taken place in Newtown the day before.
I’ve ready so many responses from individuals about the shooting.
One response has really given me pause to stop and think about the role of religion in society.
I’ve debated about whether or not to link to his page, because much of his writing is nothing but hate and violence robed in quasi-academic religiosity. I really don’t like to give airtime to this kind of thought. But out of fairness (read it for yourself if you think I’m not being fair) a desire to always site my source, here it is.
And here’s my response.
It’s time—it’s well past time—to stop looking for someone to save us from ourselves.
I can’t get over the mental contortion that the writer has to perform in order to begin a paragraph with “We have, for years, systematically stripped our public classrooms of any acknowledgement of God or moral absolutes,” and end with “We reinforce the self centered belief that it is ‘all about me.”
You see, the thing that the writer leaves out is that he’s not interested in hearing about your god, or my god, or anyone else’s god. He’s only interested in hearing about his god and in the versions of god that he thinks are close enough to his version of god. It’s ironic and revealing (not to mention remarkably self-aggrandizing) that the writer’s website is called “Truth Observed.”
Mr. Tacket wants us to understand that an it’s-all-about-me mindset is the root of evil insofar as social problems go. But the author conveniently forgets that the religion that he thinks will save the world is really just his own version, his own understanding, packaged and sold for our consummation. In other words, it’s his version of all-about-me dressed up like religion so that we think that it has been delivered from on high and then promulgated through blame, shame and guilt.
It’s-all-about-me is fine, as long as we say “It’s really all about Jesus.” Right?
OK. Fine. Our president says he wants to have a national conversation and your response is derisive, dismissive, condescending and self-contradictory and totally not helpful.
But, those like Mr. Tacket should understand that choices have consequences.
When you allow yourself to stop taking responsibility for your actions (gun control won’t help us, we all just need Jesus), the end result will be a violent country where this sort of thing happens over and over again.
When you begin with the premise that man is evil and needs saving, you’ve planted the seed for violence.
When you dismiss the role of individual meaning-making in religion, and say that you (and you exclusively) have found the “truth,” it creates violence in your heart towards others who “need saving.”
And finally, when your response to a national tragedy is so dramatically off-topic (let’s end abortion and put prayer back in schools), not only do you partake in the violence that plagues us; but you also deny our nation that possibility of a conversation with outcomes that evince our shared understanding of what it means to be safe while respecting the safety needs of others.