Friday, January 18, 2013

A Brief Winter Respite almost One Month On

I've been mulling over the God-has-been-put-out-of-school analysis during this sad, reflective day. It occurred to me, however, that there has been much less public gun violence in, for example, the far-more-secularized nations of Europe than there has been here. And then I remembered the horror that took place in the Amish schoolhouse a number of years ago. That setting was exceedingly hospitable to overt practices intended to honor the Lord: the reading of Scripture, prayer, the singing of hymns, the teaching of a curriculum that was thoroughly shot through with explicit Christian teaching. By no means was God unwelcome in that quaint classroom. Nevertheless, in that lovely, consecrated setting, unspeakable violence was perpetrated against precious children.

It’s difficult to demonstrate there was less violence in our nation when Bible reading and prayer were daily public school practices. Consider our centuries-long mistreatment of slaves and their ancestors, or our misplacement of Indians. Those vicious practices -- again, that took place over centuries -- occurred when traditional family values and overt Christian practices in public places were the norm. In fact, probably most people who held slaves and promoted segregation, as well as those who mistreated and broke treaties with Native Americans would have called themselves Christians.

As we begin to attempt to interpret Friday’s evil, should we not at least entertain the possibility that we need better public mental health provision -- that the sin here might be national greed that has us unwilling to pay for it? Or maybe that our cult of celebrity, beauty, strength -- fueled by the ever-sacred profit motive -- has cultivated a conformist, survival of the fittest bullying habit of epidemic proportions, resulting in the victimization of those who are different, which eventually transforms some of them into victimizers? Or how about the possibility that guns are a problem? Yes, I know, I know, “guns don’t kill people, people do”; however, cars, likewise, don’t kill people, yet we have no problem applying strict regulation to their use.

In these challenging days of national grief, premature, possibly-overly-simplistic answers may distract us from discovering the root of this horror. Addressing problems of such profound proportions as brutality against children calls for careful, self-aware thought.

Gordon Sparks

USA East



Anonymous said...

Here, here, Amen Gordon! People who speak otherwise usually have a myopic, warped sense of American history as they keep referencing back to some ideal, God-fearing time that never existed. Many of them even have mush for brains as they collect social security checks and worry about "socialism" while listening religiously to (Australian)Rupert Murdoch's FOX NEWS CHANNEL!

One could easily add to slavery and racism, sweatshop working conditions, child labor and abuse, (there was an anti-cruelty society for horses 20 years before there were any anti-cruelty/Children's Aid societies!) the subjugation of women and of course orphans living all over the streets of great American cities having to fend for themselves. (Old fashioned Family Values? Really now? Were ALL of their adult relatives dead too?)

Btw, the other side of the pond was no different---just remember the appalling social conditions in Xian England when Booth started TSA---even Africa was no different as many of the slaves who were traded were sold to caucasian slave traders by African tribes who first conquered "inferior" African tribes in battle!

I'm a patriotic veteran and I love America but I refuse to be hoodwinked by unbridled, myopic, and even idolatrous patriotism.

I love my country in the way a 40 year old loves his parents---aware of their faults and weaknesses---not as a 4 year old does. Hopefully, I'm in the majority but sometimes one really wonders---especially now during all the gun law reform rhetoric that's taking place.

God Bless all the little children and their teachers who died at Sandy Hook. I'm hoping that one day sanity will once again win over insanity and that the right wing "God, Guns and Gays" crowd eventually die a natural, evolutionary death and finally, quietly wither off into oblivion.

Daryl Lach
USA Central

"You Must Go Home By the Way of the Cross, To Stand with Jesus in the Morning!"

Anonymous said...

P.S. Oops! Make that the "god, (lower case g intended)Guns and Gays" crowd!

Daryl Lach
USA Central

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gordon - borrowed and posted to my FB page!

I look forward to future contribution to this flog.


Graeme Randall said...

Interesting reflections. Honest, searching, and sincere.

Could it be the kind of Christianity/religion that people are pushing for in schools/society that is the problem? Generally, the brand of Christianity/religion that is pushed is very conservative/right wing. This leads to a teaching/attitude of 'there is no other answer than God'. As a result, there is no room to even consider alternatives - such as mental health provision. It becomes dictatorial, and removes people's free will - something not even God dares to do. Could it be that that sets the backdrop for potential horrors as has been described in the article?

Christ taught his followers to question. He was extremely liberal for his day (pardoning prostitutes and tax collectors). Where there is a liberal mindset, there is often a greater willingness to consider alternatives. Free will is respected. People do not feel forced to endure internal hardships with no relief. People are not made to feel like a failure because their faith wasn't strong enough to make them better. The whole person is respected - including the body - not just the soul. A liberal mindset acknowledges that an unhealthy body (and that can be on many levels - including chemical imbalances) can have profound effects on the mind and the soul, and that often, the body can't just be cured by a stronger spirit. All three must be treated equally.

Now I know that the Sandy Hook case was very complicated, and don't presume to suppose that what I've just said is the whole answer. But it does highlight that the knee-jerk reaction of conservatives is not the answer either. In fact, that knee-jerk reaction will generally make matters worse.

The simple answer of bringing God back into the schools is just that - a simple answer. It is indeed a complex question, and we need to consider all aspects of the question. To say that God is the only answer to every situation, indicates that we don't understand the situation, or we have our rose-coloured glasses on.

Just my thoughts.

Graeme Randall
Former Australian East in London

Anonymous said...

Well said Graeme. I think that we often try to make things too simplistic. The situation in America or anywhere is never simplistic. I would prefer to call it a balanced mindset that is needed. God does have a place and the teachings of Christianity when taken and applied in the loving way they were intended is part of the answer. Jesus also taught his disciples to respect all people and to share the message of forgiveness and freedom. We need the wisdom of many to keep our society balanced and safe. The knee- jerk reaction to problems never is the best but a calm and united approach I think is. Being human is often a problem as our emotions run us at times. My prayer is that people will recognize that the teachings of Jesus really do work and have worked to make our society a good place. Yet every generation has different challenges and we also need less reactive stances and more collaboration to find a better way for the 21st Century. We need to work together for the one purpose of improving our communities. My thoughts and prayers are continually with the families of Sandy Hook School.

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