While any commentary on the horrors of Newtown, Connecticut, may be premature, there is no such prohibition on commentary of the commentary on Newtown. Specifically, commentary by two people representing Christianity who took to the airwaves to present to the world where God was in all the violence…but the God they describe is one I do not recognize.
First, Mike Huckabee said the following:
We ask why there is violence in our schools but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability — that we’re not just going to have be accountable to the police if they catch us, but one day we stand before, you know, a holy God in judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that.
Second, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association said the following:
We kicked God out of our public school system. I think God would say to us, hey, I would be glad to protect your children but you gotta invite me back into your world first. I’m not going to go where I’m not wanted. I am a gentleman…. Back when we had prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments in schools, we did not need guns.
So the basic proposition by them both is that because God has been removed from the public schools, then this happened. If God was in the public schools, and the people were immersed in his way, then this would not happen.
I think the people of East Texas in 1937 would disagree.
In 1937, the vast majority of people attended Church. It was the Depression, churches were the cultural crossroads, prayer was in the schools, churches were full, it was rural TEXAS for crying out loud….there couldn’t be more God-talk in the place.
And yet in 1937 in rural Texas, an oil pipeline filled the underneath crawlspace of an elementary school with natural gas and was ignited while the building was occupied. Somewhere around 300 people died in the resulting explosion, the vast majority of them children. After this, the public responded by adding a chemical smell to natural gas (which otherwise is odorless). It was the highest loss of life in a public school in history.
To these two men who represent Christianity on the cable news channels, if there was more God then there would be less random deaths. But that charge would not hold water to the people of rural Texas in 1937 whose horrific experience captivated an entire nation (and world…Wikipedia said that Hitler himself sent condolences…Hitler!!).
Perhaps if the airwaves had fewer voices of this theologically vapid form of Christianity that crowds out more reasonable understandings of God, then people would better be able to know a God who loves, who is present, who is grieving, who is weeping, who feels what we feel (and then some), and wants a better world for our children. Because that God is more real to me than the God proclaimed on cable TV.
Am I alone in this?
Prayers for the people of Newtown, who hopefully have found theologically astute friends who, like Job’s friends (at first), who knew that all one can do is often sit and be present, silent in their comfort, nearby in their love. I pray each of them found someone like that last night and every night.