My clergy colleague, Mike Murray, recommended a new book that builds bridges between right and left-wingers, between those who are conservative/fundamentalist and liberal/progressives. Have started it, The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.
But was interrupted this morning when reading a Huffington Post article about someone with whom I have next to nothing in common theologically, Evangelist Pat Robertson. I’m pretty sure a bridge between the two of can never be built—especially on his version of the purpose for God to kill children. Even the more general indictment that God “kills children.”
I’m pretty sure clergy, no matter their tilt theologically, would find it reprehensible that “God takes the life of a child.” Yes, I’ve had grieving parents and relatives tell me about a young girl’s death, “God needs her for God’s Children’s Choir in heaven.” Or, “All death is God’s Will.” Or, “This is the fault of the parents for being bad parents; God’s punishing them by taking their child.”
The only thing worse than such a claim, giving God ownership, even stronger power and control and authorship over the death of a child, is to be a pastor and officiate at a child’s funeral. I’ve written before, although nothing erases the pain [honestly, nor should it because grieving is part of living] I’ve found it helpful what Bill Coffin said at the funeral of his 22-year-old son, Alex, that “When Alex drowned in that Boston harbor God’s heart was the first to break.” With that whenever someone has died in my parish [which I won’t spell “perish”] the Apostle Paul brings value, “Whether we live or whether we die, we belong to the Lord.”
Think it was Hemingway who offered, “Our hearts are broken, then hopefully some become stronger at the broken places.” I wish, fervently so, for each of us to be part of the “some.”
Still. What Robertson offers—I’ll share it in a moment—is so completely reprehensible, in a word it’s blasphemous. And what it does: describes God as petulant and vindictive and mean and destructive.
No thanks. You can keep that understanding of God.
Maybe I’m myopic in my consideration of all this. Now I cannot see any connector options with people like Pat Robertson. Maybe, though, after I read Jonathan Haidt’s book, I’ll get to a better place. Anyway. Here’s Robertson…God in heaven help us. Please?
“Right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson wants grieving parents to know that it’s okay if their children die, because God was just taking them before they grew up to be mass murderers.
A woman writing to Robertson on his show “The 700 Club” asked for help comforting a co-worker grieving her 3-year-old’s death. Robertson suggested Tuesday that the child’s death was all part of God’s plan to keep us safe from a future, evil dictator.
‘As far as God’s concerned, He knows the end from the beginning and He sees a little baby and that little baby could grow up to be Adolf Hitler, he could grow up to be Joseph Stalin, he could grow up to be some serial killer, or he could grow up to die of a hideous disease,’ he said.
‘God sees all of that, and for that life to be terminated while he’s a baby, he’s going to be with God forever in Heaven, so it isn’t a bad thing,’ the 85-year-old founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network continued, ‘So how could God do that? How could a good God let that happen? Well, the good God is going to take that baby to Heaven right now, and that’s isn’t a bad thing.’”
Only one word in summary for me: MERCY