My wife grew up Methodist and regardless of how the World discloses itself, she still likes church. I don't so much abhor it, I more abhor the simple-mindedness of the Congregation as a whole. We attend Crossroads UMC. It was a difficult find being that I, as an agnostic, am adamant that we embrace a certain open-ness or progressive approach to scripture. No hell fire and brimstone, No preaching that other denominations are worse, No "gay bashing". I have found a home at Crossroads. I still can't accept the "traditional dogma" but the people are good and the foundation on which the Church exists is not common. The fellowship is top notch and even though I have expressed my disagreements with certain tenets, they allow me to work with the youth and participate in events as a major player. I am honest with them and they are honest with me.
However, this Sunday's sermon was a difficult pill. The young woman who "preached" is a great speaker with great presentation. But the message was simply too shallow. "I am always with you", was the crux. Basically saying that no matter how bad things are or how far you (as person) may be from me (God) I am always with you. My wife immediately knew that I was not buying this milk. She too was bothered (through the years I have managed to instill in her the sentiment that there is more gray.) You know who that message works for? Those who haven't gone through adversity. The young girl who is repeatedly raped by her father: God is with her? The mother who is relegated to selling her body to feed her kids: God is with her? The man who has to stage his death so his family can collect the insurance money to keep their home: God is with him?
Maybe God is with them, but what is he or she doing? Do we embrace the idea that this personal Christian God simply sits by and watches? I fully understand the Problem of Evil and the complexity of God and (B)eing in the world. But there are times when we simply must revisit the idea of a Personal God.
Suffering happens to everyone, regardless of faith, all over the world every second. Sometimes an event hits closer to home that shakes us a bit harder. When I first heard of what Hussein and his ilk were doing in Iraq (wood chippers, public raping, etc) I had to pause and re-evaluate.
Recent events are no where near as horrific but no less tragic. A town is almost literally blown off the map. If I harken back to this Sunday's message all I'm left with is "God is still there". Fine. But that doesn't make the Christian idea of God any better than simply being positive. Bad things happen and we can either succumb or overcome. Is it imperative that I need to know that some Idea loves me and is watching over me? It offers no protection during times of crisis and at the very least might intervene on a selective basis.
If the latter is the case, then I guess for Greensburg, KS...God had bad breath.