I usually get some kind of writing done during the holidays because I am relieved of at least one of my many commitments and because holidays make me even more introspective than I usually am. So… super duper mega introspective.
One year- the only guy I was interested in in college compared my holiday blog posts to David Sedaris’s essays. I almost exploded and then googled David Sedaris. Now here I am years later and very familiar with David Sedaris and I’ll say that I will be so lucky if my writing will ever, ever, ever veer in the direction of David Sedaris’s brilliance.
I’ll be a blogger in my next life. I’ll be a blogger who gets a book deal. And then I’ll be a paleoanthropologist… but that’s another post. I really would love to write more…. I have thoughts all day that I’d love to record, but Apple has yet to make a device that connects directly to my brain. The devices I have now are always left on a counter or under a mountain of laundry when I’m inspired. So I’m left in front of my computer wracking my brain about what it was that made me have that thought “Aha! That would be great to put down in the blog!”
Today it had something to do with my favorite professor… he taught European History in the 20th Century. It was the way he said “ubiquitous.” I think about Dr. Zalar every time I hear or think of the word. He used it to describe the lice which WW2 soldiers had to deal with… “ubiquitous lice.” He had a tendency to over-enunciate multisyllabic words.
That class was one in the series my senior year which greatly contributed to the downfall and eventual abandonment of my Christian faith- and that has nothing to do with ubiquitous lice, but that’s where my mind went today. We were having a class discussion about Elie Wiesel’s Night. It was something about his description of the fire… the furnaces… something like that… and the awful reality that is thousands of people killed. Killing people is wrong. Killing thousands of people is really, really wrong. Yet, here I was, believing that if an individual dies without 1. confessing Jesus and his/her personal savior and 2. being baptized, then that person will suffer a fate- at the hands of God- much worse than the fires of the concentration camps. We’re talking the entire human race except for the handful of people born at the right time and into the right culture that would expose them to Christianity and compel them to follow it.
The concept of killing-lots-of-people-because-you’re-right-and-they’re-wrong has historical precedent. This is the kind of thinking which is characteristic of only the most notoriously evil players of history.
I said something like this in class. I don’t remember what it was exactly, but it ended with “If that’s the way God is, then I don’t believe in God.”
Dr. Zalar asked me to stay after class. I think he might have been worried that he’d caused a previously zealous follower of Jesus to turn atheist. Wouldn’t look great for a professor trying to get tenure at a Christian university… Or maybe he was genuinely concerned… He wanted to share with me a sermon he’d written about loving people “in the particular”- how it’s harder to love one person than it is to have fuzzy feelings about a huge group of people (i.e. the “flood victims” or “the homeless”). It’s also much harder to hate someone you know than it is to hate a huge group of people you’ll never meet (i.e. “the gays”).
Humans have an ability to generalize large sums of people. It’s necessary in order to remain focused on anything- we have to put the population of the world into 3-4 manageable brain files and focus our energy on those closest to us. This is a good function to have when maintaining relationships with family and friends. It’s pretty awful though when it’s also used to justify/forget about torturous things done to masses of humans you don’t know. It’s the function that allows gigantic, unspeakable things to happen. It allows war. It also allows poverty and hunger. It causes religious institutions to close their doors and arm their members. It allows things like Gods who send their children to hell and/or kill them in a worldwide floods.
It’s my deal-breaker with God.