- Posted January 17, 2013 by
Los Angeles, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
If He's Imaginary, What Do I Have to Live For?
Readers of my blog at www.lindseybrunette.com know that I do not share the same beliefs as the writer. But, I do believe that this is a dialog that needs to be regularly happening between people who believe in God and people who don’t. Believe it or not (and I do because I know Christians) when I clicked on this article initially a notice came up that it had been flagged for inappropriate content and was under review. I mean, congrats to that Christian who was getting their news from *gasp* liberal CNN… but way to flag an honest essay. It makes me want to bang my head against a wall. (In fact, this was added: Update: CNN hasn’t flagged this iReport as inappropriate, but some community members have. This is a divisive topic, however it does not violate our Community Guidelines, so we ask people to please stop flagging it. We will continue to review the story as often as possible.
- dsashin, CNN iReport producer)
Honestly, she makes some really good points. Does it make me realign my belief system? No. There were definitely some points while reading this that I thought “yeah, I guess that is kind of weird” or “no that doesn’t seem very logical, does it?”
I have often heard from my Christian friends with kids that they won’t be doing Santa because how can they tell their kids to believe in a God that they can’t see but that the jolly man who brings presents isn’t real? Which is actually her same argument, essentially. I have been friends with a girl named Sarah since I was in 6th grade. She is the friend from Las Vegas that I have had the longest and we still keep in touch. One day in high school, I don’t remember how it came up, we were talking about faith and she asked how I could be confident when I couldn’t see this God I put my hope in. In response I asked her how she knew that her brakes were going to engage when she pressed the pedal when she couldn’t see them or how she knew that her alarm clock was going to go off in the morning when she couldn’t see the mechanics working? She had faith in those things, I told her, but she couldn’t see them. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is confidence in things hoped for and assurance about what we do not see.” One of the primary dictionary definitions for the word faith is a “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.”
Personally, I find it completely illogical that the world could just *bang* happen. Living in Colorado for seven years, experiencing the ocean, going on safari in Africa — these things have convinced me that there is something greater, something divine and beautiful at work. Maybe it’s not my god. But if it isn’t, what do I have to lose? If it isn’t, these words I pray are just words. These songs I sing are just songs. If my god is not THE higher power, then at least I’ve spent my life living for a purpose.
One of her biggest arguments is that God does not step in and stop bad things from happening. To respond to this, I quote from the blog post by Mayim Bialik http://www.kveller.com/mayim-bialik/mayim-bialik-on-sandy-hook-faith-god/ that I used in response to the Newtown tragedy: “I simply don’t believe in a God that monitors the world and eliminates evil and makes way for good as I deem it. I think history has demonstrated that that kind of God simply doesn’t exist and although there are strains of religions that believe God is weeding out the unworthy and the sinners, that doesn’t fly with me.”
Last year my grandma died of cancer. Well, technically she died of pneumonia but it was worsened by the fact that her body had been ravaged by cancer. Don’t you think we prayed? We prayed hard. My grandma had been a Christian ever since her childhood. She had been a pastor’s wife since she was nineteen years old. She had been diligent in her faith and in her prayers and if God should have spared anyone, it should have been her. Because we prayed for her. Because God heals. She died. No amount of prayer kept her from that. God didn’t save my grandmother yet I credit him with carrying me through this process of divorce. I credit him with my getting moved up to full time at work, with finding an apartment I could afford, with so many things… and yes, it all seems really screwy.
There was one point in her essay that I thought “most Christians would agree with you.” She includes the heading “God is not fair.” As I read it my first thought was “right. Next?” Please see above about my grandma, who is still dead.
The essayist writes: “If God is fair, then why are some babies born with heart defects, autism, missing limbs or conjoined to another baby? Clearly, all men are not created equally. Why is a good man beaten senseless on the street while an evil man finds great wealth taking advantage of others? This is not fair. A game maker who allows luck to rule mankind’s existence has not created a fair game.”
When I was sixteen I went to a youth camp (youth are what Christians call high school students) that involved going to different areas around the camp and serving. One day my group went to an adult day care center where adults with mental and physical handicaps spent their days while their caregivers were at work, etc. While we were there I met a woman named Stephanie. She was 32 and had Downs Syndrome. We played Memory and Stephanie told me about the “book” she was writing. Her book consisted of hundreds of pages copied from newspapers and magazine, but she was so proud of her handiwork. When we left she gave me some pages from her manuscript and the biggest hug. Her face is engrained in my mind and I will never forget her. Sure, in my belief system, God created Stephanie this way. He created her with this handicap and she was forced to suffer (though I have no idea if she suffered, she may have had a really great life). I remember leaving that day and thinking how she’d probably be dead within ten years statistically speaking (that’s this year.) And no, it’s not fair that the person who has had the biggest impact on my life should have been created this way… but I believe very strongly that I am not the only person whom she blessed, and I know that that’s exactly what God wanted for her life.
In her conclusion she writes: “I understand why people need God. I understand why people need heaven. It is terrifying to think that we are all alone in this universe, that one day we—along with the children we love so much—will cease to exist. The idea of God and an afterlife gives many of us structure, community and hope.” And I guess that I am one of those people. I just sort of feel that I would rather believe that there is more, that there is someone out there who hears me and cares and understands why my grandma had to die even when I don’t. Because if someone isn’t there, then life is pointless. Then I am just living day to day until I die and that feels hopeless.
I do appreciate her sharing her choice to raise her children that way. And I do apologize to her for the Christians who have flagged the content thus perpetuating the stereotypes. Nobody likes to be disagreed with, and I think especially that no one likes to have their core worldview challenged. But how do we grow as humans without these challenges?