This past week armed gunmen killed everyone at a staff meeting of a French satirical news magazine known as Charlie Hebdo, one that had poked fun at their religion, and all religions for that matter. The suspects, brothers, are dead now. The ferocity of the attack is stunning even in these times of terror alerts and news of foiled plots, tragic for families and friends of those lost, a warning delivered to freedom of expression everywhere.
Religious extremists are not done with us yet.
In defiance, the magazine will continue to publish, working in the same offices but without its editor or leading cartoonists. The issue is set ot be its biggest print run ever and the tributes from the artistic community are moving, impressive. The surviving staff are probably the bravest people ever — working for an ideal that is so central, so beneficial to all of us in the midst of personal loss and horror. Who in their right mind can object to the idea that everyone is free to express themselves? Can faith and humor not co-exist? Look around you… God surely has a sense of humor… there are too many living, breathing examples of this to deny.
And then, being an all-knowing, evolved and far superior being, I’m sure He (or She, your preference) is hardly aware of our attempts at humor, let alone offended by them. Much like the babble of children… a pleasant part of the background but not all that relevant to the big picture. It’s supreme arrogance to think otherwise.
The events in Paris are one more terrible example of people taking religion far, far too seriously. Why does it have to be all or nothing? My way or no way? Can’t we just “agree to disagree” and go on about our business. If God (Allah or whatever name you use) s indeed as great as we all think, He can manage things without our help. It’s better that way, we just screw things up anyway.
Shared faith isn’t a club to belong to or a wall to use to separate us. Your faith (or lack of it) is a highly personal decision about your relationship with a higher power, one that is unique to you and comes from your own experiences and upbringing. It lives in your heart and is not quickly or easily changed. Do we really need to continue this game of “whose religion is better”? This foolish argument is at the root of too many of the problems in this world.
And while we’re at it, do you think that God really needs a sales force? There are far too many people in this world who feel the need to “convert” us to the “true” faith. They are so, so certain. So dedicated. So quick to be unpleasant and unloving to those who don’t “believe”. What I wish they’d understand is that there really is no need to blast your belief system in my face. To make someone feel uncomfortable or unwelcome because they don’t believe as you do. That’s not going to win you friends, it’s going to reinforce the reasons no one likes you.
God doesn’t need you to sell Him (or Her) to me or anyone else. He does fine all by Himself.
Isn’t trusting in God to handle things properly a central part of faith, any faith?