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Thursday, April 19, 2007
(10:18 AM) | Stephen:
Scoring Points With A Massacre

So Dinesh D'Souza has let loose once again, and once again what he says is easily turned on its head and made to accomplish the exact opposite of what he intended.

D'Souza decided that 2 days after the shootings at VA Tech would be a good time for a bit of religious triumphalism, saying
Notice something interesting about the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings? Atheists are nowhere to be found. Every time there is a public gathering there is talk of God and divine mercy and spiritual healing. Even secular people like the poet Nikki Giovanni use language that is heavily drenched with religious symbolism and meaning.
Except that Nikki Giovanni really didn't say anything all that religious. The following are her remarks, in full:
We are Virginia Tech. We are sad today and we will be sad for quite awhile. WE are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning. We are Virginia Tech. We are strong enough to know when to cry and sad enough to know we must laugh again. We are Virginia Tech. We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did not deserve it but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, but neither do the invisible children walking the night to avoid being captured by a rogue army. Neither does the baby elephant watching his community be devastated for ivory; neither does the Appalachian infant in the killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy. We are Virginia Tech. The Hokier Nation embraces our own with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong and brave and innocent and unafraid. We are better than we think, not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imagination and the possibility we will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears, through all this sadness. We are the Hokies. We will prevail, we will prevail. We are Virginia Tech.
I have no idea how D'Souza thinks that is "drenched with religious symbolism." Aside from that, though, is the idea that now is the time to score points on behalf of God. Now is the time, for D'Souza, to assert the superiority of religious belief over Atheism, because after a man murdered 32 people, many of the victims' family members and friends were seen praying.

Shakespeare's Sister says that these events make
“Where is Christianity when bad things happen?” a fair question. And I’d add: Is “a public gathering [to] talk of God and divine mercy and spiritual healing” really the best D’Souza’s Christianity can do? Gee, if that’s the best that D’Souza’s Christianity has to offer us, I think we need something more than D’Souza’s Christianity.
This is true. But not only that, this is the question that should be on the mind of every believer in the wake of this tragedy. Where is God in this? Where is Christianity? No matter how developed your theodicy, how complete your system of defenses of God and religious belief in response to tragedies like this, if you believe at all then you are obligated to ask these questions, again, now and every time something like this happens.

My answer is that I don't know. Oh, I've got my own systems, my own ideas and beliefs. But they are small and weak in the face of this, in the face of all evil. Sometimes atheism simply makes more sense than belief. Perhaps if I were a better Christian I would have something to say to this, something that would convince people like Shakespeare's Sister - who I respect a great deal and consider a friend, so this is not intended to be combative - that the VA Tech shootings really do show the superiority of religious belief.

I'm not that good of a Christian. But I'm good enough, or perhaps just wise enough, to know that I'm not up to the task, and therefore will not make the attempt. If only D'Souza would do the same.

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