Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Slouching toward Bethlehem

Or maybe towards Gomorrah, I don't know.

On bad days, sometimes I watch the news or read news online and wonder what we may be unleashing on the world. What if evil is something that could actually take on a persona, what if it could actually infect people? Do we want to call more of that into the world?

I don't know. I find the idea that a group at Harvard wants to celebrate a Black Mass (And I guess they already did? It was yesterday?) unsettling in the extreme.

I'm not Catholic but I am Christian and I find this both offensive and also kind of scary- the idea of not meddling in things that might just call down evil somehow. But moreover, offensive - as one of the chaplains protesting observed, “Just because something may be permissible does not make it right or good.”

I don't know. I think more and more as a society we seem to be rejecting "right" and "good," and that bothers me on a very deep level. Some people take the idea of "it's all relative, so what does it matter?" Others seem to take the idea of "it's my right to do this, no matter how it affects other people."

From what I've been able to read about this, it's not that there's a satanic group on campus doing this genuinely. It's an outspoken atheist group who is doing it mainly (I suspect) as a poke in the eye to Catholics.

I don't know. The older I get, the more I ascribe to the philosophy of "Don't be an asshole just because you can be one. And don't be an asshole just because someone was an asshole to you in the past." I know a lot of nonbelievers who feel oppressed because America is in some ways still a culturally Christian country. I know cases where Christians have been (to my great embarrassment as a Christian) rude and pushy to nonbelievers.  But two wrongs don't make a right. Being offensive about the thing a large group of Christians consider deeply solemn and meaningful is not going to win you any points. Throwing dung on a person because someone else threw dung on you first isn't going to make that person want to listen to your unhappiness about having dung on you. 

Part of the reason it bothers me is it's just another case of "we're gonna be ugly and irreverent to something that other people are deeply reverent about because we can be" - it's just a childish behavior, like a four-year-old scribbling in his sister's book because she'd rather read than play with him.

The other thing, like I said - and some might call this superstitious, I know some of my colleagues would - I think it's a bad idea to mess in things that might just, somehow, bring more evil into the world. I don't know the history of or the way a Black Mass operates, but it does seem like something aimed at "undoing the good" of a true Christian celebration.

I don't know. Maybe I'm just getting old and sad (I think I am getting closer to burnout than I've ever been) but when I see stuff like this, it just seems so unnecessary. One human tendency that bothers me is going out of your way to hurt someone else because you've been hurt in the past - it just perpetuates the bad feelings. And yes, I'm jumping to the huge conclusion here that some of the people are involved are doing this because they were hurt or mistreated by people calling themselves Catholics in the past, and I could be totally wrong about that.

But also, doing something offensive "for the lulz" (and this is a deeply, deeply offensive thing. I find it offensive and as I said, I'm a Protestant in a traditionally "low church" denomination; I can't imagine how much worse it is for lifelong Catholics) just seems to me to....well, it makes life ugly for no good for anyone. We don't need more ugliness in this world.

And yes, I saw the photos of the Catholics and others praying - trying to fight back the evil, I suppose you could say, with prayer. And yes, of course, Christ is bigger and stronger and tougher than any Black Mass, and the people participating in that thing are ultimately only hurting themselves in some ways.

But it still bothers me because it just reminds me of how diverse ugliness in our society has become.

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