As most of you have either heard, read, or seen by now, a man in rural Pennsylvania stormed an Amish schoolhouse, took all the girls prisoner, killed 5 of them, seriously injured the rest, before killing himself.

A quote in an article yesterday by one of the victim\’s father was:

\”We think it was God\’s plan and we\’re going to have to pick up the pieces and keep going,\” he said. \”A funeral to us is a much more important thing than the day of birth because we believe in the hereafter. The children are better off than their survivors.\”

It\’s that last sentence that got to me.  What is it like to have a belief system that would have you positively convinced that the dead, children bound and murdered in cold blood, are better off than the survivors?  I\’m certain this man didn\’t mean it in the way that the trauma (physical and mental) of that day would leave scars that would never heal in those survivors.  I\’m sure he meant that those children are now in heaven, and better off than their families (and the rest of us) stuck down here on earth.

That outlook.  That feeling.  That… faith… is completely lost on me.  Not to be trite, but it just doesn\’t compute. 

I am simultaneously in awe of and completely bewildered by a person who in the face of such a tragedy can profess such ideas.  I am not a religious man, but I understand the belief in a higher power.  It can be hard, if not impossible, to rationally explain much of every day life.  But to believe that something this horrific was \”God\’s plan\” and the dead are \”better off\” is just beyond me.

I would like to walk in that man\’s shoes for a day.  Just to see what it is like.  Is life much more clear and simple?  Not saying that he doesn\’t feel less pain than anyone else under these circumstances, but does his faith truly sustain him… and at what cost?

Maybe it is the times we live in, or it is my nature, but I can\’t help but be skeptical (and honestly, condescending) toward people who profess this level of faith.  Not that they are disingenuous, but they are deluding themselves. 

But if the delusion is beneficial, is it really so bad?  Maybe in small doses… like a drug.  But does that drug numb the masses?  And if so, is that only to keep order, or to keep in place?  Is there a difference?

It takes a strong will to keep your faith in God when faced with an unthinkable tragedy that these families have faced.  I will never have such a fervent belief in anything that would allow me such apparent strength when faced with something like this.  To be convinced that things are the way they are meant to be and, in fact, it is for the best.  And for that, I admit, I am jealous.



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8 responses to “Faith”

  1. anderswa Avatar

    hoo boy. here’s my take. in three handy parts:
    part a: unlike a lot of christians, i take issue with this statement: “We think it was God’s plan…” really? you think God wanted those girls to die, as part of some greater plan? to teach us a lesson or something? that’s BS. God is, at the base of all things, loving and his plans do not include orchestrated murder for any purpose. one of the gifts God gives all humans is free will. so– ultimately– people can do anything, even if it’s disgusting (amish shooting, 9/11, holocaust, name your tragedy).
    part b: like most christians, i believe a better existence does await us. but that doesn’t make daily life clear or simple.
    part c: i think it’s difficult for intellectuals (rightly or wrongly, i’m lumping myself in with that crowd) to acknowledge something that we cannot explain. we learn that there’s an explanation for everything– many churches (including my own) attribute biblical miracles to either science or folklore. but– again, to me– a person does not have to sign off on the bible as being irrefutable to be a christian. and i’m not a christian because it makes me feel like all is better, because it makes life easier, because it numbs me, or because i’m more gullible than others. in fact, it’s often the opposite.

  2. wadE Avatar

    I hope you read closely and read that I was directing my more “strong” language to those who seem to be blinded by their faith.

    in a somewhat related artice:
    only in Wisconsin…

  3. anderswa Avatar

    no, i get that you were aiming at the more bible-thumping types. however, you also seem to equate faith (which is something you can’t really have in degrees– you either have it or you don’t) to something akin to huxley’s soma, which is offensive.
    and that related article just proves that anyone can get elected to public office. at least in wisconsin.

  4. alex Avatar

    My own personal take is that it’s:

    A) Unwise to try and speak of “faith” in broad strokes. I like to be as highly specific as possible when discussing situations such as this.

    B) Difficult for people who don’t have faith to talk about it, precisely because (like wadE says) they just don’t know what it’s like. However, I also think it goes both ways. Which is why the subject tends to be so divisive.

    As far as the specific story in question… are we really going to take the quote of a father who just lost his daughter and rip it apart like he had days to think about it and that it’s a representative statement for people who “have faith”? I think it’s more likely that he’s just reacting to having a camera or microphone shoved in his face while he’s grieving. He may or may not mean what he says, and as always with any kind of a published story, we don’t know if he said anything before or after his statement that would put more context to what he did say.

    (Basically color me skeptical of the news these days.)

    I think all we need agree on is that this is a tragic story, and one that we should all mourn together, regardless of our faiths.

  5. anderswa Avatar

    and we should mourn together with our guns!!

  6. blondebombchelle Avatar

    I’ve actually been thinking about this from a different standpoint.

    Imagine how internally torn these families are in wanting to belive this was “God’s plan” or their faith will pull them through yet suffering with their terrible loss? Are they conflicted with feelings of anger, fear, loss, depression and anxiety that they can’t outwardly express because it would be against the tenants of their religion?

    I can’t imagine the one mother who lost both of her little girls doesn’t feel such intense pain that she questions the very foundation her life was built upon. She, like all others who have experienced loss, will go through all the stages of emotion. Faith will be questioned, anger will be felt… but will she be able to truly go through all those emotions in a community, we’ll really never know.

  7. anderswa Avatar

    that’s a good point, chelle. i’m guessing that being angry and speaking out– even though that’s how the mother feels– is not acceptable in that community.

  8. wadE Avatar

    Chelle touches more on what I was looking at. Although the father is an example of this, I was looking at him as more representative of people who I feel have “blind faith in God”. There is no questioning. I question the belief system of someone who truly thinks that this act is part of a “plan”. I’m not saying all Christians are weak-willed idiots. The main point is that I’m far too skeptical to ever have faith in anything that would allow me to have a view that is professed by someone like this man. And, I think it’s actually dangerous if most people had that level of faith.

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