The conflicts of a reporter

by Bene Diction on January 28, 2005

I found this well written article hit very close to home. Closer than I might have liked.
My Kitty - A Crime Reporters loses her faith while writing her church letter is at Killing the Buddha.

I filed the story and went home around 1 PM. I had a governmental meeting to attend that night, so I took the afternoon off. I decided to work on the church newsletter.

I started reading through the “My Kitty” essay. I still have a copy of it, and even now, it’s not quite clear what the writer is trying to say.

She talks about her cat sitting on her lap, purring, and tries to draw an analogy between her cat’s relationship with her, and her relationship with God. Her kitty is “almost totally dependent on me. If I didn’t feed her, she would starve, shut up in my house, not allowed out to hunt… She is in submission to my authority. She is at peace, never worried or anxious.”

The writer goes on to talk about how hard the cat’s life would be if it had to live on its own outside. She also chronicles giving the cat a flea bath, how even after that indignation, the cat returns to her lap, “grateful for the peace and freedom she has in our relationship.”

Now, there are many logical arguments that can be made here (God thinks of us as house pets?), but in that moment, that’s not how my mind was working.

Having just come from the courthouse, from the hearing, from trying to turn off the image of the girl’s rape in my head, made all the worse by her screaming (somehow I had assumed she would be silent, in shock), then reading this essay about the cat, thinking about how inane and absurd it was, it was just more than I could take.

It was the collision of two realities: the horror of sickening violence against a child, of sudden death, of driving through a parking lot and somehow killing a child, and a nearsighted, self-contained and self-satisfied religion that subverted all genuine human experience, good or bad, for its own purposes. It offered glib answers to the world’s problems — bad things happen because people choose to sin, or simply because “It’s a fallen world.” But if people pray a prayer and are born again, they will be changed. Jesus will judge the sinners who don’t repent.

I too have had those jarring worlds collide. I have wept with police officers, lawyers, fireman.
Her conclusion is not unlike my own. I found myself angry more than doubtful, but like this reporter, I rejected some forms of faith, and God has not left me.

And that was the end of my time as an evangelical. For many years I felt as if God had abandoned me, that I was on my own. Now I realize that to reject a form of faith that was not serving me did not mean that God had left me alone.

I still sometimes wish it had worked, that kind of faith where God scratches us behind the ears and we purr, “symbolic of … trusting peace,” the essayist wrote. But my pain failed to respond and I was driven away, seeking refuge in the wild woods, the realm of uncertainty. It’s where I still am. It is not warm and cozy here, and there are moments of profound fear. But it’s also the only place I’ve been able to find hope and some small understanding of how a person might be healed.

No, it is not warm and cozy, it is a lonely place where these worlds continue to collide.
I have such little patience for those who rail against liberal media. They have no idea of believers serving faithfully in the very institutions they mock.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Kristofer 01.28.05 at 10:16 am

I am a member of a church where I think we are somewhere in between, sometimes the answers are just to simple (we are God’s pets) and sometimes the more uncertainty shines through. But it’s hard, the simple, certain answer is exactly that, more simple to handle.

2

Wood 01.28.05 at 11:28 am

Speak it, Bene. Too damn right.

3

Andy 01.28.05 at 11:33 am

I think God answered us in Job and later in the Resurrection. I also think that God is not evil, but that Evil appears when there is an abscence of God. Does this mean that because we do have God in our own lives that we might not be beaten, rob, raped or murdered? No, it means God is absent by choice from the life of many people who inflict evil acts upon non-Christians and Christians out of their desparate and baren minds.

Christ knew this, which is why he did not promise the abscence of sorrow, but did promise the hope of healing.

4

Joel Thomas 01.28.05 at 11:38 am

If God’s grace is partially a mystery, as I believe it is, then human suffering in relationship to God’s providence is also partially a mystery. There is no easy answer for why God both condemns and allows such a thing as the Holocaust or the destruction of a tsunami. However, the lack of a simplistic answer draws me closer to God, not farther away.

5

Wood 01.28.05 at 12:53 pm

True, but sometimes the glib, lame answers - like the “kitty” illustration - really don’t help.

6

Mike 01.29.05 at 12:45 am

Being a former journalist, I emailed the author and told her of a church there in Madison where struggling, doubting, questioning, and being human are OK. I hope she follows through: we need more people like her in the church.

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