Sunday, March 13, 2005

Evangelism and Zealous Beliefs

The shock of a shooting at a church service has left neighbors, friends and the public in an uneasy state of bewilderment. There seems no logic to such a violent and tragic event, no understanding of how an ordinary man who lived an ordinary life without a history of violence could simply take aim and methodically murder members of a prayer fellowship.

It is time to look at how evangelism and zealous beliefs ensnare those most in need of control over their inner thoughts and impulses. It is time to look at how the political endorsement of conservative, fundamentalist structures has fueled the flocks of lost souls looking for some anchor to control their own behaviors outside of themselves.

The actions of one man who found personal justification in murdering his fellow church members during services is simply a crack in a Pandora's box of unleashed human violence. As a species we are not, as we would like to believe, highly intelligent, rational or superior creatures. Quite the contrary, we have an unrelenting passion for savagery and destruction. Over 58 years of exploring life I cannot identify any species on earth apart from humans that kills and injures for the savage pleasure of it, nor can I identify any other species that justifies mass decimation with divine direction.

Evangelism is not restricted to religion of course. We have ample evidence of that in the actions of the President of the United States engaging and driving a tightly controlled flock of followers to evangelize what he calls democracy to the entire world community with complete disregard for others' cultural, historical, or political structures and choices. This becomes all the more ludicrous when the light shines on his version of democracy reflecting horrific abuses in Guantanamo and Abu Graib, destruction of quality of lives and families by hijacking National Guard and Reservists to serve active duty for such length that their civilian lives are shattered, and a driven effort to foist loss of privacy in the name of security across the country. This is all cloaked in a thinly veiled marketing strategy of religious compassion.

The use of the religious conservatives to justify totalitarian, exploitive and abusive behaviors on citizens in this country has opened the door to justification of violence to achieve a "right" outcome. The vulnerability of someone's inner fears and uncertainties coupled with a tacit government permission to justify violence in the name of holiness will, inevitably, fuel the types of events that occured yesterday at a small church service in Wisconsin. Add to this political message the increased sense of justified existence of fervent evangelical groups who posit having the true light to carry to the world, then the light we'll be seeing will be increasingly explosive.

Until we, as a species, choose to internalize social and individual control to the degree of other species, we are at the bottom of the chain, not the top. Because of our lack of internalized self-discipline and ability to steward rather than control territory and lives, we are too dangerous to take on a mantle of rightousness or to lay claim to apostolic, evangelical leadership. Standing at the feet of God is not the same as standing in His Shoes. Whoever's shoes are being borrowed by zealots of all political and faith persuasions have the stench of destruction and decay and leave a trail to darkness not light.


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9:09 AM  

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