The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”  They are corrupt and have committed abominable injustice …”

Ps 14:1-3

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First, Baltimore and then the Garland, Texas  shooting of two armed men intent on killing people attending a meeting that featured a cash award for drawing a cartoon of Mohammed.  It seems like these events come one right on top of another, and all too frequently.

What these two events, and many other public acts like them, have in common is quite simply this: these are godless acts – actions taken by those who are without God.

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck reminds us that individuals without a spiritual element to their life are (in his words) “chaotic/antisocial” and that these individuals are “utterly unprincipled.”  Further, he identifies these people as having “no mechanism that might govern them other than their own will.”

In a public discussion of the Garland incident we are told that “free speech” justifies the cartoon competition.  But is that so?  Is speech the only freedom at play, the highest value in an ordered and full life?  What about God?  What about religious belief?  Are we who we can best be when we forget God, and lose regard for God and others’ belief in God?

Language can be provocative.  So speech is not without its limits.  Speech can be hurtful and, in a sense, violent.  It is a freedom that must be both protected and used with care.  Like all things we do, speech is, or should be, moderated by conscience, governed by what is good and that is, in my view: Love, and God who is Love.

Violence comes in many forms.  Humans are capable of violence.  We are also capable of love and compassion, restraint and courage.  Yet, when God is lost to us bad things happen and these bad things multiply.

This is a time to ask: Where is God in all this, and in me, and in my thoughts and actions?

We have the capacity to do great things, to lend ourselves to leadership and great charity, but none of that can or will be realized without God at the center of our being, and our respect for the indispensable place for God in the lives of others and in culture.

Time for self-examination.  Who are we now?  What have we become?  Are we ascending or descending?

Shalom.

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