I remember, back in the dawn of the internet age, there was a website called “Naked News”. It was a website where you could get your news. . . from an anchor who would strip down during the video broadcast. I didn’t partake in the site – not because I was morally against it, but because it was a pay site – but I was aware of its existence. And because it was around in 2001, I got to hear, in a radio interview with one of the anchors, how the “Naked News” chose to deliver information about the World Trade Center attack.
As the anchor explained during a morning radio interview, the Naked News wasn’t going to touch 9/11 with a thirty-foot pole. The site was supposed to offer a lighter take on the daily news, and they figured (rightly so) that it would be disrespectful to broadcast during a time of national tragedy. Instead, their website simply posted a somber note advising people to seek their news elsewhere. Nobody was going to take off their clothes for this story.
That’s kind of how I feel about “What the Faith” and national tragedies. This blog explores faith through the lens of two immature thirty-somethings who are overly fond of fart jokes. We tend toward cynicism, we laugh at many things deemed inappropriate, and we are, in many ways, completely unequipped to comment on the horrors of Virginia Tech, or the tsunami in Japan, or Newtown.
So, we haven’t.
But yesterday, as the news of the Boston Marathon bombing came in, I, like most people my age, took to Facebook to get my updates. And while I was scrolling through my phone’s Facebook app, I came across this quote, by a guy who could be considered even less qualified than myself to address a national tragedy: comedian Patton Oswalt. If you haven’t come across his quote on your own interwebbing, I’ll provide it here.
“Boston. Fucking horrible.
“I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”
“But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.
“But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.
“But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
“So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.’”
My heart breaks when I look at a picture of Martin Richard, who died waiting for his dad to cross the finish line. A year ago a picture was taken of Martin holding a hand-written sign that said, “No more hurting people. Peace.” Now, Martin is gone. The urge to despair of my race is strong right now. It’s only hope that holds me back. That’s why Patton Oswalt’s words are so comforting to me. They show that the spirit of God is covering the whole human race – that a stand-up comedian of no particular religion can espouse, without even knowing it, the coming of the Kingdom of God.
I don’t have to despair of my people. I can choose to be proud of us. More importantly, I have reason to be proud of us. And that makes me want to comment on this terrible fucking tragedy, regardless of how unqualified I am.
Someday, the pain that comes from living in a broken world will be over. Until then, I’ll follow the advice of my friend, the J-man, who told me to pray like this.
Our father, who is in heaven
Hallowed be your name
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us, this day, our daily bread.
And forgive our sins, as we forgive the sins of others.
And don’t lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil
For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
If you want to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, especially if you’re in the Boston area, this article is a helpful resource. Let’s do things we can be proud of.