This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Angels and Innocents

Original link
I have a vivid memory of the first time I became aware that children could die. It was early evening in the leisurely dusk of summer, and after eating with my mother at a local coffee shop, we passed by a newspaper vending machine outside. A child victim, kidnapped, murdered and disposed of like garbage, stared ominously out at me from the front page of the paper in grainy black and white. I remember my sense of horror when my mother told me that the child, who was approximately my age, would never see his parents again. Associating death with old people, I was stupefied by this seeming contradiction. Although raised heretically in a secular household, I had been corrupted by the prayer-saturated social universe of waxen blue-eyed Jesus’ plastered on my friends’ living room walls. Alone in my bed that night, I wondered how “God” could have countenanced such unspeakable evil.

Decades later there is an aching space where this child’s life would have been, his personhood “frozen” at abduction. Violent death by homicide at an early age is a grim reality for many youth of color. Gangsta rap romanticizes it and dishes it up for the voyeurism of white suburbia. Mainstream media ignores it or relegates it to social pathology. Every semester when I ask my students if they’ve had a young friend or relative die violently at least half will raise their hands. Their tattoos, notebooks and Sidekick phones are filled with vibrant mementoes for the dead. It is not necessary to go to Iraq, Afghanistan or some other theatre of American imperialism to experience the devastation that the killing fields of disposable youth inflicts. Yet, God takes care of children and fools, or so the shopworn saying goes. In the midst of sudden death there is refuge in the belief that the Cecil B. De Mille epic doomsayer of the Old Testament must have a special place in his heart for this tender constituency. Pied Piper religionists pat children on the head and whisper into their dewy ears that the murder of an innocent child is part of some grand design. They dish up the concept of divine providence like hard candy. They lure sweet-toothed youth with a ready “antidote” to the quandary of trying to make sense out of the senselessness and randomness of evil. The Wynken, Blynken and Nod bedtime story of grand design is chased down with the simple carrot of eternal reward for slain innocents. The inexplicable is assimilated. Senseless evil, evil that befalls the good and stalks the innocent, is legitimized as part of the divine’s hardscrabble boot camp for the living.
... Continue reading

TAGGED: CHILDREN, RELIGION


RELATED CONTENT

The racism of the respectable

Nick Cohen - The Spectator Comments

To be a racist in Britain, you do not need to cover yourself in tattoos and join a neo-Nazi party. You can wear well-made shirts, open at the neck, appreciate fine wines and vote Left at election time.

The rebranding of circumcision as...

Brendan O'Neill - The Telegraph Comments

The rebranding of circumcision as 'child abuse' echoes the ugly anti-Semitism of medieval Europe

German court rules religious...

AFP - - Comments

Circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to grievous bodily harm, a German court ruled

Religious Extremism In Public Schools:...

Katherine Stewart, R. Elisabeth... Comments

Religious Extremism In Public Schools: R. Elisabeth Cornwell & Sean Faircloth interviews author Katherine Stewart

Roman Catholic Church official...

NBC News - MNSBC Comments

A Roman Catholic church official was convicted Friday of child endangerment but acquitted of conspiracy in a groundbreaking clergy-abuse trial

[Update] How Christian fundamentalists...

Katherine Stewart - The Guardian 36 Comments

How Christian fundamentalists plan to teach genocide to schoolchildren

MORE

MORE BY SIKIVU HUTCHINSON

I Wanna Be A Macho Man: The Prosperity...

Sikivu Hutchinson - blackfemlens 24 Comments

Oratory of Division: A Humanist Response

Sikivu Hutchinson - the new Humanism 17 Comments

Manifest Destiny Revivalism and Glenn...

Sikivu Hutchinson - blackfemlens 28 Comments

Wednesday July 14, 11am-Noon From The...

Sikivu Hutchinson - WBAI - New York 24 Comments

Not Knocking on Heaven’s Door:* Black...

Sikivu Hutchinson - LA Progressive 15 Comments

Black Infidels: Harvard's New...

Sikivu Hutchinson - The New Humanism 26 Comments

MORE

Comments

Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment