A little (American) Thanksgiving day meditation I shared this morning on Facebook. Since a friend there told me she thought it was valuable, I now think to share it with all of you here, too — and with greetings to many readers of this blog who aren't celebrating the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving today, but whom I don't intend to exclude by framing this as a Thanksgiving meditation. Here's what I wrote on Facebook:
You know, I have to believe that if God is merciful, God does not choose to consign anyone to eternal damnation in hell. Believing that God makes that choice for some human beings — wanting to believe it, because I dislike some human beings — seems to me to make the concept of God's mercy meaningless.
Still, I wonder how to think and feel about God and God's mercy and hell as I listen to Pastor Kevin Swanson screaming about putting homosexuals to death in God's name, in the clip from Rachel Maddow I shared this morning.* The bloodlust of this man who claims to speak in God's name is so palpable, his hunger to kill people who differ from him and to call such murder holy is so apparent: as candidates for the highest office in the U.S. sit listening to the hate speech, and as many American citizens sit by in total silence while such murderous rhetoric is normalized in our public square.
It's frightening. And it's repulsive. And I don't know how to feel about it, except to feel utter revulsion. What does it do to the minds and souls of young people seeking to understand their sexual orientation, to hear such violent speech directed at them by men of "God"?
For that matter, what to do about a comment someone calling himself CatholicCrusader has left today in response to something I said a long time ago at the Enlightened Catholicism blog? CatholicCrusader calls me a "stain" on American Catholicism as a "practicing homosexual."
If I expect God to be merciful to me at the end of my life — and my sins are very different from what CatholicCrusader or Pastor Swanson imagine: they're the sins of failing to open my heart wider and love more — then I can't believe that a merciful God sends such men to hell. But if it depended on me with my tiny heart, I'd be inclined to envisage men like this, who make other human beings susceptible to horrendous violence with their hate rhetoric enacted in the name of God, in hell.
* It's the clip at the head of this posting.