Long surgery (6 1/2 hours) on John yesterday, but he came through okay and today he’s a bit groggy, zoned out and grumpy – a condition not unknown to myself. Off to join Pal Nancy at his bedside in a few minutes. He posted a great Facebook note on his pending adventure yesterday, here. I think it perfectly captures the boy and his spirit.
As this tragedy has unfolded, I’ve been left cold by those who’ve tried to comfort me (and John) with their view that “it’s all in God’s plan”, or “God has decided he wants him in heaven”, and so forth. I’m not offended by these sincere expressions of belief, but I don’t share their belief in a “God the Body Snatcher ” sort of being, so I thought I’d look up a contemporary Jewish writer on faith, someone who had kept his faith in God in the facts of the Holocaust – if someone could manage that, he would surely have something of value to say about the death of a single child. And I found it in Rabbi Harold Kushner’s “When Bad things Happen to Good People”, written by a man after the lingering death of his own boy (it seems to be out of print now, but it’s available on Kindle).
The rabbi spends half of his short (180 pages) book going through exactly what I’ve been feeling: what kind of all-powerful god sends cancer, or an earthquake, or a drunk driver into an innocent person’s life? If he’s omnipotent, he can’t be loving, and if he can cure illness or reverse an earthquake, he sure as hell could have prevented it in the first place. Hitler, and the millions of people who joined him in his evil were part of a grand tapestry? Give me a break.
So the rabbi cuts that Gordian knot by abandoning, or rejecting, the concept of an all-powerful Go, but a God nonetheless, who breathed spirit into man and created a being different from mere animals – beings capable of compassion, love, morality and courage. We tap into this God through our prayers, the Rabbi says: not to plead for the reversal of the laws of nature, but so we can join fully into a community of our fellow creatures.
Okay, that’s a mangled summary, but if you’ve had similar questions, I recommend the book.
Somewhat related, I also thank God for creating gay people. Yesterday on my way home from the hospital I stopped at a Trader Joe’s for some food and the checkout guy asked how I was doing. “OK”, I answered, and when he asked why ‘just’ okay, I told him that I’d spent the day in the hospital while my boy was being operated on. Without a word he stopped ringing up my items, raced across the store and came back with one of the Trader Joe’s floral arrangements and gave it to me. Any human might have had that impulse to be so kind and supportive, but in my macho world, only a gay guy would have had the courage to act on it. In any case, and regardless of the man’s sexuality, he was a perfect example of what Rabbi Kushner seems to be talking about.
And, just to close on a political note, without which my day is incomplete, I’ll note that John is being treated and cared for at Mercy Hospital, a fantastic institution that has been caring for sick people, regardless of their insurance plan (John’s is limited) or ability to pay, for more than 100 years – it’s their mission, and part of their faith.
So it infuriates me that Catholic hospitals like these, who treat all comers, rich, poor middle class, regardless of faith or color or even sexuality (see above), are being told by the government that they must violate their faith and belief and supply, of all things, something so trivial (in terms of financial cost) as insurance coverage for birth control for their staff.
This has nothing to do with the few bucks that would be saved by the insured, and everything to do with the Whore of Babylon, demanding that all kneel to Caesar (to mix metaphors). It’s outrageous but, these days, entirely predictable. There is no room for dissenters in the brave new world of progressivism, and with progressives in power, the battle will continue until we successfully rebel or they prevail. Keep your powder dry.