So what kinds of thoughts pop into your mind when you are watching a newscast, after some kind of tragedy, and the anchor-person ends a report by saying, "All of our thoughts are with the families involved in this event," or words to that effect.
The key buzz word, of course, is "thoughts." In some parts of America, anchor-people still dare to say "thoughts and prayers."
Either way, here is what I usually think when I hear that: "Really?"
Cynical? You betcha. This brings me, of course, to this week's media storm about The New York Daily News cover -- in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre -- with the infamous "God Isn't Fixing This" banner headline. Click here for Julia Duin's post on the "prayer shaming" debate that followed that piece.
The key, of course, was whether one took the headline as a shot a God, a shot at Republicans who issued statements about praying for the victims (as opposed to calls for gun-control legislation) or as both.
Lots of folks, this week, asked why I thought the Daily News ran that headline. I immediately thought about the numbers in the Pew Forum report that put the "nones" -- the growing number of religiously unaffiliated Americans -- in the news. You may recall that one implication of that survey was that a coalition of secularists, "nones" and our nation's small cohort of religious liberals was now the largest constituency group in today's Democratic Party.
Clearly, Democrats -- with the media that service them -- need to please that base, from time to time (just as Republicans have to worry about the concerns of the very religious). Might the Daily News leaders (who desperately need someone to fund their newspaper) have been courting that audience?
The problem was that the headline, even if it was tweaking "thoughts and prayers" Republicans, also took a shot at God, whether the editors intended that or not. This brings we to a think piece that ran at The Federalist with this headline:
God Responds To The New York Daily News
'Brace yourself like a man,' the Lord said. 'I will question you. And you will answer me.'
The goal of this piece was to take seriously the religious content of that headline. Yes, (trigger warning) this is VERY religious stuff. For example:
Lashing out at God, the creator of all things, who offered His blameless and perfect Son as a holy sacrifice to forever wash away the sins of all who believe in Him and seek His forgiveness, so that we may one day be eternally reconciled to Him and delivered from evil, is sadly nothing new. God has been blamed by mankind for its own evil since man first decided that day in the garden that his own judgment was far greater than that of his creator.
“Come down from the cross and save yourself!” they later demanded. He did not save Himself by hopping down from that cross.
Instead, He “fixed” the situation by dying an unimaginably horrible death, bearing the weight of the sins of all mankind for all eternity, being laid in a cold and empty tomb, and then, on the third day, after literally defeating death and sin itself, Jesus Christ rose from the dead and informed the world that as a result of His perfect life, painful death, and resurrection from the dead, sinful man might one day share in the infinite glory of God’s holy and perfect Son, not because of our own actions or merit, but because of the sacrifice and unending grace and mercy of the only perfect man to ever walk the earth.
Granted, it’s not a snarky tabloid cover, but it’s pretty impressive nonetheless.
But the key to this piece is found in the haunting words of Job 38, when God responded to a very similar set of critics.
Those who know the Hebrew Bible know that this famous passage starts like this:
2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
Read it all. Yes, even if you are a newspaper editor.
If you can't handle God, then please consider of the logic of this National Journal piece by liberal commentator Ron Fournier, which notes that -- if liberals actually want to achieve change on gun-control issues -- they will need the help of millions and millions and millions of Americans, left and right, who spend lots of time of their knees.
He headline was blunt: "Mockery isn’t fixing this." A sample, focusing on that Daily News cover:
Not only does it attack GOP presidential candidates (again, I’m all for that), it insults anybody who opposes gun control and demeans their sympathies for the victims. It mocks their prayers.
That’s no way to win a culture war.
Think about it. Mockery is the last resort of an insecure person, usually a bully, who can’t get his or her way through more gentle persuasion.
Ouch. More to come, I am sure.