Today, we mourn with our brothers and sisters in France as we remember the satirists who were senselessly murdered at the hands of people whose faith is so shallow they can’t take a joke. If we’re so sensitive about our faith that we can’t laugh about it’s shortcomings, then we aren’t nearly introspective enough.
A spiritual journey requires constant questioning and repositioning. People outside our faith who poke holes in our theology, and even make fun of the things we believe are important pieces of our journey. Satirists help us see the most ludicrous aspects of religion and the world in which we live. They help us lose the trappings of religion so we might become more faithful to God, rather than blindly following a Pope or Caliph. Satire is intended to help us think more deeply about whether or not the things we hold dear are making us the peaceful, loving, compassionate, forgiving beings every religion on the planet claims is our true birthright.
The foundation we build our faith on needs to be solid, yet we must also be open to remodeling. Now and then we have to admit our foundation is so decayed that it’s better to tear down the entire structure and start anew. This is the case when we find ourselves unable to laugh at the more ludicrous aspects of our religions.
Literalism often causes religious extremism. When Muslims read the Qur’an literally, they interpret the idea of jihad, which is most often about an internal spiritual war, as a command to kill people who believe differently. The same thing happens to Christians. In the Middle Ages, Christians, who read the Bible as fact rather than literature started a holy war against Islam called The Crusade. The same thing happens today when pastors burn Qur’ans, decry homosexuality as a sin, or insist the earth is only 6000 years old and that cavemen and dinosaurs roamed the Earth together.
Ignorance is the enemy of spiritual growth.
When senseless attacks like this happen, I understand why Jesus wept. Today, along with millions of people around the world, I too weep in sorrow. I am ashamed and disappointed at our complete and utter lack of humanity. I pray that we will all begin to deeply reexamine our belief foundations and that if we find any ounce of fear, hatred or disrespect within, that God replaces them with unconditional love.
Prayer: I believe in you, Holy God, because I have felt the unexplainable and complete presence of unconditional love fill my entire being. I have been elated beyond understanding. Love has convinced me you are real. So now, Dear Infinite Presence, please do the same for the people around the world who are so afraid of love that they feel the need to slaughter others in your Holy name. Amen.