Wednesday, 7 January 2015

I am with Charlie Hebdo

Charlie hebdo

The heinous slaughter of twelve people at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo this morning, and the serious injury of several others, are vile crimes, whose repulsive horror is made even greater by the religious motivation of their perpetrators. The gunmen responsible for this morning’s barbarity invoked the name of Allah and spouted words of vengeance.

Vengeance for what?

For cartoons.

They responded to cartoons that they found offensive by murdering and maiming their fellow brothers and sisters: blood of their blood, beloved children of the same God they delude themselves into serving.

What God could possibly want one of his children to take a gun, aim it at their own brother, pull the trigger and make a bullet rip through their sibling’s flesh, bones, veins, arteries and sinews, extinguishing their life? What insane God would that be? What an abhorrent and repulsive God indeed. The same kind of deranged lunatic of a God who would make other of his children torture their siblings with unspeakable efficiency and clinicality of method, while tricking them into thinking that they were doing it “for the greater good.” The same beast of a demiurge God who would make yet other of his children use their siblings as human shields and bomb their schools and hospitals. The same leech of a God who would have some of his children get rich at the expense of their brothers and sisters starving, homeless and hopeless, working for a pittance that would leave them worse off than if they did not work at all.

What kind of a God would that be?

Not one I recognize, but one who ought to be denied, ignored and thought dead.

My God is different though. He makes Himself vulnerable and small, dependent on the kindness of others. He responds to violence with turning His other cheek, to ridicule with words of kindness, to temptations of power with resolute humility. He is a God who calls to meekness, poverty, peace-making, to feeding the hungry, sating the thirsty, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked and visiting prisoners. He is a God who chooses suffering for Himself lest He would impinge on my freedom. A God who invites and welcomes, never forces or coerces. A God who instead envelopes me with the beauty of the Universe, the truth of reason and the goodness of my brothers and sisters through whom He loves me.

And as much as seeing the cartoon at the top of this post saddens me, since it mocks Jesus, whom I love, I choose to show it here out of solidarity with my brothers and sisters at Charlie Hebdo, who were callously murdered today. I choose to support their freedom of expression, even though what it expresses is not mine, since freedom is the absolute basis of God’s love for us and our love for each other. Without freedom there can be no love, and without love all we’d have is darkness.

[UPDATE (9 January 2015): A Catalan translation of this post is now available on the Ciutat Nova blog.]