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God, where are you?
The place was the terrace surrounding the North Carolina legislative building. The event, a sleep-out demonstration for the issue of the homeless in our state. The hour, 2 a.m., my assigned hour to keep watch over my section of the sleep-out.
Suddenly, one of the homeless men participating in the event stood up and began shaking his fist toward the sky. Then he shouted out, the first words I cannot put into print here, then followed by, “God, where are you?”
This moment of deep, human, spiritual despair was burned into my memory for a lifetime.
As a new believer and a PK (preacher’s kid), I had easy access to the church’s sanctuary. To me and my young and naive understanding as to where God exists, I determined that the most holy place was in the church’s sanctuary and in front of the communion table.
It was here I would go when feeling down, needing to feel closer to God or confess my shortcomings.
Friedrich Nietzsche, a European philosopher whose career peaked in the late 1800s, declared that, “God is dead!” He wrote, “Where has God gone? I shall tell you. We have killed him, you and I. Gods, too, must die and decompose. God is dead.”
No, we can’t kill God. However, as one of my systematic theology professors once said, “God gets a lot of blame and credit for events that God had no part in.” His statement calls to mind the election of our president in 2016.
Are we not, as a nation, living in a time when we witness unspeakable evil events that seem to be occurring with ever more frequency such as we have just witnessed in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio? Have you not been tempted to cry out, like the homeless man, “God, where are you?”
When we live in a time where there are rallies that chant, “Send them back”! Or when asked how do we stop this “invasion of Mexicans” someone shouts out, “shoot them” and there are thousands laughing and cheering such an evil thought, how can we expect God to be there?
God is there — weeping!
This columnist happens to believe that every human being is created in God’s image. Each of us has a spark of the divine in us. Unfortunately, there are those in places of power, even religious power, who are seeking to create a God in their image, a “god” they can control, define and use for their own ends.
The failures of our government are not the root of our problems. President Trump is but a symptom of what is wrong in our nation. Neither the Democratic Party or the Republican Party is the cause or effect of our nation’s current tragic status.
Racism, greed and white supremacy are, again, but symptoms of our nation’s illness.
We have become numb or have chosen to ignore the belief that God is within each of us regardless of our race, religion or nationality.
God, where are you?
“Christ (God) has no body on earth but yours. No hands but yours. No feet but yours.” Words of Saint Teresa of Avila.
We who are supposed to be the body, the hands, the feet of God have been failing to be voices of reason, voices of peace and reconciliation. We have been cowards, fearing to speak truth to power. We have chosen economic prosperity and ease over self-sacrifice for those who are hungry, homeless and hopeless. We have become those who are shouting, “Shoot them” or “Send them back”!
God, where are you?
Answer: Where God has always been — within each of us. The failures of our governmental system, the evil events we have witnessed in El Paso and Dayton, are on all of us. It is who we, as a nation of individuals have become, who we are. We have failed the Divine One within each of us.
Edward “Ned” Walsh of Princeton is a retired Baptist denominational worker who served as executive director of Johnston County Habitat for Humanity from 2004-08.