edit–the move from old blog to new has eaten part of this post.
By now, of course, you have seen the “viral video” of Joel Burns. On the off chance you are the last remaining person on the internet who has not seen it, here it is:
I am very glad that he has contributed; I respect him tremendously for this action. I know it has not been easy to walk the path he has walked, and that he is demonstrating bravery much like Councilman Burns. I do not mean to take away one bit of the true goodness I see in Bishop Robinson.
But listen to the two talks. Burns does not, to my recollection, mention god, not once. Robinson mentions god 14 times, repeating that “god loves you beyond your wildest imagining”. Now, there are some very good aspects to Robinson’t talk–for example, noting that not only does it get better, but that it is getting better; that views are changing, prejudices are diminishing, equality is, in his view, inevitable. And his position as a religious authority allows him a different approach than Burns can take.
“God loves you beyond your wildest imagining” is, when compared to the real world that features in Burns’s speech, rather thin gruel. I was regularly beaten up as a kid; I hated it, and yet I know I did not go through a tenth of what either of these speakers did. My wildest imaginings might include going a whole month without getting jumped on the way home. Their wildest imaginings might include going a day, or a week, without a bruise, a cut, or a word that might be worse than either. Bishop Robinson’s god, who loves us beyond our wildest imaginings, is letting kids die, at the hands of others or themselves. Councilman Burns’s adults (whom he addresses, saying
they we cannot stand by and let this abuse continue) are much more present than Robinson’s god. They We contribute to the problem today, by our inaction; they we can contribute to its solution by our action.
Gene Robinson is a good man, a very good man. Joel Burns is a good man, and a model for the rest of us (at least in this–I don’t wish to put him on a pedestal no man can live up to). The difference in their speeches is, in my humble opinion, the vapidity of religion.
If someone who “loves you beyond your wildest imaginings” neglects you in your suffering–and worse, contributes to it–it is time to end that relationship. And when you do…
It gets better.
No verse today. You want poetry? Listen to Councilman Burns’s speech again.