I was fresh out of having taken a college course in the New Testament when a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses showed up at my door bearing the Good News. God had a plan to save my soul.
After a two hour attempt to enlighten them as to the historical basis of the Gospels and their actual meaning, I released them from captivity. It was a blast, but also a time wasting exercise in futility. From then on, when folks like them showed up, I lied that I was saved. This saved them the trouble of having to save me and saved me the trouble of having to put up with their attempts to save me.
I hold no animosity toward these well intentioned souls. It’s not their fault that the only thing they understand about the Good Book is that JC gives out “get out of Hell free” cards. In their defense, if that’s true, why bother learning anything else? In fact, if getting into Heaven is the main reason for living, why concern yourself about anything that happens to anyone in this vale of tears?
Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, when asked what he’d say to families of the Uvalde victims said, “…look, there’s always a plan. I believe God always has a plan.” He then went on to reveal his actual level of sympathy for the loss of those precious lives, “Life is short no matter what it is.”
Did the total lack of gun control have anything to do with the massacre? Did the stupid decisions law enforcement made permit the carnage? Of course not. God pre-ordained these innocents would die. It was His plan. Who are we to question it? Suck it up families. Life is short anyway. What’s seventy or eighty more years on this miserable planet to those kids? They got a free ride on the Heaven Express. Rejoice.
Strange. It doesn’t appear that Paxton is in any rush to ride that train.
What the heck is God’s plan anyhow? I really never thought much about it. If anything, I assumed it was for all of us to get along, be kind, honest and fair and to improve the world for having lived in it. We’re told the “plan” is too complex for us to understand. All the more reason, said I, to give it my best shot.
I googled “What is God’s plan?” and was presented with a bunch of mostly Christian sites that I knew were simply the party line and written on a fifth grade level. So I clicked on Wikipedia and came up with a history of the development of the concept of God’s plan in the words of famous Catholic and Protestant theologians. If anyone knew what the plan is, they would. After all, they made it up.
The Jews never really concerned themselves with any plan. They pretty much believe God was out there alone in this big void. (Can you imagine how bored He was?) So He decided it would be a fun project to create a universe and throw in some beings who could experience it. Their main job was to remind Him constantly that He’s the greatest, the biggest, the strongest, the mostest in every way. I never could understand why, if He’s so perfect, He needs all that reassurance, but far be it from me to psychoanalyze the Almighty.
He gave us some rules. If we obeyed them things would go along pretty smoothly. But you know us humans. Rules, schmules. Who ever followed them? It’s no wonder the world is so screwed up. Always the practical ones, and guilted by generations of Jewish mothers, Jews don’t blame God, but rather themselves for the mess we’ve made of the world.
Christians? They pawn it off on God. They claim God’s plan was completely plotted out even before the universe was created. God preordained every nit-picky thing that will ever happen. That means the Uvalde shooting was planned by God way back before He even divided the darkness from the light. It had to happen. Why? Don’t ask. Just know His plan is all good.
This leads to the unsettling but undeniable conclusion that, in the grand scheme of things, beyond the power of us mere mortals to comprehend, it’s good those kids got shot up.
But, you may ask, what about free will? Don’t we have any control over the world through our decisions? You may be as surprised as I was to learn free will wasn’t provided in order for us to change the world or our lives. God gave it to us for one purpose. So that we can make the choice to either embrace Jesus, thus reserving our heavenly accommodations, or to reject him and wind up burning and choking for eternity. What about all the people who lived and died before JC popped out of a virgin? Why didn’t they get a chance to go to Heaven? Don’t ask.
Free will merely gives us the illusion of having control over our fate. In reality, God controls everything. All was predetermined. Free will is worth, as the Jews say, bubkes. Nothing. Nada. Who knew? But, get this. God even ordains, before we are even born, whether we will be good or evil and whether we will be saved.
Confused enough yet? Well, get a load of what Augustus said:
God promised what He himself will do. Not what Men will do. (Sounds like we do have power over our decisions, right? Wrong. Read on). He causes people to follow His commands, but people don’t cause him to do what He has promised. Otherwise the fulfillment of God’s promises wouldn’t be in God’s power but in people’s. (So much for thoughts and prayers).
(And here it is, straight from the saint’s mouth,) Free will exists only to give people the choice to follow God’s precepts and thus to obtain the promised reward.
So he says, but, as previously noted, free will doesn’t even provide for that choice. Remember? Salvation is predetermined like everything else.
If we accept this as true, Paxton is absolutely correct. The shooting couldn’t have been prevented. Not by keeping machine guns out of the hands of adolescents. Not by cops actually doing their jobs. All is preordained and all is for the good. That’s why those lucky kids are now harp virtuosos lounging on their personal little clouds.
This might leave you feeling bereft and helpless, but, like the evangelists, I have some good news. This conglomeration of self-contradictory confusion is believed only by Christians, and mainly by the ones who are the most devout. The rest of us have the free will to dismiss it. But wait. If we dismiss it, it was pre-ordained we’d dismiss it. Therefore, we didn’t choose to dismiss it. God decided we’d dismiss it. Why would He want people to dismiss it? You see how this goes around and around and around? Perhaps that’s the best reason to dismiss it.
The bad news is that, despite the fact they represent a minority of voters, the religious right have turned the Supreme Court into the UnAmerican Inquisition (whose approval rating, even prior to their recent completely unbiased decisions on gun carry and Roe v. Wade, was even lower than this blog’s approval rating). Right wing Christian Nationalists are getting their MAGA nutcases into government and on voting commissions at an alarming rate. In no small measure thanks to them, Democracy is on its way down the tubes.
I don’t know about you, but if I were in God’s place and saw how the plan requires such atrocities to happen, I would feel guilty. As my grandma would say in her broken Yiddish, after all the times we asked God to bless America, Azoy ah blessing? I know He’d contend otherwise, but I suspect some of His plans could have used a little more tweaking.
Believers will tell me, if they don’t shoot me first, I’m talking through my hat. A mere mortal simply can’t put himself in God’s place and fathom the depths of the plan’s mysteries. Still, I can’t help but wonder. If God is really so good and loves all His children, even Republicans, how could He not help feeling some regrets over a plan that has allowed gun nuts and haters and those who reap worldly gains by taking His Word out of context to take over the country? If He does have regrets, He probably wishes he could vote.
Tough nuggies, God. Despite all Your power, You don’t qualify to vote. You never got a US citizenship, can’t provide a permanent US address, and Heaven doesn’t have any representatives in Congress. Especially these days.
It’s up to us to fix Your defective plan. Our free will, if we use it wisely, may yet be worth something. At the polling places.