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McCain, cancer and the living God of the oppressed

SUSAN K. SMITH | 7/30/2017, 11:59 p.m.
A common complaint these days is that young people will not go to church.

Crazy Faith Ministries

A common complaint these days is that young people will not go to church. Many former church-goers have left, saying they grew disenchanted with the hypocrisy and judgement they experienced while being part of “the faithful.” The Church, which is supposed to represent the living God, a God who is said to be love, has fallen short, it seems, and has fallen short from its inception. Forgetting the fact that God is sovereign and makes not only all that is and has been created, but the rules as well, church people have maligned God throughout history, causing people to either turn away from the Church and God, or perhaps holding onto God with fear, trembling and some confusion and anger as well.

The news this past week that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor brought the worst of religion to the fore yet again. According to several news accounts, some religious organizations have decided that Mr. McCain’s illness is “godly justice” for challenging the current president.

The pronouncement was and is as astounding as it is maddening. What kind of god (lower case “g” intended) do these people serve? I have been studying the phenomenon of the myth of this being a monotheistic culture, and this statement feeds right into my suggestion that we have and live in a polytheistic culture, one where there are at least two gods, if not more.

We have created gods to fit our needs, it seems. The majority culture has its god, a god which shows love to only certain groups of people, a god who sanctions racism and sexism and homophobia and capitalism, a god who has no compassion for the poor or the elderly, but who supports capitalism and its capacity to exclude many. This god stands with the oppressors; this god is the god of Empire, which believes in the power of pharaoh over the power of God. People who honor this god in history saw no problem with lynching someone on a Saturday night and going to church on a Sunday morning, wearing a nice suit and either taking or distributing Holy Communion.

The god of the oppressor is judgmental; that god sees nothing wrong with discriminating against anyone who is not seen to be “fit” or “as fit” as the oppressor deems necessary. This god sanctioned the eugenics movement in the United States and apparently saw little to nothing wrong with the way Europeans have treated people of different hues down through history.

The God of the oppressed is different. This God is the God about whom Jesus the Christ taught. This God is the God of unconditional love, the God who demands that we love and forgive one another, over and over (70 times seven, the Bible says). This god has “good news” for everyone, because this god sees the worth of everyone.

And this God would not inflict someone who challenged a president with a malignant brain tumor.