I write books, but I also teach history. My fields are military history and religion. They go together, as evidenced by the horrific things done in the name of God.
More than fifty people are dead because a coward named Omar Mateen saw two men kissing, became enraged, and planned– in cold blood– an act of war.
Let me offer some unsolicited advice about God. If your God commands you to kill, then there is no room in my life for your god.
Christianity is, depending on your notion of time, about a thousand years older than Islam. Here are two things I know for a fact, because I was raised as a Christian and can speak comfortably about the state of my own heart.
1. Christianity allows self-examination. It’s been around for a while, so scholars, humanists, and others can read and offer an opinion without mortal fear. In this sense, we are a partially secular society in which some people are religious, and some people are not. Islam does not allow this kind of examination or scholarship from humanists. It is not allowed, tolerated, nor encouraged, as the holy book of Islam is considered to be perfect. In the United States, some people regard Christians as quaint fools. Some people regard Christians as a threat. That’s a personal decision, and has no impact on my personal decisions of faith. If your religion cannot survive the presence of reason, then there is no place for your religion among thinking, loving people with whom you must live.
2. If your god’s love is so fragile that it can not withstand examination, then it is not real love. Real love is immutable, robust, and permanent. Real love is a bedrock, and cannot be degraded, swept aside, or perverted by outside pressure or doubt. Real love is, at the end, perfect. It is immortal and powerful, and there is no slippery slope in which real love can be eroded into nothingness. If you doubt me, look at the face of a parent as they watch their child sleeping. Look at the face of a parent as they bury their child. Not even time and all the stars between them can change that love.
That’s all. I’m sorry that there are so many families walking around with such pain today, wondering if their hearts will burst. I don’t know what I’m going to tell my kid. I don’t know what I’m going to tell my students on Monday.