Thursday, August 09, 2012

Gott mit uns

Deus lo volt! shouted thousands of people assembled in a meadow near Clermont, France, in the year 1095. Pope Urban has appealed for the liberation of the Holy Lands from the infidels. Deus lo volt! the crowd shouts in unison. God wills it!

What followed, of course, was several centuries of horrendous slaughter, by one side and the other, in the name of their respective gods. The streets of Antioch and Aleppo and Tyre and Damascus became rivers of blood. Deus lo volt! the crusaders cried as their flashing swords lopped off the heads of men, women and children. God wills it!

And now today, as we read in the papers, in some of those same cities warriors gun down each other in the name of God. Allahu Akbar! they scream in unison as they brandish their AK47s. Allahu Akbar! God is greater!

One need not believe in God to have a fondness for violence. Humans manage mass murder very well all on their own. But how comforting it must be to have an omniscient, just, benevolent God on one's side when one pulls the trigger.