Wednesday, April 18, 2007

An Insensible Vigil

I just got this in an email from my university:

*_VIGIL FOR VIRGINIA TECH_:* *Undergraduate Student Government will be sponsoring a vigil on behalf of Virginia Tech. The vigil will be held in the library today (WED) from 8-9PM. * There will be a small amount of singing, the reading of some religiously neutral passages, and a variety of undergrad and grad students speaking. Advocates from Counseling Services will be there to talk to any student who might feel the need. This vigil will be religiously neutral and USG encourages every student at Michigan Tech to come.

I never really understood the vigil thing. Maybe the ostensible solidarity helps the families of the victims. I'm really not sure. Truthfully I don't think that the students of Virginia Tech really care about the students of Michigan Tech, but then I'm callous enough to suggest that Michigan Tech students don't really care about the students of Virginia Tech either. I'd be lying if I said that I did.

If anyone from my school knows someone involved, then I might see a reason for a vigil, though it still depends on the strength of that connection. Otherwise I think it's a mite ridiculous. Today 157 people died when four bombs went off in Baghdad. At least that many babies will be aborted in the course of this day. The fact of the matter is that while the shooting was tragic, this sort of thing happens all the time, the world over. If we have to stop to hold a vigil every single time someone gets murdered we'll never do anything but hold vigils. Mumbling a simple prayer should suffice to take the place of a vigil.

I also couldn't help but notice that this is a religiously neutral event. First, it's not. The only reason you'd hold a vigil is that you believe that something good can come of it. You believe that there is meaning in tragedy, that there was some design behind these horrible events. Perhaps you even believe that the victims are in a better place, or that the murder is rotting in Hell. You can hold all these beliefs if you wish, but you can't pretend they're religiously neutral.

Second, dare I suggest that a rejection of religion is not only what gets us into this mess, but also prevents us from drawing any understanding from it? Everyone always asks why such a thing happened, to which we can scarcely make any reply save that mankind is dark. Remove all the externals influences you wish and this thing will still happen. Rousseau was right that everywhere man in chains, but he was wrong in suggesting that he was born free. It is only in re-birth that man has been freed from his chains. Religiously neutral passages will never help us understand the answer to this great riddle.


MikeT said...

Personally I can't stand the stupid sentimentalism associated with vigils, anymore than I can the "anti-racism" marches that are supposed to make alleged racists feel shame. These are a show, something like the pharisees standing on the side of the road saying loud prayers. The only difference is that the hearts are probably only about half as bad in that same vein. As Jesus said, if you want God to hear you, then go and pray to Him in secret.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

As Jesus said, if you want God to hear you, then go and pray to Him in secret.

But then how will people know we are Christians? Oh, that's right, by the love we have for one another. Hmmm.