Chell: Blaming God is fatalism

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Pastor Bob Chell

Dylan said it best, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody.” I love the song. I love the tune, the refrain but most of all, the truth it lifts up. It’s true for people of every religious persuasion and none. You gotta serve somebody.

An article in The Washington Post two weeks ago, “Soul Searching on Facebook,” raises the same question: Profile: Basic Information: Religious Views: the blinking cursor waits patiently to learn who you’re gonna serve. It will expand to 100 characters and will even try to help you out. Hit the ‘L’ key and it will suggest Latter-Day Saints or Lutheran, but hit the ‘N’ key and it will not bail you out with “None.” Even Facebook knows you gotta serve somebody.

Joseph Dado, 18, of Latrobe, Penn., died sometime early Sunday morning. He was last seen leaving the Penn State Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house at 3 a.m. Police surmise that he fell 15 feet into a stairwell just 75 yards away. Maintenance workers found him at 6 p.m. Monday when they were called to repair a pipe.

There will be a public outcry of course: Why was there no guardrail on that retaining wall? Why isn’t the alcohol policy enforced? This will occur long before we know if alcohol was involved. Some will blame Joseph, others, the university. The court system will seek to call somebody to account whether it’s the lax maintenance department or those who supplied the alcohol or mood-altering substance Joseph consumed. All in an effort to affix blame and make sense of the senseless death of one so young and gifted.

Our outrage is fueled by our fear. If this happened to Joseph, could it happen to me? Could it happen to my son/daughter/friend/colleague?

In affixing blame we protect ourselves. We won’t die in a car crash; we always wear our seatbelt. Cancer won’t claim us; we don’t smoke. Heart disease? No way, we exercise and eat a low fat diet. As if healthy choices could ward off pain and danger.

Some will say Joseph’s death is part of God’s plan. Balderdash. I can tell you why Joseph died and it wasn’t because God wanted him to. Joseph died because he fell 15 feet and landed on his head, causing severe head trauma. Ugly words, ugly truth.

Anyone who has read even a small part of the Bible knows that God wills us a rich, full life. Jesus ministry attests to his desire that no one be disabled, marginalized or left out of the family of God. Affixing the blame on God doesn’t provide any more solace than blaming the maintenance department. Blaming God is not faith, it’s fatalism.

No, this brief column isn’t about who Joseph served or why Joseph died. It’s about you and me. It’s about the somebody we serve. I suppose there are people who really do serve fame or money but most of us are smarter than that. Well, maybe. Who do you serve? Hard work? GPA? Your beloved? Yourself?

Will the somebody you serve love you back when the bottom drops out? Will the somebody you serve sustain you as you walk through the valley of the shadow? Is the somebody you serve worth your life? More importantly, is the somebody you serve worth your death?

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