If you have heard about the PZ Myers controversy, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about it. For those who have not had the misfortune of knowing what all this is about, well here’s what the Myers (scientist, ardent atheist/evolutionist, blogger) controversy started with (from his blog):
. . . I have an idea. Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? There’s no way I can personally get them — my local churches have stakes prepared for me, I’m sure — but if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare.
As you might expect from his tone, Myers isn’t really interested in doing this in the name of science, but as an act of desecration just to piss off and irritate people who (apparently) irritate him. Apparently Myers’ enlightened scientific ideals don’t come with maturity. Or love. Or tolerance.
Also predictable was the maelstrom of web-reactions: from outraged Christians to applauding atheists. While the few sections of responses I read represented Christians well (far better than the scientists, whose objective faith in their project was undermined by their bullying insults and strong-arm proselytizing) I had to wonder: why spend words on people who obviously won’t hear?
For this (and the fact that I can bet Myers is loving his influx of web-traffic) I haven’t linked to his site from this post.
Yesterday, before attending Vespers, I read that the desecration had taken place. Apparently Myers went to a RCC parish, communed, and removed the wafer for his morbid “fanfare”. Technically, this was an act of theft; and the desecration of the object… well, I’m pretty sure there’s lots of technical terms for such an act, but I don’t see a whole lot of point in accusing Myers of something he just finds silly and everyone else just finds wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I am outraged. That is, I think I’m outraged. I’m very conflicted about the whole thing, but the conflicted response is still very strong. After a little self-reflection I realized what the dominant feeling was: sorrow.
Sorrow for Christ, sorrow for the Church, sorrow for the act, and most of all; sorrow for PZ Myers.
The sad little man who will be known for an immature, irreverent and horrifying act of aggression that revealed so much about his own anger, hate, and inhumanity. Regardless of divine consequences, this is a legacy I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I get to watch young men and women destroy themselves with drugs, distraction, and self-abuse: and you just have to pity their infirmities. Many of these kids have better reasons to be sick than Myers, and their sickness doesn’t run this deep. Poor man.
After Vespers I ran into Rod Dreher, and (this slowly starts paying off my debt for leeching off of his blog for info) told him that Myers had allegedly committed his desecration. The Archbishop walked by, so Dreher asked his opinion. Vladyka’s response was one of instant sorrow. “I don’t blame anyone for disbelieving,” he said. “I’ve been a disbeliever myself at times, but this moves beyond disbelief.” And calmly and sorrowfully he said, “God is not mocked”. Dreher pointed out that such desecration would be received with violence from different groups, particularly Muslims. “That speaks well of Christians then,” said Vladyka.
The conversation cemented in me the words of St. Isaac of Syria who told us to pray even for the demons. Apparently Dreher had a similar response, as his blog piece shows. He quotes from an autobiography of St. Silouan.
I remember a conversation between [the monk Silouan] and a certain hermit, who declared with evident satisfaction,”God will punish all atheists. They will burn in everlasting fire.”
Obviously upset, the Staretz [the Elder — Silouan] said,
“Tell me, supposing you went to paradise, and then looked down and saw somebody burning in hellfire — would you feel happy?”
“It can’t be helped. It would be their own fault,” said the hermit.
The Startez answer him with a sorrowful countenance.
“Love could not bear that,” he said. “We must pray for all.”
And he did, indeed, pray for all.
In the matter of P.Z. Myers, go thou and do likewise. There can be no doubt that Myers is an enemy of God, and of Christians. He wants to be. But from a Christian point of view, there can also be no doubt that he is a creature of the Most High, Who loves him, and that God’s heart would be grieved to lose this self-tortured man to eternity. St. Silouan teaches that we must take care not to do anything that interferes with a man’s salvation.
I think that this is the Christian response: sorrow, love, and prayer. Let that be our outrage. There is no room for anger.