Easter not the only time to go to church
Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 11:53 am
“I am going to prepare a trigger warning for myself and recite it before every shift at the hospital. ‘Warning: death, puke, poop, phlegm, bile, pus, sweat, family discord, malingering, violence, belligerence, fear, withdrawal…’” – nurse at a Kingston, ON, hospital
If you’re unfamiliar with the expression ‘trigger warning,’ you need to engage it. It’s the modern equivalent of the old TV show disclaimer advising that contents of the following program may offend some viewers.
Taking the crusade of political correctness to its next predictable level, certain voices among us today are calling for ‘trigger warnings’ to now intrude the worlds of literature and academia. A recent article in The Globe and Mail - that included the quotation above - succinctly elaborated: “In February, a Rutgers sophomore writing in the New Jersey university’s student newspaper called for a trigger warning on, among other works, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, because the book contains ‘suicide, domestic abuse, and graphic violence.’”
This discussion seizes my attention because, as most readers know, the Christian faith is about to celebrate Holy Week, which includes Good Friday, a recollection of Jesus Christ’s bloody crucifixion on a Roman execution pole. I’m such a fossil that 20 years ago - when the V-chip television was the latest technology enabling parents to pre-program their TV sets to protect Johnie and Suzie from tuning in any graphic violence – I wrote in a national publication during Holy Week that there was some violence we should consider sacred and from which responsible parents should not shield our offspring. I was recently reminded of those days when a young mother in our congregation asked if I would have a look at a new version of a children’s Bible she’d obtained that she thought was somewhat inappropriate. I reminded her that the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, is a fairly graphic portrayal of humanity and our competing inclinations to pursue both the good and the ugly. It’s indeed very difficult to sugar-coat the murders, muggings, messes and assorted mayhem revealed therein.
Instructively, that’s one of the reasons the Bible has retained its popularity over the years – it is disturbingly realistic about the human condition. Perhaps the day is not far off when someone will advocate slapping a trigger warning on its contents. If you’re one of the numerous Canadians who only gets to church at Easter time, be duly warned: neither the V-chip nor trigger warnings are in use here. Yet.
Tim is pastor of Faith Community Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org