This month’s Vanity Fair features a bare-chested Tiger Woods, an article about the new Wall Street movie, and a profile on the history of Saturday Night Fever. It also features an enormous amount of God content. It isn’t an issue on religion, per se, though there is an article about the Creation Museum in Kentucky. But that’s not really the thing that makes it God-laden . I suppose I could make the argument that the shock of the Tiger Woods scandal is deeply routed in Judeo-Christian ethics and morals (thus tinging the article with an undercurrent of religiosity). But really, it’s a different article that struck me as fraught with faith-based peril.
Flip through the pages and you get to a picture of a man with a buzz cut and his face in his hands. Accompanying that picture in an article concluding with a quote that is both thoroughly entertaining and utterly bone chilling. It’s in the article on “Russ Crane” – a Special Forces sniper who did several tours of duty in the Middle East. Crane talks about having God on his side. He sites an instance in which he was ambushed on a road and he talks about seeing a shepherd on the horizon wearing a robe. His arms were outstretched as if to call his flock to him. It is a deeply biblical image. Crane believes this shepherd was sent by God to protect him in a battle in which he killed an unknown number of men presumed to be Taliban. It is in this article that “Crane” is quoted as saying that when he gets to heaven to meet the Lord, he will have to ask: “Dude, you created all these beautiful places. Wyoming, Montana, even Switzerland. Dude, look around! So tell me, why did you center the bible on the Middle East?”
The quote is entertaining in a way because it presumes that God is both autobiographer and author of a fiction that could just have easily been set on this continent as that one – it inherently posits that the Temple Mount could be in Los Angeles rather than Jerusalem. It discounts the logic of the old Testament and the history of the new, though it is uttered by a man with deep fundamentalist faith. And the quote is terrifying. Because in the same article – in the same interview – Russ Crane also talks about killing people for a living.
Russ says he believes that most people are good but that there are bad people and that God put people on earth to shoot those bad people. There is no way for a thinking person to read this and not go back and read it again a few times. Because inevitably, the logic of the statement would lead you to this: if it is the case that God puts good people on earth to get rid of the bad people, where did those bad people come from? Did something or someone other than God put them here? Did God only populate the earth with God-fearing “good” people? And does that mean that bad people (or maybe Muslims or people who don’t believe in Jesus Christ as the Lord Our Saviour) come from somewhere or someone else? Are they (or really “we” I suppose) the handiwork of the devil? Or are we aliens, sent from another planet – the planet of bad non-believers? Its an interesting dilemma really – the notion that God put people on earth to shoot bad people – the notion that we can use God to justify our actions rather than question a God who would put bad people on earth to BE shot in the first place. But mostly it’s a reminder that interpretations of God can be used as justification for any behavior and may be more dangerous than the gun in Russ Crane’s hand.
Ready, aim, fire!