Why can’t I kill someone? No, seriously, why not? Oh, look, this guy is bullying my kid / my friend / hurt someone I care about. Why can’t I just go up to him and shove him into traffic? Why can’t I run over that little bastard with my car? Seriously, why are you sauntering in the middle of the street with the ear buds plugged in while you’re staring at the smartphone that’s got a higher IQ than you, and why shouldn’t I turn you into road kill?
Murder is frowned upon in the Catholic Church. And, as the old saying goes, crime doesn’t pay … enough.
Okay, that’s if you’re part of the mystery writers guild.
But, yeah, that’s one of the prices we pay for being Catholic. Pity, isn’t it? Murder, mass murder, especially of people who really, really need to be offed, just isn’t part of the deal. We’re not allowed.
Hey, I should know, I’m a conservative Catholic New Yorker who follows politics, of course I have thoughts of mass murder. Usually at rush hour. Then again, I also write thrillers, so I have a solid outlet. I have yet to get to the point of John Ringo, wherein I wipe out about 90% of the human race with every book, but wait for it, I’m getting there.
But we all have our cross to bear in one form or another. The atheists’ cross is to tell everyone they’re an atheist as often and as loudly as possible. The same with vegans, really.
But for Catholics, we really do have to play the rules a lot. Then again, all we really have to do is not be a prick, not have sex until we’re married, be honest, and be faithful to the one and only Deity … and not murder people. It can’t be that hard, can it?
Well, as I said, it’s easy until we get to rush hour.
It’s an age-old trope of the atheists: if religion disappeared tomorrow, it’s not like everyone would become killers. I usually have two responses to that.
1) Tell that to Thomas Hobbs, who believed that a God in Heaven was worth more than a cop on every corner.
2) Any of them who believe that obviously don’t know the inside of our heads at rush hour.
If you’re thinking “I don’t have rush hour, I live in Utah,” or some mythical land that doesn’t have rush hour traffic, you’re missing the point. It’s the temptation to do something we shouldn’t to some people who really are trying to convince us that we have it coming. How many of us are held back by our honest to goodness belief that “My faith says X is wrong, and it says that X is wrong for Y reasons, all of which are very well reasoned and thought out. And oh my God that is the only reason you’re still alive, WHEREDIDYOULEARNTODRIVEYOUSCHMUCK?!”
But it could just me.
The atheists and the schmucks who have declared religion worthless and its followers stupid are the same people who, generally, don’t like our rules. They prefer rules of manners to those of good or evil. For them, the great sins are smoking cigarettes (not cigars), being fat, and offending the wrong people. Their rules are simple: I want to go to hell in my own way, and I want you to go to condone how I do it, and if you did it too, that would be great, thanks.
And they say they’re not a religion. Puh-leez.
Funny enough, I wrote one of those books in which … would probably be me if I had a good enough reason to kill people and the skills to pull it off. Granted, even then, I made darn certain that my character — a Navy SEAL named Kevin Anderson — had dang good reasons for slaughtering 14 very specific people for very specific reasons of the defense of other people: kill them before they murder anyone else. Even though Anderson also has a good solid reason for personal motives, he does his best to put those aside. The mission is simple: kill, run, survive for the next round. Repeat as needed.
Then he tortures one of his targets to death. That’s pretty much when everything starts to fall apart, and he needs to be put back together with crazy glue.
At the end of the day, he had to go away. Shoved into his own personal purgatory. I even have Catholic missionaries with hand-to-hand combat skills come to his spiritual rescue.
But this is what atheists don’t get — what many who tend to demonize us don’t get — is that we’re exactly like them in some ways. We’re all people, and though baptism forgives original sin, we’re still tempted to do other things. Maybe one day, those people will consider what would happen without faith, or even without natural law. Because then comes the real threat.
Remember what I said about Thomas Hobbes earlier? He believed that natural law was actually the law of the jungle. Hobbes’ view of men ithout law and government was The Lord of the Flies. However, he’s wrong … which you already know if you follow Catholic philosophy. It’s like the John Lennon song Imagine— a nightmare of a song, where there is no Heaven. If I don’t have a faith, a God, a Church, what do I care for the law of man? Maybe I’m a good decent person with a temper issue. Maybe I’m a serial killer slaughtering every person who gets in my way. What evil lurks in the hearts of men? St. Augustine knows.
Because when rush hour comes, maybe a deep breath and a prayer is the only thing between killing someone.
Next time an atheist tells you how much better your life would be like that, tell them that. Maybe they’ll think for five minutes.
You, reading this, are probably a better person than me. You probably are. But there’s a reason “lead us not into temptation” is a basic daily prayer.
Temptation, rush hour, same difference.