Friday, May 30, 2014

The One Discussion Missing In The Elliot Rodgers Saga?

Yes, everyone is talking about the Santa Barbara Massacre and the young man behind it, who ended up killing himself.
His name was Elliot Rodgers.
Mr. Rodgers was clearly one very, very troubled young man. He pretty much hated himself and took that out on the women that he claimed rejected him when he believed himself to be God's gift to the fair sex.
Mr. Rodgers said so himself in a rambling, 140 page "manifesto". And if that was not enough, he went on You Tube to talk about the "Day Of Retribution" in which Mr. Rodgers essentially lays out his case as to why his deluded delusions have to take place.
I will admit that I have not and will not read the "manifesto" nor watched any of the videos he uploaded. If you choose to, I have linked them for your perusal.
There have been a lot of reasons bandied about as to why it happened. Misogyny. Bad family background. Parents divorced. Spoiled brat. And many more.
One thing that is missing in the conversation is this.
What was Elliot Rodgers' relationship with God?
From all that I have tried to read on the internets, it appears that Mr. Rodgers did not have a relationship with a monotheistic God. Nor of the gods of Eastern religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism.
He was a young man that did not have a relationship with God.
I am not saying that a relationship with God, particularly in the Christian sense and idea, would have absolutely stopped Mr. Rodgers from carrying out his evil act. And make no mistake. It was evil.
But all the secular therapy did not help. His parents did not help by attempting to spoil him to probably ease his pain. Yes, they knew Mr. Rodgers was probably going to do something and alerted the police in Isla Vista, California. But the police seemed to not be exactly overly concerned and did a minimal welfare check on Mr. Rodgers.
I want to focus on the God aspect of this saga.
I hate to give it any credit that appears to be giving any publicity one way or the other, but there is no choice. We can not have the conversation without discussing the event.
From all that I have read on and about Mr. Rodgers, he was thoroughly obsessed with and about himself. Me, me, me. I. I. I. You get the idea.
For the sake of discussion, I will stipulate that God is the general Christian understanding and write about it from that perspective.
Having a relationship with God, through accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, has been the most wonderful period of my life. As I near 50 years on God's green earth, I became a card-carrying Christian when I was 27 years old. Having that relationship has seen me through some rough patches in my life. In fact, it is why I have not consumed adult beverage in 22 years. Yeah, I know, a big revelation. But I am only writing about it to show that because I asked God in my life in a bad time, my life turned around.
Now, back to Mr. Rodgers.
From all accounts that I have read, Mr. Rodgers did not have a relationship with God nor did his parents, who divorced when he was still a child. In fact, according to The Blaze, Mr. Rodgers resented his father, a Hollywood director, Peter Rodgers, for producing a movie about God called Oh My God. Peter Rodgers basically hawked their home to make it and young Mr. Rodgers was none to pleased about it and wrote this in his infamous "manifesto":

“If only my failure of a father had made better decisions with his directing career instead wasting his money on that stupid documentary.”

And if you read the link, Peter Rodgers did have a bug in his rear end about organized religion.
Peter saw negativity and thus Elliot was even more negative about religion.
Yet it appeared that thousands of dollars were spent with psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists and he Elliot only got worse. Because Peter saw nothing good about organized religion.
But think about this for a moment.
What if dad was open to the possibility of Elliot going to church? Being involved with a good youth group and a good youth pastor? What if instead of throwing away money on doctors and drugs, Elliot could have had a chance to make a connection in that church? In that youth group? Or with a good youth pastor?
Let's face it, Elliot Rodgers had a lot of problems and one of them was something that almost all American high school males do through at some point in their life.
The issue for Elliot is that he was in the throws of puberty and, to be blunt, a horny guy. Yet he did not connect with the fairer sex. I guess that he thought his background would make the gals just fall over each other to be with him. And have sex. Sex was constantly on his mind. Again, most American high school males have that as well. puberty and alienation are a toxic combo.
So how would God fit into this picture?
Because God takes us as we are. Broken. Confused. Scared. Wanting answers. Once a person wants a relationship with God, as a Christian, they can accept Jesus. And that combined with studying the Holy Bible and being able to share openly, people in the same boat (and there are many) could have helped him have better worth of himself. And had he had better worth of self, his rather bizarre outlook about girls, then women, and sex might have not gotten worse. It might not have gotten to the point that he would write a 140 page "manifesto" and make You Tube videos essentially telling the world what he was going to do.
My thought is what harm would that have done? It might, and I do stress might, have been better than head shrinkers and drugs. And it might have also been a help that his parents or one of his parents was active in church as well. It would show as it usually does that they are trying to be good, God-fearing people trying to do the right thing. And especially with their children. At the very least, the parents, especially Peter, should not have been so negative about religion. There are so many positive aspects of religion. Even people raised in the church as my friend and fellow blogger Social Extinction, who turn against God and do not believe in him do at least gleam something from all those years in Roman Catholic catechism. At some level there is the knowledge of right and wrong that Mr. Social Extinction knows and believes in and that had to come from his faith.
And organized religion does teach right from wrong.
It teaches that we are all a child of God. We were created in God's image. And God gave us in the Old Testament the Ten Commandments. The best guide there is to life. But of course, even now, we rebel against that. When Jesus Christ came, he did not come to change the law as he noted. But he added another layer to the law:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment”

And that, that was not enough for there is one more command that Jesus taught:

“And the second [commandment] is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”

So with that in mind, I just can't help but think that if Elliot had a church relationship and people that were peers he could speak with, how different his life might have been.
Understand that Elliot was raised, intentionally or unintentionally, with a very certain sense of entitlement. That sense of entitlement made Elliot the clear narcissist that he became.
What religion teaches is that there should not be a sense of entitlement and how worship of one's self is a form of evil. And there is no doubt that evil penetrated Elliot's soul and heart.
Now I make this disclaimer, but do not say that it is not possible a different, positive outcome could have happened.
It is very possible that Elliot was so messed up, even a relationship with God might have not changed the course of events. He still may have felt entitled. He may have still been the narcissist that he turned out to be.
But I do not think so.
This saga shows to me that the more we shove God out on the sidelines, to be something vague and out there and not to be shared with all, we will only face more of these situations, not less.
The Elliot Rodgers' saga shows that we need to have God in our lives and open more than ever.


Mary McGreevey said...

Are you sure that religion was not there in his life? His mother was Chinese ethnic, a Bahasa Malaysian, and very probably a Buddhist. His father came from Scottish descent, so very likely Prebyterian/Anglican type of background. When the parents met, and presumably from very different religious backgrounds, they were probably each willing to toss out the window either religion just so that they could be together. As usual, marrying someone from a foreign country WILL make for some big mental and spiritual and cultural adjustments.

I seriously doubt that Peter the father was so indifferent to religion. Those truly indifferent certainly don't mortgage the house in order to fund a film ABOUT religion. That is the act of a person OBSESSED wtih religion.

I come from an Irish Catholic family of five kids, growing up in San Francisco with immigrant parents, thoroughly enmeshed in the Catholic schools all the way through university (USF). We were surrounded by different immigrant groups, mostly Italian, in our neighborhood, and CAtholic they all were.

What do you think? Are we five adult children now practiciing religion? The answer is no. I can't say myself what really happened. By 13 I felt ALIENATED from the Church and its teachings because it was so oriented to the boys and men, even when I just wanted to read some of the books my brother was given as a church lector. I was told "Girls don't have to bother with this!" A priest considered gender higher than one's own innate spirituality! If that is the game, I said to myself, let the boys have their boys' club. I won't be their servant.

Sure, he might have been one poor deluded male chauvinist priest, but it was enough to poison my thinnking. How was I to know if they didn't all secretly think so? Why were there no altar girls or women lectors? Not for the likes of me, when everyone knew that our genders are accidents, not the essence, of our beings, as taught by the He could have learned a great deal about what other men were suffereing, those older than him burdened with hard work, long days, and too many kids and an unemployed wife. He might have had a chance to reflect on his lucky self, his good health, his two living and generous parents, and all the other blessings that so many boys and men don't ever have.

What would interest me to find out is how his sister, Georgia, now 18, sees the world. Is she so narcissistic and spoiled? Or did she learn to jump up and serve people, smile and encourage others? IF she did, how did she learn it when her brother didn't?

I have a strong hunch that it comes from the Chinese traditional belief in the mothers there that their sons matter much more than their daughters. No doubt Li Chin Ong, the nurse, showed that he was a god to her.

Well, I will go now and read more of the Manifesto of the Chinese-American super well-off self-absorbed and no-religion boy-god.

Mary McGreevey said...

Islam as a male-bonding religion would have been a better solution for this young lost multiracial person because he was male. He needed to meet and listen to men older than himself who could put him in his place, or just show that life is a long road of sacrifice to career, to a wife and to children, and that is what Allah wants from him. If he could not accept this call from heaven to reproduce with an appropriate partner - in his case, probably an Asian woman who would find his mixed-race looks appealing - then he should have considered simply getting daddy money-bags to buy him an Island down near Mommy's Malaysia, where he could admire himself in the sea.