The 11th Commandment: Be quiet

Daniel Pike

Things haven’t been going well for God lately.

He was ousted from the Pledge of Allegiance by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rapper Jay-Z worked His name into a song about the almighty greatness of, well, Jay-Z.

His Ten Commandments were hauled from the Alabama state judicial building on Wednesday.

And He’s embroiled in a whale of a public relations battle over “The Passion,” a film, from noted Bible scholar Mel Gibson, which reportedly takes an anti-Semitic view of the death of Jesus.

God couldn’t be reached for comment this week – He’s been avoiding reporters since the beginning of time – and His headquarters in Heaven did not release a statement on His behalf.

But if God were fielding questions, I’d bet three loaves and two fish that He’d offer this simple suggestion:

“Find thee something else to worry about.”

I doubt God is terribly concerned about how – or if – He’s depicted in the mindless recitations of schoolchildren, in the CD shelves at Best Buy, in the front yard of a hayseed courthouse or in a movie directed by Mad Max.

And neither should we.

The U.S. Constitution was ratified 214 years ago. The First Amendment was added two years later. That’s ample time for Americans to figure out that the document offers little in the way of clear-cut solutions.

What it does do is ensure that the average American can’t flip on the TV, read a bubble gum wrapper or loiter on the street corner without being exposed to at least one disagreeable or offensive thing. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

It allows itself to be cited by both suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who opposed the moving of the Ten Commandments monument, and the other members of that court, who ordered it to be moved in the first place, in defense of their positions. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But most important, it allows us not to say or do a damn thing. Specifically, concerning the Ten Commandments controversy, silence should have been the approach all along.

We can’t constantly adjust the world to suit each individual’s tolerance level. At the same time, we can’t shrug off tenets like the separation of church and state.

We can’t do anything at all – almost.

We can accept that not everything is worth a fight. Though I agree with the decision to remove the monument from the building, I’m not convinced that it was necessary to de-God a single location in Alabama, the buckle of the Bible Belt.

We can accept that not everything is political. There’s no need to dial Congress each time someone uses the word “damn” in a newspaper column or quotes the Koran in a roomful of Presbyterians.

We can save the big fights for the stuff that really matters.

Until that time, we can close our eyes.

We can grit our teeth.

We can cover our ears.

We can clench our fists.

We can keep our mouths shut.

We can stay out of it.

Just like God.

Daniel Pike is the Herald features editor and a senior print journalism major from Glasgow. His column appears on Thursdays. Reach him at [email protected]