Bug Splat. That’s what the people who operate drones call
the images of the damage they do. The pictures of the dead people and destroyed
buildings that result from a “successful” drone attack apparently resemble the
death of a large insect on your windscreen. So they call it bug splat. In
Pakistan, a group of artists have printed and installed a 100 by 70 foot banner
of a child whose parents were both killed by a drone strike in 2009. It’s about
the size of a tennis court and can be seen by satellite. It can also be seen by
drone operators flying their weapons over the area. It puts a human face on
Today we enter what a friend of mine called “the hell hole
of Holy Week” with today’s curious and painful juxtaposition of Jesus’
triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey with everyone cheering and having a
good time, and his subsequent betrayal, sham trial, humiliation, torture and
death. Bug splat.
In the last hours of his mortal life, Jesus experienced in
some way all the things that make our own hell holes. Pain, fear, terror,
embarrassment, humiliation, impotence, betrayal, abandonment, not being able to
breath… all the things that we humans experience when things are at their very
worst, Jesus experienced. And because Jesus experienced it, God experienced
it. God experienced the hell hole of
humanity. God experienced bug splat.
In this very public execution – so public that all around
the world this week there will be people like us reliving and remembering its
horrors – in this very public execution God gave us a graphic image of the
effects of sin. It is easy for us to turn our gaze away from the effects of
human sinfulness. But now it’s up there on the cross, raised up for all to see.
Bug splat on a cross.
I don’t believe the story we were told in Sunday School,
that Jesus died because of the lies that I have told or because I stole bubble
gum from the corner store or because I was rude to my mother or took God’s name
in vain. I don’t believe we can understand the mystery of the cross at that
individual level. I think it’s much more complex and much more profound than
Most of our sin is at arm’s length. Most of the effects of
our sin we don’t see. We don’t see the way the world is effected by our
thoughts and the power of our judgments and attacks –we think they’re just in
our minds – but they fuel the collective atmosphere and that is what leads our
government to act in ways we find unconscionable and that is what leads to
ghettos and crime. We don’t just allow it to happen, we help it to happen and
at the same time we feel utterly powerless because even when we are aware of
our part in the hell holes of the world, we don’t understand how they happen
and we have little idea about how to change them, so even in these days of
rapid communication, we turn away. It’s just bug splat.
Jesus’ death was the result of human sinfulness. It was the
inevitable result of teaching and living a holy life and engaging in public
non-violent resistance. On a cosmic
level, it was also God’s teaching moment. Look, God says, this is what you do
to each other. This is the result of your behavior. This truly innocent man
experiences a speeded-up hellhole event which leads to his painful and public
death, suffocating under his own weight with nails through his hands and feet,
every movement an agony, not because of anything wrong he did but because of
The cross is God putting a human face on the results of our
thoughtlessness and recklessness, our exploitation and oppression of each
other. God didn’t put a picture in a field that can be seen by drone operators
and satellites; God put his humanself on a cross in the middle of the Roman
Empire for all the world to see and to remember again and again. Godsplat.
And so what is our response as we go through this week of
gathering gloom? The challenge I think, is to keep our eyes open and not to
make excuses. Not to think, as we watch the news, that this is happening to
someone else, but to remember that we are so connected that it is happening to
us. To remember that Jesus the Christ is in every human being and all that we
see happening is also happening to him. Every day the Christ is being tortured,
every day the Christ is being starved, every day the Christ is being
imprisoned. Every day the environmental disaster of global warming comes
closer. Every day of inaction is another day of bugsplat/Godsplat.
And let our hearts be broken. Let our compassion flow. Let
us cry out to God for forgiveness and mercy.