It’s the little things that remind us of the rippling effects of unexpected death. It briefly occurred to me today how presents for 20 children are wrapped and hidden away, never to be opened by their intended recipients, and how terribly difficult it will be for the parents to rediscover those packages. Reminders of their children, of a stolen joy, a stolen future. Anytime something like this happens, we’re often drawn into the realm of armchair theology, psychology, and philosophy. We have to ask questions, because they need to be asked. Questions like, “Why?” It’s a reasonable question, and is probably the most common one after a tragedy such as this. What could possibly drive a person to end the lives of 27 unarmed, innocent individuals? What darkness, be it depression or mental illness, could enable a person to take aim at a cowering five year old and pull the trigger? Where do you begin to answer such a question? Surely folks on television will try, and they’ll likely talk for weeks about the possible reasons behind the massacre.
It’s already been suggested that the 20 year old who unleashed the carnage in Newtown, Connecticut suffered from a personality disorder, and that may be true. Alternatively, American Family Association spokesman Brian Fischer is suggesting that the absence of God during such an event is due to our willful abandonment of God and prayer in schools, public life, and football games.Without taking the time to directly address Mr. Fischer’s position, I don’t believe, following the glory of the resurrection, God chooses venues to smite, and if He did, I highly doubt an elementary school would be high on the list. I believe Mr. Fischer’s opinion is irresponsible, misrepresents God, and simply exploits the tragedy for cheap political points. Quite honestly there is very little between Fischer’s position and those who blame hurricanes on homosexuals, or that of Fred Phelps, of the “God hates fags” ilk. It assumes God’s wrath is only for certain people, the social undesirables who happen to be the same ones with which they disagree. Funny how that works.
I can’t help but think that if God regularly dispenses wrath on those who deserve it, that I should have been zapped into a grease spot many years ago. Yet here I remain, typing comfortably in a house while flanked by a wife and three cats, while hundreds of lives are forever scarred. Is that justice?
I wish there was an easy answer to the question of “why.” My easy answer is, “I don’t know.” I certainly don’t blame it on God’s presence or lack thereof. One thing is certain, the people of Newtown, Connecticut are discovering a new sense of community and family. They will lean on each other and cry on their neighbor’s shoulders. They will bury their friends, family, and children, and slowly, over time, will begin to heal and rise up as a community. May God bless and comfort them as they experience this pain.