One of the blessings of belonging to a community of bloggers on religion and spirituality is being fed and sustained by the reflections of others on a day when evil is in the headlines, questions are in the heart, and my own spiritual, physical, and blogging resources are so low.
There are many points of view represented in this banquet of links, but each is included because it is—unlike the kneejerk responses of the media, with the announce-retract-handwring-blame cycle in full swing—thoughtful/prayerful, compassionate, and intended to add more light than heat to a conversation as old as life itself: why do bad things happen, and what should be our response when they do?
May you be as supported in your own journey as I have been in mine by these friends:
Jesuit Fr Jim Martin jumped in early with a two-sentence Facebook post—”Gun control is a pro-life issue. Pray for the families of the victims in Colorado, and an end to the taking of life by violence”—that sparked an avalanche of combox wrangling, reported on here by USA Today. ”Would Jesus pack heat?” is probably more a heat-than-light question, but it is unavoidable on days like this. (For the record, I commented on Fr Jim’s post with a reminder that addressing the scandalous levels of untreated mental illness in our midst is also a pro-life issue, though not as easily politicized.)
Progressive Christian blogger Kimberly Knight gave us an original prayer to wrap around our frightened hearts, uniting us with the victims in compassion. I need to pray it for the accused shooter and his family, too, though the words might hurt my mouth.
Also on Facebook, Joseph Susanka summoned these words from The Lord of the Rings, another kind of prayer:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Karen Spears Zacharias, who blogs for the Evangelical Christian Channel at Patheos, wrote the post I wish I could have. I was especially struck, as Karen was, by the impassive and similar accounts offered by witnesses to the shooting. The question each of them asked, as I followed coverage this morning, is one we all need to ask ourselves, but without the shrug of hopelessness at the end: “I wanted to help, but what could I do?”
Timothy Dalrymple, another Patheos Evangelical Christian blogger, asks Is Batman to Blame? Timothy’s answer is No, and I agree that blaming the movie (or “the movies” in general) is pointing the finger the wrong way. I do think, though, that it’s not just ironic that those in that theater had lined up and paid money to see a super violent super villain in action, and that it’s not always seeing the bad guy get what’s coming to him that’s the draw. If the suspected shooter did indeed, as the NY Times reported, dye his hair orange and announce “I am The Joker” to those who took him into custody (these details are still unverified tonight), he would not be the only imitator of that evil persona we’ve seen, just the deadliest. In some dark and terrible sense, we are all The Joker. We are too willing either to deny that evil exists, or to invite it in.
Brief but eloquent, this contribution from Thomas McDonald is a reminder that no one here gets out alive. There is both caution and comfort in that reminder of our commonality with all the quintessence of dust.
I will end, on what seems like an unrelated note, by wishing Ramadan Mubarak—a Blessed Ramadan—to Muslims around the world. One deeply touching moment in this day full of questions and prayers was hearing a Muslim friend confess her relief upon hearing that the Colorado suspect was not a Muslim, did not even have a name that sounded Muslim. One more reminder of the broken world in which we live—may he not be one of ours! And one more reminder of our solidarity—everyone is one of ours.
Kyrie, eleison! Lord, have mercy upon us!