The story that is haunting me today

Today’s Washington Post is so full of religion stories and religion haunted stories that I hardly know where to begin — from abortion rulings to the latest Koran crime update, from a reporter taking a Bible Belt trip through her past in a vanishing Virginia town to yet another stunning Catholic clergy abuse lawsuit settlement. This does not even include the religion page.

So how come the story that has haunted me all day seems to have no religion in it at all? Why do I want some other shoe to drop in this crime-beat story, just so that I am not haunted by the reality of evil? Click here to find out what I am talking about. Does this story spook anyone else? Sense the ghost?

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • TheLeague

    Not ghosts. Demons.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Let’s hope Pope Benedict can get rid of what he called “filth” in the clergy. On the other hand–since the Church has been cowed by ridicule and bigotted attacks into not challenging most of the demands for settlements, I wonder how much money being paid out is going to crooked , lieing lawyers. With Watergate again in the news it reminded me that 25 of 26 people who had done crooked things in that scandal were supposedly reputable lawyers.

  • Molly

    um, I presume the ghost is in this:

    “Davis Weaver had been on medical leave since March 22 and was to retire at the end of June, a spokeswoman for the school system told the Philadelphia newspaper. According to the Daily News, Wendy Lapham declined to say why Weaver was on medical leave.”

    Otherwise, I’m just not seeing it.

  • Cheryl

    I was struck by the fact that the parents, one of whom was an innocent victim, are practically non-entities in the story. They seem to be completely eclipsed by the accomplishments of their children. I don’t know if that’s a ghost or not, but it does seem to reflect some of our culture’s obsession with such things.

    The story itself is beyond sad, of course. As Molly says, the salient question seems to be, why was the father on medical leave? Might explain a lot.

  • Sean

    Yep sad, in the way only the senseless can be

  • Beacon

    ‘His investigation also found 15 incidents of detainees desecrating Korans.’

    DETAINEES ‘desecrating’ Korans. (Can you ‘descrate’ the Kama Sutra or I Ching?) Why have the MSM failed to highlight this when they have strongly promoted fallacious or trivial incidents?

  • Larry Rascak

    A) It is NOT “desecrating Korans”… it’s just PERFORMANCE ART… no doubt a rouge NEA troupe is at the bottom of all this.

    B) The article is not true. Not that the people wern’t killed, and not that the facts aren’t all correct (and tragic), but in cases like this you simply NEVER get the whole picture.

    Lots of families have HUGE problems, but they also work very very very hard to keep those problems private. Do YOUR neighbors know when you can’t pay the MasterCard bill, again? If you caught your husband in bed with the babysitter would you tell the neighbors? If you found out your Football star son liked to dress up as Marlyn Monroe and whip himself would you let anybody know? Does everyone on the block get a note telling them that your daughter just had her third abortion? No. Nobody is perfect, but we all want everyone else to think we are. People keep their problems private. The worse the problem the more private they keep it. That is what we do. I don’t know anything about what problems these people may or may not have had, but obviously they must have had some; they just didn’t advertise them. Nobody does. Remeber that line about men living lives of quiet desperation? (Was it Thoreau?)

    Even if the neighbors did know, NOBODY is going to speak I’ll of the dead, certianly not in an article like this one. Think about it. Dad may have been the best Dad this side of the Brady Bunch, or he may have been Capt. Queeg- straight out of the Cane Mutiny and one step short of a straight jacket- but when it comes time to go on record in the paper, nobody will ever know. You will only hear good things from the astonished neighbors. Even if the neighbors DID know, NOBODY is going to tell a reporter “Yeah, that Dad was out of his skull from drugs and anger managment problems; and the Mom would sleep with anything that moves, you could hear the fights every night for hours and hours. You should have see the bruises… we used to make book on when the cops would be called.” Nobody says things like that, even if they are true. How would it make the surviving relatives feel? What good would that do? People simply dont tell reporters things like that, even if they are true. That’s probably why the article is so focused on the kids, the reporter could get info out of the kids yearbooks, but he or she couldn’t get anything from the people that knew the parents.

    So what you are getting here is so cleaned up and edited even BEFORE it got to the reporters it is simply not reflective of this family’s reality, whatever that was. There was a lot more here than met the reporter’s eye… but we will never know what it was… which is probably a good thing as technically it is none of our buisness in any case.

    C) We still tend to confuse material sucess with perfection. Poor people have problems. Rich people have problems. Middle class people have problems. The only difference is that rich people have their problems in nicer houses and tend to be better dressed and fed while having them. It is terribly sad, but it is the human condition. One of the reasons this is “news” is that this family LOOKED perfect. The reality seems to be that they had their problems too. If they had not LOOKED perfect… if they had the same problems but been poor and less educated and lived in a trailer (or public housing) and the kids had gone to public school… then it wouldn’t be news. It would just be “how those people live” and “what can you expect” etc.

    So I don’t see any ghosts. I just see people who, like all of us, had both sucess and problems in their lives- and tragicly in this case the problems won. I see fellow sinners who are no better or worse than anyone else here; perhaps just a little less lucky. I see fellow sisters and brothers in Christ who need our prayers. Eternal rest grant unto them Oh Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them.

  • Jill

    It wasn’t the quote about intelligent design. He was obviously referring to landscape architecture.

    Was it that he and his brother graduated from a Catholic high school, but he still had this worldview? “‘I have control over my life, what I want it to be, and what I want to do with it,” he wrote. ‘It helps me realize that no matter what happens, to enjoy what I have and what I can do as much as possible.’”

  • TNP

    What struck me was that well, unless I missed it in reading the article, I didn’t see who they pinned as the suicide. Which one of them did this?

  • Bec

    It appears in the lede that authorities believe the father committed the acts. TMATT–are you going to explain a bit more? I found it haunting, but not necessarily in a religious way, but rather a generally tragic way.

  • EBeth

    I find it haunting because the parents cared enough about spirituality to send their kids to Catholic school; the mom gave of herself to handicapped kids as a teacher; and yet, none of it was enough to keep this evil from taking all their lives.

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  • ElizaJane

    How tragic! I feel very sorry for the youngmen to lose their lives in this way, at the hands of their father! He obviously had deep problems, even so to kill your wife and children!!! God rest and keep their souls.

  • tmatt

    Jill, et al:

    Other than the simple reality of human pain and evil, what really hit me was the quote above.

    BTW, everyone, see these links for updates:

  • Maureen

    This story from Mr. Weaver’s hometown seems to hold the crux of the incident:

    Apparently, the father’s first wife died and it took him a long time to get over it. Now, with both his sons moving away for college (and a career Navy man would never be home much), he felt like he was losing them. The father also had severe depression.

    All the same, you don’t deal with loss issues by shooting your family in their sleep. (And I have to wonder whether he drugged them first, because it’s hard to believe you could take out three people, two of them athletic and young, without one of them waking up and trying to get away.)