My Heart Aches for America

America suffered another tragic shooting today.

The Reverend Billy Graham published a letter to America a few weeks ago that seems almost to speak of it when he says, “My heart aches for America.”  Here’s an excerpt of what he wrote:

Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

She was probably thinking of a passage in Ezekiel where God tells why He brought those cities to ruin. “Now this was the sin of … Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:49–50, NIV).

I wonder what Ruth would think of America if she were alive today. In the years since she made that remark, millions of babies have been aborted and our nation seems largely unconcerned. Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle. 

Just a few weeks ago in a prominent city in the South, Christian chaplains who serve the police department were ordered to no longer mention the Name of Jesus in prayer. It was reported that during a recent police-sponsored event, the only person allowed to pray was someone who addressed “the being in the room.” Similar scenarios are now commonplace in towns across America. Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone—except God.

Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control. 

My heart aches for America and its deceived people. The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance. In Jonah’s day, Nineveh was the lone world superpower—wealthy, unconcerned, and self-centered. When the Prophet Jonah finally traveled to Nineveh and proclaimed God’s warning, people heard and repented.

I believe the same thing can happen once again, this time in our nation. 

I believe that Rev Graham is right. Revival can come to our nation. But we need to stop waiting for a politician or a preacher on a white horse to bring it. It’s up to us, Jesus’ followers, no matter who we are or where we live, to do our part in bringing the Kingdom. We know the antidote to evil. It isn’t something we can “give” to other people like a dose of medicine. We have to live it out in front of them so that they will “catch” it from us. 

We can do that by living our faith in the simple dailiness of our lives. We can do it by not cutting corners, not cheating, lying, stealing, hurting others. We can do it by keeping our promises, including the ones we made when we said “I do.” We can do it by being there with our children in the dailiness of their lives.

We can do it by holding our heads up and being proud, not of ourselves, but of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. No American Christian should ever stand idly by while Jesus is insulted and degraded in front of them. Unlike many of our brothers and sisters, we do not face death for standing up for Jesus. We may be ridiculed or lose a few of the people we pal around with, but we won’t be burned alive or beheaded. 

Don’t let anyone bully you into behaving as if you are ashamed of Jesus. Be civil. Be courteous. But also be resolute. Uncomfortable silence in the face of deliberate mockery of Our Lord is a form of assent. 

We bring the Kingdom to those around us when we live it. Make no mistake about it; courage attracts, faithfulness slowly changes mockery into respect, and love heals. We should live our lives in such a way that other people know without being told that Jesus Christ is our Lord. That is our calling. 

Prayers for the Family Research Council: My Comrades in the Culture Wars

I would guess that the person who showed up at the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington DC today with Chick-Fil-A materials, ammo, a gun and what appear to be very bad intentions is a hate-filled nut.

Does that about cover it? I hope so. Because I am not going to waste one more virtual word on this person.

I will say that I am very grateful in an almost personal way to the security guard who stepped up and stopped what might very well have been yet another tragic shooting. Bless him. I pray for his full recovery and long happy life.

I have partnered with the Family Research Council on legislation in the past, and I hope to do so again. They are great people who have zero problems crossing the Democrat-Republican divide to help a pro-life Okie pass pro-life legislation. I’m not going to mention any of their names here because I don’t think it would be a kind thing to do under these circumstances.

Another thing I am not going to do is start pointing fingers at everybody from the President of the United States to the doorman at Fox News in an attempt to blame them for something they obviously did not do. These horrible acts of violence against innocent people are tragedies. They are not opportunities for political demagoguery.

My prayers go with my friends at the Family Research Council. I’ve been thinking about you all day. I know that you are going to have trouble sleeping tonight, and that you will re-live this like a tape going in front of your eyes for a while. Just talk it out with your friends, hug your loved ones and say your prayers. It gets better in time.

Also, hug that security guard for me, will you?

He saved your lives. He also saved me and the rest of the world from losing you.

Shooting at Family Research Council: New Developments

New details on today’s shooting at Family Research Council from Timothy Dalrymple at Philosophical Fragments. Read below:

“He Said Something About Not Liking FRC’s Policies”: Domestic Terrorism Against the Family Research Council

August 15, 2012 By Timothy Dalrymple Leave a Comment

News broke around midday today that a lone gunman had opened fire inside the Washington DC offices of the Family Research Council.  Little was known about the shooter, the security guard who was shot, or the reason behind the shooting.  I’m actually able to report some new details, having spoken with a source close to FRC.  Although I have great confidence in the source, I’m not able to verify these details independently, so it’s always possible that corrections or other important details …[Read More...]

Security Guard Shot at Pro-Life Group’s DC Headquarters

Security Guard Shot at Pro-Life Group’s DC Headquarters
Two people, including a security guard, were reportedly shot this morning at the headquarters of the pro-life group Family Research Council.

According to information provided to LifeNews from a Washington pro-life source, a man posing as an intern shot the guard at the FRC office located at 801 G Street, NW. FRC staffer Anna maria Hoffman added more information on Twitter, “Our security guard Leo got shot in the arm. Please keep him in your prayers.”

http://www.lifenews.com/2012/08/15/security-guard-shot-at-pro-life-groups-dc-headquarters/

Manly Men

Women Who Survived Theater Shooting Grieve for Hero Boyfriends – ABC News

“Of the 12 people killed in the Aurora theater shooting, four of them were men who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their girlfriends. Now, each of these women are struggling to come to terms with both their grief and their gratitude.”

I appreciate ABC News running this story. But I wish they had resisted the urge to drag in “experts” to try to “explain” what is in reality the best that’s in us. In my opinion, all they succeeded in doing with these experts was to devalue these heroes and their sacrifice.

I think the reason why thirty percent of the people who died in Denver were men who gave their lives to protect their women is both simple and obvious: It is how God made them.

If I had to find one story that capsulizes why I think God made men strong, this would be it.

Heroism is not limited to people with Y chromosomes. This story also details women who endangered their lives to protect another person. It is a fool’s errand to come between a womanly woman and her child.

But this willingness of men to die protecting women and children is, in my opinion, God-given. Without it, the human race could never have survived, will not survive now. God made men strong, wired them to respond to physical danger quickly, for a reason. Women are the life-givers. Men are the life-protectors.

All my life I knew that either one of my parents would die or kill to save me. It was a given, like the sun coming up in the morning. I felt the same “I will die for you” strength welling up in me when I was pregnant with my first baby. It has never left me.

But there is a substantive difference with fathers. I knew my mother would kill or die to save me, but it was my Daddy, with his big shoulders and loud voice, who made me feel safe. It is my husband who makes me feel safe now.

Men have a degree of competence in times of physical danger that is innate to their being. Aberrated men use this competence and the physical strength that accompanies it to terrify and destroy. Manly men use it to protect their women and children. They create an line of safety around their families that allows home to become a refuge which nourishes and sustains the people within it.

Amanda Lindgren, whose boyfriend, Alexander Teves, gave his life to protect her, describes it well in the account below.

I’ve blocked the name of the individual who committed this crime. It shouldn’t be in the same story with the name of a manly man.

“Of the 12 people killed in the Aurora theater shooting, four of them were men who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their girlfriends. Now, each of these women are struggling to come to terms with both their grief and their gratitude.

“Alexander Teves, 24, attended the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” with his girlfriend Amanda Lindgren , 24, and another friend. 

“When ???? opened fire in the sold out theater, Teves immediately lunged to block Lindgren from the gunfire.

“I was really, really confused at first about what was going on, so confused,” Lindgren told ABC News. “But, it’s like Alex didn’t even hesitate. Because I sat there for a minute, not knowing what was going on, and he held me down and he covered my head and he said, ‘Shh. Stay down. It’s ok. Shh just stay down.’ So I did.”

Teves blocked the bullets from Lindgren but he was shot and killed. She was not hit.”

Mass in Aurora draws people seeking answers to tragedy :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Mass in Aurora draws people seeking answers to tragedy :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety — let us pray that we may always know it!” 

Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

Affixing Blame

 

It’s a fact that we learn more from our failures and tragedies than we do from our victories. 

When something goes right, we usually high-five each other and then sit around the proverbial campfire rehashing our brilliance and everything we did right. What we don’t do is learn anything. We’re too happy with the way things went.

But when something goes wrong; when we lose, when tragedy strikes, we go into paroxysms of self-analysis as we struggle to learn what went wrong and how we can fix it. This impulse to think tragedy through to ideas for avoiding another tragedy in the future is intelligent and useful. It’s the basis for things like painfully reconstructing crashed airliners to try to learn what broke or what happened to bring the bird down. It’s the reason for medical review boards. It’s why police go over and over an officer’s death.

Done this way, the self-analysis that comes after our painful flops and falters is good, productive and wise.

But there is another side. The aftermath of tragedy, the first quick take of emotion, is usually a blur of pain and confusion. Especially with something like the tragedy at Sandy Hook, there is a desire to avoid and blur both the questions and the answers to the omnipresent “Why?” that haunts us. We don’t want to face any part of it. So, we are tempted to go out searching for someone or something else to take the load of responsibility for facing up to what it all means. We want a scapegoat.

In truth, there are potential scapegoats aplenty in the aftermath of a mass murder, especially one so incomprehensible as these mass shootings and bombings by anti-social young men. But we have to be careful how we chose these scapegoats. We don’t want to pick something that would require us to change. We don’t want to point our fingers at ourselves.

No, we are looking for something or someone easy, outside our normal activities and unable to defend themselves. That’s the impetus behind the outrage of much of the pundit class against Mike Huckabee’s hapless comment. While most people are shocked into silence by these horrors, some people talk uncontrollably. They react to their own internal confusion in the face of tragedy beyond comprehension with cravings for a quick fix of faux outrage. If it hadn’t been Mike Huckabee, it would have been someone else. Every time we have a tragedy, the faux outrage crowd latches onto something some person says. They need a quickie scapegoat.

Of course, faux outrage at accidental verbal missteps wears thin after a time. It is about such a nothing and it is so completely devoid of significance that it simply uses up its own oxygen and goes out like a match.

This leaves the rest of us with the question of what slot we can fit these dysfunctional young men with murder in their hearts into. In truth, they are such bizarre little monsters that we find it difficult to identify with them enough to really have a good go at scapegoating them. Where’s the “out” for the rest of us in looking at people who are so emotionally ugly that they are flat and one-dimensional to the point of incomprehensibility?

We tend to exalt our mass murderers in this country. Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, the BTK Killer and Ted Bundy get more television coverage than any legitimate celebrity I know of. We hype serial killers into evil gods in our entertainment, making them not only glamorous, but in many ways better — more talented, intelligent and purposeful — than the rest of us.

But somehow, these one-off killers who go to our schools, our movies, our workplaces and just start killing don’t seem so interesting. Killing little Amish girls, blowing up day care centers and murdering first graders just doesn’t seem so much the effort of an evil god as it does the work of plain, unvarnished evil in all its ugliness and banality. More to the point, when someone goes into a movie theater and shoots people, it could have been us they killed.

Still, we do need our scapegoats. Otherwise, we might have to take an honest look at our whole suicidal society and acknowledge that we have become a people that raises up sociopaths in abundance. We would have to admit that there’s more wrong here than gun laws that are over 200 years old and never produced this mayhem before. We might have to see that our many excesses on numerous levels are so dysfunctional that they’ve turned our homes and our society into monster factories.

This lends an especially frantic quality to the search for scapegoats. We need someone to blame; someone who isn’t us.

Unfortunately for us, these young men often come from backgrounds and situations that we’ve been taught to admire and seek for ourselves. These aren’t ghetto kids. They aren’t minorities. They aren’t poor, uneducated or stupid. They aren’t even physically ugly.

Are we supposed to scapegoat the upper middle class? Are we expected to decry family life in our best neighborhoods, our wealthiest school districts and among our most well-educated and successful citizenry?

This is what we all want to be: Rich, successful, going to the best schools, regarded as brilliant.

No wonder we look at young men who kill and blame the guns they are holding. If we don’t, we’re going to have to take a look at something that not only comes from the abyss, but that defies all our well-oiled aspirations.

Blame is our game and we need something to hook that blame onto. We need an object, an idea, a reason that will answer the why of these killings without confronting us with ourselves. The problem with this approach is that it is the antithesis of the painstaking reconstruction that happens after an airliner crashes. It has nothing to do with the honesty and learning process of medical and police review boards.

Rather than helping us come to a true understanding of what is wrong so that we can begin the process of fixing it, the blame game and its hurry-up urgency to do something simple, makes sure we will never understand. If we can affix blame on inanimate objects and then rush, rush, rush to do something about them, then we will be able to avoid doing the painful self-analysis of a legitimate search for answers.

Until it happens again.

Which it will.

Because we didn’t do anything useful with our blame-game and quick fix.

Here’s a for instance. It is a fact that people with red hair are more likely to get skin cancer. So, in the blame-game way of thinking, we would blame the red hair. Ergo, what we should do to avoid skin cancer is to dye our hair black.

That’s the kind of thinking we are trying to employ in our dealings with these mass murdering young men. Maybe we should take away assault rifles. That may be one of the things we need to do. But if that’s all we do, I can promise you, it won’t stop these mass murderers from mass murdering.

Since I will have to vote on at least some of these issues, those are more than words, much more than a political pose to me. How to save lives and preserve freedom, how to convert a culture that finds offense in the idea that it needs conversion; those are the questions. I don’t believe that the answers lie entirely in political battles and legislation. Neither do I believe that the people of this nation are ready to hear that.

I’m not so sure that a nation of people who are addicted to pointing fingers at other people and who refuse to give even one inch in any of their personal opinions and shibboleths can deal with these murderers among us. I question whether we have the honesty and the will to save ourselves from ourselves.

I do know that these young men did not spring fully-formed from the forehead of Zeus. They were made over long periods of time, partly by their heredity, partly by their homes, but mostly by our society. We are teaching them to kill.

Until we face that, we will never “do something” that will end this long nightmare of violence.


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