Trigger Warning for discussion of Sandy Hook Elementary shootings


I guess that’s what everyone’s wondering in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings this week. Why did this happen? Could we have prevented it? How can we stop it from happening again?

As an activist, I turn my eyes to social structures, to laws, to ideologies of domination. I think of words from Martin Luther King Jr., from so many years ago, that apply still today: “we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.”

Because we still live in a world where some people are taught that they are better than others.

We still live in a world where random, senseless acts of violence occur, and where people are all but handed the tools to commit these acts.

We still live in a world where it’s almost heroic to kill children overseas with our drone strikes in order to prove that America is the “greatest country on earth.”

Why? In the context of our culture of domination and violence, what does this single event mean? And what can we do about it? I’m not writing this to answer those questions. I’m writing this because I’m lost and I don’t know and I’m desperately asking…


As a self-identified Christian, I turn to God.

Other Christians don’t have to ask why. They don’t have to ask why because their God is a monster, and somehow they’ve made peace with that. Or at least they pretend to, leaping at the opportunity to post pictures on Facebook declaring their faith in a petty, spiteful, evil being who, all because of the separation of church and state,  would leave 20 children and 6 teachers to die.

I don't know the actually image source, so for now I'm just going to guess--"Image via An Asshole"
I don’t know the actual image source, so for now I’m just going to guess–“Image via An Asshole”

Even several Christian leaders seem to worship this God of Hate. Bryan Fischer’s answer to why is, “God would say to us, ‘Hey, I’ll be glad to protect your children, but you’ve got to invite me back into your world first. I’m not going to go where I’m not wanted. I am a gentleman.”

What gentleman has the power to save 26 people from death and just stands by and watches?


John Piper has already told us that it is right for his God of Hate to “slaughter women and children anytime he pleases.” His God doesn’t just stand back and allow evil to happen in order to get revenge over Engel v. Vitale. His God plays an active role in the killing. His God guides the hand of the shooter. His God was sending us a “warning…to see our souls as depraved.” 

And I wonder, who is going to send God a warning? How can we show this Monster of a God how depraved it’s own soul is?


Why do we see this God as good? Why do we not hold this God to nearly universal standards of decency that we Christians like to claim come from God? Why do we worship a monster like that?

I try to drown out the voices of so many prominent Christians whose God is a God of Hate that kills children to prove a shallow point. I try to believe in a God of Love despite the fact that I’m being told that the God of Love isn’t really the Christian God. That evil can be called “love” as long as God does it.

But no matter how successful I am in drowning out those voices, I can’t escape the Why.

So, I won’t try. I’m asking why.

Maybe some of my “why”s will  have answers that will let me join others and work toward change.

Maybe some of my “why”s will simply dissolve as we do this work, only to emerge when the next tragedy strikes.

I don’t know. My thoughts are scrambled and every time I try to gather them I find myself frustrated to tears. For now I’m done trying to give answers. For now I’m just asking. Sometimes it’s okay to just ask for awhile.

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  • You’re right, it is okay to ask why for a while. And it’s also okay to admit, “I don’t know.”

    Intellectually I don’t believe that God “intervenes” like a lot of people believe. Intellectually I don’t believe that God is a far-off God who occasionally breaks the laws of nature to perform a miracle. But my heart still wants to believe God does, and that’s where the tension comes in.

    • D.J.

      Travis, I am labeled as “Anonymous” in my other comment, because I didn’t log in properly, but obviously since I posted my blog link, I’m not trying to hide. I cannot understand how or why God does what God does, but I also believe that God intervenes in miraculous ways sometimes, but only sometimes. The painful paradox comes when we are devastated by God’s seeming lack of intervention in tragedies like this or in our personal sorrows. Neither scriptures nor wise Christians explain this hurtful mystery. Our choice is to give up on God or to trust in God’s (Jesus’) goodness when nothing makes sense.

  • Anonymous

    Thankyou for speaking out against the dreadful and ignorant things some people do and say in the name of Christ. For your encouragement, I posted my own confusion and hope on my blog here http://everydaylight-dj.blogspot.ca

  • Very profound thoughts on an extremely difficult subject. You’re right that we live in a world that at times is totally senseless. Yet, it’s a world that we created for ourselves through the choices that we’ve made. Some Christians, including the ministry, have a very distorted image of God. For example, most people would agree that man has free will and yet they still want God to intervene during times of suffering. Suffering exists for a reason, if only to teach man right from wrong; for if we didn’t experience evil, how would we know what Godliness was? In a world of confusion (and illusion), all we can do is what you said – work toward change. By that, I mean that we all need to be the change that we want to see in the world.

  • jayrb

    Events like this leave us all asking questions…….words are simply not adequate to express the tragic nature of an event like Sandy Hook. As a former United Methodist Clergyman and now Baha’i I believe very strongly that each one of us has to do our own investigation of the truth……we cannot rely on our ministers, priests, or rabbis nor can we depend on our church dogmas to show us the answers. We have to dig into all of this on our own. We are all human beings sharing what is becoming an increasingly smaller and smaller planet. I believe God created this planet and all of the divisions we see are all man-made. Unity of the planet and of humanity are two very important beliefs in the Baha’i Faith. As human beings we have to be here for each other especially at times when all of us question the likes of what happened in Ct.

    So yes, it is a good thing to just ask questions…….that’s really the only way growth happens.


  • Good post. I feel like I am starting to ask those questions too, instead of just recycling all those “answers” I was told that tried to explain why a good God allows bad things to happen.

    “I try to believe in a God of Love despite the fact that I’m being told that the God of Love isn’t really the Christian God. That evil can be called “love” as long as God does it.” A lot of people would argue about the terminology you use here- but you’re totally right to call this stuff out for what it is- love, evil, etc- instead of several layers of vague, church-sounding wording that makes it sound like everything is fine.

  • As someone who is non-religious, I loved this post, I loved you examining the loudest voice of Christianity in the wake of this tragedy. It gives me lots of hope to know that there are good people who see this for what it is and look to societal solutions.

  • I don’t have any societal answers. That’s not because it’s impossible to construct solutions to at least reduce and control violence and the extent of death and injury a single person can inflict. It clearly is and many countries have done so quite effectively. Rather, our society seems to have descended into irrationality and sometimes outright madness in a number of areas. And our perverse fetish when it comes to guns and even the most reasonable regulations is certainly one of those areas. Collectively, we’ve gone insane and that’s the real problem we have to fix. If we can do that, things like gun control, rational health care provision, and a host of other things most other industrialized nations handle fairly readily will become easy. Otherwise it’s close to impossible.

    On the question of God, it’s obvious to me that the god of Piper (and others) not only bears no resemblance to the traditional Christian God, his god is not a god I would ever worship or follow. That god is an evil god. As an object of worship, I would choose the ultimately impersonal Brahman or any number of other gods over such an intimately personal and malevolent deity. I suppose it would be a fearsome thing if I believe Piper’s god existed. But I don’t, so his god doesn’t bother me in that way.

    I am, however, Christian because I found in Christ a strange, but good God who loves mankind. Period. And that love drew me, despite my aversion to what I thought I understood about Christianity, into the very faith I thought I despised. And it hurts me that Piper and all those like him malign the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit by attributing the traits of their malevolent, evil deity to the Christian God.

    I will also note that the “problem” of evil is really only a mystery within the context of Christianity’s relentless proclamation of a “good God who loves mankind.” In most other systems of belief (or non-belief) it’s not a problem at all. The explanation is reasonably clear. I’ve touched on ‘evil’ here and there on my blog in a sort of tangential and sometimes maybe even apophatic way. I can’t really claim to have answers. Just some thoughts.

    But in the wake of an expression of evil like this most recent one, I think Fr. Stephen Freeman expresses it well. This was written last month and he’s written similar things in the past. But it’s an excellent counterpoint to Piper and his ilk.


  • Very hard to understand why some Christians just accept a mean God who is punishing first graders for gay marriage and prayer not being in school.