Columbine, Newtown and our culture of death

Blame it on the guns.No, blame the judges who banned Godtalk in schools, along with most lessons about right and wrong.No, our lousy national mental health care system caused this hellish bloodbath.No, the problem is the decay of American families, with workaholic parents chained to their desks while their children grow up in suburban cocoons with too much time on their hands.No, it's Hollywood's fault. How can children tell the difference between fantasy and reality when they've been … [Read more...]

Bullets, Bibles and Big Questions

By age 14, Cassie Griffin had collected a bedroom full of toy frogs, each a playful symbol of her F.R.O.G. motto -- Fully Relying On God.She was tall for her age, which probably made it easier for gunman Larry Gene Ashbrook to target her on that horrific night a decade ago at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Cursing God and Baptists, he stormed into a youth prayer service, firing 100 rounds and exploding a pipe bomb -- leaving seven dead and seven wounded.At a recent meeting of … [Read more...]

Waiting for the WHY shoe to drop

You're waiting for the other shoe to drop.You know the shoe I'm talking about -- the religion shoe. When the Virginia Tech University story broke, you began clicking from website to website, channel to channel, seeking information and, then, something more. You've seen photos of mourners in pews, offering comfort and seeking solace. You know that believers will pray and that journalists will keep aiming cameras at them, because, that?s what Bible Belt people do. People in southwest Virginia put … [Read more...]

Going in religion-news circles

Journalists may not know the precise meaning of the word "theodicy," but, year after year, they know a good "theodicy" story when they see one.The American Heritage Dictionary defines this term as a "vindication of God's goodness and justice in the face of the existence of evil." Wikipedia calls it a "branch of theology ... that attempts to reconcilethe existence of evil in the world with the assumption of a benevolent God."There were three "theodicy" events in 2005, so the Religion … [Read more...]

Why God loves New Orleans

Wherever they go, preachers are asked to stand up and pray.The Rev. Joe McKeever is the missions director for a Southern Baptist regional association, which is rather like being bishop of a flock that doesn't believe in bishops. This means that he gets asked to pray even more than the next guy with a Bible.McKeever says yes -- on one condition. Before the prayer, he insists on delivering a mini-sermon he calls, "What New Orleans and Heaven Have In Common." McKeever, you see, leads the Baptist … [Read more...]

Bad things, tough beliefs in Third World

Believers often wrestle with tragedy and death on the Mukono campus of the Uganda Christian University.Families are large and disease common, affecting young and old. Terrorism and tribal conflicts in this culture often lead to violence, injury and death."Someone will say, 'My brother died last night,' and he will say it as a simple statement of fact," said Father Stephen Noll, vice chancellor of this Anglican Church of Uganda school. "Someone may report that a particular student will not be … [Read more...]

Rites & prayers before the storm

Anyone who has lived in a hurricane zone knows the rites that fill the hours before a storm.You wrestle with metal shutters. You fill bathtubs and rows of plastic bottles with water and make extra ice. You check radios, flashlights and battery expiration dates.Floridians in Frances evacuation zones faced the sobering act of preparing a box or two of irreplaceable papers, pictures and memories. I saved stacks of class outlines and left textbooks. I saved icons from Greece and left diplomas from … [Read more...]