…a pastor, some folks in Alabama and some junior high school students in Germany all lost their lives this week. All died in very public bloodbaths at the hands of some clearly disturbed individuals. These tragedies have obviously struck fear into the hearts of many. A quick scan of the media reports and we can see some common threads. Anger, pain, indescribable grief and questions – the leading one of these being -- -- WHY?
The answer to that question is perhaps the most difficult to answer with any degree of specificity. But that has not stopped new agencies and officials from speculating about the possible reasons for these rampages. It seems to me that the answers that have been arrived at are hollow and completely unsatisfying. Attempts have been made to construct typologies of the killers to see if there were markers that might explain their behaviour. Targets have been analyzed for potential motive. Style of shooting and the type of weaponry used has come under intense scrutiny. While these pictures might give some partial indications to the causes of this violence it seems clear that the answers these investigations produce leave us still lacking effective reasons to explain the actions of these people. (One BBC report highlighted the fact that the boy wore glasses among other features)
An equally dissatisfying answer is the one that suggests in broad spiritualizing tones that these actions were the result of the 'sinful' condition of humanity. Chalking this up to the products of sin significantly cheapens the spiritual perspective. And I suspect it only serves to highlight two damning perspectives that many Christians take:
The evacuation mentality: See, look how terrible this world is. Christ must be coming soon. We just have to hang on till the end and make sure we are ready to meet him.
The superiority complex: See, look how horrid life without Christ is. It's a good thing that we know Jesus and are not tempted to live like that. Make sure you are careful not to get yourself mixed up in those crazy chatrooms or whatever…
Let us admit something if we can. The problems that these violent acts reveal are large and complex. They are not however so large that we must throw up our hand in defeat or so trivial that we should succumb to the mindless triviality of public discourse. If the principles of Christ are valid, is it not true that applying them practically in these situations will garner actual results?