Bullshit National Grieving

Bullshit National Grieving
A resounding gong, a clanging cymbal, bullshit: that is what this all-too-familiar national liturgy of grief is when it’s acted out once again without having taken the available steps to avoid repeating this horror.

That meaningless gong and fleeting cymbal are the apostle Paul’s characterization of religious and charitable acts that don’t have love. They are nothing.

Surely the same applies to grieving. And so if as a society we aren’t doing all we can to protect our children, our teenagers, our people, from murderous gun sprees, then we lack love. And then we lack the ability–or the right–to grieve.

If I don’t grab the hand of a sinking man whom I could have reached, then I can’t grieve his drowning. If you don’t feed the hungry woman from your stocked pantry, then you can’t grieve her starvation. If we don’t take tools away from the demented that enable them to multiply their evil, we don’t get to express shock, horror, and sadness when that multiplying evil is unleashed.

Related: Mass Killing is Our Idea of Patriotism by Frank Schaeffer

It lays bare our lack of love, and without love our words and grief are nothing.

Words like senseless, inexplicable, unimaginable must for now be banned from our grief liturgy about gun violence in this country. For what happened in that elementary school (and on the Chicago streets, etc.) makes sense, can be explained, and is not only imaginable but predictable based on all that has happened before.

The ability to authentically grieve in response to tragedy is earned by a society. How? By engaging for justice, by protecting the vulnerable, by doing all we can, often by paying a cost. That is, by love.

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Mr. President and politicians and those with power on this issue, with all due respect, you don’t get to receive this news as just parents. Not this time. Not again. Especially not those who work to keep the armaments open wide. You must receive the news as people who have taken roles that can help turn our national grieving away from hypocrisy.

Related: The God Who Cries When Children Die by Kurt Willems

If we have integrity, let’s confess that we have forfeited the right to grieve as a nation for these young children. The families and community are grieving horribly; our hearts demand that we also grieve with them as individuals (my daughter is a 1st grader). But we have forfeited as a nation the right to lower any flags. We have forfeited the right as a nation to take a moment of silence before NFL games (before young men risk their brains for our entertainment). We don’t deserve the catharsis of national mourning. We haven’t earned national grief under a resounding gong that sounds like church bells ringing ceaselessly for funerals of the innocent.

The biblical book of James says, “Faith, if it has no works, is dead.” The same with our grief for these tragedies, if it has no works.

Let’s not desecrate this tragedy with bullshit national grieving, empty words, impotent tears. Instead let’s protect our children, so that, first and foremost, we avoid many of these future slaughters and, second, so that when tragedy strikes again, for yes it will always strike again, then at least we will have earned the right, as a nation, to weep honestly together.


Kent Annan is author of the book After Shock: Searching for Honest Faith When Your World is Shaken. He is co-director of Haiti Partners and also author of Following Jesus through the Eye of the Needle. (100% of the author proceeds from both books go to education in Haiti.) You can connect with him on Twitter

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About the Author

Kent Annan

Kent AnnanKent Annan is author of the new book After Shock: Searching for Honest Faith When Your World is Shaken. He is co-director of Haiti Partners and also author of Following Jesus through the Eye of the Needle. (100% of the author proceeds from both books go to education in Haiti.)View all posts by Kent Annan →

  • Andy

    Kent, the piece that I read above certainly is provocative, in a positive way. I wonder if what you are searching for in terms of the feeling response of the nation could be more appropriately described as “shame”. In my experience, it’s the voice of shame that keeps us from moving into an actionable response in the face of tragedy. Rather than say “what the nation is feeling is bull shit” and continuing the shame, perhaps we could participate together as a nation in God’s first task and authority given to humans: to name. I need to name feeling of shame that I experience every time a tragedy like this occurs and I feel powerless to make a difference on some grand scale (which is what is needed, IMHO). Does this make sense? I feel like that’s what you are trying to do, but I don’t think the message is going to come across as hopeful, which is the fueling-motivation that’s needed to make the changes necessary.

    • Tavernacle

      Well said. Far too little attention is given to the power of naming. I take no offense at the language, but you may be right in asserting that it is counterproductive.

      • Kent

        Thanks, Andy. Appreciate this thoughtful comment. And I wrote a longer reply but somehow lost it. So a shorter version: I like what you’re saying about naming. And shame can certainly get in the way of a lot of loving that we’re called to. But I was wondering too if part of helpful naming is also to name things that we should be more ashamed of, but we’re not. I think that (though not thinking in the categories of naming, etc) is what I was trying to do in this piece. To name the fact that we should be ashamed we haven’t done enough to protect our precious children. And in that naming, can we be freed (and with confession, forgiven) to then act in love. A thought anyway. Thanks.

  • Mike Ward

    First Frank Shaeffer’s rant and now this. What is wrong with you people?

    • http://www.fivedills.com Greg Dill

      It’s called anger. Righteous anger. And you should be very angry too.

      • Jonathan

        I think it’s perceived as insensitive because it wasn’t a call to arms. America embraces vengeance and shrieks at a radical call to drop weapons. If he would have ranted about putting more guns in schools it would be perceived as valid anger.

      • Drew

        Righteous anger, that if someone on the religious right were to show, would be roundly condemned, criticized, and demonized on this website? Come on, Greg, think about the hypocrisy of what constitutes “righteous anger” to many of us.

        • Kent

          Thanks, Greg, Jonathan, and Drew. If I understand correctly, you’re all saying something similar…

      • http://www.facebook.com/cfogarty1964 Chris Fogarty

        Righteous anger? Is that christian code for asshole? Most christians on the left or right that seem to invoke this term or ones like it, such as prophet, are simply using them as camouflage and excuse for being an asshole.

    • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

      What’s “wrong” is that we’re falling quickly into the same song-and-dance routine that happens after every tragedy, and some of us aren’t convinced that doing the same thing each time will bring about different results than it did last time. What’s “wrong” is that we’re tired of seeing empty platitudes, words without action. What’s “wrong” is that we’re seeing the one son from Jesus’ parable, who says “yes father, I will do what you ask,” and then does nothing. We want the second son, the one who actually does something. That is what is wrong with us people.

      • Kent

        Yes, thanks, Snommelp.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rickmcopy Rick Middleton

    I totally agree with this. The pronouncements that “this doesn’t make any sense” and “human evil is everywhere” are kind of avoidance phrases. It’s like, put down the prayer beads and just erect a stop sign at that dangerous intersection, instead of sitting on your hands and crying when cars keep hitting each other. If we fall back on the argument of “human evil”, are we then suggesting that a country like Japan is mostly devoid of evil? After all, the chance of getting shot in Japan is nearly nil, so . . . Pass some laws and protect our kids, and quit with the crocodile tears. And Christians, if you want peace, stop insisting that everyone needs guns everywhere; you come off like a hypocrite when you do that.

    • Kent

      Thanks, Rick.

  • Gab

    This makes me sad. I have followed Red Letter Christians since Tony spoke at my University & this has really disappointed me. You shouldn’t have this title anywhere near something that says “Red Letter Christians.” You could have made your point – by preaching the verse from James – without using the words you did. My hope is that new believers do not get the wrong impression of what it means to be Christlike.

    • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

      Really? Paul swore in a letter that is now in the Bible. Sometimes the only words you can use are so strong that they’re offensive.

    • http://www.fivedills.com Greg Dill

      Jesus used some choice words for the Pharisees. They were equivalent to cuss words back then. He called them, “brood of vipers”. Check it out in Matthew 23:33.

    • Chad

      And this is what you took away from the article? That he used a “bad” word? Talk about missing the point.

      • jsboegl

        I second Gab’s point. the word is more deeply indicative of a hostile and malicious spirit than it is the spirit of Jesus.

    • Lisa

      Perhaps you forget Tony’s famous line (I will paraphrase), “Last night 25,000 children died of hunger and disease and you don’t give a shit. And what’s worse, you’re more offended by the fact that I said ‘shit’ than than dead children.”

      A well-placed swear is appropriate when trying to gain the attention of some.

    • http://justicepirate.com/ JusticePirate

      I agree. Very disappointed. What is the point of being set-apart from the world if you sound like them with your words?

      • Kent

        Thanks, Gab, jsboegl, and JusticePirate. I’m coming from the same place as Snommelp, Greg, Chad, and Lisa on this.

  • Nora

    “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.” Jer 31:15 We, too, should refused to be comforted until we seriously address the violence in this country that leads to these predictable deaths.

    • Kent

      Thank you, Nora, for adding this beautiful, heartbreaking verse to the conversation.

  • NeartheEdge

    So good to read this on this site. Thanks.

    Observing from the other side of the pond and, despite remarks following, grieving with you for the loss of innocent life lost.

    I can tell you the vast majority here are utterly baffled by American attitudes to weaponry. The best selling (Murdoch) tabloid today read, “End the Lunacy.” From my admittedly limited understanding, It would seem that if someone decides that the a missile launcher is his weapon of choice he’d be well within his constitutional rights to carry and use it willy-nilly (almost). Here, guns are viewed as accidents waiting to happen, or even, happening waiting for accidents – which is as good a definition of the human condition as I can think of.

    I heard an American commentator on UK radio who said something to the effect that if congress fails to act now they will – with the whole of the American population – be as culpable for the next ‘accident’ down the road. Strong words.

    • Kent

      Thank you, NeartheEdge.

  • James

    So, what is the “fix”? What could have been done differently that would have resulted in a different outcome?

    • Joseph

      Indeed. It’s fine and dandy to critique the state by saying it should be preventing shootings like this, but the argument isn’t full unless suggestions are made for how the state should prevent these shootings.

    • Jeff

      No kidding. So, Mr. Annan has a strong opinion? He’s talking in biblical platitudes with no offering of any real solution. Yawn…

      • Bobby B

        This is highly typical of the progressive crowd. They can give you reams of paper on what’s wrong with the US, conservatives and evangelicals, but when pressed for answers or solutions…*cricket* *cricket*

        • Drew

          If you expect anyone to solve America’s history of gun violence with a couple paragraph blog entry, you need to reexamine the reality of the situation. Furthermore, it was not the scope of the article.

          • Kent

            Thanks, James, Joseph, Jeff, and Bobby. Yes, I’m with Drew on this. Seems there are times for psalms, and there are times for policy/legislation debate. Mine was more in the psalm (for lack of a better word) tradition, with hope we’d move into the policy/legislation/action debate. And that has happened. Real policies are being discussed, everything from gun control to mental health care to security. I hope it moves through this to wise action. Thanks for, and I appreciate, the desire to keep the reflections moving toward action.

  • 22044

    Good post Mr. Annan.
    I appreciate that you are living out a calling to serve the least of these in Haiti.

    • Kent

      Thanks, 22044.

  • Lisa

    Thank you for putting into words what I only had in emotions…anger mostly. With America’s puppy-like attention span it will be forgotten as Christmas takes the stage. How disgusted and angry I am–more than sad, more than shocked. Let us all vow to give our time, money and voice to righting this horrible wrong of blood lust that our country is addicted to. ~Lisa

    • Kent

      Thank you, Lisa.

  • jsboegl

    Kent, respectfully, neither does it do us any good to “desecrate this tragedy” with more hatred and “shot-gun outrage”…

    Aside: The spirit of this whole RLC site has become grievously contentious and malicious.

  • dchipp

    Sorry, but this is another useless rant that has absolutely no substance. You are criticizing others for their ‘clanging cymbals’ yet you are doing the exact same thing. Spare us the ‘righteous anger’ and rants until you are ready to put action to the rant. What do you propose we do to prevent this again?
    The core issue here is the lack of respect for human life. As our society continues to de-value human life, it doesn’t matter what is legislated. If someone is bent on killing, it is going to happen. We as a society have pushed God out and told Him that we don’t want Him involved in our lives and schools yet shake our heads and wonder why such things happen.
    So please, spare us your ‘bullshit’ rant until you come to the table with suggestions on how to help society instead of criticizing.

    • Tavernacle

      I want (and have) God in my life, but I don’t want God in schools in the way you seem to imply. God is with me everywhere I go, and no law ever has or could change that. I pray in many places, and no one can stop me or has even tried to. Right-wing conservatives have an agenda in wanting “God in schools” (just one of several code phrases you used), and it is one that infringes on the rights of everyone who does not believe the same way they do. This kind of “faith” is empty and divisive and contrary to everything Jesus taught. I grew up in that kind of family, and it temporarily turned me into an atheist. I’m past that now and my faith has never been stronger. I have no right to try to impose my beliefs on others, but if I truly love the people around me, then they might want to know why and might want to hear more about my faith. If you have a relationship with God, then you ought to understand that it is only through relationship, not imposition or coercion, that you will have any credibility in sharing your faith. So the bottom line is that you got one thing right: in terms of faith, “it doesn’t matter what is legislated.” That is, unless it is coercive and infringes on the rights of others who believe differently. God could have compelled us to worship, but instead we were given the freedom of choice.

      As for the article, it has admirable intent but exhibits some weaknesses, such as saying we are all responsible but then seeming to place the responsibility on the shoulders of those who are in power, which smells of yet another way to absolve oneself of personal responsibility.

      A good place for each of us to start is in the study of dialogue and its practice. There are many good resources for this, including the quick and easy read “On Dialogue” by David Bohm. Civility begins at home, and in our day to day relationships. It’s not enough, but it’s a great start if we follow it up by working tirelessly for more justice in the systems in which we operate,

      • Kent

        Thanks, dchipp. I think your sentiment is similar to those up higher; I tried to respond to that above. And thanks Tavernacle. I appreciate what you’re saying about the responsibility of each of us. Good point. Seems we should each take that seriously…while also knowing that there are people out there who have a lot more power than most of us. Hopefully they’ll be taking there even greater responsibility seriously too. Thanks.

  • Frank Schaeffer

    Kent, at LAST someone tells the truth about the sentemental nonsense in a media that loves the tears but not the action of actually changing anything! Well done! Best, Frank

    • jsboegl

      Sentimental nonsense indeed… Regrettably, Kent’s blog exhorts us to nothing. In the heat of this horrible evil I suppose his anger is understandable, and the rant forgivable… but unless I’ve missed a second-page, it’s completely devoid of any substantive, Spirit-led exhortation into “action of (any) actual change”. Without it, it only serves to be more fuel for the enemy’s fire.

      • Chad

        Is it too far of a stretch to say that an article such as this one could be a catalyst for more conversation about what needs to be changed?

        • jsboegl

          Chad, do we really need to offend people and denigrate legitimate compassion in order to engage in the “more conversation”? The spirit behind the invitation leaves little hope that one will be listened to; and a LOT of anticipation that should they dare come to the table, they’ll just receive another barrage of condemnation. How does one partake in the enemy’s anger, alienation and hatred and then hope to effectively administrate Jesus’ Kingdom of reconciliation and love?

          • Kent

            Thanks, Chad; that was the hope of the piece. And thanks, jsboegl. I tried to refer to this critique (not enough substantial recommendations) in my first reply to comments above. I am encouraged that it seems the wider debate is moving on to that “second page” that you referred to. As you guessed, this came out in those first areas after hearing of the awful, heartbreaking news, so I didn’t really analyze the intent of the piece. But I think what you’re saying sort of gets at it: I was hoping we’d move onto that second page of discussing specifics as a society…and then, as it were, to a third page of actually taking action together to protect our precious children. Thanks.

          • jsboegl

            The Father’s abounding grace to you and us as we press into this good vision, Kent. Honored to be your brother with Jesus. jsb

    • Kent

      Thanks, Frank!

    • Kent

      Thanks, Frank!

  • Frank Schaeffer

    Kent, at LAST someone tells the truth about the sentemental nonsense in a media that loves the tears but not the action of actually changing anything! Well done! Best, Frank

  • Frank Schaeffer

    Kent, at LAST someone tells the truth about the sentemental nonsense in a media that loves the tears but not the action of actually changing anything! Well done! Best, Frank

  • EvergreenJeff

    Hmmm we are really powerless to stop badness, to always protect everyone. Jesus, while on earth wept, and had the ability to do anything he could have imagined. Explain to us in the context of these “red letters” why mourning isn’t ok…

    • Kent

      Thanks, EvergreenJeff. Yes, I think we agree, if we’re both saying this: we should both weep and do everything we can to help. That’s what I was advocating for in the piece (not saying that mourning isn’t okay; just that love has to accompany it). Yes, not from the “red letters” this one…just passages from that typically black ink that Paul and James get! Thanks.

  • Drew

    This was a brilliant article by Kent. It’s not a comprehensive look at the situation, but it’s the important first step.

    When these tragedies happen, there is an infinite amount of hype, mostly pumped by the media. Every media outlet will cover this 24/7 for a week or two, and then phase out coverage. Every politician will demand action and put out a statement, and then do nothing. Everyone will write on their Facebook walls, and then do nothing. Everyone will attend Church…. for a week. Everyone will say they are “praying”… but the prayers are not even made, or if they are, last a day or two. Bottom line is that rarely does anything happen, and Kent is “hoping” that finally something happens, because if this cannot shock our nation into action, what will? Even I have to look in the mirror, as a father of young children, and ask if I will really change anything I do in the next few weeks in response, or if I will get emotional for a few days and get back to business as usual.

    As for the second step, coming up with solutions, it’s not the scope of this article. Even if it was the scope of the article, though, many would be disappointed, because many of us have not moved past step one. In our faux outrage state, many of us want quick fixes and easy solutions. Triple mental health funding! Ban guns! Make schools into fortresses! Sorry, folks, but there are no easy solutions. Sorry again, folks, but if all your solutions involve the government because you would rather have the government solve your problems than you have to do anything, you are part of the problem, not the solution.

    Kudos to Kent for challenging us to move to the “solutions” stage rather than us staying in the “faux outrage” stage.

    • Kent

      Thank you, Drew. Really appreciate your comments here and throughout the section. Thanks.

  • Joe

    As a non Christian from newtown ct, I can only think of one response to this article:

    Fuck you red letter Christians.

    • 22044

      I’m sorry we let you down. In terms of the post & comments, what would you like to see?

      • Kent

        Joe, I know this may not be worth much or anything at all, but I’m deeply sorry for the families, for your community, and for you. Along with everyone else across the country, I’m grieving for your unbearable loss.

    • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

      Sorry you feel that way. What, exactly, is your issue?

      • SamHamilton

        I assume it’s because Kent Annan is saying the nation shouldn’t mourn the dead children in his town.

        • Drew

          Kent is saying that the mourning should be authentic rather than superficial; that the Christian life is about action more so than platitudes.

          The Bible says the same thing, in a different context. When it comes to someone who is thirsty, it is of absolutely zero value to say “Oh, God bless you, I sympathize with your thirst, I’ll pray for you” and walk past the individual. Actually, it’s an act worthy of damnation. We are called to stop, give the thirsty something to drink if we have the capacity, and engage in dialogue, perhaps sharing our reason for why we are charitable, sharing the Gospel.

          That is what Kent is speaking about. For those with the capacity to do something, something needs to be done. Kent is saying “don’t mourn.” What he is saying, is don’t say “Oh, that’s awful, I’ll pray one time for thirty seconds” and then go about life as this never happened. That is the bigger tragedy.

          • SamHamilton

            Drew,
            But most of us don’t have the capacity to do anything other than work for peace in our own communities and to live lives of peace. There is no easy, obvious, no-cost solution to tragedies like these. There are no “give a hungry man some food to eat” solutions. If there were, we would have done them already.

          • Drew

            After you mention that we don’t have the capacity to do much in situations like this, you mention two things that we can do. :) If you brainstormed by yourself and then with other people, I’m sure you could add to that list. There you go, multiple ways we can “show” we care, rather than “say” we care.

          • SamHamilton

            Drew,
            Then we’re back to where we started. Because you or I can work for peace in our communities (and perhaps we and many others do so) then can our nation mourn (whatever that means) for the children? If not, why not?

          • Drew

            You are not comprehending what Kent and I are saying. Let me put it in another context.

            What Kent is saying is that too often our response to these tragedies is to put on a show, take no action, and forget about it. Remember the Aurora shooting? The media went hysterical for a week, nothing really happened, and then the media moved on to the Will and Kate pregnancy and other pressing issues. This is common when a tragedy occurs. Non-Christians and nominal Christians often start saying they will “pray” for folks and talk about how senseless the tragedy is. Do they even really pray half the time, or pray for more than a day? Probably not, but it is popular to say in our culture, that you are “praying” for someone. Then they move on to the next popular topic in a week or two.

            There is nothing wrong with mourning, but we should examine if it is authentic or not (this applies to our relationship with Christ and to every aspect of our Christian walk… is is authentic, what is our heart’s intent?) Is posting something on our Facebook page and telling everyone we meet how horrific the shooting was constitute an appropriate response? Perhaps, if our heart is in the right place. However, maybe a better response is to let this tragedy touch us so deeply that our lives will not be the same… that we donate money, or donate time, or fight for laws to change, or share the Gospel more to a world that needs to hear it.

            In other words, Kent is saying that instead of putting on a show (which some of us are doing, not all or even most of us), we should not let the victims die in vain.

          • SamHamilton

            Drew,
            I understand what you and Kent are saying. I just don’t agree with it because I just understand what we collectively are supposed to do. This isn’t about you, me or other individuals. It’s about “national” grieving. Sure, if some individual says they deeply loathe the violence in CT, but then he goes out and lives a life that perpetuates violence in our society, then I’m fine with Kent calling that behavior out. But I think that, as I said above, it’s a myth that our society hasn’t done anything. And two, there is not much we can do or that we would want to do collectively because it’s so extreme that would stop every nut who wants to kill people from doing so.

            Should the NFL become an organization dedicated to ending school shootings so it’s moment of silence can’t be criticized for being symbolic?

        • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

          Drew has already said what I intended – the point of this article does not seem to be “don’t mourn,” but rather “don’t be a hypocrite.” Even those of us who are not policy-makers can do something. And I seem to recall Kent saying that individual people certainly have the right to mourn – it’s our nation as an entity that has lost that right, since our nation as an entity is doing nothing.

          • SamHamilton

            What does it even mean for “the nation to mourn?” The nation is made up of individual people who make choices to mourn or not to mourn. The decision to have a moment of silence at a football game or to lower a flag is not the decision of a nation, but the actions of individuals or small groups of people, who, as you say, have a right to mourn.

          • Drew

            Sam,

            Kent is talking about us being a people of substance, moving past symbolic action and moving into the realm of real action. Symbolic action has its place, but it is not as substitute for real action. For example, putting a bumper sticker on your car saying that you support the troops is nice and something I support, but it is not substitute for writing to the troops, sending them care packages, and other substantive actions.

            In other words, the moment of silence at an NFL game isn’t bad in and of itself, but if that’s as far as we go as a nation… a few moments of silence and back to business as usual… we should be ashamed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000699994198 David Reynolds

      Joe, I’m an Aussie, and I’m a Christian. I want you to know that even from over here we weep and we grieve over what has happened. You are daily (more), in my prayers, and I can’t imagine the desperate pain that you must be feeling. I’m a pretty big guy, ex soldier, and I have wept more than once over this tragedy.
      I guess we’re all looking for answers, and sadly answers that may not ever be fully found.
      I think you are right, we have been a little insensitive here, and I personally ask that, if you can find it in your heart, please forgive my part in this.

  • joe

    Somehow this idea that this is how a Christian should act in a non-christian society when unspeakable tragedy happens as just confirms in me that the christian left is no better in some respects than the christian right, and that it’s just one more of the thousand reasons why I as an american evangelical want to get back on the Mayflower with my tail between my legs.

    • joe

      Kinda like the westboro baptist/fred phelps approach but just from the left. You just DONT SAY THIS in this time and context! Politics can make you pretty tone-deaf sometimes. It’s a twisted medium.

  • Keith

    It’s time to quit blaming society for the acts of individuals. Only each and every individual turning their lives over to Christ, make Him Lord, and pursue their own holiness is going to change ANYTHING! This world is in darkness, and we need to provide light, and learn to live in the light. Only God is going to change hearts, not governments………………..

  • http://www.facebook.com/ArtsyCarmenRose Carmen Rose Shenk

    That there is evil in the world, is no surprise. The answer to evil in the heart of a man or woman will never be entirely political or social. The answer to evil will never be found in the making of laws, or in the judgement of a court. The response is not more judgment, bitterness, condemnation, and social outrage, and vengeance. The only spiritually-rational response is Love. Grieving is a human response based in compassion, which is honorable. It’s far better than anger or vengeance, or actions based in reaction. So yes, we DO get to grieve together, without apology. We DO get to weep for the lost ones and our hearts hurt for the families, because this compassion is the work of the Holy Spirit. Every time we show kindness and compassion, and pray the dangerous prayers of grace, we engage the most powerful force of all: Love.

    • SamHamilton

      Thank you Carmen. I agree.

    • jsboegl

      Well said Carmen. “Cry on! Cry for her children who are no more! Blessed are those who mourn!”

    • Kent

      Thank you, Carmen. Your compassion comes through. And I agree and say in the piece that we each should be grieving with those families. I think I’m just arguing that that compassion should include both empathy for those who are suffering horrible loss…and also compassion should include doing everything we can to prevent the losses that we can prevent. Certainly laws and law enforcement against drunk driving don’t eliminate tragic accidents; but they reduce them a lot. I’m sure there are some problems with the analogy and I’m not trying to make it a direct analogy to assault weapons, etc. Only point I’m making is that there are ways we can make decisions together as a society that (a) can’t make us completely safe but (b) can make us safer. Okay, someone else can probably say this better than I just tried to…

  • Cotton Joe

    After reading this article, and reading the posts in this comment section, I really can’t see what all the hubbub is all about. Is it just because the writer used the oh-so-horrid word “bullshit”? Not to say that that’s a nice word in anyway, but when faced with something en ragingly evil and hypocritical, even Jesus the son of God used series of nasty descriptors for those he felt were doing wrong, as pointed out by an earlier user. Really, getting so dramatically offended when someone uses a words you don’t like, while at the same time ignoring the fact that this tragedy is likely not going to result in any significant action is the very definition of “straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel”.

    Really, that’s the entire point of this article: violence permeates this entire culture, so much so that violence is seen as a perfectly natural form of entertainment (And no, I’m not talking about video games, I’m talking about boxing, wrestling, movies, TV, even in books. Violence as entertainment has existed far before it came to a computer screen, and the singling out of video games while ignoring all the other violence has always baffled me). We’ve elevated our Military to near idolization, and the ownership of arms has been viewed as more sacred than even our freedom of speech for some. The very history of this country and how it came to be was written with the blood of thousands of people, and this thirst for violence has even permeated the American church. How else can you explain “taking back the country for Christ” as anything but suggesting violence in the name of the notably non-violent Jesus Christ? We have violence in our streets, violence is apparently seen as a perfectly nice way to quell peaceful civil unrest as seen in the reaction of OWS. Our politics is filled with verbal and ideological violence so over that I’m honestly surprised that a civil war has not yet erupted ..I’d go as far to say that for all our posturing to the contrary, violence is at the very core of our Nation.

    Taking all this into account, I was completely unsurprised when I heard people suggesting that the way to stop this sort of violence was to enable even more violence in the teachers. I really don’t care a whit about this idiotic “LEFT vs. RIGHT” nonsense war that has seeped into every single facet of our lives, but as a human being, can you really say that dealing with school shootings by giving the teachers guns is going to solve ANY sort of problem? Or can you call it anything but immensely warped? This is one of the things this article is speaking out against, but even then it goes further than that. This article is attacking what it sees as hypocrisy in the American populace. We make a great show of weeping for this children and families, yet such violence happens regularly and it doesn’t get any attention because it doesn’t involve school children. And even in cases like this, the most we’ve done is mourn for a while then get on with our lives. There’s no real change to make ourselves safer, there’s no reflection on how and why this happened, nothing.

    Now, I’m not saying that banning all guns ever is the solution. At best, taking away ASSAULT RIFLES is a step, but it’s not nearly enough. To really even start to solve this problem, we need to truly look at ourselves as a nation. Try our hardest to see why such a thing happened. Why did this young man feel so incredibly hopeless and angry that he decided to take it out on not only his mother, but random children? Events like this are signs that there’s something very wrong with the society at large, and it needs to be fixed. Taking guns won’t so enough, taking violent video games will do all of nothing, we need to look at our hearts, look at what sort of rot is happening to all of us, and see if we can fix it.

    Unfortunately, I have no pretenses that this sort of reflection will happen. Look again at this comment section, people getting worked up over a single word, people dancing that same, tired, and idiotic “LEFTRIGHTLEFTRIGHT” dance that has gotten us all of nowhere…it’s pathetic to see, really. Maybe I’m being too pessimistic, but I have next to no hope of any sort of real, concrete change for the better coming from a nation so caught up in petty bickering that they’ve forgotten their own humanity. Even better, they’ve gotten so caught up in useless political bickering that they’ve forgotten the teachings of their own God.

  • SamHamilton

    I don’t have a problem with the word choice. A profanity-laced rant brings discourse down. I well-placed one-off profanity can add important emphasis. It doesn’t bother me.

    What bothers me about this is the statement that we can’t mourn this tragedy because we’ve done nothing to prevent it. The idea that we’ve done nothing to prevent these types of things is a myth. Maybe the things we’ve done haven’t gone far enough (too-flimsy security measures at schools, banning automatic weapons, but not semi-automatic rifles), or they’ve been ineffective (like gun free schools zones). Maybe the things we’ve done aren’t what Kent Annan would do, which are….what?

    But once we all start naming the things we need to do, we realize none of them will provide total security. And virtually every measure we take has a downside. If there were easy solutions we would have done them. We can reinstate the assault weapons ban, but that wouldn’t have stopped this shooter from obtaining the semi-automatic pistols he carried with him. We could propose to outlaw violent movies and video games, but what about free speech rights? We could post security guards at every entrance to every school in the country. But would we want our children to go to school that way? Crazy people, and not so crazy people, will continue to do bad things that hurt and end the life of others, even children. We haven’t stopped these things from happening because stopping them is hard! It is completely appropriate to grieve these tragedies.

  • Thomas

    Part of the prevention, or solution must be making mental health care available to all.

  • Chris

    More social change jargon without gospel heart change. Profanity is not a fruit of the spirit, but progressive? This is just another self-righteous rant from a christian liberal who will fight and defend the poor and fight for gun control, but would never fight for the inerrancy or authority of the Bible. Without the inerrancy of the Bible your have no example of Jesus because He’s nothing more than a potential fictional person. Self righteousness isn’t a fruit of the spirit either Ken. Join the Peace Corp where you belong and stop dressing up as a Christian. God is not honored by your shock jock journalism cloaked in Jesus. Your social gospel has no eternal hope either.

    • Kent

      Thanks, Chris. I actually work in Haiti and I’m directly responsible for a project that is providing 10,000 Bibles each and every year to Haitians in their language of Creole. It’s a gift in my life to be part of making Scripture available to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access. I teach Bible classes in my church at times. I’ve been part of (with a great team of Haitian colleagues) developing a number of Bible studies for use in Haiti. Tens of thousands of copies of those are now being used across the country. This work with Haitian churches is deeply encouraging. If you wanted to learn more, you could visit http://www.haitipartners.org And thanks for your concern for the importance of the Bible, which comes through in your comment. Thanks.

      • Questioning

        Kent, the grace and thoughtfulness with which you respond to those who have responded here, no matter the tone, tells me all I need to know about your heart. Thanks to you for walking the walk and talking the talk.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

    “Why are we allowing this to continue to happen?” — an absolutely inane and stupid statement/question uttered by a feckless Leftist regarding gun crimes!

    Implicit within this statement/question is the assumption we can PREVENT TRAGEDIES! Patently False and Impossible. We can NOT prevent every lethal hurricane, tornado, flood, auto accident, other accident, drug overdose, suicide or homicide BUT we can prevent virtually every instance of filicide by OUTLAWING abortion and punishing all parties (mothers, doctors, nurses, et al) involved in ILLEGAL ABORTIONS!

    With 270,000,000 guns in the hands of 150,000,000 Americans some people will be shot, intentionally or accidentally, over time.

    But when you consider the annual rate of homicide by gun is a miniscule 0.0043% of all guns in existence (11,493 homicides by firearm in 2009 / 270,000,000 guns in U.S.) you may as well ban tornadoes, hurricanes and floods!

    No one’s death can be prevented; only some people’s can be delayed. All tragedies are NOT preventable; but some can be averted for the time being.

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm

    • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

      William, I am confused. Could you please clear one thing up? How is it that outlawing guns cannot prevent gun violence, but outlawing abortion can 100% prevent abortion?

  • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

    America home grows marijuana and manufactures meth, X, speed, and a host of other drugs, prescription and otherwise, but it MUST import cocoa-based and poppy-based drugs like cocaine and heroine, respectively. Is there a huge shortage of cocaine, crack cocaine, heroine, morphine and other cocoa and poppy-based drugs? Not that I’m aware of!

    America has its own gun manufacturers and we are NOT dependent upon imports for any TYPE of weapon, though we do import some foreign branded and manufactured weapons because of consumer preference.

    REMEMBER: once coke or heroine or any drug is ingested, smoked, snorted or injected it is gone – it is a consumable. In order to get high again — and possibly die from an overdose — MORE must be grown or made. Whereas a well made gun can last up to 100 years and be used over and over and over again with only the addition of bullets and a little maintenance.

    GUESS WHAT?! Progressive Leftists confess that “drug controls don’t work, not even for imported drugs!”

    But what, poorly and improperly educated Progressives illogically and irrationally think that guns, over 275,000,000 of which already reside in the hands of about 150,000,000 Americans, CAN BE CONTROLLED? We can control guns but not drugs?

    We’ve had a failed War on Poverty, a failed War on Drugs, and now we’re going to begin an expensive and doomed to fail War on Guns?

    That is ludicrous, stupid, illogical, irrational and ignorant!

    Balderdash! Don’t let Obama and Biden start another War for stupid and ignorant reasons!

    http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-viewpoint/121812-637556-sandy-hook-tragedy-is-about-moral-decline-not-guns.htm

    • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

      Shall we extend that logic to be consistent? Making abortion illegal does not completely prevent women from seeking abortions. Since the logic of your argument is that we should not attempt to control things if we are likely to fail, it would seem that we should not make abortion illegal, either. It will just lead to an expensive and doomed war on abortion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

    True, Authentic, Virtuous and Moral Leadership does NOT force those led under penalty of law to do or not do anything it refuses to itself.

    Tyrants always force a tyrannized citizenry to comply with rules and laws they refuse for themselves, as did King George III of England the American colonists; INCLUDING control of and confiscation of our forebears’ gun powder and shot.

    Whichever guns and ammo Obama MANDATES Free Americans give up America should insist he and his Secret Service Detail give up. If he does NOT want the White House to be a Gun Free Zone then I surely do not what my brick house and the schools, malls and movie theaters I frequent to be either.

    If America can NOT elect exemplary and virtuous leadership it should go Leaderless!

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200278631228064&set=a.1247528587965.2038630.1221949455&type=1&theater

  • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

    With the exception perhaps of Rep. Gabby Giffords’ shooter, Jared Loughner who was allegedly diagnosed as schizophrenic, what the Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora Movie Theater, and Sandy Hook shooters had in common besides alleged mental illness was they were HIGHLY INTELLIGENT. This means they were NOT STUPID!

    Being Highly Intelligent they EACH CHOSE a GUN FREE ZONE to perpetrate their mass murders; this “CHOICE” — as Abortionists fondly like to refer to mass annihilation — was deliberate and “smart.”

    Whether they decided to kill themselves after their mass murders or not they wanted to be able to inflict as much carnage as possible without return lethality until they decided to off themselves or be arrested by police after killing many people.

    GUN FREE ZONES ARE THE EQUIVALENT OF A TEMPORARILY UNINTERRUPTED SHOOTING GALLERY FOR MASS MURDERERS!

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200278168816504&set=a.1247528587965.2038630.1221949455&type=1&theater

  • Pastortim

    Okay, so we are greiving as a nation for the 20 little innocents lost in this tragedy….but where is a single, collective national tear being shed for the hundreds and hundreds of other “innocent” little ones lost through abortion every single day? Can we say hypocrisy? A culture that so readily accepts the horror of abortion should not be surprised when someone takes that simple step from legalized murder of innocents to murdering other innocents. I know it may sound hard and cruel….and believe me, my heart aches to breaking over Newtown…..but we do reap what we sow.

    • Frank

      This week alone over 21,000 innocent unborn children were killed mostly for reasons of convenience..

  • http://www.facebook.com/cfogarty1964 Chris Fogarty

    I came to this site because my brother linked this article on face book. I then went to the wiki to see what this red letter stuff was all about. This is what I found.

    “Red-Letter Christians constitute a non-denominational movement within Christianity. Proponents of the movement believe that Christianity, and especially evangelicalism, has been exploited by both right-wing and left-wing political movements and become too partisan and politicized. As a response they endeavor to create an evangelical movement that focuses on the teachings of Jesus Christ, particularly in regard to social issues. The two most prominent figures associated with the movement are Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo.[1]”

    After reading a number of posts, including this one and the one by Franky Scheaffer. I believe it is safe to say that this site’s owners need to correct the wiki, or they have horribly failed in their mission to transcend political partisanship. From what I gather, this site constitutes simply another denomination replete with sanctimonious partisan rants or holier than thou posturing.

    A recuring theme seems also to be a collection of diatribes in which the authors seem self excluded from the epistle or artificially above the fray. Religion and Christianity appear as irrelevant today as they were 2000 years ago. The end result here is the manifestation of a self-righteous sect that lacks any semblance to humility, compassion, and a genuine sense of service to humanity.

    A remain a committed non believer.

  • billy

    we are americans, we are supposed to kill each other. i’m not nra anymore, because i’m not a republican. i carry always. there are a lot of things out here that are way more dangerous than guns. think about it, it will came to you. billy

  • Andy

    A subset of teachers should be trained on firearms and do their jobs while carrying handguns.

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