Saturday, December 15, 2012


                So, yesterday something horrible happened. Today we’re all searching for answers, for causes, for something to make some sort of sense out of it. I don’t have any of those answers.

                Some are going to dive headlong into various debates about public policy, rights, and administration. This will, no doubt, spark conversations about gun control, school policies about security, and maybe even human rights discussions concerning mental health issues, records, disclosure and therapy. These discussions are important and need to be tackled; but I don’t think that they can really address the root of what is happening in our nation.

                This year we have had three major shootings in our nation. Over the past 15 years or so, public shooting rampages have become somewhat of an epidemic.

                Two days ago I committed a sin. It was a behavior that many would not consider out of the ordinary, but for me it is a sin. This behavior hurt me, hurt my family, hurt my relationship with God, and will no doubt hurt my friends, even if they never realize it.

                My sin and this shooting epidemic are indirectly linked[1] because they are products of the same culture. We have a problem in America; and it is not our policies, our politics, our parties, our classes, or our laws. Our problem is in our hearts.

                I have found, with my own sinful tendencies, that character cannot be molded by rules and regulations. Character may be suppressed by laws for a time, but, like alcohol during prohibition, it will always find a way to express itself. We will never be able to make enough rules to change who we are; and no matter what kind of policy changes we make, new security measures we enact, or opportunities we take away, a mentally unstable individual will be able to find a way to act out on his or her delusions. I have found that there is only one answer to the problem of evil; and that is God.

                Evil is not something that is external to us. It is not embodied by Satan. It is not rooted in the oft-maligned “them,” nor is it the exclusive policy of either democrats or republicans. We cannot defeat evil through the ballot box or on the congressional debate floor. Just like the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Evil exists within our hearts; it is in us; and it is in our hearts that evil must be conquered.

                The problem that our nation is experiencing is a problem of culture. Culture is really nothing more than the collective weight of a million individual decisions made by millions of individual people in individual situations. The only way that culture changes is for those individual people to make different choices.

                School shootings are a product of our culture, and as such, they are a product of those millions of individual decisions. It is a monumental mistake to think that we as individuals are not at fault for the shooting epidemic that has gripped our nation because our individual choices are part of that collective consent, a collective complicity. My own poor choices from just two days ago are part of the tilled cultural ground from which our cultural problems grow.

                I am not defined by the mistakes of yesterday, but by the forgiveness of today. We are not defined by the good we failed at, but by the good we attempted to do. I am not defined by my poor choices, but by God’s grace. We are not defined by how we have fallen, but by the one who was raised up, on a cross, for us. Now, with the after-image of evil still burning in our vision, it is time to let that forgiveness, that grace, that love flow through us and define our world; it is time to let our individual choices be determined and defined by the same love that gave itself up for us. That is the only way in which evil is conquered; that is how we change the world.

[1] I should make it clear that my sinful behavior has nothing to do with guns, shooting, depression, physical violence or anything else remotely a part of these shooting rampages.

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