I had already posted my Friday blog and was on the road when a news alert on my cell phone said that a murderer had gunned down 20 little children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
For the next couple of days, news media, bloggers, and social media outlets were rife with expressions of grief and outrage, speculation about the young shooter’s motives and commentary on whether it’s time to take another look at stricter regulations on semi-automatic weapons.
I didn’t contribute a word to the verbal ocean: I didn’t have any.
Other than learning the basics, I avoided the ongoing reports that outlined how horrific the scene must have been. I didn’t want to imagine six- and seven-year-old boys and girls facing point-blank automatic weapons fire, or devoted teachers and administrators falling in a hail of bullets while trying to defend the little ones.
I just couldn’t.
It was a form of denial, I guess. I didn’t want to put my mind and heart in the shoes of those parents who had to confront the dreadful, shocking news that their sweet children had been jerked out of this world in a horrifying act of violence. I didn’t want to think about the Christmas trees with presents already beneath them …
I didn’t have to imagine it: mainly I dreaded going there again. I know what it’s like. The man who killed my precious seven-year-old nearly 19 years ago didn’t do it on purpose. He wasn’t armed with a semi-automatic rifle, but a .20 blood alcohol level and a pickup truck.
The result was no less explosive, bloody … terminal.
One minute a beautiful child is living and laughing and learning. The next, she’s a corpse, and her stunned parents learn what it is like to have their hearts ripped from their bodies, still beating.
I don’t have an answer to the issue of regulating guns, though I weep for a nation of people so protective or paranoid that they feel a compulsive need to own nearly twice as many guns per capita as any other nation on earth, about nine lethal weapons for every 10 Americans.
And I don’t have an answer to the question of how to make schools more secure without turning them into mini-forts: if someone with a twisted mind and ready access to an arsenal wants to kill children, he can find a place to do it.
And I certainly don’t have an answer to the question every parent or child or spouse asks when a loved one is snatched away like dandelion seeds in a whirlwind. I am confident that God had nothing to do with it other than being present to receive those blessed victims into eternal care. No matter how many people mouth the folk-belief that “everything happens for a reason” or how many times they say it, it remains as bogus as the first time someone tried to make themselves feel better by imagining that their inexplicable loss is part of some divine plan.
God does not plan to murder children in gruesomely heinous fashion, or in any other way.
No God that I’d want to worship.
Pompous platitudes from self-appointed prophets have begun to emerge, as we might expect. Former Arkansas governor-turned talk show host Mike Huckabee drew a direct connection between the massacre and what he perceives as God being removed from public schools.
Any God that humans can evict from anywhere is no God, I say.
“Focus on the Family” founder James Dobson weighed in with similar comments: “I think we have turned our back on the scripture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that’s what’s going on.”
Lord have mercy. People who claim to speak for God believe that the Almighty gets in a snit and kills children (or declines to protect them) to express divine displeasure that people aren’t showing sufficient attention to a theocratic agenda?
If it had been their children or grandchildren lying riddled with bullets, could they still so blithely attribute that very human crime against innocents to divine irritation with the nation?
Lord have mercy, I say again; and find that’s about all I can say.
Lord have mercy.