When I heard the news Friday afternoon [1], numb was really the only emotion that came out. Sure, there was a spark of shock, but I was quick to shut it down. My wife is an elementary school teacher, so when I finally let myself think about things on my drive home from work, it hit close to home. But not that close…not close like the victims’ parents. Siblings. And, let’s not forget the shooter’s family.

We could–and I’m sure we will–have all sorts of talks about new policies, especially in gun control, that could have prevented this and need to be enacted. But the truth is, that there isn’t much..at least not as much as we hope, that could have stopped this.

Why did this tragedy happen? We can blame all sorts of things: bad parenting, ignored warning sights, easy access to guns, lax security at schools, inadequacy of available psychological treatment; the list could go on ad nauseum–and I’m sure it will.

But here’s the real reason. The most fundamental explanation possible: “Mankind is dark.” – Reese Roper [2]. And for stopping it, “What can man do against such reckless hate?” – J.R.R. Tolkien through Lord of the Rings [3].

Lots of Christians out there will try to rationalize this how a loving God can allow this. And that’s all well and good. I enjoy reading that sort of thing after enough time as passed, but in the wake of a tragedy like this, I feel like there are only a few things that really help.

1. The Psalms. Scattered throughout the Psalms various authors poor out their hearts–the good, the bad, and the ugly–to God. They, in their own way, give us permission to be angry with God.
2. Ecclesiastes. “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few” [4]. In other words, before trying to justify God–or condemn Him–remember who you are, and accept your smallness. After years of fighting for something more satisfying, something more visceral, I’ve come to accept that I would make a really bad God. I don’t pretend to understand. I don’t pretend to be able justify anything God does in utilitarian or any other terms. But I do believe that He can justify Himself.

So to the hurting, I can only offer my shoulder to cry on (metaphorically), and encouragement to be angry with God right now.
To everyone trying to make sense of this, stop it. This is, by all human measures and possibly by divine measures, senseless. God tells us he has our best interests at heart, and we can either believe that or not, but we will never be able to tie the pieces together on our own, so let Him in Heaven do his thing and let your recommendations to him be few.

From one, dark, broken, fallen human being to others, let’s try together to help others from following in the footsteps of the shooter, even though the evil that lived in him also lives in us.

The blacksheep sends his love.


[1] Obama on the shooting in an elementary school in Connecticut; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIA0W69U2_Y
[2] Tracks 11 and 12 on “Proof that the youth are revolting [Live]” by Five Iron Frenzy; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_That_the_Youth_Are_Revolting
[3] http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0000155/quotes
[4] Ecclesiastes 5:2 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes+5&version=NIV