Another school shooting this week, lots of dead people, more injured, and much discussion of the shooters motivations. Sometimes I just have to shake my head at all the discussion of motivation. Motivations for any action by any human are generally very complex – there are rarely straight lines. Despite our best efforts aberrant human behavior can rarely be fully explained. The reason for that is simple – the behavioral sciences simply do not account for evil. Evil is a spiritual and moral concept, not a quantifiable, scientific one but that does not change the fact that it is real. I do not know how anyone can look at something as heinous as this school shooting and not acknowledge that evil is real.
I have all sympathy for the shooters difficult upbringing, but the world is full of people that have had upbringings just as ugly, or worse, and yet they do not turn to this sort of action. There is something else at play. The host spent a good bit of Friday’s show calling for new “Kefauver Hearings” focusing on the multiple forces that are making things like the school shooting more and more common. Consider this question from his interview with Attorney General Sessions:
Now Mr. Attorney General, let me finish up by talking about the idea of what’s going on in America being partly fentanyl. You mentioned the dark web sells guns as well. It sells sex, it sells fentanyl, it sells heroin. It is making the whole world vulnerable to the worst instincts. The New York Times Sunday Magazine this weekend has a cover story, do you think porn influences the way teenagers think about sex. You and I, and it’s pretty eye-opening, and it’s going to scare a lot of parents of what’s available to their children. You and I both know what internet extremism is doing to the manufacture of hate-filled extremists, and we see what happens when deranged people get ahold of an AR-15 in Florida. What, I know you’re reluctant to give your former colleagues advice, but we just went on the air down in Tuscaloosa, just added an affiliate in Tuscaloosa. If you were in a town hall meeting in Tuscaloosa, what would you tell them the federal government can do about what is a combination of meteor strikes on the culture?
The key sentence in that extended ask is, “It is making the whole world vulnerable to the worst instincts.” That sentence acknowledges what most people know, but no one wants to admit – evil resides in each of us.
We live in a age that believes affirmation is the best way to raise young people, but that belies the fact that in each young person lies the evil malignancy just waiting to be let loose. We must both affirm the good and help them tame the evil. So many feel that to acknowledge the evil is to be unaffirming and therefore they avoid it – but we must acknowledge it. The results of not doing so are evident in the many memorial services happening in Florida this weekend and beyond.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
and yet you rarely hear it discussed in church anymore. “Confession,” the act of acknowledging the evil within, is a sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church and is historically a part of the liturgy of Protestantism, but is increasingly hard to find practiced. I have heard it said just a few too many times, “People do not want to come to church and be told where they are wrong.” Maybe so, but when you join that trend in the church with a culture that does not even really believe there is evil in each of us we get results that are painfully obvious this weekend.
This is the First Sunday in Lent. This is the season we prepare for the redemption offered in Holy Week. Anymore it seems we act as if we do not need redemption. Yet the need for redemption is so obvious today. Certainly the shooter needs redemption, as do all those in the system that he slipped through, but so do all of us that participate in a culture that fails to acknowledge the presence of such evil.
The Christian community should not need joint Congressional hearings to illustrate for us the corruption floating through our nation – we should be telling Congress about it. Just something else we need to confess.
This Sunday morning, this First Sunday morning in Lent, I will begin with confession – if not in church then in prayer to the Lord. Please join me.