Like all Americans, I was horrified, grieved and unnerved to hear of the massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, CO this weekend. A movie theater of people, gathering to enjoy a summer blockbuster, was sprayed with bullets, leading to the murder of 12 people and the injury of 50-some more. News coverage has mostly followed the typical sensational and speculative script that comes about each time one of these mass shootings occur. Virtually every hour, news anchors on the 24-hour networks have called in criminal profilers and psychologists to try to explain to us all the "why?" behind such acts of evil. Evil is typically something we can avoid in most of our everyday life. Mass killings are too common, certainly, but still relatively rare in the big picture. But when such a visceral act of violence occurs, apparently targeting individuals for no real reason, we want to know why.
This is not the only place we have seen evil in the news lately. The Jerry Sandusky-Penn State scandal also calls to mind questions of evil in our world. How is it that a man could abuse children so callously over such a long period of years? Even worse, how could "normal," professional people--even revered and admired people--tolerate it and cover it up?
What if, instead of bringing the psychologists and the criminal profilers and the attorneys, we brought in clergypeople and theologians? Can we continue to avoid the pervasive nature of evil, even in seemingly "good" people like Joe Paterno anymore? Where does this evil come from? Is there any power or force greater than this evil? How can we hope to overcome evil? Will a day come when we no longer must seek to heal victims of sexual abuse or bury young people mowed down in their prime?
These are all questions for which Christian theology has answers. At a time in which we are so baffled and troubled by evil, wouldn't it behoove us as a nation to at least give a listen to what those answers may be?
My prayers continue to be with all of those who suffered losses in Aurora, CO. May God grant you comfort, peace and the assurance of His presence through all of the stages of grief.