Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Notebook Excerpts on Virginia Tech

These are some thoughts that I jotted down this morning on this week's events at Virginia Tech.

...My thoughts immediately went to Heidelberg. This could have happened there--either while I was still a student or now when my brother is still a student. To put this horrible event in those terms makes...this event that much scarier. It personalizes it; makes it real to me. That's not to be selfish, i.e., "I'm glad that it didn't happen there." Instead, it's my way of sympathizing with the grief and shock being felt on Virginia Tech's campus. People across the country are grieving what happened in different ways, and I suppose that this is mine. This could have happened anywhere--that's my shock. This happened at Virginia Tech--that's my grief.

I hesitate to make sense of this in theological terms. All the concepts that I've studied melt away in the face of raw tragedy and deep pain. Michael Spencer observes in this week's podcast that when Job's friends show up to console him, they remain silent for the first seven days. It isn't until they start trying to offer explanations that they begin digging holes for themselves.

Regardless, I've thought a lot about human sin. I think about the absolutely evil acts that Cho unleashed on his unsuspecting classmates and teachers. I wonder what sorts of sins perpetrated by others may have helped condition him to act this way. The problem of sinfulness is both societal and personal. It is real in both forms. And it seems to be a better starting point than to ask where God was on Monday or where God is now or why God didn't step in or what sort of a God is revealed or whether God exists at all.

I believe in a God who is now present with those who mourn. I believe in a resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ, who knows what it's like to suffer at the hands of a sinful humanity firsthand. I believe in the power of love experienced through community--a power that is no doubt felt on that campus today in a way that it's never been felt before. I believe in prayer, and so I pray for strength and comfort to be felt with those closest to this tragedy.

And I keep praying, because I don't know what else to do.