1. Last Sunday, December 16th 2012 I was in another town and at another Church.
I arrived early because my host is a choir member who needed to attend rehearsal.
Wandering the huge campus of this church I came across a room named “The Other Cup”. From outside I noticed that coffee and snacks were available, so supposing that this was a place for a pre-service cup of java I entered the room.
There were twelve or fourteen people in the room - not one of whom greeted me. I poured a cup of coffee and took my seat.
The others began an un-focussed discussion. Their chat meandered from here to there, and eventually settled on the murders of so many in Sandy Hook, CT on Friday 14th.
Of course there were genuine expressions of shock and grief. But the group easily came to their conclusion that the shooter Adam Lanza was mentally ill, and that “therapy” would have prevented this massacre. I am not so sure.
I wanted to ask “what about evil"”, but as a guest I refrained. It was disconcerting to be in a Christian Church that (apparently) refused to countenance evil.
2. I truly like and enjoy the “Diane Rehm Show” on National Public Radio. But it sometimes falls short.
Today the guests prattled about the shootings by:
Erik Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine High School, CO in 1999;
by Jared Loughner in Tuscon AZ in 2011;
by James Holmes in Aurora CO in 2012;
and by Adam Lanza in Sandy Hook CT a week ago.
This radio panel was all but unanimous in asserting that these killers were mentally ill.
3. This disturbed me for several reasons.
a. None of the panelists had talked with any of the “offenders”. Their analyses were “at a distance”
b. Their views cast a pall on mental illnesses – equating them with violence.
c. These views “excuse” mass murder by evil persons.
4. Here’s the rub.
a. First: we in the USA have been willfully negligent in our care for mentally ill people. If a person has cancer he/she will receive superb medical/hospital care. If a person has a mental illness she/he will most likely be jailed. This is shameful.
b. We wimp out when we equate mass murder with mental illness.
c. We wimp out when we ignore the possibility of human evil.