Saturday, July 28, 2012

Colorado Shootings, Where Were You God?

Lots of people around the internet are talking about the Colorado shooting. About the victims...about acts of heroism...about the coincidences that brought some to the theater and the coincidences that kept some away.

And they are talking about the shooter, his history, his friends and family, his mom's comments, (that Keith tells me were taken totally out of context by some over zealous reporter) About the "I'm a crazy man" look in his tortured eyes.

And of course there is ongoing, heated debate about guns and gun control. For the record, I loathe guns...but if my neighbor, or my dad, or my boss wants to own a gun and is responsible with the use and storage of the weapon...I am content to "myob." However, I see no feasible reason ( or how it could be construed as a threat to the 2nd Amendment) to not do whatever it takes to keep weapons that can fire dozens of bullets without reloading...out of the hands of crazy men. Out of the hands of EVERYBODY for that matter. But I digress. That is the subject of another post....someday. Back to the Colorado shooting.

So the conversation goes round and round. Everybody has an opinion. Everybody has questions. Ultimately, the discussion turns to God....and most everyone, in one way or another wonders the same thing..and (consciously or subconsciously)asks the same question of God. "Where the hell were you??!! when these victims were being gunned down??? And why didn't you do something??"

That question is the crux of the age old mystery of theodicy. The immortal question, "If there is a good, all powerful God, how can evil exist?"

The conclusion many come to is that there is no God. "Sorry folks, you're on your own."

Others (like Harold Kushner of the "When Bad Things Happen To Good People " fame) settle on the belief that God is not all powerful. He would like to do more to help but, sadly, his hands are tied.

Others settle on the belief that he is not all good...because as far as they’re concerned not stopping atrocities like the shooting is as bad as actually causing them.

And some folks...the total determinist/absolute sovereignty believers believe just that….that he actually causes these things to come down. They believe he is all powerful, all good and the first cause of all causes. In other words, he directly ordains these things(for our own good, of course) There is a case to be made for that viewpoint.

Some folks believe man's free will is the ultimate deciding factor and that God never...or rarely, intervenes. There is a case to be made for that viewpoint, too.

Although diehard believers on both sides of the “free will/sovereignty” line will disagree that a case can be made for the opposite side.

I see so many things in shades of gray, along the lines of Adam Hamilton's book "Seeing Gray In a Black and White World.” I suspect that the truth about most things is somewhere smack dab in the middle, or at least not totally to the far left or the far right.

This question haunted me for years. I read, I pondered, I obsessed. I was totally pissed off at God for the way he set things up...starving children in Africa, death, disease and pestilence everywhere. I couldn't just write him off as an imaginary friend because I've felt his touch and know he exists as surely as I know I do. Non belief was not an option. Pouting at him was. But in my heart, I knew that whatever evidence gets stacked against him, he is good, he is love and his mercy endures forever.

I've stopped pouting. I've even stopped asking the "where were you" kinds of questions. And I'm not dead set sure what I think about his involvement in world events but I suspect sometimes he causes, sometimes he prevents and sometimes he intervenes in very mysterious ways.

A Facebook friend posted a link shortly after the shooting. It leads to blog post written by a pastor in Colorado. He told the story of a young woman in his congregation. Petra Anderson. She is in her early twenties (22, I think) and she was in the theater that night. She was shot multiple times. One of the shotgun blasts sent a pellet through her brain....front to back. The prognosis was bleak but when the neurosurgeons operated, they discovered Petra had a brain anomaly that had been present since birth. It caused no symptoms. She had no idea it was there. Nobody did except, of course, her Maker.

It was a tiny channel that ran from front to back. Just big enough for a shotgun pellet. The bullet entered her nose at that exact spot and made its way to the back of her brain, via the channel, causing next to no damage. The blog author said that the tiniest variation in the entry point would have caused the pellet to bypass the channel, ripping through and damaging/destroying vital brain tissue.

No matter what your theology or opinion about the POE (problem of evil), sovereignty and free will, this story (that has also been mentioned on the news and other sources) gives one cause to pause and ponder. An old hymn and two Bible verses come to mind.

The Bible verses...

Isaiah 43: 7"...everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”


Psalm 139:14 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. NLT

The blog post about Petra went viral and received hundreds of comments, many that expressed disdain for the idea that God was responsible for this anomaly/ miracle yet didn't come through for the other victims.

Which brings me to the words of the old hymn by William Cowper -

'God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform"

There is another thing about the Anderson family that seems to deepen the mysteries of God's ways.  Petra's mother is battling a reoccurrence of (terminable) breast cancer...her prognosis is not good...and she is not expected to survive. 

Since this is getting long, I'll finish up in another post (really, I will)

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