It's a continuation of the deadly dynamic we've seen in accelerated form since Bush v. Gore in which the Republicans push the range of acceptable policy opinion further and further toward the authoritarian right while the Democrats not only refuse to challenge them in many cases, but all too often embrace the authoritarian positions.
Since the President and Willard Romney on Friday effectively announced in their respective speeches that they had not intention of proposing any useful public policy changes to address mass shooting incidents and defined the event as purely an occasion for treacly piety on the part of public officials, the Republican right is rushing in as always to define the event to their liking.
In another response by a major fundamentalist religious figure, the "New Calvinist" Brother Al Mohler, the leading theologian of today's Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), gives us his take on The Dark Night in Denver – Groping for Answers Christian Post 07/21/2012. Not surprisingly, he blames Adam and Eve. And if you pushed him, he'd probably tell you in some mealy-mouthed way that it was especially Eve's fault.
I'm not sure what sense this makes in terms of Christian theology, though: "We cannot afford to be shocked when humans commit grotesque moral evil. It tells us the truth about unbridled human sin." Say what?
He includes some elementary sociology about how human institutions of various kinds place restraints on bad behavior. And he puts in a theocratic pitch: "At the foundation of these restraints is the fear of God, which, even in an increasingly secular society, still retains a more powerful force than is often acknowledged."
Since even our Presidential candidates fall all over themselves acknowledging the importance of God and can't seem to give a single speech with calling on God to bless their audience and America, it seems that the role of the Creator actually is "often acknowledged."
Bro. Al makes an attempt at talking about theodicy, the theological problem of the existence of evil: "We also know that he allows evil to exist, and human beings to commit moral atrocities. We cannot allow the sovereignty of God to be denied and evil allowed its independent existence." His formulation probably has something to do with internal SBC debates over Calvinism, but it's likely to leave most churchgoers thinking, "well, it's a mystery." I don't mean to belittle the problem of thodicy. On the contrary, it's an important issue for present-day religious faith.But Bro. Al's theological explanations typically make me just want to groan.
He goes on to explain that the solution has something to do with God being the Supreme Judo Champion.
The Aurora shootings are the kind of event that people look to their ministers for some direction on how they should understand it in the context of their religious faith. And also for some comfort for the fears such events arouse. I'm no fan of Bro. Al's, his treatment of it is along the lines of what most American ministers will be providing their congregations this weekend: pray for the victims, trust that God is present in the lives of the faithful. Presumably some ministers will encourage reflections on the causes of violence and how we can address them individually and collectively. Some of those suggestions will be more worthwhile than others.
Obviously, religious services in the immediate Aurora area are likely to address concerns related to the event in a more intensive way. There are at least 12 funerals that will need to be performed.
Then there will stupid and unhelpful responses like this (quoted from James Holmes Went to Church Weeks Before Colo. Shooting? by Lillian Kwon Christian Post 07/20/2012):
Ultimately, the suspect is culpable for his own decision but Stier wants to also point the finger at Satan.Or ones like this (quoted from Colorado Shooting: Christians Point to the Reality of Evil by Lillian Kwon Christian Post 07/21/2012):
"I'm just ticked at Satan," he said, noting that Christians should know that there is a spiritual realm and "it's real, it's powerful, it's pervasive, it's perverted, and it's malicious."
"Was he (Holmes) demon-possessed? Was he influenced? We don't know. We can't see into the spiritual realm. But I would say at the very minimum, Satan was whispering in his ear if not fully controlling his heart," said Stier.
Until the end of days when "all evil will be sucked up in this bottomless pit," Christians have a battle to fight, he stressed. And they need to fight with prayer and love.
While police are still investigating the motive behind Friday's shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colo., some Christians are convinced of the real source: evil.Of course, Jim Daly doesn't know jack about the motivations of the accused killer, or whether even whether it was the work of a single individual. But he has his boilerplate.
"What happened up in Aurora ... was the product of pure evil. It was the result of a depraved individual taking his free will to the extreme," said Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, in a statement Friday.
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