Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Faith and Tragedies: The Colorado Massacre

In the wake of the horrific events that took place Friday, July 20th in Aurora, Colorado, communities of all faith traditions have come together to support one another and try to make sense of this act of violence.  An array of actions and explanations have been put forth from every perspective, encouraging us this week to explore:

What can we learn from the Colorado massacre, and what can we as faith communities do to explain, respond, and prevent such tragedies?

An article from the Washington Post's On Faith section (Aurora worshipers seek solace, guidance, after movie theater shooting) describes a couple of the explanations being offered by faith communities for these tragic events.  
  1. It is a test of faith purposely placed to cause us to reflect on how we are living our day to day lives
  2. God did not want this and, because of the free will we are given, He cannot stop people from making destructive choices and actions
Which of these does your faith tradition or you individually, believe is stronger in the debate of the power of a higher being versus human free will?

Two more articles from the Washington post (A tragedy we will not try to avert and Is gun control a religious issue?) offer thoughts about what faith communities can do to respond to such tragedies.

Apart from "modern life," the argument has been made that the U.S.'s secular precedent of separation of church and state has led to a loss of grounding in society, giving rise to these actions.

Is there a political or spiritual solution to these actions? Is it a manner of ministering to those who can take these terrible actions, or rather removing the tools provided by these "anti-life" policies, i.e. abortion, the death penalty, gun control?

Just as a reminder, whether you agree or disagree, we welcome your comments and questions in a respectful manner. Please no profane or offensive remarks.  Try to refrain from stereotyping and remember that values and practices are not the same.  Also, keep in mind that national, cultural, and political differences may not always be the same as religious differences. 

We are joined by Father Avelino Gonzalez from St. Joseph Parish on Capitol Hill, to offer his perspective from a Catholic tradition.  Any questions for Father Avelino can be posted up until 5:00 PM on Friday, July 27th, and his responses will will be posted the following week on Monday, July 30th! Don't miss this opportunity!

Please Post!

1 comment:

  1. I am not commenting anonymously - my name is at bottom - but could not find any other way to publish on this website. Looking forward to hearing from Fr. Avelino on Friday, but in the meantime here are a few responses to the post above.

    1. I lean towards the second of the two explanations: free will rather than divine purpose is responsible for the Aurora tragedy. Paradoxically, however, this tragedy like all other horrors somehow is encompassed by the will of God.

    2. Gun violence, like every sort of violence, is a religious issue but gun control per se is not - it is a constitutional and civic issue. Of course your religious convictions may lead you to one position or another on gun control.

    3. The separation of church and state in the U.S. has not led to "a loss of grounding in society." The data is clear: separation of church and state has resulted in a markedly more religious culture here than in most other developed societies.

    4. Re. political and spiritual solutions: the evidence is that neither loosening gun controls (e.g. allowing concealed carry) nor tightening them (e.g. the recently-expired assault weapons ban) impacts gun violence. It seems to be driven by deeper social and psychological realities. And this is where religion/spirituality is effective, isn't it - in the deep realms of human behavior.

    Yours, Erik Schwarz