Christ in a crowded theater

I was going to avoid comment on the murders a few days ago at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, but I just can’t do it. The bloody ripples of the actions by James Eagan Holmes just keep on rolling.

The second half of Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” The grief and loss felt by the survivors, loved ones, and the family of the shooter won’t go away that quickly. So, like every God-believing person who hears the story, I will pray for comfort and healing for everyone who is touched by this tragedy… although tragedy seems such a puny and overused word … and for justice – whatever that is – and that it won’t ever happen again. But I know it probably will, despite our faith and our prayers and the sure truth that God does NOT want it to happen; because it’s easier to spout platitudes and demand our rights than to actually do something constructive.

What happened in Aurora, Colorado was indisputably the work of a very sick man – a psychopath, a sociopath, or whatever disorder he will eventually be diagnosed with. So far it looks as if no one suspected that James Holmes was seriously disturbed. If that’s the case, it isn’t reasonable to say, “if only there had been access to mental health care….” He could have had the best available health insurance and lived right next door to the best mental health clinic in the world and he may never have asked for help; he may never have realized he needed help.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper rightly points out that someone so determined to kill large numbers of people – especially one as clearly intelligent as James Holmes – could easily have found a way, even without access to guns… and Holmes reportedly had explosives in his apartment. Sure he could have killed people another way, but do we have to make it so damn easy? (Oh, did I offend someone? Too bad. Get upset about something that really matters.)

I’ve heard all the 2nd and 4th Amendment arguments, yada yada yada. Fine. Keep your handguns and hunting rifles (unloaded and locked in gun cabinets, thank you very much) but no private citizen should be able to legally purchase automatic or semi-automatic weapons and, as alleged, 6,000 ROUNDS of ammunition. Nobody needs that kind of firepower to protect their home or person. Someone else, similarly armed, would most likely have made the situation in Aurora worse than it already is… and it’s plenty bad enough.

Gun rights advocates say gun control laws wouldn’t have presented the massacre, some even going so far as to suggest that lives could have been saved if someone else in the theater had been armed and therefore able to “take down” Mr. Holmes. A report from the ABC News website says:

An honors student and Ph.D. candidate at a nearby college with a clean arrest record, Holmes allegedly entered the movie auditorium wearing a ballistics helmet, bulletproof vest, bulletproof leggings, gas mask and gloves. He detonated multiple smoke bombs, and then began firing at viewers in the sold-out auditorium.

The prospect of a well-meaning vigilante adding yet more gunfire to the chaos of a dark, crowded, smoke-filled theater chills my blood.

God was in that theater, trying desperately – if the Divine can ever be said to be desperate – to get through to Mr. Holmes and convince him not to carry out his plan, just as God had most assuredly been trying from even before the idea was born to speak to him and get him the help he needed. I hope someone will find comfort in knowing that God was also present when their night out turned into a nightmare, crying with and comforting the victims. God always does God’s part. Now it’s our turn.

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