God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis: ‘No One Deserves a Tragedy’

posted by gp_intern

Monday morning in Blacksburg, Virginia, 32 students and staff at Virginia Tech were killed in the largest single shooting in modern American history. The shooter, an angry and disturbed young man, then killed himself.

Looking at the profiles of the dead, I am struck by their diversity. They ranged in age from 18 to 76; they came from nine states, along with Puerto Rico, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Romania. They were male and female, African-American, Asian, Middle Eastern and Caucasian. They were all people who began Monday little knowing it would suddenly end their lives.

This is not a time to seek easy answers or to assign blame. It is, rather, a time to pray, mourn, and reflect. While this tragedy can perhaps be partially explained by the easy accessibility of guns in our society, by the saturation of violence in our popular culture, by the fact that the visible signs of Cho Seung Hui’s troubled life could have been taken more seriously, by concerns about university security, or by any number of other things, ultimately there is no simple explanation. And there are generally no single causes for such horrible events. In the Virginia Tech memorial convocation Tuesday evening, Professor and poet Nikki Giovanni said:

We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning. … We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.

All of us at Sojourners/Call to Renewal join in the national mourning. We offer our prayers and send our condolences to the families and friends of those who died, those who were injured, and to the entire Virginia Tech community. We pray that the comforting presence of God will be felt in the midst of such deep heartache. Sorrow can sometimes prove redemptive in ways no one could have imagined beforehand. It’s time to let sorrow do its reflective and redemptive work, to hold the hands that need to be held, to let our tears open our hearts to change those things that lead to such tragedy, and to trust our pain to the loving arms of God.



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wayne kratzer

posted April 19, 2007 at 8:55 pm


JESUS LIVES. It , these killings shows that Satan is alive and U. S. needs to turn to Christ. We need to stop the perversion, lust, greed, violence,—. We NEed Amendments on God: prayer, Bible, Pledge,—; also on Marriage. Christians need to work together under JESUS. WAYNE



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Professor D. Shakes

posted April 19, 2007 at 10:45 pm


The ripples were felt quickly, across the state at the College of William and Mary. Despite the horror, the sorrow, and the proximity, there is light in a time of darkness. The students on this campus and almost all of those contributing to FaceBook sites are supportive, positive, and caring. There is hope in this generation…



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HASH(0x118d9b5c)

posted April 19, 2007 at 10:45 pm


Indeed, these killings are cause for sorrow and are tragic. But if this young man knew it was wrong to kill (which he did if he was sane), then he is responsible for his actions. Enough talk about how “this is a time for mourning and not blaming.” Humans are moral agents and any focus on “stuctural” issues like the gun industry and lack security misses the point. Humans were created beautiful and are now desperately broken.



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David McManus

posted April 19, 2007 at 10:46 pm


Thank you Jim. I am shocked out of my easy accomodation in illusion and apathy into wanting light and an active faith relationship with Jesus again. You help many to articulate the depth of heart and humility of mind that we need, to come to the living Christlike suffering God, asking and desiring to become more like Jesus. Our easy words and scapegoats are half the problem.



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Kentruitner

posted April 19, 2007 at 10:52 pm


Nothing can easily explain a tragedy like this. The positive response of the people of God and man at such a time is most important. We have heard testimony from the survivors saying that they want to stay on campus, help others, thus insuring their own understanding through positive action. As spectators we can also “stay and help others” in many ways: prayer, concern for others who may be negatively impacted by all the media attention, providing support and proper treatment for people who are troubled and confused… The survivors and families will mostly recover in time though the pain may never completely end; it is society that may need the most healing. Current information now indicates that the shooter was multiply disabled: speech impediment, probably stigmatized (someone who never responds, talks, or looks at people has a deep socialization problem), and mentally ill (there are significant indications of paranoid schisophrenia). And he apparently did not receive consistent treatment, nor was his speech problem addressed. Instead there were indications that people accepted this situation, perhaps because they were too busy and had other priorities. They are not to be blamed for his behavior. But in a time when priorities are placed on conduct of wars, building more prisons, corporate profits, and corporate executive bonuses, it seems that priorities in the human sector have started to slip away. It is society’s problem when there are not services for returning military who suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or TBI (traumatic brain injury)— considered to be between 30 and 50 percent of those returning. Mr Cho is just one example of how we react. Instead of learning from the situation we try to solve it with a hammer — by destroying people or services. We’re likely to see more tragedy & from people otherwise considered heroes. Is this a wake up call for those who want to prevent real tragedy and look for positive solutions or an opportunity to sensationalize tragedy and spread negative judgements? Ken.



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Tammy A. Phillips

posted April 19, 2007 at 10:53 pm


I appreciated Jim Wallis’ profound and well-written words April 19th in the SojoMail.



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Donna Vogelpohl

posted April 19, 2007 at 10:55 pm


This was a horror – killing is a horror – this event is about 1/100th of those who have died in Iraq to this date. Just as the parents and families of this college tragedy lost loved ones, they die every day in Iraq, Durfar, Sudan. They die in Tulsa, OK. It’s just a shame.



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 19, 2007 at 10:59 pm


these killings shows that Satan is alive and U. S. needs to turn to Christ. We need to stop the perversion, lust, greed, violence,—. We NEed Amendments on God: prayer, Bible, Pledge,—; also on Marriage. Christians need to work together under JESUS. Not going to happen — only God can draw others to Himself, and putting faith into law defeats the purpose of faith. Rather, we who believe should display “the more excellent way.”



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squeaky

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:01 pm


Ah, Rick–well put! Thanks!



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Krist K

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:15 pm


Though no one has a “good excuse” to perpetrate such a horror, this tragedy illustrates to me yet again the deplorable condition of the mental health framework in this country, particularly on school campuses, colleges and high schools in particular. What was going on in the tortured mind of this young man, that he truly believed that this was the answer to his pain? 99% of my compassion and mourning goes to the victims and their families, but I can spare a bit for this young man and most assuredly his family, who must be drowning in guilt as well as sorrow.



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Jeff Seager

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:18 pm


Sorry to see NBC News co-sponsoring Cho’s celebration of hate, and I hope that subsides so we can all grieve appropriately … http://peregrineproject.com/balderdash/dash041807.html



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Mary Sharon Moore

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:21 pm


Thirty-two bells toll, thirty-two remembered in candlelight vigils. Why not thirty-three? Even in death the outsider remains the outsider. The source of hospitality, a wise rule says, is the heart of God who yearns to unite every creature within one embrace not because we are worth it, but because God is good. Each of us holds the power to express or withhold that hospitality which helps the outsider to become a part of the human circle. May God s mercy be for each of them, and for each of us.



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Kent Taylor

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:26 pm


Thank you so much for quoting Nikki Giovanni in full context, Jim. My town and church are 20 minutes from Virginia Tech, and we therefore have many students and employees of the university among our congregation. I wish everyone could have been at the convocation where she spoke. The coliseum was filled to capacity more than an hour before it started, so thousands more of us gathered in Lane Stadium. It was quite powerful to see the football field and many of the stands filled with students, faculty and parents, each one subdued and reverent, waiting patiently for the live feed. As one with the indoor crowd at the coliseum, we all stood, applauded politely and shed tears together throughout.And when Dr. Giovanni gave her speech, with wonderful timing and an amazingly prescient sense of place, the Hokie cheers broke out loud and strong both indoors and outdoors, reverberating not just with school pride, but with impassioned resolve, “We will grieve, but we will not be broken.” These students are of sturdy character. I pray Dr. Giovanni’s words will impress their lives from this moment forward, that those who suffer daily these same outrageous indiginities in every corner of the world will not be forgotten.



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Grant Robinson

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:30 pm


32 dead! 32 families grieving the loss of a loved one, which reaches across the globe, even to us in Australia. An even greater tragedy for those who do not know our Lord Jesus for themselves. Yes I too know the pain of losing a child to a mental illness, so the pain is real to me also. But how do we as a Christian community respond?After the Port Arthur massacre in Australia, the Federal Governmewnt decided it was time to change gun laws. Not to deny access to firearms for genuine purposes, but to provide a measure of control against someone with a mentak illnenss doing something stupid like this. I hear the Commonwealth of Virginia has no such restrictions. Surely it is time that we as a community of God’s people get involved against the gun lobby in every country to ensure that there are appropriate checks and balances on purchases of all firearms. Remove them from department stores such as Wal Mart. Require medical certificates for all purchasers. Ban hand guns which can be concealed except for specialist purposes such as police. For some the Australian laws do not go far enough. For since the laws were introduced in the late 1990s we have seen a marked decline of deaths due to mis-use of guns. Hand guns are banned while sporting and professional use guns are still available.Surely the Federal Government can enact laws which comply with the second amendment? Alternatively cannot the state enact consistent legislation?God’s politics is about how does God the father care for his people and expect us (his people) to operate in a political world. Poverty is a big issue. Why isn’t gun control? I call on fellow believers to fight against the gun lobby to restrict the sale of guns throughout your great country as we have in mine.



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butch

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:36 pm


“And he apparently did not receive consistent treatment” Kentruitner Observe all the talk about this even discussed around the world. Now go on to any street in any community of any size and you will see so many you can’t count them not receiving “consistent treatment”. I almost feel that we should not utter a word unless we are willing to do something about what is going on this very second all over the country. I m no better because I m talking now and not acting. I have in the past done things but not much. Reposting from a different thread, the question at the end applies to this young man. To restate my argument, society should enter the home when we suspect severe abuse. That abuse can take many forms and it would take fits and starts to arrive at when to go in or not go in. Or, having gone in do we act or not. Lots of hard questions but I see so many children at risk. I worked with a neighbor child when he was 14 without success and predicted he would end up in jail and he did. This is no indictment of churches at all but a sad story; I invited this child s cousin to my church. I m sorry, he didn t fit and the kids made fun of him, he committed suicide 2 weeks later. Every time I think about it I feel he was drowning, I had his hand and couldn t hold on. I m a bit dramatic but I feel it is parallel to children at risk, we should and I mean should reach out our hands and save every one we can. Did some one have the Duke strippers hand and let go? Or, did society not reach out to take her hand when she was young and still reachable?



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DeWayne

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:37 pm


America, especially the Christian church has winked at and turned a blind eye to long concerning this nations government and Corp-American leaders, who are turning this nation into an empire serving Satan. I find most acts and talk today by Christian leaders are suspiciously silent about the demonic activity in American leadership, and instead piously concentrating ever more on domestic issues here and abroad, problems that will only become worse and often basic cause of these problems here and abroad. The church today is like the man bailing a sinking boat with a fork. Take care of the more important problems that are cause of these others first in this nation, before meddling in anothers affairs.



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neuro_nurse

posted April 19, 2007 at 11:44 pm


Anonymous | 04.19.07 – 4:50 pm | “Humans were created beautiful and are now desperately broken.” Agreed “Humans are moral agents” Agreed “any focus on “stuctural” issues like the gun industry and lack security misses the point.” I agree to a point. While individuals are responsible for our actions, and it would be na ve to point to any one issue (access to guns being the one I ve seen discussed here relative to this event) as a cause, it would be equally na ve to deny the influence structural elements have on our behavior. We are not independent from our culture, which by definition is learned, shared, and integrative. Reading Paul s descriptions of the sinfulness of men, it doesn t sound like we ve changed much (for the worse or better) in nearly 2000 years. I think the offence we fear is when a particular freedom we value (first and second amendment rights in particular) is called into the light of day as a potential contributing factor to an injustice. Humans are incredibly creative and adaptive organisms, and if one of us for what ever reason becomes bent on committing an injustice, she or he will find a way to do it. To deal with the phenomenon of random acts of violence (or specific acts of violence, for that matter) we need to look at structural elements as a way to prevent those individuals from slipping between the cracks.I don t have answers to the questions of evil in our society. If I did I would be remiss in my duties by spending my time blogging on Sojo. As a development on the theme Rick posted; after 9/11 I realized that there wasn t much I could do to change the world on a global level. There will be violence and injustice on this earth until Christ returns. The one thing that keeps me from despair and hopelessness is the realization that I can do something to make the world better in a small way where I am.



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butch

posted April 20, 2007 at 12:04 am


The one thing that keeps me from despair and hopelessness is the realization that I can do something to make the world better in a small way where I am. neuro_nurseCould not agree more that we need to do what we can where we are, which also means directing our political leaders to make laws that affects the structure of our society. We do not have the right to bear a tank, how bout no right to bear arms of mass destruction like 21 round clips or AK-47′s?



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neuro_nurse

posted April 20, 2007 at 12:27 am


butch, Thank you. Let me make it clear that while I do not believe that gun control can solve the problem of violence in our society, I think it is perfectly reasonable to limit the amount of firepower a U.S. citizen should have. I don t feel threatened by my neighbor owning a shotgun or other hunting rifle. I don t feel safer knowing my neighbor keeps a pistol in his home, but I would feel threatened knowing my neighbor owns an assault rifle. It s been a while since I ve worked trauma, but my specialty used to be gunshot wounds to the head which, contrary to popular belief, are not always fatal. I guarantee, you don t want to know what I ve seen.



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Debra White

posted April 20, 2007 at 12:40 am


I agree with everything Grant Robinson had to say: “Surely it is time that we as a community of God’s people get involved against the gun lobby in every country to ensure that there are appropriate checks and balances on purchases of all firearms. Remove them from department stores such as Wal Mart. Require medical certificates for all purchasers. Ban hand guns which can be concealed except for specialist purposes such as police.” Why don’t we Americans “get it” when it comes to our culture of violence? How is it that even many fellow Christians are against gun control, support capital punishment and support warfare? Where did Jesus ever say anything that supported violence? (read Matthew 5) He was even against WORDS used in violent ways (Matt. 5:22)



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Marianna Harris

posted April 20, 2007 at 1:47 am


I’d just like to point out that one of the people killed was from Canada and our country was not listed as one of the places outside of the U.S. from which the victims came. Marianna Harris, North Vancouver, Canada



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 20, 2007 at 1:50 am


Why don’t we Americans “get it” when it comes to our culture of violence? How is it that even many fellow Christians are against gun control, support capital punishment and support warfare? Where did Jesus ever say anything that supported violence? (read Matthew 5) He was even against WORDS used in violent ways (Matt. 5:22) Part of that is because our Christianity in this country always was a bit authoritarian. And besides, I’m not convinced that having more laws, or even enforcing the ones we already have (even though I’m sympathetic), will prevent such incidents or would have done so. Let’s be realistic about this: We live in a world that is infected with evil and no law will change that. Ever. If if weren’t gun violence it would be something else. Bottom line, as I said in a previous post, it’s time for the church to stand up for something that’s different from what this world has to offer.



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Paul

posted April 20, 2007 at 2:06 am


FYI: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1741336.stm http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/12/07/do0702.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2004/12/07/ixopinion.html http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/uk_news/politics/2640817.stm http://www.liberty-page.com/issues/firearms/control/ukutopia.html Sadly, a more regulated society is not necessarily a more responsible society. In fact the more a society relys on external regulation and refuses to demand that individuals act responsibly, the less responsible the citizens become. When we say that because a few act irresponsibly noone can act responsibly, and take those responsibilities away from them, we end up making an even less responsible society. Disempowering the responsible only empowers the irresponsible. cheers, Paul



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Joey Eaton

posted April 20, 2007 at 2:41 am


Perhaps it is not our humanistic mindset to believe that we deserve anything painful or interupting to our normal lives. I wholeheartedly agonize for the victims’ families and friends who have to live the pain. Yet, it seems that we have a flawed perspective of what we deserve and don’t deserve.



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Joey Eaton

posted April 20, 2007 at 2:48 am


I would also like to recommend an agent. Maybe it is God. It has to be God. If it isn’t, then it wasn’t in his control, and there is someone stronger than God. Some might say that it is unloving or unjust. God never, in light of sin, acts unjustly in any circumstance. In his courtroom, we are all guilty and any source of life we receive here on earth is a massive demonstration of grace



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Sara

posted April 20, 2007 at 2:55 am


I can only think that had the law prevented that young man from obtaining firearms, this tragedy would have been averted.



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moderatelad

posted April 20, 2007 at 3:10 am


Mary Sharon Moore | 04.19.07 – 5:26 pm | #I don’t think this close to the day of carnage do you bring in the idea of mourning the one that caused it. If in fact his family was there to aid in the healing process – maybe. I would not want to hold him up to those who lost a child or relative at this time. I do mourn for his family and extend to them grace for today and in the weeks to come.Best let the innocent greive now and later look for healing between the families. Later – .



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Ray L

posted April 20, 2007 at 3:49 am


Of the many postings only two have directly mentioned that the DAILY carnage in Iraq against innocent civilians, which our nation unleashed against a puny military opponent on a false and shameful pretext, dwarfs this record-setting incident that occupies our entire far larger nation in deep anguish. We never shed a tear for these daily victims; they are non-people. We do pray for the safety of our troops, which we should do, but we should also pray for these others, which we never do. As Christians we must believe they too are equally made in the image of God and equally valued as any of us, no matter how virtuous we may think we are. Are we truly Christians if we have only an intellectual acquaintance with Jesus’ commands to love even our enemies and not a belief that urges us toward obedience? I think not, and we should all shudder.We CAN change the world, but not with tanks and nukes. Abraham Lincoln anguished whether his bloodiest of all American wars with the horror of Christian killing Christian and brother kiling brother, all praying to the same God to support their “just cause”, was in fact God’s punishment for 400 years of the slave trade that made America prosperous as slaves grew to outnumber white immigrants 20:1. It does indeed give one food for thought.



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jerry

posted April 20, 2007 at 3:58 am


jim quoted nikki giovanni, professor and poet. someone please help me see God in her statements, love in her statements, and how baby elephants, wandering orphans in africa, aids in africa, boulders running over applachain children, and ivory, help the mourning process and comfort those who lost loved ones in the massacare. did giovanni use the captive audience to further her agenda? and, did the muslim professor speaking in arabic and refering to allah, further his agenda? shameful actions by wiley politicians.



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John Burnette

posted April 20, 2007 at 4:34 am


Responding to Ray, who is decrying how relatively few posts connect this tragedy to Iraq….. My instinctive response was to say that OF COURSE I am against random violence – but that I am infinitely more against purposeful, unjustified violence. But I think instinctively that one does not immediately share that view in the presence of those who are grieving friends, children and loved ones. Not that my instinct was wrong, just there is a time and a place for everything. And just for the record, the deaths in Iraq total far more than 100 times 32 – unless the poster intended to only count American deaths as tragedies.John



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butch

posted April 20, 2007 at 4:57 am


I don t feel threatened by my neighbor owning a shotgun or other hunting rifle. I don t feel safer knowing my neighbor keeps a pistol in his home, but I would feel threatened knowing my neighbor owns an assault rifle. neuro-nurse It would be good work for psychologist to study the different personalities of those who own a simple handgun or hunting rifles and shotguns versus assault rifles, etc. Assault rifles can only be associated with war or terrorism in my mind but I really have never talked to anyone who owns one. I do know the statistics on gun ownership of any type, the owners/proponents of gun ownership claim they own them for defense but in fact by multiples of like 100-1 they kill loved ones mostly by accident or domestic squabbles.



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Grant Robinson

posted April 20, 2007 at 5:21 am


It’s interesting to read the many replies. Some say that what is needed is a change of people’s hearts. And indeed it is only the grace of God and the work of his Holy Spirit bearing fruit in the lives of his people that brings change. But unfortunately many reject the rule of God in their lives.A President of the US, a Prime Minister of the UK and a Prime Minister in Australia who all make public statements about following God have led our nations into the coalition of the willing into Iraq. So Christians have led us into a bloody war. No follower of God is perfect, all sin. Submitting to Jesus as Lord is not a panacea to the ills of the world. So it is right that Christians lobby their politicians for change.Therefore * we Christians need sound the clarion call for gun reform. * we Christians need sound the call to our politicians to find a way out of the bloody war in Iraq, which protects the rights of minorities such as Christians * we Christians need to sound the call that our Governments respect the rule of law and now allow Australian and other national citizens be locked up in Guantanamo Bay in conditions which don’t apply to Australian or American citizens. Are not these issues in the same broad area as poverty which Jim Wallis is so keen to see us lobby for.Why do the Australian and American Governments keep giving tax relief to the rich, relief which exceeds the incomes of many of our working poor? Yes if the hearts of all in society were changed, these would be fixed, but nations with “Christian” leaders see the rich given releif denied to the poor.If the hearts of all in society were changed, there would never have been slavery. But it took political action from god fearing leaders such as Wilberforce and Lincoln to eradicate slavery in the West.Yes we need to work continually to share the love of God and his gospel of salvation in our nations. But we should simultaneously lobby our governments for gun law reform, just as we lobby to leave Iraq. To do less is a cop out. God calls us to be different. That our hearts truly follow him. And that will affect not only our private morality but the way we interact in society.



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Ray L

posted April 20, 2007 at 5:41 am


John – I appreciate your point about being sensitive to the situation; however for people of faith there are also lessons for us in these terrible events. My point was our tendency to show appropriate shock and horror over the tragedy that comes to our doorstep, but almost complete indifference over a continuum of like tragedies unfolding daily half a world away. Re: the numbers, every DAY ~100 civilians are being killed in the civil war now raging. Yesterday was the worst, 172 reportedly killed and at least as many injured. An estimated 650,000 civilians were killed during the invasion and early occupation itself.In our heartfelt grief we are motivated to try to do something positive to honor the dead and their families. Nothing would give more honor than to bond and commit to work together to reduce violence throughout the world. One poster did mention Matthew 5, which indeed holds a key; it urges radical changes in the attitude that accepts the world as it is and inspires us to pledge to make a difference.



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HASH(0x118f54c0)

posted April 20, 2007 at 5:45 am


Jocelyne Couture-Nowak moved from rural Canada to Virginia Tech around 2001 when her husband, Jerzy Nowak, was hired as head of the horticulture department.Canadians too are sharing your sorrow over this unfortunate and (perhaps??) unnecessary calamity.



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Canuckelhead

posted April 20, 2007 at 5:55 am


Woops, that was me, not sure why my handle didn’t post.I can only think that had the law prevented that young man from obtaining firearms, this tragedy would have been averted. Sara | 04.19.07 – 9:00 pm | #Sara, for what it’s worth, here in Canada the Conservative gov’t is presently dismantling the gun registration laws put in place by the former Liberal administration. Last October, a 25 year-old man walked on to the campus of Dawson College, Montreal, and began firing guns. Fortunately, only one student died – several injured. The weapons were registered in his name.



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annie

posted April 20, 2007 at 7:04 am


All the gun laws in the world won’t keep guns out of the hands of someone intent on obtaining one, anymore than all the drug laws in the world don’t keep users from obtaining drugs. So we’re back to where these postings began–returning our society to God and his values! May He bless us all!



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butch

posted April 20, 2007 at 7:06 am


But we should simultaneously lobby our governments for gun law reform Grant Robinson I feel we need to lobby against lobbyist because the gun lobby blunts a real discussion. Of course that means we can’t lobby, oh well! Not an easy question is it? Actually I’m talking about corporate money lobbyist but then they have a right to lobby for what they want.Life’s a bitch then a mentally ill man with a legally obtained gun shoots you and you wake up in God’s arms or do you? I think with the help of the media’s unwillingness to dig deep into important questions has reduced proper debate of important issues to sound bits. I hope the internet can bring the people closer to answers like this blog and others.



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butch

posted April 20, 2007 at 7:12 am


My instinctive response was to say that OF COURSE I am against random violence – but that I am infinitely more against purposeful, unjustified violence. John Burnette Nothing we do or think or plan will change what is obviously a deranged mind. We cannot fix that! Purposeful, unjust….. is a much different matter. If our minds are not sick we can change the course of our government.



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Brian B.

posted April 20, 2007 at 7:19 am


This is just one more example of America’s lax gun control laws leading to tragedy. I believe the U.S. should mandate all colleges and universities to BAN all guns from every campus immediately so this cannot happen again. If VT students were banned from bringing weapons to school this could have been avoided altogether!



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Peggy

posted April 20, 2007 at 11:35 am


The news networks want to blame VT for not expelling Cho before the tragedy occured. I fail to understand how this would have prevented it – wouldn’t it just have moved the stage of the tragedy (possibly)? Throwing people away, whether they are mentailly ill or homeless, is not the answer.



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Peggy

posted April 20, 2007 at 12:14 pm


A little more detail about my comments…I saw on the news recently about a city that has so limited the places where pedophiles can live that they are limited to being homeless and sleeping under a particular bridge. There are several under that bridge. In another news story, a city is limiting the number of meals that charitable organizations are allowed to serve the homeless in an attempt to get the homeless to go to another city. All of these stories seem to share the theme of trying to make inconvenient people and problems vanish without dealing with the root causes.



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Paul

posted April 20, 2007 at 12:43 pm

Earl Prignitz

posted April 20, 2007 at 2:12 pm


I fully agree, “This is not a time to seek easy answers or to assign blame. It is, rather, a time to pray, mourn, and reflect.” Thank you! Earl J Prignitz



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Milo Coladonato

posted April 20, 2007 at 3:03 pm


I am always amused at the simple knee jerk reactions by Christians at the kind of crisis that occurred at Virginia Tech. One surviver who was wounded in the leg from the shooting made the comment that he was ‘blessed and that he thanks God for saving his life.’ He never mentions why the others were not spared by God and whose lives were tragically ended by the gunman. If God could save this individual, why not the rest of them. Better yet, why does God not put it into the shooters heart not to kill? After all didn’t he hardeded Pharaoh’s heart? Why couldn’t he soften Cho’s? Christians have all kinds of excuses for questions like this. There answers are the result of a conditioned mind set. I have heard every one of them and it is only one of the reasons that Christianity and beleif in God makes no sense to me.



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butch

posted April 20, 2007 at 4:09 pm


I suggest that we study aberrant behavior and not good effective behavior. I don’t suggest that we not look at this situation for answers or solutions for the future. O.J. Simpson is my example, a year or two every day.Now we see the shooters crazy words and images on the news over and over, if that isn t enough you can get it off the internet and use it as your computer wallpaper so you can see it over and over every time you start up your puter. How many people live stable worthwhile lives, why not study them everyday. What did we learn from Budafuko (sp) or the poor young woman who drown her children, etc, etc, etc. None of us are perfect but could we post and discuss those things we do that we think are effective. When my wife calls my cell phone I know who it is but I always answer, Is this my baby . This isn t a big deal but add up all the things that work for you AND me and maybe we move forward. Since you didn t sign up for this sermon I won t pass the plate. I m just so sad that I m looking for a better place.



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rain man

posted April 20, 2007 at 4:17 pm


Milo, I’m a Christian who agrees with everything you wrote (except the last few words). I don’t know if this is only found in the American version of Christianity, but there is a very self-centered mindset in modern “establishment” Christianity–people who will pray for God to bless them with a good parking place, but don’t give a thought to 650,000 people killed as a result of their “Christian” president’s holy war. There are a few of us who will admit that we don’t have all of the answers and that some things just don’t make sense. But if you look at the words of Christ and not necessarily the words of the church, you may be surprised at how His teaching (and His example) can lead to a world without violence, poverty, etc. It’s just that not enough of us are really willing to follow Him.



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 20, 2007 at 4:36 pm


Paul — I didn’t get Peggy Noonan’s point. At all.



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 20, 2007 at 4:51 pm


I don’t know if this is only found in the American version of Christianity, but there is a very self-centered mindset in modern “establishment” Christianity –people who will pray for God to bless them with a good parking place but don’t give a thought to 650,000 people killed as a result of their “Christian” president’s holy war. I seriously doubt that it exists anyplace else, in large part because in no other country is evangelical “Christianity” part of the furniture. In other countries people are running for their lives. Something occurred to me, however. I’ve been reading another book in John Eldredge’s “Wild at Heart” series, and while we’re talking about water over the dam at this point (nor am I trying to make excuses), it seems that the shooter was unsure about his masculinity and did feel powerless — Eldredge writes often about “initiation.” A caller I just talked to wanted us to address the issue of bullying, of which he was an apparent victim. I need not remind everyone that there are no satisfying pat answers to this situation. It is another wake-up call, perhaps — but to what?



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Keith L RDr. ieder

posted April 20, 2007 at 5:00 pm


This article said what needed to be said very well. It is not the time to place blame or to move on. We have had a feeding frensy over the last week of accusations against the university and mental health professionals. Under current laws it is impossible to put a person in the hospital or force them to undergo treatment unless they are considered an immenent danger to themselves or others. This man had not been seen by professionals for some time. Even when a person is admitted they can only be kept for about 48 hours, unless there is compelling evidence to deprive them of their liberty. More importantly, there can be no such thing as the security which Americans seek. Biblical testimony, history, and our current experience should teach us this. The fact is that “sin abounds, but grace abounds much more.” Let us seek to live grace.



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Dr. Keith L Rieder

posted April 20, 2007 at 5:01 pm


simply a name correction for the last post



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Veronica Melson

posted April 20, 2007 at 5:06 pm


Our hearts are weeping with the heavy fatigue with this weeks wrenching tragedy. Our days have been spent with memories of our daughter, a Tech grad, moving into AJ Dorm her first year at Tech. Meeting to attend and drink in the energy and powerful excitement of the Hokie Nation on a home football day. The tender love we experienced as our daughter and new son-in-law(a tech grad)as they walked out of the Tech Chapel newly married. They so loved the Blacksburg area they built a home and remained. Now new memories are of their visit to the campus yesterday with their 18 month old son. A son who ran free on the drill field, oblivious to the harm and searing pain that grips the nation, the Hokie Nation and our entire Nation. Let us all lean into the arms of our Lord, trust as little children, and allow His loving balm to sooth and heal us. We too will one day run free!Jim and Vickie Melson



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Milo

posted April 20, 2007 at 5:12 pm


Rain Man, Thank you for your honest response. My reply to you is that I do not think that I am distorting the issue here. I am asking honest questions that you seem to be skirting around. The teachings of Christ as I understand do not contradict the actions of God in the OT according to orthodox Christians. My questions are apropos to the teachings of Christ as well. Christians beleive that Christ is God so the problem does not disappear. If anything it is made even more serious. Why do Christians seem to think that when faced with contradictions like the ones I have given, they can all of the sudden pull Jesus out of the hat like some kind of magician and then wallah, problem solved. I am quite familiar with the different teachings of Jesus in the NT, and they do not always agree with each other. I beleive that if he was god, like Christians say, then he squandered his time by doing things like cursing fig trees and comdemning most of the people who ever lived or will live to an eternal existence in hell just because they don’t beleive in him.Again, thanks. Milo



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rain man

posted April 20, 2007 at 5:49 pm


“they can all of the sudden pull Jesus out of the hat like some kind of magician and then wallah, problem solved” Right. The problem is solved when enough of us follow the example of Jesus and love neighbor as self, refuse to repay evil with evil, etc. Tolstoy said that thousands of years from now, the world will laugh at us for having been given the means to create heaven on earth (through the example of Christ), but instead merely practiced “religion.” (a paraphrase from “What I Believe”).



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Tony C

posted April 20, 2007 at 5:50 pm


I find it troubling that few people have mentioned Cho Seung-Hui’s name. Despite his heinous crime, he is still a child of God, and his name gives his dignity as such.Secondly, far too much media reporting around this incident focuses on his mental illness as the cause of what happened, creating the impression in readers’ minds that mental illness is a moral issue. It is we, as a society who failed Cho Sung-Hui and those he killed. We have rolled over to domestic health care policies that under-fund services to the poor and mentally ill. Cho Sung-Hui is but one casualty of a sick societal system that has wandered far from the Gospel, and now too many human lives around this man have fallen in domino-like fashion. How many others must we fail as a society before we change? The prophets called God’s people to put the poor, widows, orphans and strangers first; Jesus affirmed their message identifying himself with each and every one of them. In failing the mentally ill, we have failed Cho, we have failed Christ and failed ourselves.Lastly, thousands of our human race’s sons and daughters die tragically from malnutrition and curable disease every day. Their deaths are the direct result of actions taken by supposedly sane people: coldly calculating global economic forecasters and policy makers. How much press have these sane, rational people gotten for their actions? What is wrong with this picture? What would the prophets say? What does Jesus say?



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Paul

posted April 20, 2007 at 6:13 pm


I think we also need to pray for Rev. Alexander Evans: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=6b4dde84-83b4-40b9-bb34-955eeaaa99eb cheers, Paul



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Milo

posted April 20, 2007 at 6:22 pm


Rain Main, I apologize for getting into a debate about religion. Christians talk about following Jesus and not religion. Putting aside the fact that it was the Christian religious community that gave us our perception of Jesus through their traditions and writings, wouldn’t it be better to follow the teachings of the Jains or the Buddaha that are superior to the teachings of the NT Jesus? These beleifs predate Christianity and do not contain the condemnations that Christianity contains, via the words of the NT Jesus? Why is it that you are talking about Jesus’ love and compassion and ignoring his acerbic condemnations of those who refuse to beleive or follow him? Aren’t we just cherry picking here? Thanks



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rain man

posted April 20, 2007 at 6:45 pm


Milo, I admit I don’t know anything about the Jains and very little of Buddha–interesting point though. I just think that you have Jesus confused with the church’s (some churches) version of Him. I think that the ascerbic condemnations you’ve ascribed to Him are inventions of the establishment church, solidified by 2000 years of bad understanding and superstition.And I agree with you-I could not put any stock in the version of Jesus that has been presented to you. In fact, I would have denounced my faith years ago if not for the work of people like Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis. Speaking of which–thank you Tony C for that last post.



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Milo

posted April 20, 2007 at 7:01 pm


rain man, Thanks for that insightful point. I agree with you, I am not too impressed with the Christ depicted in church tradition. But can I ask you, how do you understand the Jesus of the NT? Is the NT version different from church tradition or the same? Thanks in advance



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Jayson Palm

posted April 20, 2007 at 7:16 pm


Well said. Very well said.



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Jayson Palm

posted April 20, 2007 at 7:16 pm


Jim Wallis, that is. Well said Jim.



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Patricia Byers

posted April 20, 2007 at 7:17 pm


Thank you! Tony C! This is a time of terrible tragedy, but making Cho out to be a devil is a convenient way to avoid “our” responsibility. He was mentally ill and was treated so poorly by everyone he met. We are commanded to love. When we hate and hurt others we will reap what we sow and other innocents will reap what we sow.Each of us who refuse to love a Cho in the world has added a drop into the ocean of hate that creates tragedies. Why wouldnt someone with severe problems use violence to act them out? that is how we are taught is it not? Our government puts people who do wrong in the electric chair, tortures people, goes to war and on and on….Cho responded to his pain the way he sees society responding to theirs. I pray for the victims and their families and I also pray and weep for Cho’s parents. thanks Tony C.!



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 20, 2007 at 7:17 pm


I’m surprised no one yet has made this parallel, but I will: I’m now reminded about the Amish community’s reaction to that mass shooting that took the lives of several girls. Their attitude: “We must not think evil of this man” — and they also took up a collection for his widow because in their eyes she was a victim, too. I recall the verse in (I think) Hebrews: “Mercy triumphs over judgment!”.



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Jackie

posted April 20, 2007 at 7:19 pm


The horror of what happened is obscene and it hits our lives in such a personal way. We don’t see the senseless killing of people and animals in other countries so it has no effect on our daily life. The news media isn’t there to take pictures of it and show it to us so we are unaware or unconcerned. I cry everytime this happens because the innocents where not responsible and their families and left to grapple with their loved ones death and there is no answer as to “why” so they get little relief. The criminal that did this is repugnant and we feel no compassion for him or his family, but as a mother my heart goes out to this family for they to get no relief from their grief and they must greve not only for the ones their son killed but the loss of their son without saying they feel a deep shame that breaks their hearts that their son did this and they can’t understand and they get no answer to “why”. The only relief these people can get is in knowing that they are loved by God and that not only does God love the innocents but he forgave the criminals as they hung on the cross with him. We must take the example of the Amish and show compassion for all the families and spend less time showing sensational pictures and more time helping heal.



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Patricia Byers

posted April 20, 2007 at 7:29 pm


Jackie; remember, the “repungent criminal” who did this was also a child of God.



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butch

posted April 20, 2007 at 8:05 pm


Jackie; remember, the “repugnant criminal” who did this was also a child of God. Patricia Byers That may be a fair description of Cho “repugent..”, but he was so sick as to not be recognizable as a human. No reason or logic can deal with a mind that sick. He is no longer human in the way we understand human behavior.



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rain man

posted April 20, 2007 at 8:06 pm


Milo, I believe the only truly reliable source we have to go on regarding the character of Jesus is found in his own words as recorded in the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7. If you’ve never read it, and your ideas of Jesus are based on the words of a particular church, a TV preacher, or someone who tried “witnessing” to you using scare tactics, you’d think that those people had never read it themselves. His teaching is not the foundation of a religion, but a way of life that is other-centered, merciful (including toward one’s enemies), opposed to the power brokers of the world, in short–radically different from regular human nature. The example of the Amish response to their school shooting tragedy (thanks for that Rick) is a fine example of faith in action.



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Kristopher

posted April 20, 2007 at 8:09 pm


He was a child of God, but I am willing to bet he isn’t walking around with God right now. I’m not trying to be cynical, cause I think that Jackie’s post was a little harsh. Cho has had his judgement now, and I think that it is safe to say that he is suffering the consequences of his actions right now.



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Kristopher

posted April 20, 2007 at 8:23 pm


Milo, Here is an article that might help answer some of your questions.http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/04/where_was_god_on_tuesday_at_vt.html Let me know what you think.



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Sheryl

posted April 20, 2007 at 9:17 pm


—”Could not agree more that we need to do what we can where we are, which also means directing our political leaders to make laws that affects the structure of our society.”— More laws is not what we need! More government money spent on the actual ‘HOMELAND’ and not “homeland security” is what we need. We have no national healthcare and millions in America are living below the poverty level.GW has taken us from a surplus to a bajillion $ national debt that our great grandchildren will be paying off. Why isn’t this money spent at HOME on our PEOPLE here? Healthcare, housing, food, schooling, counseling for our legal citezens? I don’t like guns and agree that they should be hard as heck to get, but passing all kinds of new laws isn’t going to help the situation. Remember the brilliant words of James Madison:”I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” It seems like every time there is a problem, we make a new law. Now we are enmeshed in a tangle of laws too voluminous to weed through, giving the cops and government every opportunity to abuse their elected power. We should all be praying for our country, for those at Virginia Tech, and yes, even for the soul of Cho.



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neuro_nurse

posted April 20, 2007 at 10:08 pm


Sheryl Thank you. You have illustrated very well a point that I made in an earlier post – reactionary responses are ineffective and can be dangerous. Kristopher,Cho has had his judgement now, and I think that it is safe to say that he is suffering the consequences of his actions right now.You can say that, it is God s decision. I am very aware of the commandments we have been given and the consequences Jesus told us to expect if we do not abide by them. The Lord is infinitely merciful, and perhaps, instead of a murderer, God sees a tortured individual who made a grievous error.



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Carl Copas

posted April 20, 2007 at 11:14 pm


Kristopher: “Cho has had his judgement now, and I think that it is safe to say that he is suffering the consequences of his actions right now.” Even if he suffered from very serious mental illness?



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Soma

posted April 20, 2007 at 11:21 pm


As a Middle Eastern Muslim woman I am shocked and nauseated at this racist rambling that tries to pass itself off as a recognition of multiculturalism. The fact that you did not even mention the fact that Dr. Librescu is Romanian/Israeli is an embarassment. And then clearly because you are a self-involved American, you have very little clue as to the fact that no culture around the world has ever stopped being violent. Stop fooling yourself. The bottom line is that it is people like you with your over-simplified and sentimental garbage that excuse and provide shelter for the violent.



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Milo

posted April 21, 2007 at 12:01 am


Kristopher, Thank you for the article ‘Where was God on Tues at VTU? Although I found the article challenging I found it to be woefully indadequate as well. It mostly talked about the need for free will in order for God to love us and we him. The author claims that God must not limit our choices because if he did he would remove the choices between loving and hating. This is a fallacy of the first order. How does it follow that by limiting choices we limit the capacity to love? It does not follow that the capacity to love is removed by reducing or removing the choice of evil. This claim that the author makes has been dealt with many times by moral philosphers like J.L Mackie and others. His book, The Miracle of Theism, Arguments for and Against the Existence of God, explodes this argument. Thanks



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Thomas Jackson

posted April 21, 2007 at 1:06 am


Wow, one wonders when you might get along to blaming Cho for being evil and being responsible for his actions?



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RGeib

posted April 21, 2007 at 1:52 am


There was indeed “a single cause” of, and a “single explanation” for the murders at VT. The murderer Cho Seung-hui took a gun and killed his fellow students, without remorse or compassion. He was not a victim. It diminishes and demeans the deaths of the innocents to imply that he was.Blame Cho. He, and only he, is responsible.



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butch

posted April 21, 2007 at 2:08 am


It seems like every time there is a problem, we make a new law. Now we are enmeshed in a tangle of laws too voluminous to weed through, giving the cops and government every opportunity to abuse their elected power. Sheryl Not sure it is the right time but years ago Khrushchev (sp) visited this country. He was asked if he wanted to destroy the US, he said he didn’t have to because we would do it from within. Of course the Soviet Union collapsed on its own, do you think we can’t? And, are we? We aren t even an old society by histories terms. The biggest danger, I think, is believing anything we do is approved by God. Could Bush have lead effectively with these 3 handicaps. 1. The religious right anointed him. 2. Given a free ride by Congress without oversight. 3. Conservative talk radio as cheerleaders. And, 9/11 a completely new threat to order, they think we threaten their way of life. Maybe we need to back way up with the threats to foreign governments.



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Andrea

posted April 21, 2007 at 2:26 am


No one deserves a tragedy, but God uses tragedy in ways that we cannot see. I pray that God will comfort, strengthen and guide all who have been touched by this horrific experience. I pray for the family of the tortured soul who killed these people. May they know that God accepts, loves and forgives their loved one for his act of pain. I am so glad that I serve the God of redemption. Nothing is ever wasted in God’s economy. May we be blessed as we grieve, own our pain and reach out to others at this time. Blessings,



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Milo Coladonato

posted April 21, 2007 at 2:36 am


Kris, I agree, the sermon on the mount is a good example of moral action, although not all of it; for some of it is not feasible or practical. By the way, I have not only read it, I have studied it and the entire NT extensively. I am a seminary grad with a MA in historical theology. I am not a lay person in these matters. I should have made that clear up front, sorry about that. I hestitated to give my credentails. Moral examples and teachings are old as mankind himself, even older if one looks at the animal kingdom; even down to the single cellular level. My point is this, we do not need bad reasons to do good things when we have so many good reason to do them. Case in point is nature, which is replete with such examples. thanks



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britney spears nipple

posted April 21, 2007 at 2:59 am


:::: http://z3sex.info/2/britney-spears-nipple.html britney spears nipple britney spears nipple [URL=http://z3sex.info/2/britney-spears-nipple.html]britney spears nipple[/URL] z3sex.info/2/britney-spears-nipple.html [link=http://z3sex.info/2/britney-spears-nipple.html]britney spears nipple[/link] *



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britney spears nipple

posted April 21, 2007 at 3:05 am


My point is this, we do not need bad reasons to do good things when we have so many good reason to do them. Case in point is nature, which is replete with such examples. thanks Milo Coladonato | Milo go back to my idea that we study bad or ineffective behavior, use your term. Tell me what you think, I’m asking to learn?



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Mike Hayes

posted April 21, 2007 at 3:50 am


May the families and friends of the victims and the family of the one who committed the violence find peace. And may the family of the violent one not blame themselves for this tragedy.



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butch

posted April 21, 2007 at 4:10 am


Don’t know how it changed my name to spears, etc My point is this, we do not need bad reasons to do good things when we have so many good reason to do them. Case in point is nature, which is replete with such examples. thanks Milo Coladonato | Milo go back to my idea that we study bad or ineffective behavior, use your term. Tell me what you think, I’m asking to learn?



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 21, 2007 at 4:52 am


FYI: The official name of the school is Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.



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Barb

posted April 21, 2007 at 6:41 am


We live in such a culture of violence. Why else would so many men (women to a much lesser extent) feel that a valid response to life’s problems is violent? Your girlfriend leaves–kill her. You are bullied at school–kill them. You are fired from your job–kill them. It isn’t guns per se; much has been said about the many law-abiding gun owners, and the fact that mass-killing devices are illegal. But what gets me is that violence is considered at option at all! Kill those you disagree with. The ends justify the means. God is on my side. Killing to prevent more death is allowed. Kill a doctor who performs abortions to save babies lives. Arm students so they could have killed Mr. Cho before he killed others. Kill, kill, kill. Whatever happened to following Jesus, the Prince of Peace? What ever happened to ‘he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword’? Why don’t churches and Christians spend as much time on violence in our society (base causes, including but not limited to video games and movies) as they do abortion (only one form of violence?). Why do they spend so much time on women, when frankly speaking, men seem to be the problem? My prayers go out to everyone involved in this event–the poor family of Mr. Cho, the victims of his delusional hatred, and the members of the college and town who are shorn of their innocence. But living in the US–what do we expect?



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rain man

posted April 21, 2007 at 7:12 am


“I am not a lay person in these matters. I should have made that clear up front, sorry about that. I hestitated to give my credentails. ” You made yourself sound like you were completely ignorant of the New Testament–why do you waste your time here if your MA is Historical Theology convinced you of your atheistic position? Or were your being disingenuous about that as well?



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Erma Mae Perkins

posted April 21, 2007 at 1:49 pm


This tragedy could remind us that the horror, fear and grief, these isolated incidents bring us – Columbine, the World Trade Center, Virginia Tech – occur daily for many of our sisters and brothers around the world especially in Iraq. Erma



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Milo Coladonato

posted April 21, 2007 at 2:33 pm


“You made it sound like you were completely ignorant of the New Testament–why do you waste your time here if your MA in Historical Theology convinced you of your athesitic position? Or were you being didingenuous about that as well?” I never intened to sound like I was trying to hide anything, nor just because I ask Christians questions about their faith am I trying to be deceptive. I have many Christian friends and I ask them questions all the time because I am am genuinely interested in what they have to say. I still think there is much for me to learn from them. Yes, I do ask basic questions sometmes. As a former educator I learned to ask the basic questions first and sometimes I am surprised at what I can learn form them. If I have offended anyone, I am truly sorry. Maybe you are right, an atheist need not waste their time here. Thanks again



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Bob King

posted April 22, 2007 at 1:03 am


When Cho Seung-hui fired his last round into his own head, I am personally, morally certain that he did so feeling both a sense of relief and with a sense of having struck a blow for justice. He was wrong, of course.



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Paul

posted April 22, 2007 at 1:09 am

Ms. Cynthia

posted April 22, 2007 at 3:06 am


Justice would not only mean taking another close look at gun controle but also looking into better ways to make sure our minority and imigrant communities have better access to mental health services. Our diversity calls for different strokes for different folks. What can we do through our church communities to make sure that immigrant families and women know that such health services are available? I’ve heard so many practicianers on the radio this week saying that we can’t wait till the crisis stage to administer mental health for our youth. Since our Insurance companies do not take mental health care seriously as a physically idicated disability we need a national health care system that does. If there was ever a political issue we should be praying about in the pews , this is it. It is surely an issue that brings potential harm to more that just one victim, even when it is not manifested in such striking violence.



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Ms. Cynthia

posted April 22, 2007 at 3:10 am


The power of our own neglectfulness is sometimes far greater than anything Satan could dream up even if he had help. We need to be taking better care of our children no matter who they are.



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Ms. Cody

posted April 22, 2007 at 11:05 pm


Kristopher and all,Not intentionally trying to be a nitpicking stickler for details but how did an article entitled “Where was God on Tuesday at VTU” (By Don Crawford) EVEN PASS for publication on americanthinker.com when the HORRIFIC tragedy occurred on MONDAY April 16th? Perhaps some people do not use calendars, hmmm?



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R. F. Gill, MD

posted April 22, 2007 at 11:25 pm


From the Reagan shooting, to Columbine, to Virginia Tech, the media and most Americans stubbornly persist in asking and trying to answer all the wrong questions when only one question is relevant: how do we keep automatic weapons out of the hands of deranged persons. We pour over the biographies of the shooters to see where they went wrong. However, those are the wrong biographies. Instead, we need the illustrated biography of an automatic handgun, tracing the weapon through the hands of the clerk, storeowner, distributor, and factory owner, who with ambitious politicians, complacent citizens and NRA fanatics are the real killers. Have we seen any of these with their photographs facing those of the victims on the news pages and TV screens? Certainly, we do not see them when their victims are poor, black or brown city dwellers. But not even when the elevated and powerful from President Reagan to Columbine or Virginia Tech suburban students fall victim, so powerful is the gun lobby in America. No other advanced country tolerates the indiscriminant distribution of weapons designed solely for mayhem, not sport. When will Americans wake up and say no more. No more Columbines, no more college massacres. No more automatic weapons for anyone but the civil and military authorities with the specialized training and discipline to posses them. Let us make our voices heard by calls, letters and emails to lawmakers demanding an end to indiscriminant distribution of automatic weapons and senseless massacres of innocents.



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Ms. Olivia

posted April 23, 2007 at 10:34 pm


It wasn’t the killer who killed 32 people, it was the many Americans, young and old who emotionally tortured this young man from the time he was 8 years old. Those nasty people drove him mad. They are the REAL killers. Americans need to be raised to be more moral and ethical. They need to be raised to be more considerate and caring, to be more thoughtful. But where can the children find their role models? Most adults are non-caring and/or brutal. And as I get older I am encountering more and more of it. Elder abuse is a crime, but NOTHING is done about it. The real killers are ALL of the people, old and young, who tortured this young boy/man, mentally and emotionally, to the point of insanity. We can expect more of it, if we do not change. This society is disintegrating FAST. Of course, it is an EMPIRE and will go the way of all EMPIRES, no doubt. But, we know history (or do we?). Do we have to let it ALL happen SO FAST???? I have grandchildren. I am concerned.



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Marnie Rourke

posted April 25, 2007 at 1:22 am


As my sermon from Sunday, printed below, suggests, we need to stop playing the blame game and make forgiveness the only game in town. It’s not just “Peter, do you love me? ” It is also, “Peter, I love you and forgive you, now go love and forgive my sheep.” How else shall we hope to feed the world in need??? Easter 3 C When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. If you and I were naked and anyone came along, we d put on some clothes! This line of scripture reminds us of all that we have in common with the disciples. And it reminds us of all we have in common with the most common of sinners. Remember Adam and Eve? Once they were thrown out of the Garden of Eden, they realized they were naked and covered themselves. Peter was naked, not just in body, but in soul. The 21st chapter of John s gospel is considered by biblical scholars to be a second ending, or if you would, an alternative ending. Perhaps we should simply read it as a PS at the end of a letter in which something very important has been left out.According to this passage from John s gospel this is the third time the Risen Lord has made himself known to his disciples: Twice in the upper room, and this time along the sea shore. Even though they had berated Thomas for not believing their report that Jesus had shown up in their midst while he was out courageously taking care of their daily necessities, Christ s disciples still weren t sure for certain that it was our Lord who joined them while they were fishing. In the face of all their doubts, doubts like every member of the faithful community has every day in the face of all their doubts Peter s eyes open wide when he sees his Lord. And if it were us, our eyes would open just as wide or even wider, and we would want to cover ourselves up in the hopes that Christ didn t see us as the sinful beings we know ourselves to be.Why? Because we are so much like Peter. Yes, unlike the other disciples Simon Peter stayed out in the courtyard, as close to Jesus as was physically possible while our Lord was being tried, flogged, spat upon, and prepared for crucifixion. Peter had said, You are the Christ! long before all of this was to take place, so of course he would stay close. Yet Peter is so like each of us; Peter fell way short of the grace of God. Yes, he could hang out in the shadows of the courtyard, but when the light of the fire shown in his face he denied Christ, not once but three times.This week common people like us have denied Christ at least three times. There are those who believed that a radio broadcaster shouldn t have lost his job over using a racist slur while also making an incredibly insulting comment on all that is sacred, awesome, and beautiful about being a woman. Some want to blame his actions on the hip-hop culture and rap music in general. Others want to blame his behavior on the producers of such music, those who allow words like those he used to show up in the lyrics on the airwaves. And still others just want to satisfy themselves with the idea that it was simply a mistake, just a simple mistake. It is too rare that anyone is willing to say I listened and didn t care; I talk like that and was never bothered enough to care. Some say its ok for Black people to put down Black people and for women to use obscenities when describing themselves. After all, it s ok to joke about yourself isn t it? Isn t the rule of etiquette that it is not ok to tell jokes which put others in a bad light, but it is ok to make people laugh at our own human foibles? If I slip and fall and make a joke about it, it is human. But if I were African-American and made a joke about my heritage and culture, I d be inviting you to slip from seeing me as fully human. I d be saying it is ok for you to see my Black sisters and brothers as something not quite equal, not quite human, as well. I d be giving you and the rest of the world permission to hold onto racism tight and fast, and forever.In the same way it is simply not ok for women to put themselves down just because we are of the female gender. Women don t talk too much, don t make mountains out of mole hills, aren t over emotional, and don t worry about every little thing. And, my brothers, men don t have zipped lips and never have anything to say, you guys aren t cold and unfeeling, and it is certainly not true that you don t give fig about anything and simply do not care.So it is that Peter is very human, and cannot hide the truth about himself from the Risen Lord. Our Redeemer knows that Peter denied him not once but three times when Jesus was in the very midst of his suffering. So he asks Peter, Do you love me? Denying that we know someone, know them well enough to love them, is to sin against them. Jesus says to Peter, Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep, Peter, do unto others as you should have done onto me! Peter forgot to show his love for Jesus or even to admit to being one of his disciples while standing there in the courtyard, outside the prison. So our Savior asks him: Do you love me? He asks, and keeps on asking, for by Jesus asking and by Peter confessing his love, Christ may then forgive him of his sins.We might feel better if the only evidence of universal sinfulness this week came from the world pointing its finger at a celebrity who used the airways to denigrate others. Yet there is the horror story at Virginia Tech: all of those young people dying along with a professor or two who tried to save their lives. What was wrong with that school for not letting those young people know they were in harms way? How many guns have to be sold to school place murderers before hand gun control becomes law? What is wrong with a country and a state that pass laws that make it impossible to inform the parents of a mentally ill college student that they need to seek help on their child s behalf? What is wrong with us that we keep watching every sound bite of news on the subject?Are we haunted by the question of why did he do it? We should be haunted by why we need to ask the question. He was a loner. He had a troubled childhood. They tell us that folks like him have probably been molested. During my time serving as a pastoral counselor and family therapist, abuse, particularly sexual abuse was my chosen specialization. So I can tell you they are more than likely correct. Or maybe he was schizophrenic, or maybe some other diagnosis would fit better. We can ask all the experts and we will still never know.A forensic psychiatrist who convinced me of his self importance came on TV and told us not to pay any attention to the videos the murderer made of himself because they were all a play, a fantasy, made up by the distortions of a paranoid mind. Yet, we wonder and we want to watch, because we are afraid of the unknown and in our own fantasies believe that if we can make sense of all of this it will be less troubling. Sometimes knowing more isn t helpful, especially if it gives us permission to feel less.My diagnosis is also that we are all in denial. Oooh, did Pastor Marnie accuse us of being in denial? Yes, I did, but please don t rush to judgement. You see our society has demonized denial so that what was once simply known as a coping mechanism is now considered to be something more than a little naughty. Let me invite you to think of denial in a new way. It can be both a sign of sinfulness and a sign of grace. And by the way, we all practice denial all the time! Denial shows up as sin when we pretend that things aren t as bad as they are and we put ourselves or others at risk even though we have everything we need to keep us safe, if only we would.For instance it is no easy thing to leave an abusive spouse for the sake of safety and sanity. Staying in a shelter and living on the run just aren t fun things to do. But lying in the hospital, or worse yet, in a casket, and dying young are not good alternatives. So if denial is keeping us in the place of harm, it is surely
a sign that we live in a sinful world.On the other hand, what if we were in a horrible accident? A friend of mine and her husband were driving away for the weekend to celebrate their wedding anniversary a few years ago when they were hit by another car. She didn t regain consciousness for a few days and even now she has no memory of what happened. When the paramedics found her she had more fractures than I have fingers and toes. She still doesn t remember a thing. The term for this is shock. She was just too shocked to know what was happening. Going into shock is living in the grace of God, not knowing what we don t need to know, not knowing what we can t do anything about. It is just another way of living in denial, but in situations like these denial isn t a sin, it is truly the grace of God protecting us when we cannot protect ourselves.Now just what did I mean when I said we use denial on a regular basis? Well, you tell me, when was the last time you had a killer headache or backache? They always seem to come just when we have to get something done, don t they? Drive our friend to the doctor; get through the meeting, finish the assignment before the deadline and we can each name our own times when we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. Somehow we get the job done by ignoring our aching heads and backs, but once we can pay attention to the pain again, it is no longer a pain in the neck but one great big pain from the top of our heads to the very tips of our toes. But thank God for our good friend denial, because denial provided us with the means of survival.I also like to compare denial to a spring. We ve all played with Slinkies, right? The more you push down on a spring the more energy the spring has with which to spring back. So someti



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Marnie Rourke

posted April 25, 2007 at 1:51 am


Dear Friends, Not all of my sermon got published as it is longer than the blog allows room for…so if you are interested, here’s the ending. Blessings, Marnie I also like to compare denial to a spring. We ve all played with Slinkies, right? The more you push down on a spring the more energy the spring has with which to spring back. So sometimes what looks like denial taking the form of sin, is simply the hard work of getting ready to deal with the difficult and unpleasant. As a hospice chaplain I have watched patient after patient and family after family work as hard to be in denial as anybody has ever worked because they could not admit that death was only a room away, just waiting in the waiting room. A little light or a faint breeze finds its way through the tightly shut door and the denial is over and they now have the energy, as well as all the other spiritual resources, needed to look towards death as final healing and a promotion to glory.There is no denial that too many people have died as victims of mass murderers in our country, and in our world. We know exactly what such trauma looks like, and we don t like what we see, but we keep looking anyway. Maybe we keep looking because looking isn t the same as feeling, and by turning on our eyes, in our own denial we somehow believe we can turn our hearts, our feelings, off.We all get tired of people who seem to only have one question to ask: Why me, God, why me? Because life happens, because suffering is a part of life, and because you are alive that s the only real answer to the question of why me! Yet this week we are spending our time asking over and over again: why did he? Why did he murder them? Why did he lose it? And when we get no satisfactory answer we turn the corner and ask why didn t the university and why didn t the law makers? Why didn t somebody do something?I am surprised that I haven t heard anyone raise the question of why didn t his parents do something to prevent all of this from happening. Why didn t they know he was mentally ill? Why didn t they raise him to be a good, kind, and loving person? Why? Why? Why?And I am glad they are not asking! No one grows up with the goal of becoming a mass murderer. And no parent chooses to raise a child who could go out on a rampage against people who may as well have been perfect strangers. No one will ever be able to understand why they didn t see he was troubled and seek all the help they could get. No one will ever be as confused and disturbed as they must be now that they know they didn t know, didn t understand, didn t get the help he needed so badly. Yet, while not good enough, his parents did the best they could. And while no where near good enough, the broken young man who killed 32 people before he took his own life, most likely did the best he could, too. I am happy I am not the parent of anyone who died at Virginia Tech, but I am even happier I am not the shooter s mother. She not only lost her son, she and her husband lost every person he took with him in a way we cannot even begin to fathom. How do you live with the fact that everyone blames you, and you have no one to blame, and no one will come close to blaming you as harshly as you blame yourself? As for me I just want to reach out and put my arms around every member of this broken hearted family and tell them that while it is true that every saint has a past, it is even more certainly true that every sinner has a future. And one thing we as Christians know for sure, your son, this son we will never, ever understand, is a beloved child of God, always was, and always will be.For Jesus didn t die just for those who surrounded him on the cross, he didn t die just for the Good Thief who was given one last promise to be with Christ in paradise on that very day. Jesus didn t die just for you and me. Jesus didn t die just for the 33 whose lives so suddenly and senselessly ended at Virginia Tech. Jesus died once for all. (2 Corinthians 14) Sisters and brothers, if I can t live for that reason alone, there is no sense in living or dying, there isn t even any sense in having faith.Christ didn t die just for the 32 who became the victims of someone who then committed suicide. A more complete reading of this passage from Corinthians reminds us that Jesus also died for the survivors; he died for all of us who are living. The full text reads: For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. In such a time as this the only thing that makes life worth living is being able to say I know my Redeemer lives. Jesus didn t ask Peter why he did it. Christ didn t say, Peter, Peter, why on earth did you stand there and deny me over and over again, in front of God and every one? Our Lord asked Peter Do you love me? And Peter says: Yes, yes, yes, I love you Lord! Peter is remorseful and Christ our Savior forgives him. Our Lord forgives him and in a way that tells Peter he is trusted, for you don t tell a sinner you intend to punish to feed your sheep, you don t even bother to ask them if they love you!Christ doesn t care if we use denial as sin or as grace. What our Lord does care about is the blame game. He didn t play it with Peter and he doesn t want us to play it with each other. As Jim Wallis wrote in this week s email version of Sojourners magazine: This is not a time to seek easy answers or to assign blame. It is, rather, a time to pray, mourn, and reflect. I myself would add to that a reminder that unlike us Christ is never in denial, he simply keeps his promise to remember our sins no more. (Jeremiah 31:34)Jim Wallis goes on to quote poet Nikki Giovanni s remarks at the memorial service held at Virginia Tech: We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning. We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land as destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy. Jesus asks Peter, Jesus asks us: Do you love me? Yes, Lord, you know that I do. Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep, feed my sheep. Be in denial if that helps for the moment, but don t stay in denial, and don t use it to help you play the blame game.For we are called by Christ to do what Jim Wallis says the staff at Sojourners magazine are doing: We pray that the comforting presence of God will be felt in the midst of such deep heartache. Sorrow can sometimes prove redemptive in ways no one could have imagined before hand. It s time to let sorrow do its reflective and redemptive work, to hold the hands that need to be held, to let our tears open our hearts to change those things that lead to such tragedy, and trust our pain to the loving arms of God. Perhaps what we need to hear most this week, or in this lifetime, is the real message the Risen Lord was giving to Peter. Maybe Christ was saying, Peter, you not only have to love yourself as I love you before you can truly love anyone else; you also need to forgive yourself, forgive yourself first, just as I have forgiven you. Peter, beloved child of God, you will never begin to know how much I love you until you know how much I have forgiven you. And once Jesus has forgiven Peter by inviting him to feed his lambs and tend his sheep, he asks Peter and the rest of the disciples to do one last thing. And they do. Because we are Christ s disciples and because we love him, we, too,
just can t wait to say Yes! when Jesus says: Follow me. We rush to follow because there is a world out there that needs to know they are indeed forgiven. In Jesus name. Amen.



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James

posted April 25, 2007 at 10:35 pm


Jim, Because you are good at analyzing symptoms, permit me to ask you this question: Why did the students at VT not fight back?



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Gabrielle

posted April 26, 2007 at 1:27 am


Why is it necessary to mention the “diversity” of those killed at Virginia Tech? Does it matter? No matter where the victims were from, their lives shall be mourned and their families consoled.Please read Ann Coulter’s column tonight, in which she mentions you, Jim Wallis.



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Rev. Joel L. Tolbert

posted April 26, 2007 at 3:48 pm


32… Why do we keep differentiating 32 from 33. “32 were killed…” No, actually 33 were killed. It’s just that one did the killing of 32 before that one killed himself. Jesus came to cure and reach and preach and heal sinners. Yet, because the shooter was more obviously sinful, we exclude him even in our remembering and accounting of the event. As for me, I will count 33. In Iraq, I’ll not count American soldiers, but all. In Sudan, I’ll not count only the oppressed killed under the regime, but also the soliders of that regime killed in the retaliation. As long as we claim a differentiation in the math, we are Modern-era fundamentalists attempting to define black from white, good from bad, and to insure our presence on the good side. In doing so, we will continue to have a split heart over who God loves and who God doesn’t, a split not evidenced in the sacrifice of the cross.



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Walt

posted April 26, 2007 at 7:43 pm


“Struck by the victim’s diversity”? What do you mean by that?



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Stan

posted April 27, 2007 at 10:15 pm


The first point you make is about the “diversity” of the victims? What’s up with that? Pal, if that’s the most important thing you take away from this horrible tragedy (and you seem to think it is since you mention it first), you are one messed up cat.



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J

posted April 27, 2007 at 10:28 pm


This comment is actually a question for “Ms. Olivia.” You wrote: “It wasn’t the killer who killed 32 people, it was the many Americans, young and old who emotionally tortured this young man from the time he was 8 years old. Those nasty people drove him mad. They are the REAL killers.” What evidence do you have to prove this, other than Cho’s own delusional rantings?



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