J Walking

J Walking

Facing death, finding faith

In the face of death, faith is blossoming at Virginia Tech. The massacre forced people to the only place they could go in light of the horror – to their knees. Said one expert on faith, “The terrible scale of this forces people to go back to their souls.”

I hope it lasts.

After 9/11 American churches were literally overrun with people reeling from the savage attacks leveled on our country and on the symbols of our power. Facing the loss of family and friends and a sense of safety people ran to God. But it didn’t last.


According to a report on faith issued last year by the Barna Group:

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, half of all Americans said their faith helped them cope with the shock and uncertainty. The change most widely reported was a significant spike in church attendance, with some churches experiencing more than double their normal crowd on the Sunday after the shocking event. However, by the time January 2002 rolled around, churchgoing was back to pre-attack levels, and has remained consistent in the five years since.


I point to this not as condemnation on anyone but as recognition of the trials of the spiritual life. Everything around us conspires to rob us of our faith. The ads on television scream that that the best of life can be had in a new car, a new bra, a new cup of coffee, or a new television series. The ads in magazines, before movies, on billboards and everywhere else do the same. We live in a world that is a deep down superficial. It is a world where faith is so hard to keep because faith can only be found in stillness, in prayer, in fellowship, in service…I pray for the students of Virginia Tech that their faith can withstand the world’s assaults.

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posted April 24, 2007 at 8:47 pm

Your point is well made and well-taken. I always worry, though, about how well church attendance tracks the faith of the people. Often, matters of church governance, liturgical approaches and the 10,000 little schisms that turn up between congregants affect attendance. The congregation is often both the holiest earthly place and the worldliest holy space. I wonder if people who run to Church in times of crisis don’t leave as often to protect their faith as often as apostasy, or the flagging of their devotion. Or maybe I’m just talking about myself.

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David Kuo

posted April 25, 2007 at 3:05 am

Great point – church attendance does not equal holiness.. but it does offer a snapshot glimpse of how people are spending their time.

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posted April 25, 2007 at 2:33 pm

True, and it probably is a good proxy for fellowship which would also be good to maintain between crises.

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posted April 26, 2007 at 3:54 pm

Have you ever thought that a foot does not go well in the shoulder socket.Diversity is the greatest aspect of the body of Christ. (It is only liberals that demand that we all submit to one way of life. Theirs.) Different denominations and differences in Church attendance, has nothing to do with being a Christian. (Of course doctrine does.)There was no such thing as a Church building in the Christian community of Peter and Paul. Homes were “places of worship.” People desire the comfort of faith, when their absolutes are shattered. Americans were absolutely sure they were never going suffer intense and incredible tragedy. The myth of America being a “super” power is just that. When the lights go out, Katrina showed how debased our society truly is. Louisiana mirrored any Islamic country in violence.It was the Christians that showed the value of putting actions to words of peace. How Gospel of John (the first chapter) is that. Look at us now. 9-11, showed our evil side. The evil of complacency and apathy when the dust settles and the dead are forgotten. Fighting the injustice and war that Islam have declared on us, went away as fast as the power returned our lives back to their facade safety. The trials of a spiritual life first start in the reality of the physical life. I fear that Americans (like true westerners) choose comfort, complacency and apathy instead of reality. That is the formula for a great civilization to face the death it so desires to hide from.

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posted April 28, 2007 at 10:35 pm

Interestingly enough I know of little interest, or impact, this event had on those of us on the west coast.

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