Wednesday, March 11, 2009


According to the New York Times:

"'This is a day of mourning for all of Germany,' Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a brief statement in Berlin. 'Our thoughts are with the friends and families.' "

It's probably better than paying lip service to belief in God when no belief exists. Still, how empty is that comfort?


Anonymous said...

This is exactly the kind of down-your-nose superiority that turns folks away from Christianity. In fact, I believe that many people are indeed comforted by the notion that many are holding their sufferings in their minds and hearts. You don't need to believe in God, the church, the Church, etc., in order to believe in compassion and kindness.

Nicholas said...

Dear anonymous,

Thank you for your comment.

I did not mean to minimize the kind of comfort that you mention, or to say that people without belief in God are incapable of compassion. I apologize if my tone conveyed that.

I was struck by the Chancellor's quote because of the contrast it forms with the way I found comfort in the midst of that tragedy.

Such acts can happen anywhere. Rather than live in fear of them (I teach in a high school), I believe in the protection of God not simply to keep such horrible things from coming to me, but to give me the strength and the power to stand in such a day.

Such acts leave a sense of injustice, for no punishment on the perpetrator could balance out the evil he committed, even if he were alive still. However, I believe in God who will call all from the grave to judgment, where every deed will be answered for, and every ounce of justice will be done.

Such acts leave an unbelievable feeling of loss, as so many young lives were cut short. Because I believe in the resurrection, I know those killed may yet live in a world where there will be no pain nor fear of evil.

Lastly, such acts leave a profound sense of powerlessness. I believe in God who hears my prayers, and who works in response to them. He is able to provide the comfort to victims' friends and families and, impossibly, to work good out of this great evil.

Does this faith free me from the horror and grief at such an incident? I hope not. A faith which numbed me to these realities would be an abomination. But I take comfort in knowing that there is something else and something more to hope for, and that these killings are not the end of the story for the victims, their loved ones, the killer, and their community.

I find none of these assurances in the words of Chancellor Merkel. Ultimately, if our thoughts are the best we can offer, there isn't much we can't make anything better, and who knows when an event like this may happen again?

David said...

Nicholas- Thanks for your comment. I definitely know you're name, and it's a pleasure to make your cyber-acquaintance. I appreciate the kind words and look forward to keeping an eye on yours. (Sorry to leave a personal correspondence on your well-visited blog, I check my young blog frequently, hoping against hope for any comment at all!) -David