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    Morning over the bay

    A Call for Soul Searching

    Response to the school shooting in Newtown Connecticut, 12/14/12

    By Johann Christoph Arnold

    December 15, 2012

    Available languages: español, 한국어

    • Deborah

      I believe we conscious and conscientious, coherent people KNOW the answers to "why" these things happen. They happen because we've forgotten our true spiritual identity and purpose for being on earth, both disclosed in the first 2 commandments ~ LOVE God and then, your neighbor. These seem to be aims that are too high for the so-called advanced and enlightened society but, we are walking in the dark

    • Carolee Uits

      #1 Years ago, I lived in Detroit, the "gun capital of the nation." A study of crime statistics was taken by the Detroit Free Press comparing households which had hand guns and those which had posted a symbol which meant "no handguns here - a picture of a red circle with a slash through it superimposed over a handgun. Astonishingly, homes with no handguns had less fatalities and robbery impositions by people carrying handguns. #2. Before we say the answer to the problem is the need to have more guns in more hands, perhaps, it is time to find solutions where there are fewer guns floating around in our society. Even the idea of having an "identity check" prior to gun purchase is in error as this Sandy hook School Massacre demonstrates. Mom cleared the check, kept the gun under lock and key - and still unknowingly provided the means for the death of all the children and adults and children at her beloved school. There will never be enough mental health support (but we do need more help) in this country to stop the "crazies" from getting guns. They are but one group who would use guns to settle scores or get their "needs" met. #3: It was painful a month and a half ago to be asked as I visited in northwestern Tanzania, "Why are your people so violent?" This, from people who are still victimized from the exploits of Uganda's Idi Amin with his mass killings and rape of Christians, spreading the first AIDS-HIV to this country. This Kagera Region, skirting Lake Victoria, has also more recently suffered the myriads of refugees fleeing Burundi and Rwanda, stripping forests and garden plots of wood and food, competing for employment in an environment of over 25% unemployed in towns and more in cities. This question was always asked by Christians I met, who had chosen not to retaliate against the violence done to them. For over 40 years, they as a Christian community of several denominational groups, choose to be like first century Christians - to reach out to the refugees and show love to their enemies. These Tanzanian Christians still suffer AIDS at high rates and are physically weakened by their poor diets worsened by the burden of climate change on a polluted planet and the ongoing economic devastation of strip mining, one of many of the newer vestiges of greed they endure. Why indeed, are we so violent? Is it not because of our own self-centered desire to have life in its abundance for "me, myself, and mine?" Or even our own mental and spiritual illnesses of thinking life is unfair; that somehow, we are entitled to hurt, maim and kill for some sense of justice or protection from those who might want to retaliate or take from us, or ... ? It is because of all the violence of sin, ignominiously centered on self, forgetting the Loving God, or never having known such a God: an always wanting more at the expense of the rest. Scripture speaks to this: we Americans, and all peoples have not yet learned, even considered that others are equally as loved, valued, and treasured by that Holy, Good, Loving, unknown God. Why in the U.S? Why? Why not! For indeed the need for Peace in Love and Justice has been and will always be present in humanity. It is not enough to confess guilt. Now it is time to love, even swallow our pride in gun laws and excuses that so poorly "protect" us from the violence of the rest of humanity - and ourselves. Jesus Himself, while an innocent child too was exposed to the life-death crisis of maurading hate and violence in bright-stared Bethlehem. His parents could only flee. But He risked personal tragedy and death a second time. This time, He chose the moment on the brutality of the cross - to forgive and create a new possibility for us all. He showed us we can, with His help and Presence, to do one better than to hate, elevate self, and kill. He calls us to step in and make the difference in love. Even stand to change our communities - much like those Tanzanians and to support the broken, love the neighbor, and seek another way than violence in Christ's name. It is time to "bite the bullet", seek to engage in a new national social contract that reaffirms the value and preciousness of each person. I dare say, us Christians need to take the lead because of what we know God calls us to be to each other - neighbor, brother and sister - even if they might seem our enemy. May your heart experience only the Peace Christ Jesus can give. May we all know Peace on Earth this Christmas.

    • Paul Andrew Anderson

      Because iniquity shall abound, the Love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come. (from Matthew 24) Jesus was referring to the state of the human mind, and collectively from that, the state of humanity, as the time of His Second Coming draws near. It seems certain that this is our time. There have always been the murderous among us; this is nothing new. What is changing, is the ability to murder, and the ever-increasing frequency of the murderous. Firearms are the second leading cause of traumatic death related to a consumer product in the USA, and are the second most frequent cause of death overall for Americans ages 15 to 24. Since 1960, more than 1.3 million Americans have died in firearm suicides, homicides, and unintentional injuries. Public health research has shown that firearms violence is directly related to firearms availability and density. What separates America from other Western, industrialized nations is not our overall rate of violence, but our rates of lethal violence, which can be directly traced to gun availability. We have casually become a gun culture: the video game industry has made millions from this darkened predilection to pointing a lethal weapon at a living being, and then killing it. Even the Amish were not immune to the murderous; the Nickel Mines school shooting was just six years ago. We must recognize where we are, and when we are, and then take thoughtful steps to keep ourselves out of the proverbial (and sometimes literal) crossfire of a Godless world and a culture hell-bent on defying Christ in every venue. As gruesome and horrifying as this is to all of us, it is not going to get any better (just read the whole of Matthew 24). Then were there brought unto Him, little children, that He should put His hands on them, and pray, and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said: Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me: for of such IS the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 19:13-14)

    • Kathleen Hyatt

      Thank you so much for reminding us that God is in control. It is certainly an opportune time for parents / teachers / & children to communicate about God's Goodness in spite of all our shortcomings. Kathy Hyatt, PT



    • jenni ho-huan

      God have mercy! topple the powers that defy you and blind the people with empty philosophies and hollow promises. Let a hunger and courage arise for truth in every heart, home, church and street!

    • Roberta McGowan

      I think that the way this world has changed is very sad. People don't care about each other anymore. It's not safe to go anywhere or even send your child to school. It's heart breaking to see how many people have totally disregarded what God said about loving one another and being good to one another. I agree that it stems from not allowing our children to talk about him in school or that parents have stopped teaching their children about him. The other sad thing is the way children with problems have been allowed to fall through the cracks because schools don't want to take the time or money to see that these kids get whatever help they need. They are saying that the shooter had Autism or Asburgers syndrome. His mother quit working to stay home and take care of him. This tells me and it should tell all of us that we need to be more aggressive about not letting the schools refuse services to the children that need help. I am the mother of a child who was special needs when he was in school and I know for a fact that the schools try to give only as little help as they can get away with. The result is becoming more apparent as these shootings keep happening. Also many of them happen because of an idea they have gotten from a video game. We need to not only go back to teaching our children to live by God's words but also we need to go back to being a family and pay attention to our children and when they are having problems we need to stop denying they have a problem because we are afraid of what people will say and fight for them in the schools for the right help.

    • Steve Clark

      We feel such shock and horror because of it is a "Slaughter of the Innocent". A stark reminder of another slaughter that took place about 2000 years ago when evil set out to exterminate our Savior. The weeping of the nation reminds me of what it must have been like around Bethlehem many centuries ago...Matthew 2:16-18 "Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” In the midst of such heartbreak and grief, v.19 shows that God's plan is not thwarted by Herod, or by the actions of a disturbed young man in CT.... v.19 "But when Herod died, Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared...." God is with us! There is hope! Thanks for your comforting words!

    • ruthann

      I Appreciate your sincere wish for all to draw near to God and your clarity on our need for the spiritual healing required for all. But in times like these more than ever we come to under stand "free will.". I have not read any refugees of war, large or small, say "God Is in control" especially When children are being hurt. Living well with the balance between these two concepts reqires more than an acceptance of "the GREAT Mystery".

    At least 27 people, including 20 children, are dead in Newtown, Connecticut.  These are the headlines that scream at us from every computer screen and radio station.  No shooting has ever come as close to me as this one, in a school attended by one of my relative’s children. There are no words that can adequately address the horror of this slaughter, though I am certain that the thoughts and prayers of our entire nation will now be occupied by this senseless tragedy.

    Still, we need to do some serious soul-searching; we owe it to the victims and their families. Why do school shootings like this continue to happen?  What can we do to better protect the innocent lives of the millions of children who attend school every day?  And most importantly, how can we invite God back into our lives and classrooms?

    The bottom line is that no number of security guards or metal detectors can ever completely protect us from hatred and violence, and that is why we need to pray to God for protection every day. Sadly, we have driven Him from our public schools, and can no longer even utter His name.  But children and teachers and parents need to be able to talk about Him – now more than ever — and remind each other that He is still in control.   After all, it is God who created each one of us, and who stands close to us every day of our lives, whether we acknowledge Him or not.  He will have been very close to every child and adult who was killed, and has surely received each one of them with open arms. 

    Knowing this may do little to comfort the heart of a grieving mother, but it is simply a fact: without God, those of us left behind will never find closure, nor the peace we all long for. So let us stop being afraid of God, and turn to embrace Him and His message of hope and forgiveness with faith and confidence. And even as we shrink back in fear – very justified fear – let us point one another to the message of the first Christmas angels: “Fear not, for I bring you news of great joy.”




    Jacob's Ladder by Rita Wegner
    Contributed By JohannChristophArnold Johann Christoph Arnold

    A noted speaker and writer on marriage, parenting, education, and end-of-life issues, Arnold was a senior pastor of the Bruderhof, a movement of Christian communities.

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