Religious figures are weighing in the Virginia Tech massacre. Here are a few (I’ll add more as I come across them):
A representative of Pope Benedict XVI “wrote”:http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0702123.htm to the Catholic Bishop of Richmond, Va.: “In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy (Benedict) asks God our Father to console all those who mourn and to grant them that spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love.”
United Methodist leaders “renewed”:http://www.umc.org/site/apps/nl/content3.asp?c=lwL4KnN1LtH&b=1723955&ct=3770273 their call for all governments to ban general ownership of handguns, assault weapons, automatic weapon conversion kits and weapons that cannot be picked up by metal detectors.
“…Had this ban been in place, this shooting might have been prevented since one of the guns used by the assailant was a 9-mm handgun,” said Jim Winkler, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
Brian McLaren, a Christian writer and board chairman for Sojourners/Call to Renewal, writes on “Beliefnet.com”:http://www.beliefnet.com/blogs/godspolitics/2007/04/brian-mclaren-sorrow-that-makes-us.html that:
“Pain in times like this, I believe, is not simply something to be escaped, resolved, fixed.
Instead, it is something to be suffered, something that must, in a sense, crash over us like a wave or knock us down like a fever, shake us so that we truly feel our feelings and name them; so that we can speak of them and share them and feel an exchange with others of sympathy, empathy, common grief, and common sorrow.
This kind of sorrow doesn’t make us bitter; it makes us better. It doesn’t make us smug at having an explanation; it makes us humble as we understand our shared vulnerability. It doesn’t make us put up walls of blame; it tears down walls as we feel our common humanity. In so doing, it teaches us wisdom – wisdom that, in the scriptures, is often associated with pain and struggle. It softens us, makes us more sensitive to the pain that others suffer but we often ignore. It forms compassion in us.”
Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the “National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership,”:http://www.clal.org/ offered this “spiritual response:”
“–The first priority must be to give comfort and care to those most directly affected by the tragedy. This is not the time for setting policy agendas, but for supporting the people at the center of the nightmare.
–Healing always points from the inside outwards. People not directly affected by the tragedy can over dramatize the danger. The shooting was a rare occurrence. What is significant is the randomness of the event. The only spiritual way to deal with the unpredictability is to love and care more deeply. That is what establishes hope.
–For people inside of the tragedy (the families of those killed), they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need explanations of political theories, they need the comfort of those around them. They need to mourn and grieve.
–For the survivors (those further away on campus), donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t focus on your vulnerability but help those who were closer to the inside. The survivors who were near the shooting need to be able to tell their stories and to come together as a community. They should be monitored by friends and family. Here is what we know about survivorsÃ¢â‚¬â€they must be built up one small step at a time. Even just getting out of bed is a step. And give them space. Each person process events in his/her own way.
–The larger cultural issue leaves us two options. We live in a highly open, pluralist, free society, which can leave us feeling greater vulnerability, fragility, and uncertainty. But that is what it means to be a human being. Need to learn how to live with lifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unpredictability. Alternatively, we can live in a closed society, with metal detectors, suspicion of our neighbors, strong borders, ID cards, and boundaries. This option will help banish chaos. We can either live in an open society or one that is shut down.
–We need to begin to care about each other in a way that will help alleviate the pain and suffering that people feel, not in a suspicious but in a comforting way. We yearn to feel 100% safe, but we live in the space between the security that we desire and the security that we get.
–For parents, your kids need to feel safe and secure. Emphasize that this rarely happens. Look in on your kids. Watch for nightmares, or crying. Affirm the rarity, particularly with all of the media images.
–For parents with college kids, bring their horror into line with the reality of what happened. This is a rare event, and in fact, never happened on this scale before. Be on the look out for your kids behaviorÃ¢â‚¬â€you know them best.
–This is about comforting those directly affected by the tragedy. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t turn it into a general societal statement or a blame game. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a deflection. We want to protect ourselves from horror. This is a scar in AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s soul. We must point outwards.”