This was posted on Facebook by my friend Glen Moyer. I’m reprinting it as a page so I have a way to link to it from my post.
1203 THE ADVENTURES OF CLOTHMAN:
Letter to President Obama after the School Shooting
Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for your presence and consoling words at the prayer vigil in the aftermath of the terrible school shooting in Newtown, CT. Your comments as both the president and as a father helped bring a measure of healing in an ocean of grief and shock. But I would like to make a suggestion if I may.
After reading each of the names of the shooting victims you said, “God has called them all home.” You were comforting a community and a nation by trying to make some sense in this time of terrible non-sense. Your comment is indeed the most frequently heard explanation after a tragedy. Even Billy Graham says, “When we will die is not a matter of accident or chance; the Bible makes it clear that our lives are in God’s hands. He knows the time of our death, and He has even appointed it.”
Mr. President, I respectfully disagree. Saying God chooses how and when we all die inadvertently creates more pain than comfort. The logical conclusions of such theology are both confusing and disturbing. That is saying God possessed a young man to gun down his mother, several adults and a room full of small children, then take his own life …all because he/god decided eons ago that this was their day to die in this manner? This would have God commanding “Thou shall not kill” while at the same time he’s killing every human in a systematic and predetermined manner. I know that is not at all what you meant to say, but that is what this theology implies.
I believe God allows us to live in a world that is governed by the laws of nature, by human decision and by variable conditions. This means we are vulnerable to accidents, victims of circumstances, impacted by choices and subject to nature. God may know the number of our days but he does not choose that number. Nor does he have the world on puppet strings such that he decides how each person will die and then carries out that sentence in a premeditated fashion.
God created the universe but he does not micromanage it. There is a balance between structure and flow that is both secure and dangerous at the same time. We can know with certainty that the sun will usher in a new day tomorrow but we have no certainty what that day will bring. Ultimately, there are things in life that are, and will remain, unanswerable for us. Accidents don’t happen for reasons …they just happen. Natural disasters are just that, natural. “Why did this school shooting happen?” That is a hugely complex question that implies there is a good logical explanation. There isn’t one.
So where was God? And where is God in this mess? Isn’t there any comfort to be had by The Divine? Yes, I believe he was right there with each of those victims. He was their comforter in their moment of greatest danger and need – even as he is now comforting their families and friends as they navigate through their turbulent waters. Just as God rejoices with us he also suffers with us. He may not micromanage the days of our lives, but neither does he ever make us to walk through those days alone …no matter how bright or dark those days may be.
So Mr. President, while God did not “call” every one of those victims home I believe God did “welcome” them all home. Substituting “welcome” for “call” makes all the difference in this world ..and in the next.
Sincerely, Glen Moyer.