Lamentations # 2: Orlando and the Complexity of Life

“In the immediate aftermath of a horrendous event like the massacre in Orlando, taking a breath and offering prayers for the victims and their families and for our country generally is the right thing to do. Reacting quickly and thoughtlessly can produce intemperate responses with unintended negative consequences. Not speaking up can do so too.” George Mason, pastor of the Wiltshire Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas

The title of this blog is enough to put off most people. We want simple and immediate answers.

If you’re a cop, your single assignment is to stop a shooter. If you’re an emergency room doctor, your job is to stop the bleeding—literally. But even straightforward situations can become complex quickly.

Most of us have the privilege of reflection—What caused this tragedy in Orlando? Why did Omar Mateen kill 49 people in cold blood? How do we respond? What can we do to stop this from happening again? Is there a “take away” from which we can learn?

I’ve seen at least nine different themes emerge over the past few days.

  • First responders. Thank God for police, firefighters, EMT, nurses, physicians and others who must DO something immediately in the face of such tragedy.
  • Grief and Anxiety. Of course, the families and friends of those killed or wounded are directly affected. But millions who knew none of the victims are also shaken. I have already posted a blog about Lamentation:
  • Mental illness. In a radio interview with the shooter’s former wife, she said Omar Mateen was bi-polar.
  • The LBGT community. The Pulse nightclub was apparently not chosen randomly, but specifically because it catered to a gay clientele.
  • The Latino community. The men and women at the club on Saturday night were largely Latino.
  • Islamic extremism. The shooter was, by all accounts, a self-radicalized Muslim.
  • Gun Control. Would this have happened if assault rifles were more difficult to purchase?
  • God: Some people, because of bad theology, will think God had some purpose in this atrocity. Others will declare such horrific acts prove there is no God. Others will go to a church, temple, or synagogue looking for solace.
  • Anger is a part of grief. If these repeated attacks on innocent people don’t anger us, we are already dead.

Events such as this may be like a Rorschach test to which we bring our own agendas. The best politicians, and the citizens who elect them, are those who take the long view and consider all these narratives (and others) in fashioning a meaningful response. It’s bad enough when an extremist has an assault weapon. It’s even worse when an extremist has an army at his or her disposal.

Yesterday afternoon, I participated in a vigil in memory of the victims in Orlando and in solidarity with the unnamed victims around the world—peace-loving Muslims, the LBGT community, the mentally ill. The list is too long, but this is my place to start. I will try to be wiser, more prayerful, and a more hopeful, more faithful, more loving Christian.

“Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Lamentations # 2: Orlando and the Complexity of Life

  1. I agree on the themes that have emerged, but I don’t understand how the need for gun control can be framed as a question. Even if people, not guns, kill people, people couldn’t kill people in mass shootings if ownership of assault weapons was banned. The idea that America puts a higher value on private ownership of military weapons over the lives of churchgoers, school children, gays and lesbians — really over the lives of everyone — stuns me. Christians should ask: Is that really what Jesus would do?

    Certain church and political leaders must also ask themselves how much the climate of hate they create for the LGBTQ community plays into this. Especially those who push the “Biblical” penalties for guys and lesbians and urge society to consider us a social menace for pressing for something as simple as marriage. Why is it that gays and lesbians are eight times more likely to be murdered for who we are than other targeted minority groups? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

    I also question why people consider pointing out the obvious is considered political. Should ordinary Germans have refrained from taking on the Nations Socialists after Kristillnacht? Jesus didn’t hesitate to take on special interests — or to take the side of the oppressed against the side of money and power.

    Silence gives consent: faith without works is dead.

  2. My Old Testament professor said the greatest sin of the Old Testament was “They would not listen.”

    • Stratton Allan

      Agreed. Crossing my fingers that something may be breaking on gun control.


  3. Anonymous

    I agree with both of you. It has been my feeling since the bank robbery in California, when the thieves were armed to the hilt with body armor and weapons, that military-type weapons should not be for sale to anyone but military. Yet, our politicians worry about their political bases while the body count climbs.

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