Under normal circumstances, we'd have an insightful review of the new Batman film waiting for you. But these aren't normal circumstances. Father Steve Grunow offers his thoughts on the horrific events of Aurora, Colo., our grappling with modernity, and what original sin and the cross can teach us.
Today was the day that two members of the Word on Fire staff were scheduled to offer their reflections and ruminations regarding the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy. I told our intrepid writers that they should hold off given the horrifying events that happened in Aurora, Colo. The story is now ubiquitous: a lone gunman opened fire on a crowded theater of moviegoers who had gathered to see the film. Many lives were lost. Many more have been irrevocably altered forever.
There has been in the past few days no shortage of commentary concerning this heinous crime. I spent much of the weekend surveying what people were saying and paying careful attention to what Christians were saying via blogs. I pored over sermons from priests and ministers who chose to address the tragedy in the preaching as texts became available online. Ross Douthat’s piece (link) in the New York Tomes struck me as important. A commentary (link) by Jeffrey Weiss posted on Real Clear Religion made me think.
Yesterday, the alleged perpetrator of this terror was arraigned. His self-presentation seemed to me to be a paradigmatic representation of what Hannah Arendt described in the banality of evil. This is the fiend? A slender young man whose non-descript features were offset by clownish red hair? From the looks of him, he could be anyone. Over at the Patheos Catholic Portal, Elizabeth Scalia (link) and Joanne McPortland (link) had insights that are worth pondering.
In the emotional heat of the current moment, the violence in Aurora seems an abeyance from a relatively peaceful status quo, an interruption of ordinarily safe routines. But deeper thinking exposes that assumption as incredible. Was it just two weeks ago that I read about a congregation burned alive in their church in Africa? How many people are already dead in Syria? One doesn’t have to go across the world to come to terms with the truth—it hits closer to my home. The gun-related deaths in Chicago are hovering around 300 people this year, and still climbing.
Father Barron continues his explanation of the process of conversion by addressing the idea that we must, as a starting point, change the way we see ourselves.
“It is my conviction that an indispensable spiritual exercise is to look, with honesty, calmness, and critical intelligence at the daunting darkness indicated by the doctrine of original sin. To ignore this admittedly puzzling teaching is to see only half the truth about ourselves and hence to undercut our spiritual progress. If we are called to “change our minds,” we have to admit that there is something the matter with them; if we are to be saved, we must feel in the richest sense possible what it means to be lost… But, original sin does not tell the whole story. If there is something irreducibly wrong with us, there is also, the gloominess of side-sided pessimists not withstanding, something inescapably right about us."...