Friday started off very well for me. The best day I had all week, actually. I spent so much of Sunday and Monday crying over Jos… the continual realizations that I would never have any of her fresh baked Christmas cookies or watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with her seemed too much.
But by Friday, I actually managed grocery shopping, some Wii exercise time, cleaning and baked chicken and sweet potatoes for dinner. I was finally feeling something like me when I clicked on the Facebook app and learned of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.
Max Lindenman shared of his experience with Facebook in the wake of the shooting:
I wasn’t home when news of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School first hit the online media. I made some effort to catch up, but after about 20 minutes, it seemed pointless. There’s a depressing sameness to these shootings…
Knowing there was no easy wisdom to be got, I went to the bazaar, the longhouse, the corner of the village common where my fellow villeins and I sharpen our sickles and put up our maypoles and compare our swelling buboes and listen to old Theobald the Bald relate for the millionth time how the unicorn kicked him in the groin. I logged into Facebook.A number of people had posted a message delivered by Pope Benedict through the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. “The Holy Father,” it read, “was promptly informed of the shooting,” and had asked that his “heartfelt grief” be conveyed, along with his “assurance of this closeness in prayer to the victims and their families, and to all affected by the shocking event.”
If you’re one of those people who’s determined to impose fresh legal restrictions on gun ownership or ammunition sales, or who would like to see the mentally ill better monitored, a statement like this is meaningless. It’s a bromide phrased in formulaic language, presented by an underling, and possibly ghost-written by someone even less important. But at least in my own small corner of the Internet, it made a significant, not unpleasant impact. Some people Liked it, others shared it. A few dug up older Benedict quotes that seemed relevant, for example: “In the face of horror … there is no other answer than the cross of Christ: Love that descends to the abyss of evil.”
But, things quickly turned from “let’s share uplifting memes and quotes” to normalcy to ugly political fighting. Which, for Facebook, is actually part of the normalcy.
The group hug lasted about as long as most of its kind. By the time night fell on Phoenix, PhD candidates were posting about their brain-dead students. A couple of bon vivants posted on new restaurants or microbrews they’d discovered. One gun-control advocate posted a meme reading: “How did ‘A well-regulated milita’ get twisted to mean ‘A well-armed, un-regulated populace?’” Someone found out that atheist blogger Hemant Mehta had reported on a couple of fundies who read the shootings as the natural consequences of a godless culture.
I had a similar experience. Except the gun control advocates and the pro-gun folks went at it, big time. Meanwhile, some people declared that the answer was in homeschooling, while others blamed video games and movies (Blech to that last one. Reminds me of some of my teachers at the Christian school I attended, blaming Columbine on Marilyn Manson. I didn’t buy it at 17 and I’m still not at 30.) So annoyed by the e-fights, I FaceTime’d my brother Joe to complain and wound up getting in a similarly heated and pointless argument with him. Double blech.
Yesterday at church, we observed the third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday. In the midst of this season of calm preparation and solemnity, there’s this day of rejoicing. Part of the Scriptures was from Philippians, chapter four:
4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
4:5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Rejoice. Always. Tough order.
“The Lord is near.” Even in tragedy, especially at times like these.
Don’t worry. Yeah, um… ha ha… But I will bring them to the Lord, no doubt.
That peace, the peace of God which will allow thanksgiving through tragedy, is far beyond my understanding, yes. So I will cling to the cross of Christ, knowing Love wins.