I know the last thing the world needs is yet another introspective look at the bombing in Boston yesterday but this is what I do.
Today is....odd. The news is filed with pictures and stories about the bombing, reminiscent of September 12, 2011. Yet it is also rather quiet. I don't sense the same urgency for vengeance. I certainly don't feel it. I am ashamed to admit that in the hours and days following 9/11 as a young Christian all I wanted was a target, someone to pay. I still get choked up when I recall President Bush at Ground Zero promising that those who brought down the towers had a day of reckoning coming. Little did I know at the time just how destructive our quest for vengeance would be. Today seems more like the days following the first attack on the World Trade Center, a terrorist attack but one that could have been much worse.
Maybe the scope is too small to gain the same attention. Maybe not knowing who is responsible is holding back the rage. Maybe we are afraid that what we find out about who and why will not be what we are expecting. Perhaps we are just getting numb after a decade of war, of casualty numbers on the news, after school shooting after school shooting and with the Sandy Hook shooting still fresh in our minds. An 8 year old boy was killed but social media has been abuzz with the unbelievable human calamity of the Gosnell abattoir for the last few weeks.
The human mind can only take so much. Only so much sadness, so much horror. Maybe we are at a saturation point and can only wait for a few days to get back to our petty entertainments and funny pictures of cats on the internet. The death of an 8 year old, blown up by a bomb on the streets of Boston at the end of a marathon? What can possibly be the point, the goal?
America is a different place today. Gone are the pre-9/11 days where I think we had a false sense of security and optimism. Today America is a land where the only news is bad news, a land with a foreboding sense that things are not just bad, they are bound to get much, much worse. You can already see the news starting to drift away. In two weeks, will we even be talking about Boston?
I think we are seeing just how inadequate our cultural religion truly is. It is fine for keeping people in line as long as everyone buys into it. It works for whipping people up in religious fervor to smite the enemies of America. When it comes to the stark reality of the depraved nature of man? In those events it is proven inadequate and even harmful. Our society is not, and never has been, founded in the Kingdom values of the Gospel of Christ. Worse, the church by and large is not either. We are founded in the cultural religious values of our society and often we have no answer to events like this.
Feeling melancholy and morose today but mostly I am thankful for One who knows all things and has things under control. In a way, in the midst of this atrocity I am hopeful that the Gospel that saves is rising up, cutting through the empty morality of our cultural religion to call people to another Way. The true hope for America is not going to be found in discovering the responsible parties in the bombing. The true hope for America is found in Christ, in rejecting retribution and revenge and placing hope in He who forgave and died to redeem His enemies. I pray that is the message that comes from the church this Sunday and more importantly in our words and deeds in the days to come.