Friday's Already-Not Yet
I usually devote this space to something whimsical - how Denver Mexican food will be cast into the lake of fire when Jesus returns, for example. But today is not really a day for whimsy in light of the Virginia Tech shootings. It was interesting watching us try to publicly cope with something less shocking than 9/11, yet so horrible that we had to mourn. Baseball still played ball, but the Washington Nationals donned "VT" hats. American Idol warbled on, but with a more subdued introduction. Jon Stewart mentioned it apologetically before launching into his satirical skewering of lesser news.
But if we can stop for just a moment, almost all of us would find ourselves yearning for resolution, or to quote a conversation I overheard on Tuesday while standing in line at Starbucks, "Something is f**d up in this world." Justice is what we want. Even the most irreligious among us, too ambivalent on most days to pray, might have closed their eyes and said a few words for the victims and families this week. And as Douglas Wilson reminded me in this insightful commentary, even some atheists can't bring themselves to proclaim as good news the logical conclusion of God's non-existence.
To give you some context, Wilson is reflecting on what we could say about such tragedy if the "new atheism" as preached by evangelists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens is true. Wilson's piece is not a rant, but an irenic and reasoned appeal to the image of God in all of us - even when we suppress it the most.
Here is an excerpt (and here is the entire article):
"Given atheism, the Virginia Tech shooter is now in the same condition as Helen Keller, Mother Teresa, John Paul II, Ted Bundy, John Lennon, and Dolly Madison. The nirvana of non-existence is now his, and he successfully escaped to that haven from every claim of justice. That rampage is an atrocity which Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens all believe will never be put right. Justice will never be applied to it. And this lack of justice is just the way it is. So what is wrong with this lack of justice now? Given atheism, nothing is wrong with it.
But even the new atheists cannot bring themselves to acknowledge this. This is because they are created in the image of God, and they know better. So my charge is not that they approve of such things. Of course not. Not a bit of it. My charge is that they are purveyors of an impotent disapproval. The shooting has stopped, the shouting has died down, the bullets are all spent, and the shooter has begun to decompose. And the infinite concourse of atoms that constitutes all reality continues to roar by us heedless, continuing, as always, to not give a damn."