Colorado massacre: Did God drop the ball?

How could a loving God allow such an awful tragedy? Photo: The hand of God. A cloud formation?

CHICAGO, July 22, 2012 — Many questions remain regarding the early Friday morning shooting rampage at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, some of which will never be answered. We know the Who (James Holmes), the What, Where and When. The Why may still be answered since, unlike many of the others who committed similar crimes, Holmes did not take his own life.

The tricky one here is the How, in part because there are so many. How does a young man go from innocent child to mass murderer? How does this change happen without anyone knowing? How did he get into a theater with weapons and gas canisters?

And the most difficult question to answer: How could God let this happen?

A Facebook status posted moments after word of the tragedy broke sums up the frustration:

 “God is suppose to keep watch over us all and keep us all safe from Evil Beings and the Evils in this world….Oops, God must not care much for Batman fans because as of 1AM this morning 15 were Shot To Death at a Midnight Showing of Batman in Aurora, Colorado. Some Evil Being burst into a middle theatre and threw a smoke canister and started shooting numerous numbers of God’s Children as they sat innocently watching a movie. 15 DEAD AND OVER 50 WOUNDED….MANY SERIOUSLY….OH MY GOD, WHATS UP? HE DROPPED THE BALL.” (Douglas Camarillo)

People turned to their faith at the makeshift memorial AP

Aurora. Columbine. Sixty-nine youth at a camp in Oslo, Norway. John Wayne Gacy. Charles Manson. Andy Urdiales. (You may have heard of him as “Andrew,” but in high school we called him Andy.) Srebrenica. The Holocaust.

And that’s just off the top of my head.

Apparently, God has dropped the ball on more than one occasion. Either that, or something else is going on here.

God has taken many ethereal forms throughout history, sometimes several of them at once. How many Greek & Roman gods can you name? Egyptian? Did they all die off, or did we just roll them all up into the one God we recognize now? The perfect, omnipotent, loving God who occasionally drops the ball.

But if God is perfect, He makes no mistakes. If He is omnipotent, His power influences everything. This is more than God simply allowing rampages to exist. This is God saying it was right.

Is this a loving God?

This is, perhaps, why many people believe God has a plan, which we are not meant to know. A loving God would not allow such sorrow unless there were a higher reason for it. And, no, I do not believe He is trying to take a stand on the conceal-carry debate.

So that’s settled. Our loving God allows innocent people to suffer and die for His own purposes.

Nope. Not buying it.

We just don’t have enough good, innocent people in the world to begin with, and He knows that.

But what other possible option is there? Perhaps our loving God is not so loving after all? It wasn’t that long ago that God’s ethereal form was more to be feared than loved. These days we fear each other much more than we fear God. And we rarely hear anything anymore about God’s evil nemesis, the devil, even though he seems to be having a jolly old time.

The Devil up close

An old line from the 60s comes to mind which many will surely ascribe to James Holmes: “The Devil made me do it.” But why does the devil exist in the first place? To spread evil just like this. And how does he do that? He tempts us. Usually with chocolate, but this time a troubled soul was tempted with a gun. 

All of this is, of course, conventional religious teaching. God is good, the devil is evil, and we must resist temptation. Even if it’s chocolate. In order to fight temptation, however, we must first choose to fight it. That is the true test of temptation.

God did not drop the ball. James Holmes did. “God gives each of us abilities and opportunities. What we do with them is up to us.”* The person who posted the Facebook status above followed it up a few hours later with a new one which read in part:

“The Blame is Solely On The Individual (One Inhumane Individual) Who Committed This Horrific Criminal Act. My Heart Goes Out to All Those Affected.”

Somewhere God is crying a little too.

*Julia Goralka thanks her mother for the quote and for being the main influence in her religious upbringing. To contact Julia, see above. 


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Julia Goralka

In addition to her work at The Communities, Julia Goralka is a free-lance novel editor and has served as a volunteer board member or committee member for several local charitable organizations. Prior to writing and editing, Julia was the Division Coordinator for the interest rate derivatives marketing desk at a large financial institution based in Chicago.

Contact Julia Goralka

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