When tragedy strikes.

“With every life taken, we’re all diminished. That’s something too many people don’t get. Yeah, we gotta stop violence and killing — but you’re only adding to the problem when the way you solve it is by more of the same.” -Joe, in The Onion Girl by Charles De Lint.

When I first heard about the shooting in Newton, CN, I was devastated. All I could think was, “What if that had been my child?” But the very first thought to enter my mind was why? I learned about the event as I was going through my Facebook news feed and saw post after post, people saying, first, that a man had entered an elementary school with a gun. Then I saw the updates: 18 children dead, and 8 teachers. Then they said 20 students. My heart cracked in two. I cried. I didn’t know how to handle the news that an entire kindergarten class had been killed by a man walking into a school with a semi-automatic rifle.

However, I soon got sick of the Facebook status updates that I was seeing. They had gone from prayers for the victims and updates about the accident to the age-old debate about gun control. I couldn’t believe it. People (from both sides of this argument, mind you) had the nerve to sit there and say, “Ha! I told you so!” I wanted to scream, “There are children dead and all you can think of to do is yell about banning all guns or arming every citizen overnight?”

I am still upset over this, and I actually deactivated my Facebook account temporarily. In my eyes, the issue is not guns or lack thereof. The issue is Jesus or lack thereof. We live in a broken world full of broken people, and nothing is going to stop that brokenness. I don’t care about gun control. I honestly don’t. Not right now, at least. However, I do care about the fact that there are families who have lost loved ones in a horrific manner. I can’t help but wonder what their view of God is now. I can’t help but wonder if these little ones ever had the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am praying continuously for the Christian community in Newton to reach out and come alongside these hurting families and share the gospel with them in a very practical way: comfort and support in times of need. I pray that Christians everywhere would come together and do whatever they can to help and be a light in a dark world.

I can tell you right now, this little boy was not worried about gun control or political parties. Neither was the girl who is holding him.This is the universal expression of horror and pain. Hands covering his face as he watches something horrific. This is not an expression of outrage. It’s simply fear, shock, and sadness.

We like to politicize everything, here in America. We want to assign blame. By jumping straight to the conclusion that guns or lack of guns could have prevented this tragedy, we are saying, “It was not the fault of a man, but of his weapon.” We are blaming objects, because objects are something we can control. We will march in the streets wearing special colors of ailments of the body, because we can potentially control those, but when it comes to the mind, we don’t want to deal with it, because it shows us how out of control we really are.

If you want to help, start with yourself. You could start by donating, supporting these people financially. There are plenty of ways to do that. One organization that I personally recommend is CLARO. Loosening or tightening of gun laws will not prevent another tragedy such as this any more than laws against drunk driving stop people from getting behind the wheel after their trip to a bar, or laws against drugs will keep people from using and selling them (not that I think those laws should not be in place, please understand).

What will prevent this from happening again is taking time to teach our children and ourselves how to apologize, how to be good people, how to respect others, how to respect ourselves, how to be responsible for our own actions. Teach the children around you that it is OK to recognize when you feel out of control and that there is no shame in telling someone you feel that way and need help. Show that you can admit when you are wrong and be examples of picking yourself up after someone knocks you down. Teach them pride in themselves and that, while you can not control the actions of others you can control your reaction to them. And it’s not just children who need this, some adults have never been taught how to deal with reality without lashing out violently or speaking out in ignorance and hate. For all ages we must be examples of what is good and teach how to recognize what is wrong and how to correct it with love and not with violence. Only instilling the principle of “do no harm” will prevent future acts of senseless violence like that seen today in Newton, CT. Reflect on yourselves, on your relationships and your actions and stop blaming politics, religion, class structure, economics. Be the light instead of pointing out the dark.

-Alicia Vélez Stewart

I think that Alicia about sums it up, and I applaud her. Ultimately, the thing that’s going to fix our world and be a light in a dark place is Jesus Christ. Want to change the world? Share the gospel. You’ll change the world for someone, somewhere.

I’d also like to take a moment and thank God for this young woman, Victoria Soto. She sacrificed her life to save the lives of her students. Before the shooter came into the classroom, she put her entire class into cabinets, or anywhere else that they would fit, to hide them. But when the shooter came into her classroom, there was nowhere for her to hide and she was killed. Thank you, Victoria, for your loving sacrifice.

Victoria Soto, age 27. Hero.

I’d also like to find names of other heroic teachers to honor them and thank them. If you have any information (pictures, ages, stories, etc) please feel free to share them in the comments.

Quotes

I decided to just list some quotes that I love, and maybe tell you about why I love them so much. They are in no particular order. They are from everywhere, from songs, to books, to sermons. Feel free to steal them if you want. I really enjoy quotes, and I like sharing them even more. If enough people like and respond to this post, I will find more quotes and put up another list!

1. “Writing is not just how I communicate my thoughts but how I actually think. It’s the way an experience or a fleeting thought becomes real to me instead of floating away. It’s the way I catch my thoughts and turn them over and over, testing their weight and deciding whether to keep them or throw them away. For me, to write is to become, and I can’t become [an] older, wiser person without skewering those youthful thoughts to paper, without holding them up for my scrutiny and yours.” -Alisa Harris

When I read this quote in Alisa Harris’ book Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith From Politics, I fell in love with the book. It describes my love for writing in a way that I was never able to do myself. I could never find the words, ironically. Writing really is how I think and how things become real for me. I have terrible memory, until I write things down. When I write, everything that goes onto paper seems tangible.

2. “The venn diagram of boys who don’t like smart girls and guys you don’t wanna date is a circle.” -John Green

Personally, I think that John Green is one of the best people ever. He is one half of the VlogBrothers on YouTube. If you don’t know who the VlogBrothers are, click the link right now. Yes, now. This particular quote is from a video about dating. John Green’s advice to girls seeking a boyfriend? Date nerd boys. I agree with that 100%.

3. “Even if God were to make me tyrant of the world and give me power to reshape it as I see fit, even if I won every political battle I waged, I could never create the world that Christ will one day bring to the poor and meek. The most brazen campaign promises fall short of His. The only way to defeat the politics of ressentiment is to remember that the kingdom of God is here but not yet realized: we still live in the earth’s darkness, but we hold on to the heavenly promise. Instead of seeking power, I want to work for the kingdom’s picture of peace.” -Alisa Harris

Again, a quote from Alisa Harris’ book, Raised Right. This completely describes how I feel about politics and the far-right Christians who seem to be everywhere since the 1980’s. This election is not the election that will decide the fate of everyone on earth, and our children will probably never experience that election either. Our world is full of sin, and electing one man as the Commander in Chief of one country will not change that.

4. “[My brother] knows that I love him even if I don’t say it. But like Dumbledore said, words have power. And we have to use the magic of our words on each other so that we can feel it and experience it, and the people that we love know viscerally and without a doubt how we feel.” -Hank Green

I love Hank Green. Hank Green is not just an amazing person, but he is also the other half of the VlogBrothers. You would know that if you’d clicked the link I gave you earlier. If you’re at all nerdy, you will love these videos of two brothers rambling about everything under the sun, because it’s nerdified ramblings.

5. “We hypocritically applaud men for seeking the truth, but call for the public execution of anyone arrogant enough to believe he has found it.” -Paul Washer

I love Paul Washer. He’s an awesome man of God, and one of the best preachers I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. This quote was one regarding truth, and the way we view it in society today. This relates to one of my recent posts about R.C. Sproul and the law of noncontradiction.

6. “It has been my observation that those who are most opinionated and critically outspoken of other people’s evangelism are those who say the least for Christ, if they say anything at all.” -Jon Revers

This is something that a friend of mine said, and I think that it speaks for itself.

7. “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” -Ray Bradbury

First I’d like to say R.I.P. Ray Bradbury. You will be missed, and you have contributed some of the most influential pieces of literature ever written to the book-loving community. I love this quote because, well, I love Bradbury, but more than that, because staying “drunk on writing” to me means continuously creating, continuously becoming (if we connect this to the quote from Alisa Harris). Writing is the only drug I’ll ever need.

8. “This is no game. You want revival and awakening, but know this: for the most part, great awakenings have come only preceding great national catastrophes or the persecution of the church. I believe God is bringing a great awakening, but I believe that He is raising up young men who are strong in trust in the providence of God to be able to wade through the hell that’s going to break loose on us.” -Paul Washer

Yep, Washer again. I think this one speaks for itself, and I wholeheartedly agree with him. It’s from a short video on persecution in the United States, here, if you’re interested in watching it. Whether you are Christian or non-Christian, it’s a good video.

9. “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” -Martin Luther

I believe that prayer is one of the primary marks of someone who is truly saved. It is impossible to be a Christian without praying. ‘Nough said.

10. “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” -Thomas Edison

This is another one of those quotes that speaks for itself, but I’d like to say, never, never, NEVER give up. You always have tomorrow, and trying again tomorrow when you fail is just as courageous as completing your goal today.

11. “Have you ever wondered how John could sit down and write all the whole gospel of John, 21 Chapters, and all through that entire thing record exactly the words of Christ? He could do it because the Holy Spirit brought him to his remembrance. That’s that promise there. Same here. We who have received it. We apostles, we writers. God has given it to us. You remember how? What was the vehicle? Inspiration. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “all Scripture is inspired by God.” Theapanustos, one word, God breathed. God breathed it out into our minds. We received it. The Bible was not made up by men. It is not the opinion of men. It is not the view of men. It is not the comment of men on certain acts of God. It was received from God a gift brought by the Holy Spirit. So important. And notice a freely given or a graciously given one, not earned, just graciously given.” -John MacArthur

I love this man.

12. “The question is not ‘do you want to go to heaven?’ The question is ‘do you want Christ?'” -Paul Washer

More of Paul. Evangelical preaching has suffered because of the implementation of the question, “Do you want to go to heaven?” in place of, “Do you want Jesus?” Everybody wants to go to heaven. Why would anyone want to go to hell, unless it’s the little kid in the corner wearing a black leather jacket reading the satanic bible? Everyone wants to go to heaven, but Jesus is the only way to get there.

13. “Unfortunately we often get praise for things that weren’t particularly difficult to achieve. If we focus on the props and encouragement of those who have low expectations for us, we become mediocre. It can be challenging to set our sights on excellence, particularly when we’re hearing that we’re already there. One of life’s greatest lessons, which we all must learn, could be expressed in the phrase “That was nothing. Watch this.” Challenge yourself and others to call the normal things normal and save that word excellent for things that really are.” ― Alex Harris

This is from a book called Do Hard Thingswritten by the younger twin brothers, Alex and Brett, of Joshua Harris. Alex and Brett’s book is awesome, and I think you should read it. It’s not just for Christians, though Alex and Brett are both Christian. It’s about doing hard things (go figure) and being the best you can be. Also check out the Rebelution website! Josh Harris is the author of I Kissed Dating GoodbyeBoy Meets GirlDug Down Deepand Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is)All of these are excellent books, and I strongly recommend Dug Down Deep for anybody, whether you are Christian or just curious about Christianity. It’s a clear, well-written, and easy to read overview of Christian doctrine and theology without getting into all of the messy denomination stuff.

(Wow, that’s a lot of links.)