July 23, 2012 Leave a comment
A memorial for 12 shooting victims sits at the fountain of Aurora Municipal Center after a prayer vigil Sunday.
July 21, 2012 8 Comments
The news came in to Mitch Hamilton by phone just after midnight.
Members of his church had been inside the theater when shots rang out.
Hamilton is pastor of Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church, near the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, where a gunman opened fire early Friday, killing 12 and wounding dozens more.
“We’re close, but you feel like you’re a million miles away,” Hamilton said during a break from tending to the needs of his church and planning a prayer vigil.
“Things are happening so fast,” he said.
He thinks his church members are not among the dead, but with no list of victims, no one is sure. Either way, he knows there is a gaping wound in his community.
Clergy across Aurora, the Denver area and the state are wrestling with how to respond to a senseless act of violence that has rocked their community.
Tonight, rabbis will take their pulpits for Shabbat services.
“It’s impossible to be prepared for actions that reek of such evil,” said Rabbi Richard Rheins of Temple Sinai in Denver. “It’s not as if any of us have answers.
“Evil is in our midst,” he said. “We have to be vigilant. We have to be strong.”
Rabbi Joe Black from Temple Emanuel knows that his congregants will be looking up from their seats tonight, waiting for answers.
“I’ve been a rabbi for 25 years, and I know that I don’t have any answers. And if anybody says they do, I’m concerned,” Black said. “I think what we need to do is come together and acknowledge the importance and the centrality of asking questions of the things in this world we can’t comprehend.”
A day ago, Jack Dowling was ministering to fire victims in Colorado Springs. He and team of five other chaplains from the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team got the news of the shooting Friday morning and headed straight for Aurora.
“We were on the ground here around 7:45 a.m.,” said Dowling, of Bangor, Maine.
He and his team of specially trained disaster chaplains are tending to families waiting for answers at Gateway High School in Aurora.
“This is a raw emotional situation. People are traumatized,” he said.
“The challenge here is, the incident location is still a crime scene and will be for some time. So the police have to deal with it as a crime scene. Under normal circumstances, that takes many hours to deal with that and then to gradually start identifying the victims.”
Family and friends are wandering the secured area at the school, asking questions, taking nervous cell phone calls and battling through uncertainty, Dowling said.
Some know their loved ones are at the hospital; “the others who haven’t had that confirmed, they don’t know. They don’t know if their family member is in a hospital and unidentified or if the other reason they haven’t been contacted is, they are still at the theater.”
Experiences ministering at massacres at Virginia Tech and Binghamton, New York, are a road map for Dowling. There are few words for the chaplain to share with the families.
“It’s not as much what you say as what you do. We have a ministry of presence to listen and listen and listen some more. They have a story to tell about a loved one who maybe they don’t know is dead or alive. There’s a lot of grief; there’s a lot of crying; there’s a lot of emotions; there’s a lot of uncertainty.
“It’s a very fragile situation for the victims,” he said.
July 20, 2012 1 Comment
Dr Taylor Marshall writes on the shooting last night at the Century Movie Theater in Aurora, Denver, Colorado, where a gunman walked into a the premier of Batman movie, and opened fire on the moviegoers. What he writes is poignant:
Our prayers and condolences extend to all who were murdered, injured, or who lost loved ones and friends last night in the Colorado massacre during the screening of the latest Batman movie.
I’m sure that many editorials will spill out about the levels of violence in the media. There will also be articles crying for gun control. I’d like to talk instead about the purpose of art. Film makers claim to be making art. This also allows us to examine film from the point of view of philosophy.
Three years ago, I wrote a post entitled: Is it fun to watch people die? or “On Being an Inglorious Bastard”. The post examined whether films like Inglorious Badards with their gratuitous violence and sadism were good shows to watch. I still haven’t seen the movie (I’ve never seen a Quentin Tarantino film).
That post three years ago asked the question: Why is America so obsessed with death? We’ll pay money to watch two hours of slaughter. And the Batman movies are even darker than ever. Clowns shooting each other in the head? The Joker mutilating people? This isn’t good for us! This is not good art. It is ugly. It mutilates the soul so that we cannot think rightly. Do you want to think rightly and clearly – then remove the distorted input. Bad art effects how see other human persons. We should live by the words of Saint Irenaeus about glory:
Gloria Dei vivens homo.
“Man fully alive is the glory of God.”
Good art is about man most fully alive in God.
Art produces images in the soul. Your soul is capable of being an art gallery. What kind of art do you hang there in your private gallery. The art gallery of your soul can be beautiful or it can be gruesome and pornographic.
Take a moment and examine the art gallery of your soul: Is it pure? Is it beautiful? Is it redemptive? Does it draw you close to Christ? Would others find it beautiful and inspiring.
If can choose, do not let evil images enter your soul. It’s dangerous. And please don’t let your children see them. There was a six year old and a nine year old at the midnight showing of Dark Knight in which those people were murdered, for crying out loud! What were children doing there in such a violent and gruesome movie?
The man who killed so many in the movie theatre during the Batman movie was allegedly dressed like the bad guy in the movie. This young man’s mind was, no doubt, filled with evil images. He even dressed himself up as an evil image. His soul was a gallery of terror. That is how he saw the world and he eventually transformed that fantasy world into reality.
You don’t have a to be a Philosophy major to realize that the watching the violent deaths of people (even if it is cinematic) is not good for the human soul.
So fill your soul with something beautiful. Watch a sunset. Hold a baby. Enjoy a nice meal with your family. Listen to some Gregorian chant. Decorate the art gallery of your soul with a beautiful collection. As Saint Paul commanded us:
“For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline: think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8, D-R)
If you decorate your soul with such art, it will inspire you and others to great things.
Archbishop Samuel Aquila and Bishop James Conley of the Archdiocese have released a joint statement on the shooting which can be read here.
The alleged shooter is James Eagan Holmes, a 24 year old PhD student in Neuroscience.