Thursday, April 19, 2007

More Va. Tech thoughts

In many of the reports and discussions about the tragedy at Virginia Tech, people have talked about how 32 students were killed, leaving out the 33rd - the gunman. The Rev. Ken Irby, pastor of Broadmoor United Methodist Church (and a very good writer), addressed that possibly touchy subject in his pastor's column this week. He referred to a memorial where a bell tolled only 32 times:

But does someone need to ring 33? Maybe a church somewhere. Anger toward this man is understandable.

It is incomprehensible, what he did and why he would do it. All the wasted life makes me sad and mad and very confused. But somewhere, is there a bell for his wasted life? A life lost to what — mental illness, depression, rage, antisocial behavior?

Many labels will be offered. None, in the end, will fully explain. But in the midst of all this loss, his was another wasted life.

If somebody doesn’t ring 33 bells, I’m afraid it will be one more way we ignore the need around us. If somebody doesn’t ring 33 bells, it sends the message that not all human life is sacred, which must be some of the thinking that would lead someone to so easily kill. If somebody doesn’t ring 33 bells, can we ever fully grieve the other 32?

My faith tells me that at least one place, 33 bells were rung. Surely God grieves the loss of every one of God’s children.

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