The theodicy of Sandy Hook and other tragedies

Mike Huckabee, said we should not be so surprised at events such as the Sandy Hook massacre when we have systematically removed God from our schools. Gay marriage in particular has been a source of blame. In 2012, pastors cited Gods anger over marriage equality as the source of hurricanes; the blind September attack on the United States embassy in Libya; and a variety of mass-shooting incidents, including the tragedy at Sandy Hook. Preview our Peace & Justice special section . You won’t find this content online, so subscribe today ! Statements like these are appalling on their face, as well they should be. Beyond that, however, their utter simplicity belies a conceptual problem that might be driving the public away from Christian life. The assumption that God uses tragedy to send a message is such poor theodicy that to routinely cite it is to invite parishioners and the public to believe religious folk just don’t understand the world in which we live. Perhaps we assert free will, the ability to choose to love, is a supreme value God chooses to protect even at the expense of destruction. Perhaps we accept the Augustinian view that evil is a corruption of God-created good, visited not on the world by God but directly by us. Perhaps even, like many Jewish scholars after the Holocaust, we adopt an “anti-theodicy,” a protest theodicy, and refuse to allow anyone or anything except God to stand blame for the suffering of the earth. Whatever course, we begin to appreciate the complexity of the problem when we refuse to accept a simple cause-and-effect relationship between a single event, even a series of events, and God’s favor or disfavor with us. Doing so is the province of myth, not spiritual growth. Graham Greene’s debut novel, Brighton Rock , is a thriller. A gang leader, Pinkie, kills a journalist and leaves a trail of crime and destruction in his path as he attempts to cover up the initial crime and protect his wife, Rose. As the novel concludes, Rose goes to confession, in part for absolution but primarily to seek an answer for this dramatic and dark turn in her life.

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