It shouldn’t bother anyone when people put words in God’s mouth; as Anne Lamott quips, you know you’ve created God in your image when he hates all the same people you do. I’m not much of a God-botherer myself, but the recent events in Colorado make me…well, they make me wonder.
The woman who shot the killer in Colorado says God guided her hand and steadied her aim. “Shoot that guy,” God said, in effect. “That one, over there.”
We can find images of an angry, bloodthirsty God in culture for as long as we’ve known Him, but I was raised with the Christian version, and for the longest time believed that He loved me, no matter what I did. Lesson No. 2 was that he also loved my enemy, a harder concept to grasp. I suspect a lot of people stop there. Once, just to needle someone who was very, very pleased with the prison beating death of Jeffrey Dahmer, I mentioned that I’d heard the Wisconsin cannibal had recently become a Christian, and so he’d be up in Heaven by now, “and the two of you can get acquainted after you arrive.” He didn’t like to hear this, but isn’t this the point of Christianity? Of having a savior? That no one is so damaged that he can’t be redeemed, even in the final days of a cursed life? It’s supposed to keep us humble, to know that no matter how much we follow the rules and polish our own halos, God loves the more wretched sinner down the hall just as much, no more and no less.
Mental illness complicates things. Everything complicates things, really, but voices in your head — there’s a complication. As for Matthew Murray, the church murderer, it’s the same old sad story:
ARVADA — Matthew Murray was asked to leave Youth With A Mission five years ago, although the reasons are murky.
The group’s Colorado leader said Monday that unspecified health problems prevented Murray from advancing beyond a training program into field work overseas.
But Murray’s roommate from that time told CNN Monday night that Murray was booted for bizarre behavior. He also said that Murray told him he heard voices.
…Werner, who now lives in Balneario Camborius, Brazil, said he occupied a bunk near Murray’s and that Murray would roll around in bed and make noises.
He asked his roommate about it, Werner said.
“He would say, ‘Don’t worry, I’m just talking to the voices.’ He’d say, ‘Don’t worry, Richard. You’re a nice guy. The voices like you.'”
Werner told CNN he instantly suspected Murray when he heard the news of Sunday’s shootings.
“I turned to my wife and I said, ‘I know who did it. It’s Matthew.’ It was so obvious.”
Here’s another thing we have to consider: That God put Matthew Murray in the world, and then put voices in his head and made him crazy and homicidal. And then he put a gun in a security guard’s hand and said, “It’s time for Matthew to die. That’s your job.” It makes you see why people believe in the devil. It’s also why people say the lord works in mysterious ways.
Well, so does the mental health support system, or lack of same. Isn’t it interesting, how often you hear that quote? “As soon as I heard, I knew exactly who did it.” Or, “Police say the suspect had told numerous acquaintances of his plan, but few believed him.”
Stories like this frequently lead to a rethinking of policy at places where it can be easily rethought and quickly changed — school systems, for example. So let it be written, so let it be done: From this day forward, all threats or implied threats of violence will be met with zero tolerance, and law enforcement will be notified. Cue the stories about little boys who held their lunchtime chicken finger as though it were a pistol and yelled bang-bang across the cafeteria table, subsequently expelled and bound over for psychiatric testing. Cut to outraged pundits rolling their eyes, pounding desks and wondering, Where is sanity? Where is common sense? Do we want to turn all our little boys into pussies? Let them play their war games — it’s genetic!
And then another one comes to school or church or work with a gun.
Am I feeling a bit cynical today? I am. I am Gregor Samsa: I have turned into a bug. The apples flung by this rotten world have embedded themselves in my exoskeleton, and are rotting there. More evidence:
Every well-informed person knows, or should know, about the toll boxing takes on the body. Images of Muhammed Ali, once one of the most graceful athletes on the world’s stage, reduced to a quaking, shuffling Parkinsonian, tend to sear themselves into the brain. Fewer know about what happens to old football players.
In my health-care news clipping, I ran across a story a few months ago, about a couple of former pro linemen now reduced, in their 50s and 60s, to sitting around in a fog, thanks to head injuries that were either ignored, misdiagnosed or improperly treated. Coaches hate head injuries, because a bruised brain doesn’t always have an outward manifestation. And so the player sitting out a concussion may look and feel just fine — may even be chomping at the bit to play. Coach figures, what’s the harm? Player may soon find out. Or find out in 20 more years.
Ashley Morris tips us off to another of these little tragedies, more high-profile than most: Earl Campbell. Remember him? Heisman trophy, 34-inch thighs (11 inches bigger than Posh Spice’s waistline, for those seeking a comparison), one of the greatest runners ever to play the game. Now 52, can’t get around without a walker, has to sleep in a recliner because of constant pain, and perhaps the cruelest blow of all: (He) has yet to see his son Tyler play a college football game at San Diego State because it’s too difficult for him to negotiate the stairs at stadiums.
Woe! Oh, woe! Let us all weep for the sake of this sad, sad world.
Someday I’m going to track a year’s worth of blog entries against the length of daylight and my menstrual cycle. I’ll bet there’s a correlation.
Which you shouldn’t draw conclusions from, incidentally. I’m just saying, we gals — we’re connected.
OK, let’s see if we can’t cheer up a bit as the day’s work commences. Let’s take a bloggage tour guaranteed to lift the spirits:
One of my favorite people in the world is of Armenian heritage. His father is a man of towering intellect and accomplishment. Other Armenians have made similar contributions to my new hometown of Detroit. Knowing all this, I’ve come to expect great things from people whose last names end in -ian.
And then there are the Kardashians. As they say in Armenia: One rotten pomegranate doesn’t spoil the whole barrel.
Taxi drivers have some cool stories to tell. This one might be the coolest ever.
Readers, I’m skipping. Enjoy your day.