Sunday, August 04, 2019

The Sin Problem

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For what it's worth, I am all about thoughts and prayers; prayers, especially. Thoughts are fine, although they're shared among people of goodwill from all kinds of spiritual and non-spiritual traditions. So I really like prayers because they're a uniquely spiritual contribution in which Christians (among others) can and should fully participate. The problem, of course, is that people of goodwill rightly like to see actions in addition to the thoughts and prayers ("faith without works is dead," the New Testament famously proclaims), and the actions have been sadly missing. Again and again and again, times 251 in the U.S. during 2019, times 2,191 in the U.S. since Newtown in December 2012. In comparison, Mexico, the closest "competitor" to the U.S., has seen three mass shootings in 2019.

What else can possibly be said that hasn't already been said, again and again and again, times 2,191 and counting? When people are face-to-face with hard truths that are right in front of their faces but which they would rather not acknowledge, they trot out all kinds of rationalizations. Christians are particularly adept at blaming the crowds of people being mowed down by automatic weapons on "the sin problem." That is, it is the wickedness in the hearts of humans that causes these tragedies. The secular version of this dodge blames some combination of mental illness, video games, and cultural isolation and loneliness, particularly among young white men, who invariably seem to be the ones pulling the triggers. Add in a soupcon of racial animus whipped up by a bigoted administration, and there you have it.

While I wouldn't completely discount any of these factors, I do have some issues with "the sin problem" explanation, since the U.S., a devoutly Christian nation (just listen to our politicians if you don't believe me) seems to sin at a rate roughly 84 times as much as the nearest sinful nation, and I would submit that this is not good PR for the brand. It is even more puzzling when the U.S. mass shooting statistics are compared against those of, say, Denmark and Sweden, notoriously democratic socialist nations that have experienced zero mass shootings in 2019.

I am not callous about any of this. This day, like many before it, has been one where I've felt like weeping and gnashing my teeth, to put it in biblical terms. I've done one of the two; my teeth are still in decent shape. But I am at the end of my endurance; sickened, and expecting precisely nothing to happen. It's a sin problem, after all. What can you do? It's baked in. Oh well. Thoughts and prayers.

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