Archived Story

Theater killing leaves behind many emotions

Published 11:51am Wednesday, July 25, 2012

“Spiritual seeking is the human drive to make meaning out of the fact of existence. We name what or who we perceive as ‘God.’ By creating holiness/wholeness in life, we reveal the face of God.”

—Rabbi Meryl M. Crean

A movie theater is usually seen as a safe place. Violence and disregard of our common humanity may be seen on the screen. Current movies have plenty of scenes depicting the “dark side” of persons. But we don’t expect that “dark side” to erupt, to wound and kill comfortably-seated movie goers. We could never anticipate that which is depicted, the invented, storied “reality” on the screen, to be a part of the screams, bloodshed, fear, and anguish of peace-loving persons.

Some of us, in an early morning TV viewing of “Morning Joe,” were jarred far beyond a slow awakening from our first few minutes out of bed. “Awful, tragic, what — no — not again! — how can it be? — what possesses some people?” and on and on goes our internal conversation.

Out of this shooting, this destruction of life, this horrible creation of mayhem, with accompanying emotional trepidation, one is placed in an end-of-the-world scenario.

Certainly deep questions cry out for an answer. We are reminded: This is part of the world we live in. Persons of religious persuasion, members of various churches, mosques, and synagogues, share sacred values of persevering, safeguarding and sustaining all life, especially human life. There is a unity that binds spiritual persons together.

Again, there is, I believe, wide agreement that justice be administered in situations where behavior brings ruin, violation, hurt, disruption, and woundedness to persons, nations and institutions. The proper authorities will deal with the alleged perpetrators of horrific criminal acts of the kind experienced in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater.

Overall, we know that most persons are on the side of virtue and the good! Now the thousand acts of kindness, mercy, and medical and financial assistance will be provided by a vast majority of persons.

In a book by Ellen T. Charry, “God and the Art of Happiness,” encouragement is given to persons of empathy, conviction, and tenderness toward others. I believe we desire to encourage persons, groups, and institutions to lean into and embrace the nobility of life. While possessing a clear-eyed recognition of how people can hurt, even destroy others, we can be lifted to levels of life beyond damage. The journey is not for the faint of heart; the task is for those who affirm hope. For me, it is the challenge to see, in the deep places of spirituality, resources that can be embraced to enable wounds to be healed.

Writing as a Christian, the aforementioned Dr. Charry, who teaches at Princeton University, has written: “Scripture offers guidance as long as the virtues, values, and patterns of behavior that it forwards are internalized in order to bloom in various parts of our garden. In this way, each garden will yield pleasure, and God will partake of that beauty and pleasure. What we have are the seeds, bulbs, saplings, shrubs, and bushes to plant, the tilled and fertilized soil to plant them in, the spade, trowel, rake, and hose to plant them with, and the know-how to water, weed, and feed them tenderly.”

—Marv Repinski is a retired Methodist minister and an adjunct professor at Riverland Community College in Austin.

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