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Tragedy and Religion

April 17, 2007

All day yesterday, and likely through the next week or so my mind has been dominated by thoughts of the tragedy occurred at Virginia Tech. I think about the students and faculty that have been wounded and killed, about the families and friends of the victims, and about the killer. It’s completely senseless and horrific, and will remain so even after we get the explanation of how it happened. We’ll never know why, and there will never be a satisfactory explanation of events like this. I think of the terror and loss and I feel hollow. It’s just too much.

A lot of people will turn to god to find comfort, or will explain it away as part of his unknowable plan. To me, this is unhelpful and vaguely insulting. This tragedy happened to people and that is where comfort should be sought. To say that is is part of god’s unknowable plan is to say that it is ultimately good that it happened, and shows an effort to dismiss what happened, rather than come to terms with it.

As an alternative to seeking comfort in prayer, I offer this: instead, hold your wives or husbands, play with your kids, talk to family and friends that can respond, sympathize, and feel. You may find that better comfort can be had in someone right in front of you, who may be sharing you fears and grief.

My thoughts are with the friends and families of the victims. May they find solace and strength in those that are with them.

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