After the tragedy

April 25, 1999|By Gerald L. Zelizer

WE GATHER in the churches of Littleton, Colo., as we have done previously in Oregon, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky, to express our pain, confusion and anger at the slaying and wounding of innocents by the juvenile assassins in our midst.

How can we repent so that other U.S. towns will not have to go through this nightmare again? First, confession. We must renounce the desirability and ease with which many of us embrace guns as if they were adult teddy bears.

Where do we go from here? How can we find consolation while the bodies of our youngest lie in their fresh graves?

Author Dorothee Soelle suggests that the religious question now is not, "Where does suffering come from?" but, "Where does it lead?"

It is in our reaction to these events, that we make their deaths witnesses for either God or the devil. If we continue as before, then the devil has prevailed.

If because of what has transpired we learn to look to ourselves and not God, to melt down both our guns and the smaller acts of violence between us, then the death of these children and even the warped minds of their killers become witnesses for God.

Gerald L. Zelizer, rabbi of Congregation Neve Shalom in Metuchen, N.J., wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

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