The Connecticut Governor has asked for bells to be tolled on Friday morning, 26 times for the victims at Sandy Hook school.
But this leaves out one victim: the shooter's mother. Are people trying to "punish" the mother by not memorializing her loss? And actually, 28 people died on Friday: 26 in the school, the shooter's mother and of course the shooter himself.
Last Sunday, the bell in our church tolled 28 times, an aural prayer for all the dead. This was picked up by the local news, and then apparently made the subject of conversation on a local talk-radio station, which was unhappy that the community prayed for the shooter as well as his victims.
It seems to me, though, that this prayer is essential. If you really are a Christian, then isn't it required to pray for all the dead? Isn't a tenet of the faith that God's love is infinite? If you believe in God, isn't it possible, nay, even likely, that He will take the tortured soul of the shooter, forgive, and heal him? And shouldn't you pray that He does?
On the news, we're hearing much about how the Evangelical voices like Huckabee and Dobson say that the Sandy Hook tragedy is God's "punishment" for abortion, gay marriage, or school prayer. It's a quite pathetic view of God to presume He'd slaughter innocent children because He's miffed at two gay guys tying the knot. But then, these voices are the hellfire voices, strident for punishment and supportive of the death penalty, while perversely claiming to be "pro-life". They almost never speak of mercy, nor of love.
When I go to the Episcopal Church, I am told that I am a child of God, who loves me beyond my wildest imagining. But if such a God loves me, He must also love Adam Lanza, and must weep over him as would any parent.
It seems to me that if you buy into Christianity, you don't get to choose whom God loves--or forgives. Which leads me yet again to think much of the conflict between conservative and liberal forms of Christianity is the conflict between desiring retribution, and allowing redemption.
So, will your church bell toll tomorrow morning? and how many times?