Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech by Dr. Larry Taylor

The following post is cut and pasted to my blog in it's entirety from Dr. Larry Taylor's blog. Dr. Taylor is a man with incredible biblical insight, godly wisdom, and ministerial experience. Take the time to read his thoughts. You'll sound alot smarter afterward.

Obviously, what’s on all our hearts and minds are the mass killings at Virginia Tech on Monday. What can be said? My heart breaks for the moms, dads, sisters, brothers, and loved ones of those who perished. I know how they feel. Elliott would have turned 36 on Sunday, April 22, but took his own life just before he turned 15. All of their deaths were senseless and altogether tragic, but some touched me personally.

Harry Smith interviewed a surviving VT senior named Garrett Evans who is alive because three classmates barred the door so the shooter could not reenter the room. Obviously a Christian, Garrett said from his hospital bed that healing starts with forgiveness and he has forgiven the killer. His only regret was not having known Cho Seung Hui previously so that he could have reached out to him.

Austin Cloyd, a 19-year-old freshman whose dad is on the faculty of VT, is the niece of a pastor who sells hard to find theology books to people like me. She and her family are devout Christians.

Kevin Granata was an engineering professor and one of the foremost researchers in neurological control, doing research with the potential to help those with spinal chord injuries.

20-year-old Lauren McCain listed Jesus Christ as the love of her life on her MySpace.

And of course, I’m deeply touched by 76-year-old holocaust survivor Liviu Librescu who held back the gunman so students could escape.

Contrary to most, I also feel sorry for Cho Seung Hui, who was so obviously psychotic, and even sorrier for his parents whose lives are ruined now that Fox News has publicized where they live and what business they own. Can you imagine having a child who did such a thing?

This tragedy also reminded me that double those numbers of people die in violent murders in Boston every year, and the same can be said for all major US cities. That’s not to minimize the horror at VT, but to increase our awareness of the violent society in which we live.

I’m sitting here writing to you wearing my thrift-store “Jesus was homeless” shirt printed by The Simple Way Christian community – a group of devout believers seeking to live as radical followers of Jesus among the poorest of the poor in an essentially abandoned neighborhood in Philadelphia. If you haven’t yet, please read Shane Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution, which is the story of The Simple Way thus far. It is changing my life.

I’ve had a deeply seated social conscious since coming of age in Baltimore in the times of the civil rights movement, the Viet Nam War, King’s assassination, and subsequent riots. A socially aware teacher in high school got us involved tutoring inner city kids and volunteering to help families in the projects. Now, that social conscious is being stirred up and I long to live life differently – to be more communal, more in touch with the poor, more socially active in the causes that promote justice and peace, in short, to be more like Jesus and live differently, radically differently, from the world.

In his book, Shane Claiborne relates that most people can tell you something about what Christians believe, but nothing about how we live because we live like everyone else. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to find my vocation for this season of my life and live it to the fullest.

C. S. Lewis spent all of the income he made from the publication of his popular Christian books on the care of widows, and had several move in with him so he could personally care for their needs.

Henri Nouwen left a prestigious professorship at Harvard to move to Canada and live in a home for severely damaged adults who needed full time care.

I read of a convicted child molester whose name and address were publicized, ostracized by the community, being invited into a Christian couple’s home for dinner where they treated him like a human being, befriended him, and eventually wound up with a weekly Bible study mostly attended by adjudicated child abusers.

I have a friend whose granddaughter has a form of autism, who, in spite of her inability to connect socially has been accepted at Berea College in Kentucky, which has a particular Christian self-understanding that makes it stand apart from most other schools that call themselves “Christian.” Berea College’s founder argued that the Christian gospel could be described best by the phrase “impartial love” that welcomed students and staff from “every clime and every nation” to study and to work together. The College was founded prior to the Civil War in the 1850s as an abolitionist college that welcomed black and white men and women students in a day when such equality was not supported in most Christian communities. Berea College is rooted in a Christian spirituality that is egalitarian, socially provocative, and focused on serving poor and struggling students. They have dormitories that are economically friendly and use renewable resources, and own businesses in town where students (most of whom are quite poor) work, earn their way, and learn job skills.

I want to live like Mother Theresa, Shane Claiborne, Henri Nouwen, or C. S. Lewis and be a part of a community as they are/were. As believers, we belong to another Kingdom and our allegiance is to another King. I don’t know that the sociological solutions are to violence in our culture – less graphic violence in video games and movies and TV shows, gun control legislation to prevent guns from getting into the hands of psychotic people, safer campuses with less openness – all the suggestions have some merit; but for us as believers, the solution is to live like we belong to Christ, to follow the Sermon on the Mount, to be peacemakers, forgivers, those who turn the other cheek, go the second mile, respond to evil with love, and if necessary, sacrifice our lives rather than sink to the violent level of those around us. When we were hippies, we put flowers into the muzzles of National Guardsmen’s rifles. It’s time for some more flowers.

HT: Larry Taylor

For more on this topic, read the posts from two of my fave bloggers, Carlos Whittaker and Anne Jackson.

I can think of one guy that's glad to have his name out of the news...


Unknown said...

Thanks Bryon for sharing that. For those of us close to the event it has been difficult to remember this week that others are in pain too.

We all so appreciate the outpouring of love that has come to our community. And, as the pain fades and hope triumphs it is time to take that love and pass it on.

God is good.

Anonymous said...

That's a great piece, Bryon, thanks.

My dad was mentally ill and threatened my mom with killing all of us. That's when she left him. As far as I know, for all of the years that they were married, he received treatment only when he was hospitalized in a crisis.

I know it's a major challenge to treat people who deny that they are ill and do not seek out the treatment that they need, or even take medications when those are prescribed. But it really is sad when someone never comes close to living the life God intended, because they need care and treatment that they do not get. I'm sorry for Cho, grieve for those who were killed and those who survive, and get angry with the media who are so blinking insensitive to the families of people like Cho. I hope they go somewhere where they can grieve and eventually--please God!--make some peace with what has occurred.