Waiting for the 'why' shoe to drop

hands in prayerYou're waiting. You've been out there clicking from site to site, because you know that the 24/7 cable-news channels are trapped in old-video-loop hell. You're looking for new information, but you are also waiting.

You're waiting for the shoe to drop. You know which shoe I am talking about -- the religion shoe.

If you're a journalist or an expert news consumer, you know that many on the left are going to preach about guns, while looking for television lights. You know that many on the right are going to defend current gun laws and call for stricter enforcement, while urgently trying to avoid television lights.

You know that, here inside the Beltway, there are people who are so into politics that they are sitting, remote controls in their hands, waiting to grade the candidates. Will Hillary Clinton look chilly? Will Barack Obama get the tone just right, with the right mixture of Scripture and concern? Will some Republican manage to look both pastoral and presidential? Will speechwriter Michael Gerson to come out of retirement?

You've seen the photos of mourners in church pews, believers offering comfort and seeking solace. You know that people will pray and pray and that journalists will aim cameras at them, because, you that's what people in the Bible Belt do. They pray. People down in the southwest Virginia put Scriptures on big signs next to their highways and build huge crosses next to the Interstate. It's a good photo, but it's just prayer. Right?

You know the pope will say something and that -- no matter what he says about the mysteries of life and death -- it will show up in the news as a rather naive cry for world peace and for an end to violence. What was the name of that rabbi who wrote that old book, you know, When Bad Things Happen to Good People? Is he still alive? Can we get him on the air?

No, you're waiting for the real religion angle to surface, the sexy one linked to violence and craziness. Religion seems to show up in every other major story these days.

Isn't Jerry Falwell somewhere up the valley off Interstate 81? Maybe he'll come to the campus and talk about jealousy, broken hearts and the sexual revolution. But probably not. He knows too much about campus life.

Or maybe Pat Robertson will say -- something. Who knows what he'll say.

Perhaps the atheist version of Robertson will call a press conference somewhere and say that this tragedy is more evidence that life is random and without purpose. Reporters need an atheist version of Robertson.

You're waiting to find out what video game the shooter played, all hours of the day and night. Did he go to see 300 one too many times? Was he driven crazy by Satan or too many "Left Behind" novels? People on both sides of the Culture Wars want to know.

You're waiting to see if he killed more women than men. You want to know if the big massacre started in the classroom of an evangelical professor who once witnessed to the shooter and made him mad.

You heard reporters say the shooter was Asian and you immediately thought: Asia? What part of Asia?

04a prayer candles 01You're waiting for something that points toward the source of this evil. You want to know a source, don't you? And if you covered the Columbine High School massacre, you may be thinking of that column that Peggy Noonan bashed out in the hours just after that hellish day, while the cable television channels were in old-video-loop hell. She wrote:

Think of it this way. Your child is an intelligent little fish. He swims in deep water. Waves of sound and sight, of thought and fact, come invisibly through that water, like radar; they go through him again and again, from this direction and that. The sound from the television is a wave, and the sound from the radio; the headlines on the newsstand, on the magazines, on the ad on the bus as it whizzes by--all are waves. The fish -- your child -- is bombarded and barely knows it. But the waves contain words like this, which I'll limit to only one source, the news:

. . . was found strangled and is believed to have been sexually molested . . . had her breast implants removed . . . took the stand to say the killer was smiling the day the show aired . . . said the procedure is, in fact, legal infanticide . . . is thought to be connected to earlier sexual activity among teens . . . court battle over who owns the frozen sperm . . . contains songs that call for dominating and even imprisoning women . . . died of lethal injection . . . had threatened to kill her children . . . said that he turned and said, "You better put some ice on that" . . . had asked Kevorkian for help in killing himself . . . protested the game, which they said has gone beyond violence to sadism . . . showed no remorse . . . which is about a wager over whether he could sleep with another student . . . which is about her attempts to balance three lovers and a watchful fiance . . .

This is the ocean in which our children swim. This is the sound of our culture. It comes from all parts of our culture and reaches all parts of our culture, and all the people in it, which is everybody...

You're waiting. You want to know the "why" in "who, what, when, where, why and how."

I know that I do.

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