This is not the time to have a discussion about gun rights and gun control policy; that time will come in light of this tragedy, but it’s not right now.
So if this is not the time to talk about gun rights and gun control policy, what should we talk about? May I suggest that the tragedy that happened in Aurora shows us why idolatry is the real issue.
In order to have idolatry, one must have idols. What were the idols in this situation? There are four that I can see at first analysis:
Let’s look at these one at a time.
Guns…can there really be a debate that this country, more than any other country, has such a fascination with guns that one would be hard pressed to not see that for many people the equation is not God+Guns but rather God=Guns (or more precisely God’s Power=Firepower)?
Individualism…if I really wanted to go there, there is an analysis that can be made that this shooting happened at the opening screening of a Batman movie. However, this country’s dark fascination with individualism (as opposed to individuality) goes back a long way. Look at Westerns, the genre that the U.S. gave the world. From the earliest ones that made it seem as if the only civilized people were white and wore white hats and Wyatt Erp or Shane or whomever John Wayne was portraying is saving the town to modern ones where the only civilized people are white and James Bond or Jason Bourne or whomever Harrison Ford is portraying is saving the town/world/civilization, this country promotes the lone/loner to the detriment of the communal.
Militarism…in what other country would access to standard-issue military or specialized police gear (i.e. full riot gear) be as easy as accessing the basic necessities of life? In what other country is it encouraged that the answer to fear of the other is alleviated by becoming as forceful/equipped as the country’s military? And that we offer training in the use of this equipment to hobbysts?
Celebrity…this country makes celebrities out of people who do horrendously unexplainable things. We spend days trying to figure out why they did it instead of focusing on the victims of their actions. Even more than that, the country remembers their names long after the victims are forgotten.
This is why Liberal Christianity cannot die. Liberal Christianity can preach that love conquers idolatry. Liberal Christianity can preach that where true love resides there can be no idols. Liberal Christianity can preach that idols and idolatry get in the way of love. Liberal Christianity can preach that idols fail, but love never does.
I pray that Liberal Christianity preaches this loudly.