Like everyone else, we here at Obit are still reeling over the mass shooting Sutherland Springs, Texas. What prompts someone to set out and destroy lives? Like the perpetrator of last month’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, the man behind yesterday’s tragedy, Devin Patrick Kelly, killed himself before he anyone could ask why. But there’s a woman in South Dakota who might be able to piece things together. She’s Dr. Anne Kelly (no relation), a trained psychological autopsy investigator. In a profile from the West Fargo Pioneer, she explains her job: to reconstruct the mental state of someone who died by suicide. “You are going to places that can be very uncomfortable,” she tells them. “There is a role of empathic involvement where you put yourself in that position.”
There may be no right way to confront the tragedy of mass shootings, but we think we found a wrong way: claim that the shooter was “answering the prayers” of the congregants of First Baptist Church when he killed them. The the argument Hans Fiene, a Lutheran minister, of all things, makes over the Federalist. The shooter, he writes,”only succeeded in being the means through which God delivered his children from this evil world into an eternity of righteousness and peace.” While we would never claim to know what is in anyone’s hearts, we’re pretty sure that when the victims were praying for God to deliver them from evil, this wasn’t what they had in mind.
Over at CNN, Ed Stetzer, who holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, takes a much less tendentious approach to the tragedy. He writes that while it is impossible to know why such tragedies happen, as Christians people make “a commitment to follow Christ, that commitment included sacrificing all and following Him even unto death.” And while the victims in Sutherland Springs ” died doing what they and we believe is the most important thing,” their lives were still cut short. To gain some perspective, he talked to Pastor Kevin Cornelius of the First Baptist Church in nearby Karnes City, Texas, who told him “we don’t have a plan, but we have a community. We don’t have answers but we have grace and peace. We don’t understand, but we’re present. Our hearts are breaking, but we have hope and we’re giving it away as quick as we can.”