It would be easy for me to raise the issue of gun control in America at this time, but I will not. I could make the point that the horrific event that took place in Las Vegas on Sunday night was not carried out by anyone from the countries we have identified in the various proposed travel bans, but I will not do that. I find it tempting to write that no one from Mexico or any other Spanish speaking person who has been identified as an illegal immigrant was involved in the unimaginably evil event, but I will not make that case. I could justify reminding everyone that no athlete who takes a knee in the hope that America might recognize and work to correct its history of racial injustice participated in the terrifying moments across from the Mandalay Hotel and resort, but I will not do that.

I will not attempt to do any of the things I have mentioned because 59 people were murdered Sunday night and over 500 were wounded or injured in an attempt to flee the carnage, and they deserve to be honored without being used for any other agenda. It is hard to conceive that any human being could get to the point where the slaughter of innocent fellow human beings isjustifiable. We may never know the reasons for this act of insanity but the demonic death in the desert will go down as one of the most heinous crimes against humanity in recent American history. The ancient writers of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament often saw the desert as the place where demonic spirits roamed. On Sunday night it seemed that those spirits once again roamed freely in the desert. As numerous attempts will be made to make sense out of that which is senseless, I want to add a word of caution, along with my deep sorrow, for those families whose lives have been forever changed by this tragedy. That word of caution is, please do not accept the events of Sunday night as “the new normal.” Despite Charleston and Aurora, Sandy Hook and the Pulse Night Club, Columbine and now Las Vegas, Chicago and the deaths from violence that make the news almost every day, we dare not accept this insanity as normal. To accept these tragedies and the pain they create as “normal” is to become desensitized to human suffering and to conclude these horrific deaths are acceptable. To see those demonic displays as customary leads us to forget them as soon as the current news cycle ends. We then would lose our resolve to end the carnage. At that point, we normalize the madness and all its insanity. To accept the killings as normal is to devalue human life and to expect the deaths to continue unabated because we have lost faith in the human community to rise above its lowest level of existence. The writer of Psalm 8 wrote, “What is man [human beings] that You are mindful of him…You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (NIV). What occurred on Sunday night was the demonic being set free in the desert. It is not normal and must not be accepted as such. The normal is the amazing response of civilians and first responders who tried to help save the lives of the wounded and the injured. Normal is the effort of people to get other people to hospitals in vehicles, sometimes not theirs and without permission. Normal is the lifesaving work of medical personnel who in the midst of chaos and their own horror, used their God-given talents and skills to save lives. Normal is the grief, the pain, the anger, the dismay and the fear we feel because of the abnormal nature of Sunday. Normal is the joy of being with friends and strangers who together celebrate the gift of music. That is normal, not the demonic death that occurred in the desert.

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