Dark Knight Rises Shooting

Written By:

July 20, 2012

So it’s thirteen years later, and the emotions are the same.

I woke up this morning to a text from my mother informing me that 12 people have been killed, and 38 injured, in a shooting at a Denver area movie theatre during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, the finale of the latest Batman movie trilogy.

I’m still trying to process everything, but as a Colorado native, I can tell you that the raw, gut-feeling that I have is exactly as it was in 1999, when I learned of the shooting at Columbine High School, also in the Denver area.

The parallels between the shootings are eerie.  Both involve shooters with multiple guns in trench coats walking through the crowd, picking off victims at random without emotion.  Both have movie-related connections.  And I fear that the reaction from Christians will be the same as well.

In the wake of the horrific shooting at Columbine that resulted in 14 deaths and dozens of injuries, Christians all across the country jumped on the opportunity to blame society and Hollywood for the demise of culture.  They pointed out the similarities of scenes in movies like The Basketball Diaries and The Matrix, and the constant barrage of first-person shooter games like Doom, and proudly declared that the problem was that our culture had become so corrupt and obsessed with evil, that something like Columbine was inevitable.

We took some solace in stories of victims like Cassie Bernal and Rachel Scott, who stood strong in the face of the shooters who sought them out simply because of their faith in God.  We celebrated these martyrs for their boldness, as we should have.  But we missed the bigger point.

The problem was not society and culture.  The problem was us.

And so now I sit in a hotel lobby in Flagstaff, Arizona, preparing myself for what I’m sure will be a countless parade on TV, radio, and print, of Christian pundits all wagging their fingers at a world that is dark and hopeless and obsessed with death and destruction, and completely missing the point.

The terrifying shooting in Denver last night is not the fault of Hollywood; it’s not the fault of society; it’s not the fault of a world walking further and further away from the Truth.

The shooting in Denver yesterday is the fault of the Church.

Yes, the world is getting darker.  The movies out of Hollywood are getting more and more violent.  Society is becoming more and more obsessed with evil.  But these facts are not the problem; they are only the symptoms.  When we see the world getting darker and darker, we have to wonder where the light has gone.

Better to light a candle, than curse the darkness. – Chinese Proverb

Jesus told His followers how they were to impact the world:

You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. – Matthew 5:14-15

The world is darker, because the light is not shining.  Those of us who claim to be disciples of Jesus, must understand that the light is absent because our influence is absent.  At best, we are hiding our light.  We have thrown up our hands and said, “There’s nothing we can do about.”  And let’s be honest enough to call this attitude what it is: sin.

Let me be clear: being light does not mean complaining about the darkness.  It means showing Jesus to a world that desperately needs Him.  We must be different.  We must demonstrate to the world that there is another way.  We must show the world that there is light.  The world is searching for it.

Instead of looking at the world and shaking our heads, what if we had the guts to admit that we are largely responsible?  What if we fell on our faces before our Savior who has left us in the world to shine His light, and asked forgiveness for our failure to make the world a better place?

When the world gets darker, the reasonable person understands that darkness is not the problem, but rather the absence of light.  You don’t sit in a room yelling and cursing because it keeps getting darker; you walk over and turn on the light.

So again, out of death and destruction, the Church has an opportunity to “turn on the light.”  We can repent of our failures and shortcomings, and seek to live lives that show a different path; a path of life; of hope; of a future.  Or we can do what we did thirteen years ago, shirk our responsibility, and wag our fingers at a world consumed by darkness.

Out of darkness, the Light of Jesus can shine forth.

But it’s up to us.

 

Photo credit: http://www.mirror.co.uk/

  • KevinMiller1

    By this logic the Roman Crucifixions in the 1st, 2nd & 3rd centuries were also the fault of the church failing to “shine the light.”    This shooting was the fault of the gunman and his choice to walk in darkness.   Was Jesus at fault for Judas’ betrayal because he didn’t sufficiently shine the Light?   No…”The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”  – John 1:5
     

    • davidsjesse

       @KevinMiller1 Is the Church influencing society for the better?  Or is it burying it’s head in the sand?
       

      • KevinMiller1

         @davidsjesse
         Yes to both.  You’re questions are very, very broad, which makes a simple answer insufficient.   I do appreciate your desire to discuss and encourage the Church to more zealously influence society, but I think you’re way off base to assume that because there is darkness in the world, the Church is to blame.   Is the Church to blame for every murder, every heinous act, every abortion, lie, etc?  Clearly not.   Whenever there is ANY light in the world, it is only the result of the Light (Jesus) coming in to the world and working through the Church.  

        • davidsjesse

           @KevinMiller1 ”Whenever there is ANY light in the world, it is only the result of the Light (Jesus) coming in to the world and working through the Church.”
           
          Wouldn’t the converse of that be true?  If there is darkness, could it not be possible that this is the result of a Church that has not allowed the Light to shine through them?

        • KevinMiller1

           @davidsjesseWhich came first, the chicken or the egg!  :-)  Now we’re basically debating the origin of sin & darkness.   Did God not sufficiently illuminate the world, therefore He’s the author of sin? 
           

        • BryanGormley

          @davidsjesse @KevinMiller1

          This quote from the late John Stott is quite incisive on the subject of the church’s responsibility to be a positive influence in society. Although I wouldn’t say the church is responsible for sin, we can’t just idly complain and do nothing.

          http://reflectionsintheword.org/2011/10/04/where-is-the-church/

          Also, to quote a line from singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn, “no adult of sound mind can be an innocent bystander”.

          Great conversation and will always be relevant until Christ appears and makes everything new.

  • KevinMiller1

    I apologize if my comment sounds harsh, but I couldn’t disagree much more with your conclusion that the Church bears ANY blame in this situation.   If your point is to question the Church and their reaction to such tragedies, I would agree that it is often problematic.   
     

    • davidsjesse

       @KevinMiller1 You’re comments are valued.  This is a discussion the Church needs to have.  But the example you used is one of persecution against those who ARE being light to a dark world.  That’s not the same scenario as this.  This is about a world getting darker and darker, and Christians just accepting it as an inevitable fact, rather than shining a light into the world.
       

      • KevinMiller1

         @davidsjesse    Again, my criticism is of the notion that the Church is to blame for the killing.   I agree the Church should be shining the light and working to dispel the darkness, but it’s a huge leap to say that the Church is to blame for specific acts of darkness.  Scripture is full of verses which encourage us to endure and expect persecution, which is the result of darkeness.  Only when Christ returns will earth be completely rid of darkeness.  “…be happy as you share Christ’s sufferings. Then you will also be full of joy when he appears again in his glory.”  1 Peter 4:13  If your argument was that the Church bears some responsibility for the advance of darkness in society, then I’d agree with you.   Specific responsibility demands a much higher burden of proof.  
         
         

  • KevinMiller1

    I still think John 1: 5 is the key verse …”The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”     Can you support with scripture the position that if darkness advances, it’s the fault of the light?  

  • KevinMiller1

    “Let me be clear: being light does not mean complaining about the darkness.  It means showing Jesus to a world that desperately needs Him.  We must be different.  We must demonstrate to the world that there is another way.  We must show the world that there is light….”     AMEN! 
     

  • davidsjesse

    If you want to see the future of America if the Church FAILS to repent and begin to “turn on the Light”, read this article by Dr. Michael Brown:
    http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelbrown/2012/07/20/the_precipitous_decline_of_christian_england

  • OrganicChrist12

    You’re kidding, right?  The shooting is the fault of The Church?  Maybe your local church, but not the fault of my Master’s Bride.
     
    Have a care.  Tread lightly when seeking to criticize that which belongs to Jesus.
     
    Your local denominational doctrine-laden “church” is probably screwing the pooch and dropping the ball when it comes to making sure you get your pews filled, but seriously, back off of The Church.
     
    When girls are raped by their fathers, do you say it is The Church’s fault?  When babies are torn from the wombs of their mothers in the name of convenience, do you say it is The Church’s fault?
     
    Tread lightly, son of man.  You libel The King with such jackassery as this.

    • Evan Dawson

      Tread lightly? Or what?I for one take full responsibility, as part of the Body of Christ, the “Church,” when darkness is allowed to rule and reign here on Earth. We have authority and I know I could be doing more- reaching out to others- pointing them to the One who rescued me from a future just as dim as the one Mr. Holmes is currently facing.

      • OrganicChrist12

         @Evan Dawson Mr. Dawson, would you then bear the responsibility for not reaching out to James Holmes?  If indeed we are all responsible for his madness and evil, then surely you would accept this.  I, however, will not allow such a statement and charge to go unchallenged.  We are merely animated dust given life through the breath of God our Father, and evil will happen daily, with or without our reaching out to stop it.  James Homes is not the specific responsibility of Jesus.  Not for His Church.  His Church did not fail.
         
        To insinuate otherwise is dangerous territory, even if done in the spirit of admonition, or to prompt conversation.  He was Holy before He was Love.  We would all do well to remember our places.
         
        BTW, I see you are a father now.  Congrats, albeit a late one!  :)

        • Evan Dawson

          Donald,First of all, thanks for the congrats. She is almost one year old! Hard to believe.
           
          Second, this discussion could go many different directions at this point. Not sure I’m up for a theological debate at the moment, but here goes. Yes we’re dust, but we weren’t created with “madness and evil.” We, the human race, screwed up. We allowed evil into our lives in the garden, and are still seeing the reprocussions Iie. the theater shooting). Christ came to redeem mankind, but He obviously leaves us here for a reason; I believe to reach out to men like James. As I’m typing this, I see you’ve replied again. This all may have to be put on hold since I’m about to have lunch with extenmded family.Again, glad you’re still kicking (hope the imposter got bored and gave up, btw).

        • Evan Dawson

          ps- sorry for the typos. Not used to the machine I’m on.

        • OrganicChrist12

           @Evan Dawson Yes, he did get bored and gave up.  For now, anyways.  Since I am back in the saddle, so to speak, I’m sure he’ll come lurking around.  Like a dog that returns to his vomit.
           
          Enjoy the time with family!  I will be checking back periodically to see if you have replied, of course.  I also noticed that TOM has undergone some cosmetic changes.  I like what you’ve done with the place since the last time that my electric shadow darkened the door frame of this house.

        • davidsjesse

           @OrganicChrist12  @Evan Dawson Perhaps an in depth personal study on what “discipleship” is would be beneficial.  We are the BODY of Christ on earth.  Jesus lived in a way that impacted everything and everyone around Him.  His disciples followed this example and “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17).  There’s not much of that happening in America today.  The “were just dust” attitude is an excuse for being less than God intended us to be.  The power that raised Christ from the dead dwells within us.  It’s time we stop making excuses and start being the Body again.

        • OrganicChrist12

           @davidsjesse  @Evan Dawson Perhaps you should do a study on what The Church is and Who its Head is before you lay blame on Her.  For you to say The Church has failed is to insinuate that Christ is failing in building Her.
           
          If your post was meant as a call to energize or inspire nominal Christians to do or be better, then so be it.  Leave The Church out of it.
           
          As to implying I am okay with ‘being less than my Father intended me to be’, wow.  Spoken like a convert and not a son.

        • Evan Dawson

           @OrganicChrist12  I’ve decided to leave this one alone. Not seeing anything beneficial going forward with this particular thread. Feel free to e-mail me if you’d like to discuss further.

        • OrganicChrist12

           @Evan Dawson Evan, my brother, I simply would ask that anyone reading, if possible, to give me The Scripture that says I am to blame for the evil that men do.  That’s all.  For if indeed it is to be found, and it is in The Scriptures, then I would be grateful for this would propel me further in my covenantal relationship with God my Father.
           
          However.
           
          If it cannot be found, or even vaguely alluded to, then David Jesse, our brother, needs to come clean about it.  Unless he was speaking prophetically about The Church being to blame, then he spoke unwisely and in doing so, flirted dangerously with the Holiness of God.
           
          That’s all.  Seriously!  You are an evangelist, to be sure.  I am not.  I am a prophet.  We see things differently, but neither of us has the one perfect way.  These are equipping gifts.  Enlighten me, if you can, Evan!  I would be grateful, to be sure!
           
          In The Spirit of sonship,
          Donald

        • Evan Dawson

           @OrganicChrist12 There is much more to this conversation than simply giving you a verse from Scripture. Again, I’d be willing to continue this via e-mail (and ultimately over coffee someday): islandminister@gmail.com

        • OrganicChrist12

           @Evan Dawson Email sent.  Save your coffee.  I’m a Pepsi guy.  Ha!
           
          It was refreshing to talk with you again, Evan.  Many things seem to have changed for both of us.

      • OrganicChrist12

         @Evan Dawson Mr. Dawson, Sorry, forgot to add:
         
        Where in The Scriptures does it say or are we taught that we, as The Church, are responsible for the evil that men do?  Where is it taught that we, as The Church, are to be held accountable for the evil that men do?
         
        As a prophet, words matter to me.  The Scriptures matter to me.  If I have missed that particular teaching, please let me know.  Abel snidely said to our Father, “What?  Am I my brother’s keeper?”  I would ask the same of you, but without the snideness part.  Was James Holmes a covenant brother of ours?  Was he under the covenant of adoptive sonship through Christ?  Was he family, or was he just The World?  At what point do any of us in Christ bear the responsibility/accountability to The World from our Father?
         
        Thanks for this dialogue.  I appreciate your candor.

  • davidsjesse

    For anyone willing to reasonably consider in greater detail the thoughts above, please check out this link to my personal blog, where I address some of the reasonable criticism: http://davidsjesse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/where-is-the-light-a-response-to-the-critics/