Do we need to “make sense of” Boston?

April 23, 2013

HuffPost Religion’s Twitter feed thought I would like this article by the Rev. Ian Punnett in response to the Boston Marathon bombings. I don’t.

By all means, if you’re angry at God, tell God about it! We have biblical warrant for complaining to God. Angry prayer is better than no prayer. And it reveals a much deeper faith than the false piety that says we shouldn’t bother God with these very “human” emotions. As Punnett writes, “Learning to pray through our anger, instead of around it, can heal.”

Amen to that.

I’m reminded of this scene in the great Robert Duvall movie The Apostle.

Duvall’s mother, played by June Carter Cash, explains to a neighbor: “Ever since he was a little bitty boy, sometimes he talks to the Lord and sometimes he yells at the Lord. Tonight he just happens to be  yellin’ at him.” Beautiful!

Nevertheless, I disagree with the author’s premise that something happened in Boston last Monday that we need to make sense of.

Don’t get me wrong: I want to understand what possessed these two men to do this particular evil—let’s learn from it whatever we can. If there’s something we can do that will contribute to greater safety at public events such as this one—far short of turning our country into a police state—by all means let’s do it.

But therein lies part of the “answer” to what happened last Monday. God didn’t create the world as a universal police state in which he continually intervenes to prevent human beings from doing what they freely choose. If God regularly did this, how could we human beings be free in any meaningful sense?

My point is, nothing happened last Monday that we didn’t understand perfectly well on Sunday. We shouldn’t be surprised that there’s evil in the world. Isn’t there plenty of it in our own hearts?

Be angry at God if you like, but be angrier at the sin, evil, and suffering that God sent his Son Jesus to defeat through his death and resurrection.

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