Like everyone else I've been heartsick over the shootings in Newtown last Friday -- but almost equally sickened by the obscene impulse of American public culture to think the right thing to do in a trauma is take to Facebook to reiterate our respective talking points.
I happened to spend Friday afternoon and Saturday morning in a radiology lab, subjected to CNN blasting on a huge plasma screen in the waiting room and the ghoulish coverage, none of it accurate (as ALWAYS happens, the confusion of the moment means nothing true gets reported in the first 48 hours) and yet there were the reporters with their crocodile's tears rushing to "bring you the story" by getting literally aspect of it wrong and fighting each other to be first to put a mic in front of the face of a traumatized first-grader.
Follow that with everyone spreading false stories (Morgan Freeman didn't say that; I remember the moral of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but I'll just hint that possibly incidents for which the only witnesses are deceased are not fact-based -- check Snopes before sharing; and literally for the love of God, Christians, Jesus was with those innocents in their terror, so quit posting your cheap grace posters about the shootings happening because God's not allowed in schools or how the President can't really grieve those kids because he's pro-abortion. My God! You'll make me an atheist, too, with thoughtless talk like that.)
I understand that we feel powerless in the face of evil and that gets many of us chatting nervously, that people need to talk to process, but for heavens' sake, is there no self-restraint? Can we not keep our stupider thoughts to ourselves for 3 days and let people grieve?
Talk about needing a little Christmas, right this very minute! Oppressed by these doubly gloomy thoughts -- the horror of evil amplified by the obscenely banal and self-centered response to it-- I entered Gaudete Sunday Mass unable to rejoice. The homily that Rev. Richard Kramer gave was a medicine, and with his permission I'm reproducing it here in full in case it may have a similar effect on you. It will be the next post.