Can there be no greater horrific irony, than someone shooting up the one place that stands for solace, comfort and forgiveness?
The evil-inspired act of Matthew Murray will be remembered for its lashing against Christians. I won't go as far to say that 24-year-old Murray was lashing out at Christianity; for if he was, it wasn't the Christianity that a lowly Nazarene ushered into this world 2,000 years ago, and whose birth is now being celebrated.
In a 12-hour span, Murray killed four people at two New Life Church facilities in Colorado. The first attack took place at "Youth with a Mission" (YWAM), a training center for missionaries in Arvada, a Denver suburb. Murray had been thrown out of the school five years before and had been sending hate mail. The second attack took place at the church itself in Colorado Springs. Murray was brought down with shots fired by security guard Jeanne Assam. Murray then inflicted the fatal shot to himself.
In a Web site rant, Murray said he hated Christians and that they were the "cause of all the problems of the world." Such an irrational diatribe doesn't even deserve debate, but I will say that Christians have not had a spotless record and certainly neither has Muslims, Jews or atheists.
Non-religious people like to say that religion is the cause of so much strife in the world — that it's fanaticism that inspires senseless murder and mayhem. For some people, Murray's criminalization of Christians is on some level justified.
My answer to those who would point to religion as the big bad guy of the world, has, and always will be, is that “religion” is the proverbial red herring. It's the big wall hiding an even bigger fortress. What is driving the senseless acts is sin — or putting it in more secular terms, people behaving badly and justifying their actions for the cause of self-preservation. It's a condition common to all religions and all belief systems. It is a cancer that we are all born with.
What Matthew Murray is guilty of is the worst of the deadly sins: "wrath." The other "deadlies" are mere pathways to wrath. All of the other six — lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy and pride — in their lesser forms can be hidden from the rest of the world, and from yourself. But wrath, by its very nature, is meant to cause harm to the people around and to the perpetrator.
Your lust can exist only in your mind. No one else need know. Gluttony can be hidden under the guise of a healthy appetite. Sloth, can be camouflaged by simply being a person who takes time to "stop and smell the roses." Envy is one of those that is embarrassing to even admit to because it shows utter weakness and lack of confidence. Pride, in this success-oriented culture, can be seen as a positive trait.
But wrath rears a very deliberate level of anger that cannot be controlled or placated. The word wrath comes from the same word as "wraith," an old English or Scottish word, meaning a ghostly apparition signaling imminent death. And there's a very apt analogy that Dr. Tim Keller talks about concerning J.R.R. Tolkien's "Ringwraiths" in "The Lord of the Rings."
The Ringwraiths, or Black Riders, Dark Riders, Nine Riders or just The Nine, "are nine human kings who have succumbed through greed to "Evil's" power and attained immortality as wraiths bound to the power of the One Ring as servants of the Enemy." They are neither living nor dead, and are doomed as their only goal is to capture the ring for the evil Lord Sauron.
It's like instead of having moments of anger or avarice, you're entire existence is bound and consumed by those emotions. Instead of anger being one of your traits, you become the physical embodiments of it. "The wrath’s'" very nature has been twisted into the physical form of those sins.
Psychologists may find a clinical definition of what Murray was suffering from. Reportedly he'd talked about hearing voices. He was deemed unfit for some reason, to be sent on a mission by YWAM. Was he experiencing some kind of psychosis or was he schizophrenic? We probably will never know for sure.
But for certain, for those who must pick up the pieces of this tragedy their one weapon against succumbing to Murray's fate is to put their focus on wrath's cosmic anecdote: forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the Seven Holy Virtues. Where wrath hurts, forgiveness heals. When wrath brings confusion, forgiveness brings order. And when wrath destroys, forgiveness creates. It creates new understanding, stronger relationships and armor against the ravages of the Seven Deadly Sins.
There's a very good reason they're called "deadly." Because left unchecked, they can weave and twist their way into our souls, and grow like weeds, until one day our wrath has a place in our hearts. And our hearts are no longer our own, but the tool of evil.
Most of us are not on that path. But there are many hurting people out there for whom a little act of kindness could mean the difference between hatred and healing. During this season of newness and love, may we all participate in the random acts that bring healing and hope.• E-mail Lauren Green
Lauren Green serves as a religion correspondent for the FOX News Channel. Prior to this, Green served as a news anchor for “Fox and Friends,” where she provided daily news updates and covered arts for the network. You can read her complete bio here.
Lauren Green currently serves as Fox News Channel's (FNC) chief religion correspondent based in the New York bureau. She joined FNC in 1996. Her new book is "Lighthouse Faith: God as a Living Reality in a World Immersed in Fog."