A Prophetic Response to the Freeman School Shooting

This post is in response to the recent shooting at Freeman High School just south of Spokane: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2017/sep/13/shooting-reported-at-freeman-high-school/#/0

School shootings are painful reminders that things are not how they should be. And when our sense of equilibrium is challenged by such an event, our responses reveal the brokenness of our world and of our own hearts.

Following the events at Freeman High School, the “Finger-Pointing” of broken community began almost immediately. Who is to blame?

It’s the shooter’s fault–sick, violent, morally destitute. It’s the school’s fault for failing to curb a culture of bullying, or for failing to heed the “warning signs”. It’s the media’s fault for framing only a culture of violence and making celebrities out of shooters. It’s the police’s fault for inadequate response and presence in the community. It’s the shooter’s parents’ fault, for failing to raise their child properly. It’s society’s fault, for failing to empower the shooters’ parents to raise their child properly. It’s because of too many violent video games. It’s because we have too many (or not enough) guns around.

And in the midst of the finger-pointing, anger, and agony, I find myself becoming numb:

This is someone else’s problem. I don’t have the energy to deal with this. Those in charge will figure something out.

The reality we find ourselves in is one of social and political gridlock. In the face of this gridlock, it seems that there are only two options: despair or denial.

The prophetic task of the church is to envision an alternative path. It is to remind the community of faith that our help is never generated among us, but given to us from the outside as a gift from a God who is not constrained by our gridlocked human systems.

Part of this task is to pierce through what Walter Brueggemann terms the “Royal Consciousness.” The Royal Consciousness is that state of being that doesn’t want to be challenged. It is the dysfunctionally functional status quo. To protect itself, it invokes a posture of numbness, apathy, and denial. Spokane has a Royal Consciousness, and we are participators in it. Spokane doesn’t want its boat rocked. There are jobs to protect, systems to maintain, comforts not to be challenged. I, personally, find in myself a desire to ignore the tragedy and carry along with my life as usual.

But our prophetic task, as Christians in Spokane, is to enter the pain of our community, even though by entering into such grief we will be admitting that we do not have the answers or resources to cope with the tragedies before us. Authentic grief means confessing that our schools, police, families, laws, and our own good intentions have failed to be what they needed to be.

In true grief, we are authentically postured to hope. Our God is not limited to the scant resources of Spokane, WA, nor to the impoverished ability in our own hearts to act or care. He is free to rescue and to liberate in his own way and time.

As Christians, our willingness to trust in this God might only stem from remembering what he has already done in our lives. Consult your own story and testimony. You have trusted this God before. Do you trust him now?

As an authentic Christian community, we must dare, first, to grieve. Then, we might dare to hope.