Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cleveland Teen on Tragic Rampage

Today, a 14 year old boy opened fired on his classmates and teachers today even though he was suspended from school.

New York Times article.

The article describes the boy in this way:

Several students said the shooter was called “Jack Black” by others because he resembled the actor in the movie “The School of Rock,” and was a bit loud like the actor. He favored Goth fashions, they said, and he walked with a bit of a limp that some kids made fun of. Earlier in the week, some of them said, he had gotten into a fight with another student, over whether or not there was a god, and both had been suspended.

There are many difference sides to this story that will unfold in the following days. No doubt what was spurred at Columbine is being repeated again and again. Cleveland weeps today. Thankfully, apart from the gunman, nobody else was killed.

What immediately came into my head when I first read this was why the boy was suspended in the first place: "He had gotten into a fight with another student, over whether or not there was a god."

This does not surprise me. With all the hype about teen development today and parenting and everything else, few are addressing students in the deeper areas of questions they are asking, especially when it comes to God and God's purposes for this world. "Is God There?" is one of the popular questions I get on the road and forms one of the chapters in my book. We need to be addressing students where their questions are hottest and in ways they can understand. From there, maybe new vistas in their souls will open up and new conversations will be made. Maybe they will see the universe isn't empty.

Who knows yet the exact frustration in this gunman's soul or what his home was like. But what we can see is that even at 14, he's sophisticated enough to know and understand that the world is complex and often difficult to deal with as you live with questions.


Jonalyn Grace Fincher said...

This issue is prevalent in so many young people's hearts. Thank you for refusing to dismiss these students as too young.

Dale Fincher said...

Thanks, Jonalyn, for the encouragement!

You know what we've seen on the road... most adults don't address these hard questions, even in youth work, because most adults (who often admit it) don't know how to answer it themselves.

The issue persists. And many, many kids are hungry and ready for something to chew on.

HoneyPie41 said...

It is a sad thought,that kids have a big crisis to deal with;Children want individuality,yet to belong in a "family".There seems to be a problem going on "at home".

I feel there is nobody attending "Parenting 101". I close with a truth ringing clear,Today.

Prov. 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go.When he is older,he will not depart from it.

Dale Fincher said...

Thanks for commenting, honeypie41.

I know what you mean about family. But since so many families are fragmented, we have to keep reminding ourselves that while better parenting would help tremendously, that kind of huge and intricate opportunity isn't available to many people today.

I, myself, came from a broken home. And telling me I should have had better parenting while I'm suffering with my questions doesn't help me understand myself or see God any more clearly.

So we've gotta do what we CAN... One thing I know we CAN do is start taking kids questions seriously and be courageous to talk about them and learn how to find the answers ourselves. There are many good parents out there who have avoided the hard question and so their kids don't know how to wrestle with them either.

I like that Proverb too. As a proverb, it is great. But it isn't a promise. It is wise to train up children in the way, truth, and life. But they still have the choice to run from it. And they may still have unanswered questions when they do.

We must continue to give them an ear and, as Peter said, "Always be ready!"