The Truth and the Colorado Springs Shooting

Unfortunately, school, work, and life have kept me away from Truth in the Trenches. I had hoped to put forward a piece soon on Galileo as my second modern myth, but sometimes, things arise that demand answers, such as the mass shooting in Colorado Springs.

In 1932, Herbert Norkus was one of the “Nazi Martyrs.” A member of the Hitler Youth, he was murdered at age fifteen by members of the rival communist youth group. The Nazi’s used Norkus in a lot of propaganda; his death was a tragedy, it is always a tragedy when a young person dies on the cusp of life, especially when that short life is wasted on a cause such as Nazism. The propaganda surrounding Norkus diminishes his life further, making the tragedy of his murder unimportant in the larger scope of the Nazi order. A similar potential exists for discussions of the Colorado Springs shooting.

Planned Parenthood is an organization that should be thought of in terms of Nazism, the Soviet Gulags, Street Gangs, and the Klu Klux Klan; they are unrepentant murderers, and as a society we should be ashamed that we allow them to walk free. But that does not mean that Christians believe in vigilantism nor does it mean that Christianity “caused” this tragedy. Anyone who commits a crime like this is an inconsistent monster because they do not understand the Christian faith. The shooter is, at best, an inconsistent monster.

The Nazi’s did damage not only to every person they murdered, and not only to much of central Europe, but also to themselves. They stained their own souls, and they died, going into a Christless eternity. Christians believe we are all made in the image of God, and it is from this that human beings gain value beyond that of mere beasts. Our value is found to be greater still because the Savior paid such a high cost to restore that image. The image of God exists in the tyrant and the tyrannized, in the oppressor and the oppressed, and the defacing of the image, internally and externally should be heartbreaking.

One of the central realities in Christian thought is the fall. We were perfect, but we became evil, wicked and sinful. The problem with evil is centered in man, Hell is many things, but it is not unjust, it is simply what we actually deserve. And yet, God extends mercy, and this is why Christians oppose vigilantism. And not just the loss of the Evangelical police officer. While his loss is a tragedy for his family, and while I don’t know him personally, it seems reasonable to assume his soul is secure in Christ, the same cannot be said of those engaging in infanticide. Those  who worked for Planned Parenthood had their opportunities to repent of their sins cut short. For those who find inspiration in the words of the repentant persecutor, Saul of Tarsis, the real hope for the murderers at planned parenthood is that they would realize their sin, and repent of it, the gunman has, alas, removed future opportunities for their repentance.

When a person dies a heroic death, or is a martyr to a just cause there is comfort in those circumstances, the same cannot be said for those who unrepentantly die for the cause of evil. Hitler, Goebbels, and Himmler’s lives were wasted on the cause of Nazism. And this is also the tragedy of Colorado Springs; those who died lost their chance of repentance.

Modern Myths: Part 1 Columbus and the Flat Earth

It is often suggested today that Columbus was a scientist who was opposed by the religious establishment who believed that the world was flat. While this creates an exciting tale, and Columbus has been treated by some in the West as either the great villain or the great intellectual hero, in reality, his opponents before his voyage were probably correct, and he was lucky that an unknown landmass (the Americas) lay between him and Asia.

In reality, it had long been known that the earth was a sphere; in fact, it had been proven by Ptolemy before the Christian era. This was both known and accepted by the intellectual class of the time, including the monastic schools, and was largely uncontroversial. Before Kepler, Ptolemy was largely accepted because it matched the observations available, and expectations people had from the Aristotelian physics that were accepted at the time. (One real reason why the Copernicus revolution did not happen immediately is because the revolution is misnamed, it should be the Keplarian revolution. Before Kepler, Copernicus’s writings did not provide a system that better matched the observations of universe than did Ptolemy’s, this will be discussed later with our discussion of Galileo).

So why was there a controversy over Columbus’s voyage that included churchmen, particularly learned churchmen? The question was not the roundness of the earth, but the distance of the earth’s circumference. Columbus thought the Earth to be much smaller than was thought by the churchmen, and for that matter much smaller than it actually is. This created a problem for the ships that were available in Columbus’s day – the trip around the earth was such that it was believed impossible to carry sufficient supplies for the journey. Ironically, the error made by the church in this regard was an oversight made by Columbus as well – no one thought of the possibility of a large landmass between Europe and Asia, something that would actually prove to be Columbus’s salvation.

History is often stranger than fiction, often our assumptions about the past are unjustified. Worse still, often modern myths are created because there is value for the propagandist.

Further reading: C S Lewis – The Discarded Image; Philip J Sampson 6 Modern Myths about Christianity and Western Civilization.