Monday, December 10, 2007

Of Shootings and Sheepdogs

You have, no doubt, seen or heard about the murder of three people and the wounding of several others in yesterday's attacks on a Youth With A Mission training center and New Life Church in Colorado. In two articles that I've read, the shooter at the first attack was described as wearing a "skull cap" or a "beanie". I'm sure further reports will indicate if there is religious significance to this headgear.

Kudos to the security guard at New Life Church who stopped the killing spree by killing the attacker. I don't know if he is a Christian, but I pray for him as he deals with the aftermath of yesterday's tragedy (perhaps a better word for it is travesty). I hope he gets the right kind of counseling, because he'll have to deal with both the praise and the criticism, and as private security, he won't have the same support network as the police.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle elicited this incredible criticism in its comments section:

The article mentioned that, at the New Life megachurch, the gunman "...was confronted by an armed church security guard, who shot and killed him." For mercy's sake, what sort "church" needs armed security guards ?! I'm a regular church-goer in a mainline denomination, and I find that to be almost as disturbing as the shooting itself.

What sort of church needs security? The sort where a gunman walks up and starts killing people. And if this blind ideologue thinks her church is immune because it's in a mainline denomination that spouts humanist, antinomian garbage, she should think again. This variety of gunman could strike at any institution he perceives as offensive -- even the milquetoast variety peopled by little old ladies of both sexes.

If you want to understand something about the New Life Church/Columbine/postal rage shootings, you might want to pick up a copy of Dan Korem's Rage of the Random Actor. The author used to be known as a Christian illusionist and sleight-of-hand artist, but now has a reputation in the law enforcement community (including the FBI) as the one who developed the profile for this kind of shooter. It's a different profile from the mugger/rapist/holdup artist.

The title of Korem's book may mislead some, because "random actor" does not mean that the violence or its target is random. The randomness refers to the radical nonconformity common to those who commit such acts. The very essence of the book is to lay out a profile to identify potential "random actors" and to lead them to change. As a bonus, Rage of the Random Actor does not attempt to hide the author's Christian beliefs and convictions.

This book would serve as an upper level text in the Christian Martialist's study of violent behavior. It would also give great insight for Christian counselors to identify and help those unhappy people who have the potential to become shooters. In this day of religious terrorism and anti-Christian sentiment, an ounce of prevention may not be worth a squad of armed guards, but it may help.

Well, it's unlikely that your church or mine is going to hire armed security officers anytime soon. Does that leave your church vulnerable and undefended? If your answer is, "Yes," you need to find your church a sheepdog . . . or become one.

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