In the news reports, we hear that Jared Loughner creeped out his classmates, professors, and co-workers. The truth is, he creeps us all out. What makes him different from someone like Osama Bin Laden or the drug cartels killing people in northern Mexico is everyone recognizes that Laughner is clearly insane. And so his creepiness is not only in his very mixed up thoughts but he also holds a mirror up to us. We may ask why his community college, employers, or maybe especially his family didn’t do anything about him, but when we do, we are really asking ourselves why we don’t do much about the mentally ill in our area as well.
We are a creatures, divinely inspired, to appreciate freedom. We do not like the concept that anyone might not have the freedom to think clearly (because we fear one day we might not as well) and so, historically, we have often blamed the mentally ill for their thoughts. We try to hold them accountable as any sane person. And I am sure Loughner’s fate will likely be the same as Timothy McVeigh even though killing McVeigh didn’t stop Loughner and won’t stop the next crazy person either.
And most troubling of all perhaps is the church, although reaching out to the mentally ill, says remarkably little about them. Does God love them? Did God create them? Will God damn them to hell for all eternity? Does God hold them to the same standard as you and me? Do we care about the soul of those who are mentally ill? There are lots of questions to ask and consider.
I do observe that mainline churches tend to by-pass completely the passages where Jesus casts out demons. Just as most educated Christians aren’t sure what to do with the angel stories in the Bible, we aren’t too sure what to do with the demon stories either. All I know is that while we describe people differently today, people acting completely irrationally are seen in the Bible as well. And Jesus found their current state unacceptable.
Maybe it is time for the church to step forward and care for those mentally disturbed. Maybe it is time for mental illness to be a topic of discussion and prayer among people of faith. And maybe it is time for us to try to help cast out a few demons in this day and time as well with prayer and the help of those trained to deal and help heal those whose thoughts spin out of control.
Doing nothing or looking the other way clearly isn’t working. Hopefully, out of this tragedy, we can learn.
Until next time,