Another mass shooting happened this week. This time a young man in El Paso, Texas opened fire in a Walmart, killing 20 people.
Just 12 hours later, another gunman killed nine people in an Ohio bar.
Families are now mourning and planning funerals. Our nation is confused and angry over another senseless killing spree. People on television and social media shout over each other that something must be done.
Some say America has a gun problem. The El Paso shooting ensures this will be the focus for the next couple of news cycles, as proponents of new gun control legislation will trot out more restrictions, more laws, more efforts to disarm a nation that craves power without accepting responsibility.
Then we will move on to the next outrage, the next argument, the next reason to point fingers at the other team until it happens again.
America doesn’t have a gun problem. America has a heart problem.
America’s culture problem
Our nation is divided into camps, and this balkanization is monetized by the news arms of entertainment companies. They pit us against each other for clicks and views. Hating the other team is our national pastime.
Young people are assaulted from all sides, in ways unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. Consumed by social media and sexualized from childhood, it’s no wonder a nihilistic, narcissistic culture has become the norm. When self is god, there is no room for a God outside of ourselves.
A new law cannot solve the epidemic of violence in this country. It likely would not have stopped this El Paso shooting. A new politician or leader cannot make murder and terrorism vanish. What new program or ten-point plan will end racism or any of the other conditions of a damaged soul?
America’s church problem
Even the faith that once tied the nation together has lost its way. In some corners, American Christianity has become a light show and a rock concert. It has become a place for gentle affirmation, that Jesus is your boyfriend, and that feeling good about yourself is the key message of the Cross.
Other corners of American Christianity have become a wing of the Republican party. The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag has become scripture. The red MAGA hat has taken the place of a prayer rope.
When Christianity becomes a political platform it stops being a lighthouse for the lost and the sinking. When it stops calling us to deny ourselves, to discipline our passions and to take the hard path, it becomes a social club with silly rules. It is no wonder young people are leaving Christianity in droves.
Healing the Heart
But there is a hospital for this heart trouble. The Orthodox Church is a place of healing and changing of hearts.
Unlike the caricature of the judgemental Christian scold, the Orthodox Church is not a courthouse where we are convicted and sentenced for our failings. The Church is a place to be treated and healed of our disease.
The Church is not a place where the problem is people of another color, or another political party. It is not a place for thinking about the sins of others. It is where we come face to face with our own broken heart and resolve to be treated.
Is there any one among you suffering? Let him pray … Is any among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.James 4:13-15
Our country is in desperate need of healing. No election or politician can do this. We must stop looking for people to blame, and start looking inward. Our problem is a broken heart.
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