This is a pretty lengthy article from Christianity Today from 1999 about the Columbine massacre, with many quotes from the families of the victims, survivors and other mourners.
Naturally, since it’s a Christian magazine, there’s a lot of “God talk,” and combined with the fact that Columbine was/is pretty devoutly Christian, and evangelical Christian at that, it may be a bit much for some. (Certainly Brooks Brown found it oppressively religious, as he notes in his book No Easy Answers, and given their video rants about Christianity, no doubt Eric and Dylan thought likewise.) It may be an eye-opener to non-Americans or indeed anybody not used to that kind of religiously fervent environment.
Also, side note: all subsequent Columbine books have borrowed heavily from the reporting in this article and in author Wendy Murray Zoba’s subsequent hard-to-find book (incorporating much of this article) Day of Reckoning: Columbine and the Search for America’s Soul (2001).
'Do You Believe in God?'
Columbine and the stirring of America’s soul.
Wendy Murray Zoba
OCTOBER 4, 1999 Christianity Today
It may be that there will be no salvation
for the human spirit
from the more and more painful burdens
of social injustice
until the ominous tendency in human history
has resulted in the perfect tragedy.
When Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, taunted, tormented, and massacred 12 of their peers and a teacher (while seriously wounding 23 others) at Columbine High School on April 20 of this year, Niebuhr’s prophetic insights about the banal and heroic aspects of human nature were fulfilled. The “ominous tendency in human history” and the “salvation for the human spirit” came together for a brief, but life-altering, interlude at Columbine High. It bears the mark of the perfect tragedy.
Some have even called it a watershed. William Kristol in The Weekly Standard(May 10, 1999) noted that as politicians “stumped on behalf of their favorite ‘solutions’ ” in the wake of the Columbine tragedy, “the speeches rang even hollower than usual.” Nancy Gibbs wrote in Time: “With each passing day of shock and grief you could almost hear the church bells tolling in the background, calling the country to a different debate, a careful conversation in which even Presidents and anchormen behave as though they are in the presence of something bigger than they are.”
What is the “something bigger”?
The tragedy has been dissected into many parts: gun-control issues; uncensored access to dangerous information on the Internet; the violent media culture; the cliquish school culture; the need for parental oversight; the separation of church and state. All of these contribute to, but do not alone account for, that “something bigger.”
I traveled to Littleton with the hope of answering the question that has haunted Presidents and anchormen—and us all: What is the meaning of that day at Columbine High School when (as one local pastor describes it) insanity fell like a meteor?
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