Explaining It All Away

This morning I heard a news report about U.S. officials traveling to Russia to interview the parents of the two Boston Marathon bombers. There have been numerous stories in the media about their possible motivations, who else might have been involved in training or encouraging them. etc. There will be many more before this ends.

I’ve noticed when someone commits an unimaginable act there is a rush to explain. A need to understand. A deep longing to fully parse the motives, emotions, thoughts, and history of anyone who does the kinds of things these men are accused of doing. Why?

I find myself drawn, like many of us, to these explanations. Wanting them and digesting them myself. I begin to wonder if, however, my attraction, my need for explanation is as much about my soul and motivations as it is about theirs.

If I can explain – if we can comprehend – the reason why someone does such things, then we also seem to be able to say – “Not me. I am glad that couldn’t have been me. Because he was a radical Muslim. Because she was abused as a child herself. Because they were isolated and depressed.”

My need for explanations about the darkness in our world keeps me from looking at the darkness in me. And it’s there. I don’t think I am likely to bomb a building. Or my neighbor to murder my family in our sleep. But there is in every human a darkness, a corruption even.  Paul in his letter to the Romans writes “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15 NRSV).

May the darkness that seems to prevail around me drive me to examine my own soul and heart. I cannot denounce the evil in the world without paying attention to the sin in my own heart. I cannot cry out against the darkness without first shining the light of God into the murky interiors of my own soul.

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