My final post of 2014 had me thinking about school shootings and religion. I still can’t fathom why those extremists went into a school and shot a bunch of children and I probably never will. While I don’t accept it as any sort of excuse, I understand that the men who carried out this atrocity were doing so in accordance to their own religious understanding. This got me thinking about “He Was Weird” and Mark’s own religious views and the events that led him to shoot up his school.
Religion doesn’t get that much stage time outside Mark’s own personal convictions. We see him, convert to Jesus, go to church and bible school, have his only good experiences in the story at the bible camp and then undergo confirmation classes. From this, it would be easy to simply write off religion as having nothing to do with the shooting. After all, he suffers so much bullying and the powers that be do little or nothing to prevent it that it leads some readers to conclude that it isn’t any wonder he carries out the shooting but hold that thought for a minute.
Mark believes that his prayers to God to deliver him from the bullies have gone unanswered. No matter how hard he prays, the grief he gets only seems to get worse. While I don’t actually go out and say it in the story, while he is riding his bike to school in order to carry out his extravaganza, we then learn that he has found a verse in Deuteronomy that seems to be spurring him on. I won’t quote the entire verse but the main part is “Leave none alive that breatheth.” It is this passage that gives him the courage he needs to go into the school and shoot up so many people. Note: for official casualty stats, you’ll have to buy the book.
In no way am I trying to say that I think that God or the bible caused Mark to shoot up the school. I think the real answer here is the fact that Mark was going through so much shit and nothing else was solving the problem that in desperation, he looked to anything that could save him from it. Therefore, he turned to God, praying and searching the scriptures to find the answer. By the time he found the verse he needed, his mind was so badly effected by what he was going through that it gave him the courage he needed.
Drawing a link to what happened in Peshwar, those who carried out a far worse atrocity in real life were also influenced by their own understanding of their faith. They feared the teaching of “Western ways” in their country so they thought they were acting according to God’s command when they killed all of those children. Yes, their minds were warped by religion but to a lesser degree so was Mark’s. The big difference is that in the story we see all that transpires for him and feel a little sympathy even afterwards. The other noticeable difference is that he is the same age as those he shot while the terrorists were adults who should have known better. That makes them the more dangerous.
My point here is my belief that all religions have meant the best for the people who choose the follow them. However, no matter who noble a belief may seem, there is always the danger that it will be corrupted by men, especially those who use it for their own agendas and that is true with all faiths.
Next post: Could God Prevent School Shootings?
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420574388&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird