I am a bat-fan of long standing. I have probably read hundreds of Batman comic books. I'm sure that I watched every episode of the old Adam West TV series. I have watched a few of the many animated cartoons made of Batman. I have seen every big screen movie depiction of Batman, including the 1943 and 1949 serials, except the latest. Some of them more than once.
Batman is easily my favorite of the costumed superheroes, mostly because he is not "super." He has no special powers. He is human and quite mortal. His character is morally complex, psychologically twisted, and, well, open to diverse interpretations.
For my money, director Christopher Nolan's take on Batman has, with only a few missteps, been spot-on. All of which is to say that I have been anxiously anticipating the movie The Dark Knight Rises. I'm not a first-day-midnight-show kind of guy. I prefer to catch a matinee after the crowds thin a bit. But that does not mean I haven't been eager to see this film.
My excitement has been dampened somewhat by the news from Aurora, Colorado where a heavily armed man named James Cooper allegedly entered a movie theater during a midnight showing of Dark Knight Rises, and opened fire on the crowd killing a dozen people and wounding more than 50 others.
"Allegedly." Let's be clear about this. The shootings were horrifically real. We use the word "allegedly" only because Holmes has not been convicted.
When arrested in the theater's parking lot, Holmes is supposed to have told police "I am the Joker," a reference, I surmise, to the 2008 film The Dark Knight. In that movie Bruce Wayne's faithful butler Alfred obliquely refers to Batman's nemesis the Joker when he says "Some men just want to watch the world burn."
Senseless. If that word is overused in reports of this tragedy, it is because it is such an apt descriptor. When events of this type occur, we are left unable to make sense of them. Why do such things happen? How can a person go so terribly wrong? Our minds stagger and reel trying to make sense of it all, but there is no sense to be made.
Senseless. That doesn't stop pundits and bloggers from trying to make sense of things, usually by blaming their favorite scapegoats. Rep. Louie Gohmert said that the shootings were the result of "ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs." No, really, he said that. And mega-church pastor Rick Warren posted a tweet implying that blame rests on the teaching of science.
Finger-pointing and scapegoating are not helpful. Perhaps in the weeks and months ahead more helpful responses will be heard. Perhaps new ways to prevent such acts will be found. Then the tragic shootings may still be senseless, but at least we will have learned from them.
One thing I know. Occurrences such as this remind us vividly that life is short, fragile, and precious. I have written before that I believe Jesus' core message can be summed up as "Trust God and take care of one another." Or, in more biblical language:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27)
What else can we do?
Hold those you love close. Pray for the victims, their families, and their friends. Pray, too, for the shooter and his family, if you can. Give to the relief of any who suffer. Help, if you are able, to find ways to prevent future tragedies. Trust God. Take care of one another.
I had a nice picture of Lewis Wilson, the first screen Batman, to illustrate this post, but when I got done writing it no longer seemed appropriate.