Posted by lex, on December 11, 2007
Today I’m feeling more than ordinarily muddled. It can’t much help that I’m suffering from a head cold that my lovely wife brought back from her in Orlando. And yet the unfolding news about Colorado church shooter Matthew Murray seems to me yet another chapter in a seemingly unending serial of narcissistic brats whose violent fantasies grow in inverse proportion to their sense of empathy – and it’s making my head hurt.
On Monday, police confirmed that 24-year-old Murray was the gunman in the deadly shootings at both the Youth With a Mission center on the Faith Bible Chapel campus in Arvada and at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Three people, including Murray, were killed in Colorado Springs, and two others died in Arvada. Five other people were wounded.
“You Christians brought this on yourselves,” Murray wrote on a Web site for people who have left Pentecostal and fundamentalist religious organizations.
Googling the title to a “poem” of Murray’s that was cited in the article – “Growing up in the Nightmare of Christianity” – led me to this chat board, where a trip back through time reveals an increasingly unstable young man who apparently believed he had been abused by his church and family. Whether that abuse was real or not and what form it took I cannot puzzle out. I suspect we’ll learn more in time. Someone will write a book.
The site is called “Independent Spirits,” and it’s apparently some sort of group therapy for folks who feel that they’ve been victimized by the preachings of one Bill Gotthard, a fundamentalist and the founder of a bible-based “Institute in Basic Life Principles” – neither of which I’d ever heard of before today. The preacher recommends a strict, legalistic interpretation of scripture and apparently encourages home schooling. For the crime of trying to teach Matthew Murray how to live his life, he exacted the penalty of taking the lives of those he used to worship with. You could call it a little out of balance.
Murray wrote under the handle “Chrstnghtmr2,” and in his writings we see the evolution of those same characteristics presented in Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung Hui’s murderous fantasies – a glowering certitude that life had done him wrong, combined with a complete indifference to other people’s pain. A psychopath, in other words.
As recently as 17 November, Murray wrote:
When all the crazy flashbacks of The Nightmare come flooding in, and you feel like you’re going to lose your mind and spiral into a panic attack, just say this childhood nursery rhyme:”you raped! as a child and it hurt but no one hears me, I screamed! tied down and no one listened, I feel dirty but I’m not a liar, you hurt and no one admits it, f***ed as a child” or something to that effect……..and it’ll all….get better…..
I’m as familiar with teenage angst as the next guy who used to be a teenager and is now the parent of two of them, but there’s a line between teen normal and everybody-out-of-the-pool maniacal and Murray was clearly across it. It’s hard to say if anyone sharing that space with him could have predicted or prevented his murderous spree. What’s fairly clear from at least a brief review is that no one much bothered to try. Nobody judges anybody else, everybody gets a hug. The world really is against you. Poor dear.
Rumors will fly this was some atheist, shortly followed by a flamewar.
Then corrected a few hours later revealing it’s about the usual church stuff; sex-scandal, embezzlement, power struggles, three different sects, and a whole lot of people that actually deserve to be shot.
I don’t understand how people can be unhappy to die if they believe they’re going to utopia after death.
It’s funny because they think they’re immortal.
The New Life Church is one of those megachurches, with big screen plasma tvs and $4 coffee shops. I say good, it didn’t happen too soon, and I hope a meteor hits them next Sunday morning.
Not glad people died
/But very happy there are now a few less evangelical christians.
/pretty conflicted on that one
And a Merry Christmas to you, too, my fellow citizens.
Does it help that what might have been a much greater death toll had a stopper clapped over it by a brave security guard– a 42-year old woman who drew down on young Mr. Murray, after he’d killed a pair of teenage sisters and injured two others ? A little.
Does it say something difficult about the world we’ve fashioned for ourselves when a church theoretically dedicated to the Prince of Peace not only has to hire an armed guard but that guard actually has to draw her weapon and use lethal force? I think it does.
It’s just hard to get my head around what that something might be. Maybe it’s the head cold.