Heroes and the Stories Worth Reading

"In order to preserve the vigor of the moral faculty, it is of the utmost consequence to keep young people as ignorant as possible of the crimes that are generally thought most disgraceful to human nature. Suicide, I believe, is often propagated by means of newspapers. For this reason, I should be glad to see the proceedings of our courts kept from the public eye when they expose or punish monstrous vices." --Benjamin Rush*

We've all heard far more than necessary about Cho Seung-Hui; frankly, I think a brief mention of his name in the bottom corner of some newspaper article would have been enough. "Murderer identified as Cho S. &c; senior at VA Tech" covered all the information anyone other than his poor parents needed to hear. Heaven knows, keeping the information to that sentence might have offered them some much-needed mercy.

The current journalistic culture of "too much information", which has so willingly provided us with the ability to peruse the internal workings of a diseased mind, only arouses morbid curiosity. "But it raises awareness", someone will say. Sure it does--especially in those most likely to repeat such a crime by imitation. If anybody wants awareness, a simple list of warning signs of such mental disorder will suffice. Awareness itself is no cure, anyway, but that's a subject for another time.

Here are the real stories of the Virginia Tech shooting, the ones worth telling and re-telling. You've heard them, I'm sure, but here they are again:

Professor Liviu Librescu, survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, barricaded a classrom door with his own body and told his students to flee. His intervention allowed several young people to escape through the windows before he was gunned down. He died on Holocaust Remembrance Day, giving his life to save others.

Ryan Clark, resident adviser in the dorm where the shooting began, in the words of one friend "would do anything to help [his friends]..." He died coming to the aid of another student.

Zach Petkewicz is still alive, as are all the other members of his class--because upon hearing the shots come closer, he came out from behind the teacher's podium, where he'd initially hidden, and got his fellow students to help him push a table against the door. The gunman managed to crack the door just enough to empty a clip of bullets into the room, but Zach and the others continued to push against him. After reloading, Cho went looking for easier prey, leaving Zach's class unharmed.

Those are the people we should hear most about; theirs are the minds that should be brought to public attention and revealed for awareness' sake. They--like Columbine student Cassie Bernall, who admitted her faith in God despite the gun held to her head, and who died at the hands of Cho's idea of a martyr and hero--are the people we should remember.

Just one more thing: The most insightful piece I've seen on the Virginia Tech shooting yet is this little post on grieving by Kathy Shaidle, a conservative Christian commentator from Toronto. Though she doesn't write gently, she put down some real truth in this article. Give me "Amazing Grace" over "My Heart Will Go On" any day.

* from "An Inquiry into the Influence of Physical Causes upon the Moral Faculty", 1786; quoted from Benjamin Rush: Signer of the Declaration of Independence by David Barton, 1999 WallBuilders Press, p. 122



"I enjoy the medium of writing," my friend Justin wrote in a recent email; a sentiment that has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. Justin was writing to invite me as well as several other literary- and/or journalistic-minded friends to join a new group blogazine, a place to share our thoughts by way of the pen (or keyboard, in this case.)

I would like to invite all of you to drop by and read it; visit regularly, if you're so inclined. This has me totally excited, not only because I get to participate but because of the caliber of young writers in on it. There should be articles going up at least weekly, as all of us signed on for an article-per-month commitment.

Without further ado, then: Welcome to Silhouette. Hopefully you all find something to inspire, ponder, or at least enjoy.

Oh, and for anyone who doesn't recognize the name difference, I'm posting there under my nickname, "Jenna". For a direct link to my first article, Finding My Religion, click here.


Lent Ends, Easter Begins

There's nothing quite like forty days of sacrifice to drive home the significance of Easter.

I've got to admit, it feels great to be able to read and talk about Harry Potter again. It feels so great that I've already re-set my IM and xanga pics to Hermione, spent some time reading Harry-related articles on Wikipedia, and have again watched the trailer for movie # 5. Maybe I'll even put a couple of lines from "Weasley is our King" (Gryffindor version) or some random Luna Lovegood line up as my IM quote tomorrow.

Before I get accused of blasphemy, though, let me hasten to explain that while Harry has certainly brightened up my work week, Easter itself meant so much to me this year that I can hardly find words to express it. I've always liked the holiday anyway--belting out the good old hymns like a proper Baptist in a packed-out church, spending time with family in the afternoon.

This year, I attended the Easter Triduum service--split into three parts over Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil (Saturday). All three sessions carry so much symbolism as to make themselves extremely powerful; so much so that I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't attended one and might someday. I'll just say that I was deeply moved; moved to tears several times on Easter Vigil night. That service began at 9 PM, well after dark, and my favorite part was when the music began to brighten and swell, the lights came on in the church, and the church bells--silent since Thursday--rang out in the fullness of Easter joy.

The rest of Saturday and Sunday were so well filled with happy time among my family and Lou's (that's the Saint's real name) that I never managed to blog. All in all, I had a truly blessed weekend. I hope the same for all of you.

P.S. ...Can anyone top this record? I finally took my Christmas nativity scene down... today. I've heard of Christmas trees on Valentine's day, but crèche on Easter is a new low for me.


Gotta Say This...

Brief explanation: The Lenten fast does not apply to Sundays. It's not cheating, I promise... ask your local priest :-)

Anyway, I'm taking a Sunday break from my Lenten fast not to tell you that the new Harry Potter cover has been announced--everybody knows that--but just to say that this looks great: