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We're compelled to figure out why Matthew Murray shot and killed five Christians in two separate shootings this past Sunday. Bloggers and pundits have already begun exploring his Christian homeschool upbringing and the zealous nature of Youth With a Mission, a group he was involved with in 2002 — implying that extreme religiosity was a contributing factor. (All that rigid legalism and judgmentalism — no wonder he got mad!)

Others are satisfied that the explanation goes no further than mental instability — that Murray was clearly and simply deranged.

(An exploration of this issue might bring us to an assault on high-powered weapons, which this writer hopes will be successful. I'm no anti-gun crusader; as unchristian as it may sound, I was glad that Jeanne Assam, the New Life volunteer security guard, owned a handgun and used it to take Murray down. Still, I can't imagine why our country allows private citizens to own weapons whose primary purpose is not the defense of human life, but the taking of many lives as efficiently as possible.)

At any rate, while we ponder the families, schools, volunteer organizations, and other institutions that shape individuals to do what they do, we should also think about the larger social structure in which these institutions exist. While we wish to unlock the key to the mystery of Matthew Murray (and we should never deny his own responsibility for his actions) we should also try to understand the system — the principalities and powers, as the apostle Paul calls them — that helped create an order that made it relatively easy for Murray to commit murder. We should think, then, about advanced democratic capitalism.

By that I mean the order that most of us believe has been ...

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December 2007

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