Editor’s note: Rob Brendle is the founding pastor of Denver United Church, a former associate pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, and the author of "In the Meantime: The Practice of Proactive Waiting."
By Rob Brendle, Special to CNN
I held her hand as she died.
Her family had come to a church where I was pastoring that morning, a routine Sunday. A thousand things would never have crossed their minds as they drove through Colorado Springs toward New Life Church’s enormous concrete worship center - including the prospect of being assaulted in their minivan by a young man with a high-powered rifle.
Later that day, we were all at a local hospital. The girl whose hand I held, Rachel, had already lost a sister at the scene. Her father was down the hall in critical condition and her mother was coming undone in the waiting room, but she didn’t know any of it. Rachel lay unconscious for a couple of hours more in the ICU.
And then she died. Her family had come to church together that morning, and by nightfall they were shattered.
That was almost five years ago.
The movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado shook me and the rest of the nation. Reading about the young and unsuspecting victims took me back to the dying girl in the ICU who had come to my church that day in 2007, in a an incident that left the two girls dead and injured several others. Back to the Columbine massacre a decade earlier that horrified the world and traumatized Colorado. And back to the aching questions that accompanied those previous incidents: Why did this happen? Where was God in all of it? How could a loving God allow this?
Where was God in Aurora? 7 responses
We pastors face the unenviable task of being asked to answer for God. Most people ask the big questions in times of irresolution, times when satisfying answers are scarce.
Let’s be clear: there are no easy answers to the deepest questions of suffering. Libraries overflow with the volumes that have been written to address these questions. Centuries of philosophers, pundits and preachers have reflected on the existence of evil, the meaning of pain and the role of God in suffering.
I won’t begin to recount all of their ruminations here. But here’s what I think.
God is the author of life and the originator of good. He distinguished humankind from among his creation with faculties like reason, emotion, dexterity and choice. Scripture teaches that God made people in his image. Set apart from all the rest of his creatures, we were endowed with the capacity to know our Creator and ennobled with the ability to choose him. So singularly did God love humans that he gave us this ultimate gift.
Aurora survivor to alleged shooter: ‘I forgive you’
The capacity to choose God and goodness came with the commensurate ability to choose evil. Is it loving to force his creation to follow his order, or to teach it and leave the creature to choose? It would seem that God came to the same conclusion that America’s founders did many millennia later: compulsory virtue is no virtue at all.
But Scripture also teaches that God is totally in control. He is all-powerful and all-knowing and he is willing and able to intervene in human events. So there is a gap between human choice and divine foreknowledge, a gap that transcends understanding and that helps define God in my mind.
The debate over this theological tension has persisted for centuries, and I don’t aim to settle it here. Let me suggest simply that God, in his sovereignty, has chosen to make our decisions meaningful. Consequently, much of what happens on earth neither conforms to nor results from his preference. There are at least four influences on human events: God’s will, to be sure; but also the will of Satan, our adversary; peoples’ choices, for better or for worse; and natural law (gravity, collision, combustion, and the like).
It is difficult to know which force causes the circumstances that devastate us. But it is enough to know that God need not be responsible for them.
The man who made the Aurora crosses
Much of the internal gridlock around tragedy is because suffering is foreign to us. This foreignness is peculiarly Western and modern. Most of the world, for most of the world’s history, has known tragedy and trauma in abundance.
You don’t get nearly the same consternation in Burundi or Burma, because suffering is normal to them. God and hard times coexist intuitively there. For us, though, God has become Anesthetist-in-Chief. To believe in him is to be excused from bad things. He is our panacea for the woes of life.
The God of the Bible promises no exemption from suffering. In fact, he all but promises suffering. He does not suggest that his followers won’t go through fire, but rather that we won’t burn up. Mostly he promises to be there with us, to comfort and encourage us and renew our strength. God grieves with us, and he grows us into good people in the process.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
Where was God in Aurora? He was on the lawn in front of the Civic Building as thousands gathered in solidarity, hope, and love at a packed prayer vigil last Sunday. He was in University Hospital as neurosurgeons groped for synonyms for miraculous.
He was in the outpouring of compassion at a victim’s funeral and in the passionate call for unity from a resolute councilwoman and at the bedside vigil of a wounded victim’s church community. Redemption has only begun in Aurora, and already God is everywhere. Their will be beauty once this story is written that overshadows and transcends the ashes.
Jesus started his ministry by declaring, “I am the light of the world,” and ended it with “you are the light of the world.”
What God our cities will see is what we show them. From the beginning, light has shone in the darkness - he ordered it that way. And the deeper the darkness, the brighter the light will appear. Where is God in Aurora? He is shining brightly from the hearts of his people.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rob Brendle.
Hawaiiguest – I've had so much fun with you – don't be mad and don't go away angry with your feelings hurt – just go away brah. Thanks David Silverman
What's wrong with Hawaii?
Nothing in general – just picking on him/her becasue instead of representing with some logic he/she just trolls dropping dumb bombs making all of us look like idiots. Just one of those people that you say to yourself – please quit talking you are making all of us look stupid and crazy. He/she is always in these forums making stupid comments and i just get ticked and the state is not exactly what you would call a model of health and responsibility.
Meh, Sometimes Hawaii makes good points, sometimes he doesn't. No need to go picking on the state. It's pretty gorgeous, slightly racist but overall a solid place.
So tell me, what comment, specifically, did I make that you disagreed with?
@Hawaii is the worst state in the union – please secede
I had work to do, that's why I left. If you think some person on a blog is going to make me angry, you would be wrong. I told you before, keep posting idiocy, and I have some entertainment. If you stop, I won't have to look at your idiocy. Win-win situation from where I'm sitting.
Where was obama when this happened? prolly fappin it to a fat white girl.
@hawaiiguest – we may think you would have something to contribute but your posts are worthless and so is the contribution of your state. You are a drain on the US and you are a drain on all if us in this forum. Your state sucks and you suck – so quit trying to represent the atheist movement – you and your state are too dumb to participate. Thanks David Silverman
What a well thought out argument...
Why would we want them to secede when that is possibly the best location for our military, moron?
Oh boohoo, some ignorant jack off doesn't like me or my state how sad. Oh that's right, I couldn't care less, I feel better now.
@Penis – I am retired military – thats why I know that hawaii is such a loser state and drain. Also if you knew anything about the military – you'd know Guam and severla other Pacific islands are better located and also little head – since hwen do we ned to own the property to park the boats there? I see you are quite the genuis – make like a tree and leave.
Guam is a tiny, uselss piece of crap. It is even shaped like a turd. Hawaii is the best place for the military. We have all services there and use one island just for target practice. All of the pacific is commanded out of Hawaii.
For someone who says "god does not exist", simply think if you believe that liberty, truth and love exist, then I can call those things "God", then in that concept I can say that God exists. Each one of those items can not exist lonely, each one co-exists with one another. God is all these things at same time. And they are pure gift. God can not act over love and truth without considering liberty. But what happens if some persons use that liberty to do evil acts? God have to respect that liberty because it was a gift. Then the responsibility belongs to the human part. So God always is present everywhere, but man must teach values to the society and try to society live in accordance to those values. You can say "God does not exists" but you would not say "love, truth and liberty do not exist". and if we call them the same thing, we will agree that we all hope goodness reign in the hearts, as God wants it, and let's pray for the souls and people who are suffering from this unfortunate event for God's help them and soon recover. It's a modest point of view.
Penis? Poo is pee?
Perhaps we need to buy you a dictionary since we generally don't have the option to redefine words at will.
We already have names for those things,
Though I kind of like your argument because it makes "god" meaningless.
Hold on! When I use G-od in a post, it doesn't get listed. Yet your name is Penis and they allow that. Damn.
PENIS!!.... penis penis penis.... PENIS!!.... penis penis penis
What if god was one of us? Just a – I don't know – slob like one of us?
trying to make his way home.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, though at the time we may not understand the message or meaning behind it right away. I also believe that there is life after this one and men are judged according to thier deeds. Based on what I have read there were many people on that day who gave their lives to protect others. That leads me to believe they were people of integrity. So where was God that day you ask? I believe he was standing at the gates of Heaven ready to recieve those slain by the acts of an evil man, and reward the noble who made the ultimate sacrafice in their last moments. My heart does not weep for them because I believe they are in a better place. Instead I weep for the killer, who's soul is clearly in toment. If only he knew what he has truely done. My prayer while he still has time in this short life is that he comes to know Christ and repents.
Haha, whatever. You tell this to all the children who were sandusky's victims. "it happened for a reason"
Do you vote based on your religious beliefs? What is your view on prayer in school? Should we have religious verses in government buildings? Should we teach creationism?
The funny thing is most people that talk against GOD, all they do is speak out against religion and religion is NOT GOD..lol..so if they do not KNOW GOD because they say GOD does not exist..then how could they hate GOD? Or talk ill of GOD? its all hatred against something they know NOTHING ABOUT..
and i am sure..that is how they look at life in general and everything around them..with hate
So how do you get to know god, close your eyes and talk to yourself and then read a lame book where daughters r@pe their fathers and peter basically says women like they are today are all wh0res?
So where did you get your amazing mind reading powers to be able to tell the emotional responses behind blog comments? That seems like quite the superpower.
Uh..... you actually made some logical leaps until you flew off the deep end. Considering I don't believe any sort of god exists, you are right, I can't really hate something that doesn't exist. I can hate on religion because that does exist and I dislike it and a lot of the people who choose to follow all of the various ones out there. It doesn't mean I hate everything, but then again, you aren't going to read this, so I guess it doesn't really matter
@hawaii – go beach brah and no work for you – how u affford computer – you at libary brah? U go work instead and you can pay for mochicko chicken all byself
Maybe Hawaii no go work cauz he pow right now, cuz.
Aww how cute. Some moron thinks he knows something about where I live, and about me as well. What amazing scrying powers you must have, especially considering you've probably never been here. But please, continue to show your idiocy, I win either way. Either you continue and I get a good laugh at your stupidity, or you stop and I don't have to deal with your stupidity.
@hawaii Na, cuz. Maybe you me scrap in nalo
Brah – know all about you cuz – me and my crew from waipahu will beat you down brah.
So you need a whole crew, how predictable.
Science may not ever prove in GOD, but its the Faith in god that is the important part..if GOD wanted men to know GOD existed beyond an experience then GOD would make it so..
The processes in science are very faith based..and the processes in science can help one be closer to GOD..that was the concept..not that science WILL PROVE GOD Exists..but it is an interesting parallel..
Maybe god is fallible.
Have you not seen Dogma?! If god is fallible, the universe wouldn't exist.
@chuckles He messed up when he made lilith
Everyone should get at least one mulligan
Let me put this all to rest. We are all going to heaven. George Bush killed well over 100,000 Iraqis that did nothing to us. Dumb leadership led to the death of over 5,000 U.S. forces. This man has more blood on his hands than the Taliban. Yet Christians will tell you he's going to heaven. So George Bush (Dubya) is the new benchmark for heaven. So if he's going to heaven, EVERYBODY is going to heaven. Including the Aurora shooter Holmes.
THE SMARTEST PEOPLE ON THIS PLANET BELIEVED IN GOD...
Carl Ssgan – a famous scientist 1st wormholes theory
GOD IS SMART...
No love – an atheist would tell you these bright scientists were delusional.
Can you please cite sources showing these famous scientists (who are also famous atheists or at the very most deist) to be believers?
Yeah..... I didn't think so.
troll ... none of these believe in god..... The religious like to claim Einstein , but he said that a personal god as represented in the holy books was quite unlikely ...as for the others... HAHAHA...
Stephen HAWKING has gone said the universe doesn't need a god.
You can find this information rather easily.
I dont need to prove it...they did...you guys are trolls...lol..
It is well known and written about that these people believe in GOD.. you guys are just haters..and dont like something that challenges your stance –
The more people open there minds...and learn about the universe...the closer they tend to feel about GOD..many many scientists believe...and many scientists write about it..BECAUSE GOD IS SMART :P
That is because an athiest can not see anythign that is NOT in front of there face...
Science is all about discovering things that are unseen..the universe has many mystery..
it is amazing an atheist would believe in GRAVITY..because you cant see it..
atheist are just closed minded..and dont want to go out of there comfort zones..
Atheists make horrible scientists..because science can prove things unseen..and new discovery are made and made based on a faith of an idea..
Wrong about Einstein:
It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere.... Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
- Albert Einstein, "Religion and Science," New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930
Theories in science are made based on the FAITH OF AN IDEA...which CREATES A POSSIBILITY OF UNDERSTANDING A GREATER TRUTH... there are certain facts that can help create the theory but...all new theories are faith of an idea...
like i said..GOD IS SMART...
I think you're a lost cause. Most believers I can have a healthy conversation with, but every so often a person like you comes a long and makes me rethink the state of US education. Please Love...., learn what a scientific theory is, learn that faith can have multiple meanings and a person having "faith" in god vs. "faith" in a theory are two entirely different things. Learn that scientists believing in a god in no way proves god exists or should change anyones mind and learn that Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan have been two of the most outspoken atheists in this day and age and Einstein (as quoted above) hated being used as an example by the religious.
Learn all of this, and some syntax and grammar and then come back and we can chat.
QUOTE FROM EINSTEIN:
"According to the laws of physics, what we conciser cold, in fact is the absence of heat. IN fact anything is able to be studied as long as it transmits Energy ( heat ), absolute zero is the total absence of heat, but cold does not exist. What we have dont is created a term to describe how we feel if we dont have body heat or we are not hot. ...
this is one of his quotes...we cant PROVE COLD EXISTS...But we can EXPERIENCE IT..they way our physics works you can NOT prove that cold exists..all you can prove is there is a lack of heat..
Another reason you KNOW Einstein believed in GOD is because he was always trying to prove that GOD EXISTS...no one really realizes how complex he was..He would NOT have been trying to prove that if he didn't believe in GOD..he was ALWAYS TRYING TO PROVE GOD EXISTED...lol he was trying to create the GOD Equation...all this is very well written
Athiests wouldnt try to prove GOD EXISTED if thhe didnt beleive in it..
"GOD IS SMART"
your argument is not.
Wrong again Love ....a theory is the strongest position in science...supported by laws.... laws which are based on research...you know, physical proof:))) .....and science actually becomes stronger as people challenge the Laws and theories themseves... because should they be right ( and even sometimes when the challenge fails) it opens new doors.
Religion by comparison fights like the devil against a challenge.. any threat to the gravy train must be put down.
@Love... Wait, Einstein said, "lol"? That guy really was a genius!
its too bad he wasnt in the movie theatre.
Honestly, I don't care so much whether a person is a believer or an atheist, but whether or not they are a good person. Better a kind believer than a mean atheist, and better a kind atheist than a mean believer. What you "believe" or "don't believe" isn't as important as what you actually *do.*
Carl -I agree. SO why do you think so many trolling atheists comment here? They are so sure in their beliefs but don't seem to be concerned with being good/nice, etc.
@Carl, Secaucus, NJ
There is some truth in your words.
It's the 'actions' or what people..."do" that IMO carries the most weight here.
And... since it's the 'actions' of people that seem to be the most important, it is also important to realize that it's from people's *beliefs* that their *actions* will follow.
Part of the problem of all the bigotry and discrimination in our society.
I agree with you to a point Carl, but beliefs inform actions. There are very nice christians who are more than happy to withold rights based on their beliefs, they are not mean people, but there are wrong.
Atheists. Seem to be very angry people.
I think it's true that, the way many atheists talk, they seem to think they are better people than one who believes in God, simply because they don't believe in God. The reverse is often true–believers in God thinking they are better people than one who does not believe in God, simply because they do. Atheists often seem to be saying "Even if you do good, what you believe is nonsense." Believers often seem to be saying "You can't do good because you don't believe."
"Even if you do good, what you believe is nonsense."
I fully admit that IS what I am saying. Religion is part of the maketplace of ideas and as such it is not and should not be above criticism, for too long it has been taboo. The internet is changing that. While I think it is nonsense I will fight for a theists right to believe what they want without gov't intervention.....and I will fight theists who feel the need to impose their beliefs on others through gov't action.
@Carl, Secaucus, NJ
"I think it's true that, the way many atheists talk, they seem to think they are better people than one who believes in God, simply because they don't believe in God."
While I appreciate your attempt to remain balanced in your argument, I don't think it's fair to use words like "better than." "Smarter than" may be more appropriate. "Better" is an emotionally subjective perspective, while intelligence is quanti.tative. They may come of as sounding arrogant and give the impression that they think they are better, but I have found that people who don't have a clear, reasoned argument often feel inferior without any help from their opponent.
GFN "better than" or "smarter than" are not the operative phrases. "Think they are" is.
I'm proud to be retarded.
Religion makes people feel good to think they have a personal relationship with THE all powerful creator of the universe who takes a personal interest in them, loves them, and will protect them when life gets scary.
They believe THEY have all the answers to all the big questions.
Their beliefs and values are aligned with god, therefore they must be 100% right, 100% of the time.
When they die, they get to go to heaven for eternal bliss.
Finally, they have the satisfaction of knowing all those who did not agree with them will suffer god's eternal wrath.
In the end, religious belief is really all about ME, ME, and, ME.
Written like its from an undeducated atheist filled with hate. Spiritual exploration brings up more questions doesn't actually answer all the big stuff since so much is a mystery.
@at, what could be more hateful than preaching non-believers deserve to burn in hell for not believing as you do ?
True, non-believers don't have all the answers to life's big questions. Neither do believers. The difference is that believers claim they do when, in reality, they don't.
@ one – then you assume all who are of faith believe in passing eternal judgement which I and many others do not. I believe in God and practice religion and I do not believe on anyone having any belief forced on them and I am in no position to tell you where you are going. Your views or mine do not make either of us crazy or going to hell, so let's be chill and be nice to one another.
James Holmes is better than Jesus. Period.
You're way out there with that one.
What is more incomprehensible to understand than the crazed rampage of an obviously disturbed man is the crazed rampage of so-called sane men in war. One is considered evil, the other one normal. We are a deeply confused species and bringing god into the picture makes it even more so. It explains nothing. And yet, there is original goodness, but it's beyond ideas of good and evil. Drop all beliefs (even the idea of goodness), be still, let the mud settle, and there may be a chance to find peace.
At its most basic without any philosophy or religious rhetoric- the crazy dude killed a bunch of people and it is an event that casues much pain. But is the guy really crazy ? Meaning he didn;t know what he was doing or was he purposely trying to cause pain?
From the Bible's stand point, these bad things are happening due to the fact that we asked God NOT to intervene, well, our parents did at least, they being Adam and Eve. When they chose to disobey their creator by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, they in effect chose to exercise their own sovereignty. Remember, the former Angel speaking through a snake said God knows you will be better off, "choosing for yourself what is good or bad". He even stated as is well known, "You will be like God!"
Eve was fairly impressed with the pitch, after all, she had never seen a talking snake, so this tree must be magic.
God did not destroy them immediately, as that would not have answered the questions raised there. So, he has for the most part left men to try out their own rule, how do you think that has worked out? Nuff said.
Now, those who think they are smart will make fun of this, but in really, is it anymore unbelievable than the ridiculous, silly, little religious belief called Evolution. I think not.
Adam and Eve is a fable, there is no reason to think any of that myth actually happened. And that story is immoral, punishing the son and daughters for the sin of the parents is immoral on its face.
Thinking about the holocaust makes me want to beat off.
You poor atheists – so mean spirited and bold behind your computers but I can never seem to find any of you in th ereal world. No one can prove anything to you – you must seek it for yourself and let go of your ego and try for one minute to put your own human stupidity aside. Also, you BP would go down if you would quit coming to topics that are more geared towards the faithful – another sign of your low intelligence.
Why do you worship Hitler's butt hole?
@ Talk to Sam and @ (other)TC – thanks for really making my point. You all confirm the mean spiritedness and low intelligence extremely well.
I can debate you right now, and I'll do it cordially as well.
For instance, your insistence that all I need to do is seek for myself and let go of my ego in order to find god. Been there, done that. I was a jew for a long time, I studied my butt off for my b'nai mitzvah and I traveled through the heartbreak of poland and the joy of touching the wailing wall. Through all these events I really thought god was there with me, guiding me. However it wasn't really the case. They were touching moments, but I've felt equal joy and heartbreak in Rwanda, the summit of a 14er, college graduation.
Sure, if you ask to hear god, you just might, but that's because you're searching for it, because you want it to be real so bad that you misinterpret events as "signs" when, in fact, they're just random occurrences.
@Chuckles – I definitely don't purport it's easy and no one can speak to anyone else's spiritual experiences. I think its a journey and only real soul searching can help someone define the world (physical or spiritual). My main complaint about atheism is that the main argument questions my personal spiritual experiences. So many talk like they know it all and can speak for my eperiences. How arrogant is that?
I can't speak for the other atheists here but it sounds to me like you don't have a problem with atheism, but the people who choose to be an atheists. Understandably, you dislike when an atheist trivializes your experiences by explaining it through scientific means. Arrogance isn't necessarily the word I would use, but sure, it's annoying.
@Chuckles. Ummmmm – not exactly right. If an atheist could explain their views with scientific proof that would be different. Atheists cannot explain the mysteries of this life any better than a theist – it is an opinion. The atheist has an absence of spiritual experience while theists (not all) have spritiual experiences. No one can speak for the other – its very personal. Science is imporatnt becasue we need to understadn our physical universe and science in itself is a journey of exploration that keeps helping us understand and it even lends to helping us understadn the spiritual as well.
lol TC ... one shred of proof..... physical proof .... and as far as annoying goes, the religious historicly have tried to cram a blatant lie down non believers' throats, and in many cases killed those who didnt convert...annoying? you dont know the half of it... and we have to respect a con even today.....
Here's the issue though, you're asking for science to prove something that you've already deemed unprovable. Isn't that a little unfair? For instance, please give me a hypothetical scenario in which science could prove that atheism is indeed the best way? The only way I know of is by literally scanning every atom in the entire universe and not uncovering anything to suggest a god being or a "spiritual plane" where a god could exist.
Meanwhile, I know it would abundantly simple to have any religion proven correct for me by a simple action by the god or gods of said religion or an event to occur that is undoubtably impossible (For instance a big booming voice from the heavens or say, raining frogs from the sky).
Furthermore, atheism does not presume to know the mysteries of the universe, there are theories and scientific theories, which are not opinions but observable data coalesced in a way to understand the data. If new data comes to light or if a theory comes to light that fits the data better, we adapt. That's not a bad thing.
As for the "spiritual" level you speak of. We can both agree that everyone has their own experiences that gives them moments of pause. The word we use to describe it is spiritual, but it's more of a descriptor rather than a physical plane which we can access. We have found no evidence of a soul, or a spiritual plane, so why should we as.sume there is one?
I'm not looking for science to prove either side. I look for science to prove what it can, whatever that may be. Science will never prove the existence of God and religions or religious people will never prove the existence of God to non-believers. That is why it is called faith – the belief and truth comes from inside – the physical world is not going to provide adequate proof. As far as judging natural phenomena and miracles – I find that science and religion cannot explain those either – it will be deemed as unexplainable by science and the the miracle piece is left up to the faithful. Science will never explain the spiritual but I do believe that one dayu the spiritual will be able to explain the physicla world. And I agree with you on data – we gather lots of observable data – I work at an ecology lab so very aware of this. Gotta go but good chatting with you.
Herein lies the problem. You have decided that science will never be able to prove god does not exist and religion will never be able to prove god does. You value faith as if it's a virtue, as if taking something on faith is a good thing, even though both you and I know that in any other realm, believing someone point blank seems wrong. Taking something on faith alone is bad.
Honestly, I believe that if god, or gods, were to reveal himself/themselves in a very convincing way, science has the ability to change, to adapt. If a voice booms down from the sky and is heard all around the world with n discernible origin, most people won't just chalk it up to scientific anomaly and go on, they'll change. There are stubborn people out there who probably would, there always are, but for the most part it's good enough proof.
See you around, it was nice chatting with you as well.
TC "If an atheist could explain their views with scientific proof that would be different. Atheists cannot explain the mysteries of this life any better than a theist "
the above has got to be in the running for the stupidest line ive seen today..
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.