December 17th, 2012
03:02 PM ET

My Take: Praying for questions about Newtown that go beyond ‘Why, God?’

Editor’s note: Margaret Feinberg is a popular speaker and author of numerous books, including “Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God,” which releases on Christmas Day. Follow her on Twitter @mafeinberg.

By Margaret Feinberg, Special to CNN

Why, God, why? Why do you allow the horror of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School?

Why do you allow the loss, pain, terror, heartache and death? Why do you allow evil to triumph and innocence to be stripped away? Is this kind of evil stoppable? And do we have some role to play?

In the wake of so many unanswered questions, what kinds of questions do we really need to be asking? Are you cajoling us to ask how we can prevent this from happening again? Is the answer found in gun regulations, better security or deeper changes in our own hearts and lives?

Does preventing these kinds of crimes actually begin with us? If we had more compassion on those on the margins - those who wrestle with the demons of mental illness and social exile, who may be pondering violent acts at this very moment - can we prevent this horror from happening again?

My Take: Obama's Newtown remarks show pastor-in-chief

Are you prompting us to search our own lives and hearts to identify who we need to recognize that we’ve overlooked? In our families? Neighborhoods? Schools? Workplaces? Communities? Retirement homes?

Who are the kids and adults being shoved to the sidelines of life on whom we need to extend compassion? Where have our arms been too short, our hearts too closed to embrace?

Is this a potent reminder that our call is to be more sensitive to those who feel unloved, marginalized, shunned from our society? Are you awakening us to the fact that we all play a role in these matters?

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Have we helped create troubled souls like Arizona gunman Jared Loughner, Colorado gunman James Holmes and now Connecticut gunman Adam Lanza through our failure to extend kindness to those who need it most?

What are the words we need to learn to say not just with our mouths but our actions? Are you challenging us to express, “I love you!”;  “You matter!”; “You’re good at that!”; “We’re glad you’re here!";  “Want to join us?” or something more?

Will you grace us with the courage to extend a love we do not have on our own?

Why does it seem that before we can change, we need to encounter you? Will you give us eyes to see those who feel invisible, ears to hear their cries for help and hearts broken for victims who prey on victims?

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How can we reflect you and your love during this difficult time? Will you pour out your grace, strength and love on those who have lost so much? Will you wrap your arms around them? Will you be with them in a tangible way?

Will you give them unexplainable peace? Will you do something miraculous? Will you unleash your redemption and restoration in this situation? Will you take prayers we’ve offered this week and make them habits of our hearts?

Will you do what only you can do, and take our breaths away again? Will you astound us with the wonder of who you are in the midst of that which makes no sense? Will you draw us all closer to you and to each other through this time?

In the wake of your love, will you teach us what better questions we need to ask and how we need to respond? Will you help us, oh Lord? Will you let it be so? Amen.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Margaret Feinberg.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Opinion • Prayer • Violence

soundoff (1,166 Responses)
  1. Jim A.

    Rabbi Kushner in his book "Why Bad Things happen To Good People" frames the question differently. Rather than ask "Why?" we should ask "Now that this has happened, what are we going to do about it?" As a nation, we offer support, love, and prayers. As a nation, we also begin to explore gun control and the necessity to keep citizens safe from those who would perform evil. The NRA is a unified interest group wielding immense clout with law makers. Are the citizens of the Nation able to rise up in one voice and shout down the NRA with its flawed logic and arguments?

    December 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Pat

      Seems like Rabbi Kushner is avoiding the real question.

      December 18, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  2. CSX

    Woe unto to you! Why God? NO why people!!

    For by one man sin entered into the world, and by one man we have grace.
    Understand this – GOD IS ON OUR SIDE. We are free agents and he GAVE 100% with his Son to free us.
    America has abandoned God.

    Evil is your enemy, not the Holy, perfect and just God we have abandoned.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Manny

      Why does a story like this bring out of the wood pile those who fancy themselves Old Testament prophets like this nutter?

      December 17, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  3. Jake

    So, some crazy guy decides to kill 26 people and it's God's fault? When something good happens or when someone does something good, do you give credit to God? So why is it that when a crazy commits acts of evil, it is God's fault? When mankind does something good, we take the credit. When we do evil, we blame God.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Nobody is blaming god, but when some christard says that this act is a result of "kicking god out of school," it makes it his fault for being a whiny b!tch who lets kids get killed when he doesn't get his ego stroked in certain buildings by certain people. God believers should quit making him out to be a petulant infant.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Manny

      God would probably get the credit if some guy saved 26 people from some disaster, so why the double standard?

      December 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  4. thatoneguy

    This tragity has nothing to do with God. God has no master plan, God was here yesterday, today and tomorrow. Just because he knows the outcome does not mean he planned it that way. Free will: our gift.... do with it what you will.... raise a family..... go to work..... become the president or a scientist or any other thing you may wish.... unfortunetly some choose to do evil things...... If you believe in God this is a simple concept to grasp..... If you dont believe in God should still be a pretty easy concept to understand. Free will causes lives to crash together..... some have the will of good and some have the will of evil.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Manny

      I thought that the bible was full of God's master plan to destroy the world?

      December 17, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • thatoneguy

      Thats only what 1800's pastors and media would leave you to believe.... if you actually read the New Test. its god telling everyone "Here you go... good luck..... I'll be back soon"

      December 17, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      The will of the One far outweighs the wills of the masses! Although the massiveness of many mobs try their wills against God's godly, they have no weight of their own to charge undaunted into breaking the mold of the One, Christ Jesus, the One and the Chosen by God's will alone to give measures to the knowing and unwary alike an equality beyond mere wants for and even against the One, the Chosen and the Forlorn Being from God Almighty whose Holy Spirit is the vast Nothingness of which unbelievers will find themselves to be a part of due their own wills and wants!

      December 17, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Pat

      Another one who can't (or won't) say anything about the free will of the children.

      December 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  5. lionlylamb

    The Universally-Formed Multiple Cosmos of Triune Manifestation

    We all live amid two chasms of cosmological orders. We have the inner-cosmos and the outer-cosmos. The inner-cosmos is atomically made and is the universal construct of the outer-cosmos. One could not have an outer cosmos without there being an inner cosmos. Both are synonymously of the same natures. It stands to reason the inner-cosmos was made first and the outer-cosmos came into being only after the passive finalization of the inner-cosmos was made near complete. The inner-cosmos is transcendent and fixed while the outer-cosmos is ascendant and malleable in their dualities natures.

    The third cosmos is of life itself made from the inner-cosmos living upon the terrestrial planetary faces of the celestial outer-cosmos. This third cosmos is the celled cosmos or the cellular cosmologic orders duly ordained of and by and even for all life forms to be made anywhere cellular life can gain a foothold to evolve and gain in the abundant natures toward the evolution of its structures ever evolving in base pairings. Without the two main Cosmos coming into existence; living cellular cosmologies could not ever exist.

    The trinity or threefold nature of chasm cosmologies is being one of the greatest and grandest gestures ever to have been formulated! To say God had nothing to do with such a feat of cosmologic inter-dependencies seems an infallible congruency inconsistent for one to say or think otherwise. To say the nature of God is to keep inflating the physical elements of the outer cosmos while deflating the essence needs for the inner-cosmos leaves one to wonder about the third cosmological construct’s real nature for having been created. Why then is there cellular cosmos of living cosmologies and when did such life become established?

    The history of multifaceted cosmological expansionism within celestial symmetries comes from the terrestrial complacencies of planetary regularities and solarized objectivism wherever the abundance of inner cosmologies coalesces to form stars, planets and moons among many other fragmented structures within the spatial confines of a universally formed Cosmos.

    Life, upon the celestial shorelines of the terrestrially compliant are as a biologic ‘cellularistic’ cosmological constant, and were ever formed and are continually forming seemingly unto forever as well placed living conglomerations in naturalisms arcades of wondrous cavalcades marching in steps of melancholy tributes to God upon the most high cosmos of universally formidable formations on the highest of unimaginable grounds!

    December 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • CSX


      December 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  6. Follix

    Oh please stop with the free will argument, it doesn't even exist. If you were born Adam Lanza, you would have had his brain therefore you would have done what he did.

    Why God didn't intervene? Because he doesn't exist, it's that simple.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • snix

      hahhahahahaha, you idiot! Look up and see

      December 17, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Jim A.

      Even if you decide not read the Bible, perhaps you should read The Didache, The Early Church Fathers, those martyred for belief. How do you explain so many people martyred for theri belief?

      December 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      People die for their sincere beliefs all the time. See suicide bombers, 9/11, etc.. If you believe you'll get a paradise after death, then you'll make the trade.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • URgod not there

      Excellent, thank you.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • They don't let you out very often do they

      Jim A. " The Early Church Fathers, those martyred for belief. How do you explain so many people martyred for theri belief?"

      How do you explain David Koresh and his branch dividians that chose to burn to death with their prophet? According to your thinking that makes David just as great as christ

      December 17, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  7. QS

    "Why does it seem that before we can change, we need to encounter you?"

    This is probably the most profound question in the entire article as I wonder this very thing about religious people myself all the time!

    And if this is the general mentality of religious people – that they feel they must first meet their god before they can change anything about themselves – is it any wonder that I constantly feel vindicated in my anti-religion?

    December 17, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  8. Eduardo

    It was twenty years ago today
    That the coaches said we couldn't play
    Our classmates called us nerdy geeks
    Our pastors told us to be meek
    You wonder why we're full of rage?
    We need this electronic stage.


    We're Richard Dawkins' Lonely Hearts Club Band
    We've got no bloody place to go
    We're Richard Dawkins' one and only Lonely Hearts Club Band
    The girls in high school told us "no"

    Richard Dawkins', Lonely, RIchard Dawkins' Lonely
    Richard Dawkins' Lonely (Harmony) Hearts Club Band

    I don't really want to spoil the show
    But I thought you'd all like to know
    My daddy was a fall-down drunk
    His uncle was pedophile monk
    I don't know how to handle pain
    My childhood prayers were in vain

    Richard Dawkins' Lonely Hearts Club Band!

    Billy Shears!

    What would you think if I called God a jerk, would you stand up and walk out on me.
    Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song of why your faith bothers me

    Oh I get by with a little hate in my heart
    Ooh, and I cry with a little hate in my heart,
    Yeah, I'm going to die with a little hate in my heart.
    Mmm, I'm going die with a little hate in my heart


    (Could you be more obnoxious?)
    I just want someone to hate

    (Don't you know you're obnoxious?)
    I need somebody to hate

    Oh I get by with a little hate in my heart
    Oooh, and I cry with a little hate in my heart,
    Yeah, I'm going to die with a little hate in my heart.
    Mmmm, I'm going die with a little hate in my heart, a little hate in my (Harmony!) Heart!

    December 17, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Akira

      CouLd you be any more obnoxious?

      I hope you get sued.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Eduardo

      Oh yes...I'll get sued.

      Paul McCartney v. "Eduardo"

      What a tool!

      December 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  9. sanjosemike

    If there is a god, and I meet him or her, I will ask this simple question: "Why are you such an a**hole?"

    Then, he/she can do what he wants with me.


    December 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Me too. I'd be like, "Seriously? What the fvck is your problem?"

      December 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Eduardo

      I haven't even met you – and I have the exact same question for you? Go figure!

      December 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Yeah but...

      That's probably why the Christians chose Christ...I mean somebody already beat him up and killed him. You can't do much two thousand years later that wasn't already done to the poor guy. If of course that occured and if of course he was..y'know.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  10. Elijah

    God does not intervene because it does not coincide with the purpose of our existence. We are here to have the choice between good and evil so that God may decide whether or not we are deserving of a place in His kingdom. God controls fate only so much so as to lead humanity through the story of our existence – one in which we see firsthand how awful a world is in which mankind is allowed to decide for ourselves what right and wrong should be. Any further interference would undermine fairness to all. After all, what makes the kids of Newtown any more or less important than victims of other crimes, such as little girls in Afghanistan who have acid thrown in their faces for trying to get an education. But most of us don't give a squat about them, do we? Back to the point at hand, though – to remove evil from the world would negate the very purpose of our existence here in the first place. Without evil we would have no choice, and God would have no way of knowing whether or not we can exist in Heaven without corrupting it the way we do Earth.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • sanjosemike

      Elijah, I have heard this ridiculous pap nonesense "free-will crap" for years. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING can excuse a supreme being for permitting the Holocaust. Absolutely nothing.


      December 17, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Akira

      Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

      He created it, he can stop it.
      He has free will, also.
      He chooses not to.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Youcantbeserious

      I'm always leery of those who are assured in themselves of the nature of God. "Oh, he doesn't intervene" (but I suspect you believe he performed interventionist miracles 2,000+ years ago all the time for a nomadic, illiterate desert tribe or at least in some other parts of time like during creation nonsense, etc). Of course, your assertion that free will solves the riddle of the problem of evil does absolutely nothing to account for the millions of deaths of innocent children in hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, malaria, cancer, etc. for which free will plays absolutely NO part and for which only he can be blamed. If he can intervene and doesn't he's evil, if he wants to but can't he's impotent, or he doesn't exist and is yet another ancient man-made tradition used to explain the world to people with a worldview narrower than the likes you've ever known in your lifetime.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Elijah

      sanjosemike – Your point is well understood and quite valid, but you neglect to see that this world isn't exactly "real". Do you really think God and the inhabitants of Heaven refer to this created world as the "real world"? No – it was created! So while events such as Newtown are truly horrific and tragic; in reality, they occured in what I like to call a "biological simulation" and therefore did not "really" happen. So we can either live in this hell He created and deal with these tragic events, or God must decide the fate of humanity on His own. Personally, I think He was very merciful and just for giving the right of choice to life itself.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Moby Schtick


      I expect that those who lost loved ones in this tragedy would find your comments very rude and hurtful. To say that this life is not real is to devalue it without reason. We know of no other existence, and so it is right to treat this life and experience as very precious and important. Your sort of reasoning strikes me as very dangerous to hold.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Elijah

      Youcantbeserious – Great points and very logical. But you fail to see the big picture. You view the world from your own perspective instead of trying to see it from God's point of view. See my last post for more clarity. As for the natural disasters, that's another topic for another time. The point to this is that God created us and He can just as easily destroy us. Instead, He goes to incredible extents to give us an opportunity to prove ourselves worthy of living with Him in Heaven. My point is should be thankful.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Elijah

      Moby Schtick – That is an extremely narrow and treacherous line I tread as lightly as possible. I'm only trying to help people to understand God's logic in such tragic times when it is so easy to turn our backs on Him. None of this, however, diminishes the tragedy which has befallen Newtown, CT or any other tragedy for that matter. I offer my deepest and most sincere apology to anyone who may have felt offended by my words. Please believe me when I say that my heart bleeds for many.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Elijah

      Sorry Akira, almost missed you. Not much to reply to your post except, EXACTLY!

      December 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  11. Adam

    Poorly framed yet sincere questions that will never receive any satisfactory answers...

    I would suggest turning your gaze down, from the silent skies to the world in front of you. If there are answers, they are surely here before us, in this, the only world we are certain of.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  12. LetUsReason

    After 20+ yrs of looking for an answer of why God permits such evil, this is the only rational/satisfying explanation I've heard:


    December 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I think that god could come up with a better way to teach us about such concepts than through their experience. Nature and reality is blind, cold, and uncaring, but we do learn to our highest ability through our experiences. If that's all god does, then what's the point of belief or faith or praise or any of that sort of thing?

      December 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  13. Jim A.

    God gave us free will. He never said life would be without pain, sorrow, and grief. God promised comfort and compassion through Him. God mourns and grieves those killed in Newtown and even grieves for the shooter who turned his back on God and chose violence. For those who ask "Why did God not intervene?" that same question could be asked millions of times over the centuries. Even Jesus said that if His kingdom was of this world that those of Heaven would be fighting to free him. We are of this world. And being part of this world means we must also confront with courage evil. Where as God during this tragedy? He was in the teachers who tried to save the children. He was in the teachers who kept children safe. He is in the outpouring of support offered by communities, countries, of perfect strangers, of President Obama. God is present in all of the good that has revealed itself since the tragedy. As horrific and tragic of the event of December 14 and the absence of answers to the question "Why?" I see God present in all of those rallying to support the victims and their families, the outpouring of love and prayer by complete strangers. God is love and He is present in Newtown today.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • niknak

      No, god never did any of that, because god does not exist.

      Some stone age goat herders said all that, and you believers bought into the big lie.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  14. Wherewashe

    Some of you seem to forget, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered God out of both, our schools and our government many years ago. So, respecting the agency He gave us to govern ourselves as we see fit, He wasn't there, either last Friday, or when Adam Lanza was growing up. We have chosen a national course that doesn't include God, but we have made a tragic mistake.

    December 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Jim A.

      I would kindly disagree with the idea we are being punished for the US Supreme Court's ruling on prayer in school. Children learn of God through their families, through their Churches. "Prayer in school" should not be the source of the children's understanding nor should it define faith. Just because public prayer iin schools is not permitted does not mean that God does not hear the prayers of the individuals at the schools. If prayer ins chool is important, are there not Catholic Parochial sschools to consider?

      December 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  15. niknak


    December 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  16. CGAW

    Freewill. Whatever you believe – freewill. Life is 90% how you respond to what happens to what you cannot control.

    December 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Follix

      In a neurological way, Free will is impossible.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  17. lionlylamb

    God knows for this is all that matters, God knows. Atheists have Atheism to keep them happy and safe from God, come their demise of finality in this physical realm of many a variable yearnings in the conscious consciences of the self. No more physical yearnings come the deaths of the common Atheists. No more cleaving upon others words come the deaths of any Atheist. No more a part of the universe in its allness of physical annuities, no more! May the nothingness of sheer nothing be the common Atheists deadly new home of forever onto all eternity ever and forever more!

    December 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      you made your own lead figures as a kid didnt you?

      December 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Thomas Jefferson

      It sounds like your fear of nothingness makes it impossible for you to be anything but a believer. Still not really a very logical reason to believe, however. With all that rambling, you may want to get your head checked out.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • niknak

      You fell off the wagon cowardlylion and went back to posting unclear messages.
      I thought we had made some serious progress in our last session trying to get you to write clearly.

      To sum up your post for other readers;

      I, cowardlylion, am really scared that science might be right and my time here is all that I will get and when I die, there will be no heaven. So I will believe in the fairy tale because it acts like an adult security blanket and makes me sleep better.
      And all you atheists will go to nowhere after you die, so hahaha.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      cedar rapids,


      Thomas Jefferson,

      What really do you know about the sheer size of Nothingness? Does not our bodies contain more nothingness than physical substance? Or would you rather be a part of any physical essence than be a part of nothingness forever more?

      December 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  18. fdtdf

    I am sick of the twisted morons on FB going on about that had God been allowed in the schools, this would not have happened.

    So they're saying violence doesn't happen in Muslim countries because they fear God and teach him in schools?

    So they're saying God protects kids from pedophiles in the church?

    Not saying all Christians are stupid. Many are bright people. But the loud ones really show how idiotic some of them are.

    December 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Akira

      People are wholly moronic to think God is so petty that he would slaughter 20 little kids in a school because they no longer allow prayer to be taught in them.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • krankimom

      What does keeping God in school have to do with mental illness? You can't pray mental illness away.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Jordan N.

      Seems to me there are 3 possibilities when that question is raised.

      1 – God did not have the power to prevent this (therefore he is not all-powerful)
      2 – God did have the power to prevent it but chose not to (kind of a jerk)
      3 – There is no god

      Take your pick which it is.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  19. mark

    Your take is pure BS.

    December 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  20. Satan

    6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. If there's a God who allows that, why wonder why such a God would allow the murder of 26 people? Consider this: maybe there's no God. Or maybe there is a God but humans have free will to do both good and evil, and these things are the works of humans, not gods or devils. Born 2,000 years ago, you would not have asked such questions. You would simply accept that Zeus or Odin or whichever pagan god you worshiped simply viewed human actions and didn't intervene, except to hurl the occasional thunderbolt or father a demigod. But in more modern terms, if God didn't save his own son from an excruciating slow death nailed to a cross, why would we ever wonder why He wouldn't intervene to save mere humans? According to the Old Testament, God told a man to murder his own son, as a test of the man's willingness to obey. I mean, really, think about the things you believe.

    December 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      which is bizarre that god apparently needed to test anyone, didnt he already know? isnt he supposed to know whats in the hearts of man?
      its like that whole put a mark on the door to avoid being visited by the angel of death thing. Why would he need a sign? wouldnt he know?

      December 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Phil

      God dwells in heaven. He gave man dominion over Earth. We are allowed to make choices. Even bad choices. He has to let us do this.

      We can each choose to love God or not love God. God does not control this. If he does then that is not true love.

      He has to let the consequences of our bad decisions play out.

      Sometimes this is tragic and innocent lives are lost.

      These shootings were not from God. They are not in his character. This was evil. This happened at the hands of man.

      Maybe this tragedy can prevent even more tragedies from happening. Unfortunately, innocent people are still being shot a killed.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
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About this blog

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.