In the aftermath of that horrible day, and this year as we collectively remembered and revisited those tragic events, I noticed how much of the media conversation was engaged in the task of theodicy.
But this was a theodicy without God. It was a secular theodicy, but a theodicy nonetheless.
It swirls around the questions:
"How could this have happened?"
"Why did this happen?"
And a host of answers come, each attempting to answer those questions. It was mental illness. Parental failure. Gun ownership. Childhood trauma or abuse. Violent video games. Pure evil.
And then we move on to all the ways society at large is implicated in those causes. Not caring for the mentally ill. Too many broken homes. Not enough gun control. A media that valorizes violence.
We even want answers to acts of nature. Loss of life in storms and tsunamis is due to global warming, lack of advance notification and systemic poverty putting people at risk.
We all, passionately, want an explanation. An answer.
More, we want a single answer. What we'd really like is a scapegoat. Someone or something to blame.
Because if we had someone to blame we'd have ourselves an answer--a nice and tidy explanation. The reason.
And then the world would make sense again. Moral sense.
Watch the media in the aftermath of tragedy.
We ache for a theodicy.
Everyone is a theologian.
Even if we don't believe in God.