Loughner and Nothing

On Sixty Minutes on Sunday night, they interviewed a couple friends of assassin Jared Loughner. The thing that leapt out at me was when they described Loughner’s beliefs and motive. They said that he believed in “nothing,” and stressed that they didn’t mean he didn’t believe in anything, but that he believed in nothing. His actions were a proclamation of that belief – they underscored the nothingness of existence.

Then I read these words this morning:

As modern men and women – to the degree that we are modern – we believe in nothing. That is not to say, I should add, that we do not believe in anything; I mean rather that we hold an unshakeable, if often unconscious faith, in the nothing, or in nothingness as such. It is this in which we place our trust, upon which we venture our souls, and onto which we project the values by which we measure the meaningfulness of our lives. Or, to phrase the matter simply and starkly, our religion is one of comfortable nihilism.

David Bentley Hart: In the Aftermath, 2007

If this is true, and it seems to be, we may have found the real source of Loughner’s madness. Even his use of hallucinogenic drugs is part of that worldview. I wish I could study this more closely because this vacuum at the center of our culture strikes me as a powerful source of destruction of souls, communities, and lives. It also creates a space for the government to move into and exaggerate the reach of its necessity.

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