Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Hate in Holy Week

Was it hate that drove Andreas Lubitz to kill his innocent passengers?

It’s a hard week for Christians. We re-live the intense drama of the last days of Jesus on earth, and they were dark days. It began last Sunday – Palm Sunday. Like a successful rally the supporters waved palms as if they were election manifestos, to welcome their hero into the centre of political life. They expected him to make some serious political changes.

Like all politics and so much of life, the whole movement crashed days later with a hateful betrayal- and the life of a uniquely good man terminated in a political execution.

You can describe it politically, or psychologically and it makes a certain sense up to a point. These are patterns that have been replicated so many times since. But that leaves you with a jigsaw in which too many vital pieces are missing.

Why should a man who embodied such goodness, hope and love, be crushed by hatred?  What feeds the betrayal? Was Judas depressed? Had he shown suicidal tendencies? Was his girlfriend pregnant?

Hatred, which is the face of evil, is the missing piece.

Andreas Lubitz shocked the world to its core last week, when he crashed Germanwings Flight 4U9525 into the ground killing himself and  149 innocent traveling people, children and parents. It was an act of hatred that took our breath away.

Since then everyone has been scurrying around trying to find a causal explanation. The father of an English victim thought it might be because the bosses didn’t take enough care of the pilots. Hordes of people jumped on the depression bandwagon. “He suffered from depression so he slipped into mass murder”, leaving many who actually know about depression complaining bitterly that they were being tarred with the same brush. Anyone who knows anything about depression knows it doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t deliberately destroy others.

Had he been jilted? Was his girlfriend pregnant? Were his eyes failing? “Oh, but he had experienced suicidal tendencies”; who hasn’t? Again the suicidal are trapped in a despair that closes other people out of the equation.

Another ‘Andrew’, Anders Breivik shot dead 69 kids at a Socialist Youth Camp in 2011 in Norway. His psychological state was minutely examined. There was almost a desperation to find him insane. Because if he was in his ‘right mind’ (whatever that is) and wasn’t mad when he gunned down the innocent kids, what made him do it? A piece of jigsaw was missing. Yes he was a loser and a loner and had right wing views. But like depressives, that doesn’t slip into mass murder. Something else is needed.

In the Gospels we are told that Satan entered Judas just before he left to denounce Jesus. Whatever bitterness and political frustration he suffered, whatever inadequacy, something extra added its weight to all the human fragility. We can recognise it most easily as hate, but it is also known as evil. It’s something that has been airbrushed out of our public conversations by the commentators, because if it exists, then all our panaceas and all our would-be materialist solutions aren’t going to work. And so many lives and so much ink has been dedicated to the belief that we can fix this world on our own terms.

We use the phase so often “I don’t know what got into him”, and for once our instincts are right. For Anders Breitvik and Andreas Lubitz, something, someone, got into them. And the fuel of their human dysfunctionality was set alight by a hatred that drove them to destroy innocent bystanders, and to take a cold satisfaction in their destruction.

But if we recognise this hate as evil, then we need to look for an antidote that is beyond the competence and skill set of any of the therapists or the management consultants or the politicians to deliver. We need a greater and more powerful Good to act as an antidote to this evil. This evil is what lay behind the multiple genocides this last century; actions that are utterly inexplicable in the language of sane normality. It feeds on resentment and unforgiveness. It touches us all at some point and to some extent.

Although the early Christians thought that everything was over when Jesus was killed, on the first Easter, they were overwhelmed by the experience, shared by hundreds historically, and millions spiritually, that He rose from the dead, breaking through the hatred and ending the despair. In the resurrection the antidote to evil offers himself to us all; an antidote that makes good more powerful than evil, love more potent  than hate, compassion more gripping than despair, life more credible than death. The deepest solutions to our deepest problems are spiritual not therapeutic or political; but you need to take the antidote.

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