For Whom Do the Bells Toll?

The Governor of Connecticut has asked that church bells be rung on Friday at 9:30 am, one week after the tragic events in Newtown, to remember the victims.  It reminded me of a passage at the end of Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael mystery, One Corpse Too Many, in which a number of hostages are killed and a murderer “hides” his victims corpse among the others.  The book ends this way:

“‘As for justice,’ said Brother Cadfael thoughtfully, ‘ it is but half the tale.’  He would say a prayer at Compline for the repose of Nicholas Faintree, a clean young man of mind and life, surely now assuaged and at rest.  But he would also say a prayer for the soul of Adam Courcelle, dead in bis guilt; for every untimely death, every man cut down in his vigour and strength without time for repentance and reparation, is one corpse too many . . .   ‘From the highest to the lowest extreme of a man’s scope, wherever justice and retribution can reach him, so can grace.’”

Why should the church bells not ring 28 times?  Are there not, indeed, 28 victims: all of them a result of our society’s failure to deal adequately with issues of mental health and gun violence?  Is not every life precious in the eyes of the Creator?

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