Christchurch: Headcam at the Mosques

You’ve almost certainly seen the news by now. Someone killed more than four dozen folks at a Friday afternoon prayer meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

One attack was east of the city’s center, the other west. Both were about a mile from Cathedral Square.

The Bangladesh Cricket team were on their way to one of the prayer meetings. They hadn’t quite arrived when the killing started. They’re a bit rattled, but otherwise okay.

The cricketers weren’t the only ones who had their day disrupted. Christchurch authorities stopped a climate change rally in Cathedral Square and put the city’s schools in lockdown.1

The attacker’s identity was obvious, at least in 20-20 hindsight. He identified himself by name, and livestreamed video of at least one attack from his headcam.

I noticed familiar angles in today’s news and op-eds covering the attacks:

That’s understandable. Even if some outfit managed to get all the facts and discussed how they’d affect — or might affect — everyone, I doubt that anyone would read the result. Maybe a few news wonks, with entirely too much time on their hands.

I’ve got an angle or two, myself.

Dead or Missing

(From Getty Images, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
(“A floral tribute on Linwood Avenue, near one of the mosques that was targeted”
(BBC News))

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
(Romans 12:15)

I’m not sure which would be less pleasant: knowing that someone in my family had been killed, or knowing only that he or she is missing and might be dead or injured.

Either way, I’d almost certainly prefer knowledge to uncertainty. From the trouble taken to update missing persons lists, I’d say that others share my preference:

‘Weeping with those who weep’ is easier for me in cases like this, where I can identify with the mourners. Maybe that needs an explanation.


I’m a Christian, a Catholic. From some viewpoints, I’d be expected to see Muslims as enemy threats.

I don’t, partly because respecting other religions is a good idea. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 839845, 2104)

And partly because I’m a Catholic, living in a country where some folks may still see us as minions of a foreign power.

There’s a little truth behind that fear. The pope isn’t an American. I can’t vote for or against an amendment to the Decalogue, or even collect signatures for a referendum on trans-species marriage.

I could, actually. And that’s anther topic.

But, undemocratic and un-American as it is, I’m pretty sure “Romanism” won’t engulf this fair land in its tentacles of tyranny, superstition, bigotry and ignorance.

I figure many Muslims living in America and New Zealand take their faith as seriously as I do. Particularly those who let themselves be seen following their religious practices.

Not that I’d hope to convince stalwart defenders of ‘their’ country that Islam and Muslims are no more a threat than creeping Catholicism and Papists with too many kids.

Not Missing ‘the Good Old Days’

(From BBC News, used w/o permission.)

The attacker’s livestream video apparently went straight to his Facebook account. Folks who share his attitude promptly shared it in assorted social media.

I think there’s a lesson or two here, and it’s not that civilization is doomed unless we limit social media content to material screened by right-minded officials.

I don’t even think that social media, the Internet, guns or motor-driven vehicles make people behave badly.

Turning our thoughts into actions is easier with technology. Whether we help or hurt each other? That’s up to us. (February 4, 2018; January 28, 2018)

Online social media didn’t exist until a few decades back.

The technology and its developing social structures let me communicate with folks I’d never meet otherwise.

Some share my viewpoints, many don’t. For me, that’s nothing new. Or disturbing, by itself. Some of the attitudes I see are another matter.

I’d much prefer living in a world where pretty much everyone didn’t act as if “different” and “evil” were synonyms. And saw other folks as neighbors, not foreign threats. That’s not how things are in today’s world.

It’s not how they were in my ‘good old days,’ either.

Maybe it was easier to ignore everything that wasn’t in the nightly news or discussed during coffee breaks.

But it was harder to learn what editors hadn’t selected for the day’s network news and national news services. As I keep saying, I don’t miss ‘the good old days.’

And I sure don’t want a world where only the ‘right’ folks are allowed to express opinions. Even if the information gatekeepers said they had only my best interests in mind. That’s a can of worms for another day.

Love and Dignity

I’ll wrap this up with a few points I’ve made before. Often.

I should love God and my neighbors — and see everyone as my neighbor. Everyone. (Matthew 5:4344, 22:3640; Mark 12:2831; Luke 6:31, 10:2537; Catechism, 1789)

I think human life is precious, sacred. (Catechism, 2258)

We each have equal dignity. That’s true, no matter how we act, who we are or where we live. (Catechism, 360, 17001706, 19321933, 1935)

I also think working together makes more sense than the alternative:

“…We must overcome our fear of the future. But we will not be able to overcome it completely unless we do so together. The ‘answer’ to that fear is neither coercion nor repression, nor the imposition of one social ‘model’ on the entire world. The answer to the fear which darkens human existence at the end of the twentieth century is the common effort to build the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty….”
(“To the United Nations Organization,” St. John Paul II (October 5, 1995))

Maybe I’ll say more about what happened in Christchurh yesterday, when there’s more information and I’ve got more time.

Meanwhile, here’s the usual list of somewhat-related posts:

1 Background:

About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
This entry was posted in Discursive Detours and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Christchurch: Headcam at the Mosques

  1. Brian, I’m starting to catch up with your posts again. Another thoughtful, honest and insightful take on these events – which I chose to read instead of the main line media’s graphic stuff. Thank you.

  2. frank o'shea says:

    Regarding internet, the sixth letter of the old Jewish alphabet is called ‘vav’ and can be represented with a letter V and W. As in: ‘666’ says ‘WWW’, so, this internet is by no means benign.

  3. Picked up some info about how the terrorist isn’t actually one of those religious sorts, but, basically, one of those chaos-centered sorts who hang out as trolling online anons and reference everything pop, particularly the Internet sort, along with using ’em to mess everyone’s heads up. In other words, it’s someone going for a clearer “Suffering for suffering’s sake” movement, and not even “Changing the world” can hide that, since after all, the world is in constant change, and the only change that matters is the good one. But hey, that’s based on the bits and pieces I picked up so far, and somehow, I’m taking this more calmly than I expected right now. Still, if that’s the case, it makes me reflect on my struggles with chasing popularity while obsessing about order. I mean, I could be one of those guys, and even with this calmness, that’s still a scary thought, especially since I can trick myself into thinking that it’s good. Well, at the very least, we can hear God calling us again through this, even though it’s quite hard to explain His full complexity through human senses, no? Anyway, God Almighty keep on helping us all.

    • Indeed. I’ve seen a bit more detail in news media about the attacker. What I’ve seen so far seems to be internally consistent, which may not mean it’s completely accurate.

      About scary thoughts – – – I like to think I’m not likely to decide that mass murder is a legitimate form of self-expression. But I also think it would be a mistake to imagine that I couldn’t deliberately do something that I know is a bad idea. Free will comes with consequences and responsibility, and that’s another topic or so.

      About your last sentence: amen!

Thanks for taking time to comment!