Madeleine L'Engle's brilliant fantasy novel "The Wind in the Door" speaks of a race of beings called the Echthroi, whose purpose is simply and solely to "X" -- that is, to extinguish, destroy, annihilate.
I was reminded of these beings when I read "Signifying Nothing," John Zmirak's insightful take on the Newtown massacre:
"I don't know what these murders mean. I suspect that they mean nothing. By committing them, the killer struck a ferocious blow for Nothing. That is the point someone makes by killing the woman who bore him, then slaughtering random children, then killing himself: Being itself is hateful, and he wants to blot it out as much as he can. . . . Since God’s very essence is His existence, this is the most comprehensive rejection of God that is possible."
Zmirak, I suspect, has nailed it.
It is nearly impossible to hold on to hope that there can still be good news in the face of such stark tragedy. But if the killer was striking a blow to annihilate, then the good news is this: He lost. He could not snuff out those innocent little souls for good, and he could not negate the God who exists and loves eternally. His attempt to extinguish, to "X," was a failure.
Zmirak writes: "I think I know what the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit is saying to each of these battered, mourning souls:
Don’t let him win. He wanted to blot out life and hope, to bring more souls into the darkness he embraced. He wanted to spread despair, to blot out God, to drag each one of you down with him. Don’t follow him."