On Sandy Hook

Dateline: 18 December 2012

I feel compelled to comment on the recent school shooting in Sandy Hook.....

Newtown, Connecticut, is a place that I’ve visited numerous times in years past, when I was writing articles and books for the Taunton Press. On a couple of my visits I stayed in the guest house tucked away behind Taunton’s main headquarters. There are trees around the house and railroad tracks run past. I’ll never forget, the first time I stayed there, one of the editors advised me to make sure that I locked the door at night. “I don’t want to scare you, but there is an insane asylum right next door, on the other side of the railroad tracks.” I thought he might be kidding me, but he wasn’t. 

One of the buildings at Fairfield Hills Psychiatric Hospital in Newtown, Connecticut.

Newtown is truly a pleasant (and prosperous) New England community, but from 1931 to 1995 it was also home to the ominous-looking Fairfield Hills State Psychiatric Hospital. 189 acres in size, Fairfield Hills housed as many as 4,000 patients in it’s day. One interesting feature of the place is that the numerous buildings are connected by a network of underground tunnels. 

One can only imagine how convenient the tunnels were after, say, giving a lobotomy or a shock therapy session (both of which were done at Fairfield Hills)—the patients could be whisked underground from building to building. Out of sight, out of mind. 

After the closing of Fairfield Hills, the property passed to the town of Newtown., and they have worked to dig up or seal the tunnels.

I have had some minimal exposure to state psychiatric hospitals as a state employee in my current job. In one instance, I went to a day of training at the former Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane. During a break in the training, I wandered through the cavernous and deserted building. It gave me the creeps.

In one room I came upon boxes of old file folders, some broken and scattered across the floor. I’m an inveterate reader, and had an hour to kill. The files were full of old “accident” and incident reports. They revealed horrors. The place was once a living hell.

Sign on a wall at Fairfield Hills

In another instance, I visited a state psychiatric hospital in Rochester. It was a more modern facility. Very high security. Some remodeling had been done. No patients were in the area where I was. I spoke with a woman who had worked there for years. She was nice enough, but she was hardened, and she was a survivor. She had stories of being attacked by patients. She said that you couldn’t trust them. You couldn't turn you back on them. She told me that, years ago, they had strapped the violent ones down, but these days drugs are used more to control violent behavior.

There was a section of the building where I could look through a window and see into a populated wing. It was for mentally disturbed youth. I looked through the window, and I felt very sorry for those kids. There, but for the grace of God, went I.

Another view of the Psych hospital at Fairfield Hills in Newtown

Nancy Lanza, the mother of the Sandy Hook school killer, was, by all accounts, a loving mother. The thought of putting her son in a psychiatric hospital would have been a source of tremendous anguish for her. And yet, she knew her son better than anyone else. Recent news reports indicate that she was in the process of having him committed.

Nancy Lanza’s son was, no doubt, on doctor-prescribed psychotropic drugs. And its likely that he was on such prescriptions for many years. These drugs are a common denominator with many of the horrific killings that have been committed in recent years, as this eye-opening YouTube clip explains.


It’s a sad, sad story, this killing spree at the Sandy Hook school, and some people are struggling with the question: "How could God let something so horrible happen to those young and innocent children?”

I think that’s a legitimate question to ask, as long as it’s not asked in the manner of putting God on trial. The question is, however, not one that we will ever get an answer to, at least not in our present state of existence.

The bottom line is that God does as he pleases for His own purposes. He is the potter, we are the clay. He does not, and will not, justify his actions to mere men. It is not given us to know the answers to all questions about God and his purposes.

That being the case, I think that there are two very different responses that people take when something as wicked as this collides with their belief system. The two responses are nothing new. They are played out in the Book Of Job in the Old Testament. 

You may recall that Job was a greatly blessed man, and a good man (as men go). But all of that changed for awhile. God allowed Satan to torment Job in a way that few people have ever been tormented since. Job’s children were killed. His considerable wealth was taken. He became sick. All of this happened in a very short span of time. (you can read the story HERE).

We can only imagine Job’s distress. He probably wondered why all of the tragedies had happened to him. It’s only natural to wonder. And Job’s wife responded in a way that was also only natural. She advised him to “Curse God and die.”

But Job’s response to his troubles was much different. I dare say it was not natural. Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

Job’s response to personal tragedy was profound, simple, and theologically rock solid: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

This kind of response from Job, and this situation at Sandy Hook, brings to my mind a 3-minute YouTube clip I have linked to here before. It is by John Piper and it is about the prosperity gospel. The prosperity gospel is not pertinent to this discussion, but at 1:24 into the clip, Piper says something that grabs me every time I hear it. He talks about the worst kind of tragedy, and then he presents the proper Christian response. It's powerful. Watch it Here.

People who declare that they could never follow a God who allows children to die in such a brutal manner are like Job’s wife. They do not know God. If they did, they would trust Him.

To trust Him is to know Him. To know Him is to trust Him.

Besides that, those who judge God for allowing evil to happen fail to recognize (or take into account) His incredible love, His mercy, and His grace, all of which were manifested through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The wickedness of this world pales in comparison to the goodness of God.

Faith and trust in Jesus Christ are the keys that begin to unlock the mysteries of God (not all of them, but enough of them). Faith and trust in God, through Jesus Christ, are what best equip a person to deal with all the difficulties of life, including even the unbridled terrors of hell that erupt from time to time through the actions of evil men.

That’s how I look at this event. 

But I’m not done yet.......

There is a horrible irony in this mass killing in Newtown. Some people will not appreciate me pointing it out. But it is so obvious to me, and I'm sure I'm not the only one to see it. 

Twenty beautiful young children shot dead in one day at a school is nothing compared to the 3,000 to 4,000 beautiful babies that are murdered by abortion doctors in this country every day of the week, fifty-two weeks a year. That reality is, frankly, more horrifying to me than Sandy Hook.

I’ll bet that there are plenty of people in this country who are appalled and disturbed by the Newtown shooting, but who declare that they are "pro-choice." These people don't much care about unborn children that are literally ripped from their mother’s womb’s. Many of these unborns are fully formed, fully alive, fully innocent. And yet it, in the minds of so many people, this killing of children is acceptable.

I don’t understand. 

And I also do not understand how Barak Obama,who, as senator, voted to legalize the most gruesome of abortion procedures (on full term babies) can shed tears in public for twenty children shot dead. Are there no tears for the millions killed by the abortionists?

I don't think it is exaggerating one bit to say that abortion doctors and  misguided politicians are responsible for the murder of far more children than were killed by one psychotic boy in Connecticut.


Sharon said...

You are right on the truth here, Mr Agrarian. I believe many have thought about the abortion comparison. I know I have. Thanks for pointing out the story of Job and Mrs. Job. Job was doubly blessed for his response. Satan was looking for him to have the wife's response. What would have been the end of Job then? This is a true test - not that God sent us this test, but "if we fail in the day of adversity, out strength is small". This is where we must stand against the winds and waves and floods. If we are tried and keep the faith, we shall "come forth as gold" ~I believe Job said that, too.

jean said...

Herrick, it is indeed ironic. So very sad, it all is. But, the Lord is sovereign and He has won the battle. How much I look forward to heaven's glory!

timfromohio said...

I made the same point (regarding the murder of unborn children) to coworkers during a heated discussion of the root cause of the shooting in Newton. I'm shocked to hear you quote 3,000 to 4,000 - my guess was 2,000.

Ivy Mae said...

Thanks for writing this. I always have the same reaction when I think about people with serious mental health problems--there but for the grace of God go I.

ann from KY said...

Thanks Herrick for having the courage to print and say the truth. Yes, I am sad for the school children, but the 3,000-4,000 babies would have been a school child one day had they been given a chance. May God have mercy upon us and send HIS Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin and heal our land!

foutfolk said...

OK Herrick, you are striking a chord that might get you some lashings! Even though what you are saying is COMPLETELY true and a tragedy of our fallen human race.

I guess, in the minds of some, there is a distinct difference between killing, and killing.

How creepy that you have been there!

Anonymous said...

Great points Herrick, you hit the nail on the head. Abortion is done in back Rooms and out of the public eye. This shooting is horrific and everyone can see how horrific through the media. Shame the real gruesome truth about abortion doesn't get the same air time. If it did maybe thousands of innocent children would be saved. But we must trust in the Lord. With all our hearts and all our minds, that through all of this tragedy he has a plan.
God bless.

Anonymous said...


Beth said...

Good points. I do not fully understand the schism that exists in people's minds which allows them to believe that one form of killing is tragic while another is convenient.

Anonymous said...

oh please


Carol said...

And not only that, what about the over one million Iraqis who have been killed, including large numbers of children, in these ridiculous wars. They don't count either I guess.

Anonymous said...

Nicely said. And, thank you for saying it.

Bonnets and Boots said...

Just wanted to come back and thankyou for addressing this. I was hoping someone who tells the truth would.

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Anonymous said...

Well said. But for God, there is no making sense of the depravity of man.

God Bless you and yours this coming year.


Anonymous said...

Did Obama shed a tear or was he faking it!

kentuckyagrarianwannabe said...

Faking of course!

kentuckyagrarianwannabe said...

I brought up the same points right after the shootings, of course I was in the minority.

Gary Maske said...

Well put, Herrick. We're reading the same Book.

Is It Not I said...

Excellent post. I agree with your conclusion completely.

Play in the dirt said...

One day 4,000 babies die... no news.

The next day, 4,020 babies die and our nation grieves.

Thank you for your writing