This week’s TIME Magazine cover story features a fascinating question that could stir an intense theological debate: is hell dead? That is, has the idea of hell, and every included concept, become unnecessary?
I have no clue, and I don’t even know how a logical argument can be made in defense of, in opposition to or in indifference of this query.
I do, however, know that my introduction to the concept of hell occurred exactly 12 years prior to this Wednesday.
Two teenagers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, initiated the unthinkable and attacked their classmates and teachers with a variety of weapons. Their intent, it seemed, was to kill as many human beings as possible.
This tragedy claimed the lives of 12 students, one teacher and each of the aforementioned perpetrators; it echoed the words "Columbine High School massacre" across the world’s headlines; and it spurred years of cultural debate.
What is the gothic culture, and what is it creating? Are gun laws strict enough? Are violent video games breeding violent youths? Do other media, including the Internet, movies and music, encourage this sort of behavior? Was this the result of anti-depressants and bullying?
Behind each of these questions remained possible answers; something had to be responsible for creating this monstrosity.
The actual answer cannot, and never will, be determined. These were two troubled teenagers who, for whatever reason, wanted to remind their friends, families, enemies and the world that hell does still exist, and it can be created by anyone.
To blame this event on particular legislation, individual artists and commercial industries is not fair. In doing so, we lose sight of what really mattered: 13 innocent people, almost all of whom were children, were murdered by two other people.
They were not murdered by Marilyn Manson’s music, the gothic subculture or the video game "Doom."
In the aftermath of the event, Darrell Scott, the father of the incident’s first victim, Rachel Scott, created the non-profit organization Rachel’s Challenge. The mission of the organization, according to its website, is to "inspire, equip and empower every person to create a permanent positive culture change."
The organization serves as a reminder to the victim, not the cause or the assailant.
I would like to dedicate the remainder of this column to the victims of the Columbine High School massacre, and not the hell they were put through. Following each person’s name is their age as it would have been today, had they never become famous.
Rachel Scott, 29; Daniel Rohrbough, 27; Dave Sanders, 59; Kyle Velasquez, 28; Steven Curnow, 26; Cassie Bernall, 29; Isaiah Shoels, 30; Matthew Kechter, 28; Lauren Townsend, 30; John Tomlin, 28; Kelly Fleming, 28; Daniel Mauser, 27; Corey DePooter, 29.