Saturday, September 22, 2012

Rachel's Tears: The Spiritual Journey Of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott by Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott, with Steve Rabey

I really wasn't sure whether I should write about this book. After all, there seems to be something a bit mean about tearing it apart.  I can't imagine what it must be like to have your child die.  It's got to be incredibly horrible.  But I also can't imagine writing and publishing a book about it just a year later either, and including pages from the child's personal diary.  But that's what Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott did after their daughter Rachel was killed in that insane Columbine shooting in 1999.

Because Rachel believed in God and was a Christian, she became a sort of rallying point for young Christians around the country who consider her a martyr (the word is even in the book's title).  Her parents and others believe Rachel was targeted for her beliefs.  Well, you also have to remember that the two killers supposedly also targeted people with white hats on.  Read that as jocks.  So you can't take this whole martyrdom idea too seriously. After all, you don't hear jocks around the country crying out about their beliefs.

Rachel got caught up in a religious group called Breakthrough. Her older sister, Dana, got her into it, and the first time Rachel went, she didn't even like it.  But her sister took her again, and after a while the group became like a second family to Rachel.  Rachel became a cell group leader (yes, that's what they call it in the book - page 117). From what I can gather from the scant information in this book, group members would show up at people's homes, and call late at night, and so on.  I don't know anything about this group, but it certainly sounds a bit like a cult. While at a Breakthrough retreat, Rachel felt stomach pains. About this pain, she wrote in her journal, "If it's a spiritual feeling, I ask you to bless it. If it's the enemy, I ask you to bind it. If it's just sickness, I ask you to heal it" (page 130).  The enemy?  Yikes. Sadly, after Rachel's death, her younger brother got involved with the group too.  (By the way, on page 127, there is a photocopy of a Breakthrough worksheet that Rachel had written on. Titled, "Desperate Measures," the worksheet has this line: "Since October, their have been 4 school-related shooting, killing 10 and injuring 22." Clearly, these aren't intelligent people, writing "their" instead of "there" and "shooting" instead of "shootings.")

So there are just a few points I'd like to make.  One, when you're a teenager, you feel everything incredibly strongly.  Everything seems deathly important. So from that point of view, you can understand some of the stuff in Rachel's journal. And two, that passes.  If my parents published pages from my journal from my teen years, I'm sure I'd be a bit embarrassed at how strongly I felt about certain things.  Had Rachel lived, and gone to college outside of her small community, she would have learned a lot, and been exposed to a lot of different ideas. Just getting away from Breakthrough would have had an impact. Her priorities would likely have changed. Maybe she'd still believe in God.  Maybe her religion would still play an important role.  And maybe she wouldn't believe in God at all.  There's no way to know. When she died she was still basically a child.  So to take what she thought in those years, thoughts she wrote down in a personal journal, and to act as if this was the essence of her being is...well, a little cruel, a little unfair, and certainly unrealistic.

This book could have been a five or ten-page pamphlet.  It's a short book anyway, but we get everything twice because her mom and her dad wrote separately about the same things. So we also get phrases like, "I agree with Beth" (page 43) and "As Beth pointed out..." (page 44).  Basically everything in it is related to God. Beth writes, "A year after Darrell moved out, my parents helped me buy a home in Columbine. This really was God's provision because I did not even have a steady job" (page 57). God's provision? You just said it was your parents who helped buy the house. Give credit where credit is due, lady.  When talking about Rachel's speeding ticket, Beth writes, "I have always prayed that my kids will get caught whenever they do something wrong so that they know there are consequences for making wrong choices" (page 44). Thanks, Mom.

Rachel's parents were divorced. Her father, Darrell, remarried. In the book he writes, "On January 30, 2000, Sandy and I were married. The first thing we did after the ceremony was take the whole wedding party out to the cemetery where Sandy placed her bouquet on Rachel's grave" (page 56). That must have been a fun wedding.  About Rachel, Beth writes, "She talked to people about God when she worked at Subway" (page 98). If someone started preaching to me when I was ordering a sandwich, I'd likely want to hurt him or her. But again, when you're a teenager and you think you have the answers, you want to share them with everyone.  I understand that.  I wish that in a parallel reality, the shootings didn't occur, and Rachel grew up. And then somehow she was able to cross over to this reality. It would be really interesting to hear what she'd have to say about all of this.

By the way, I do love this line: "I cried and said, 'You're right, God'" (page 133).

As far as school shootings are concerned, Darrell thinks the solution is allowing prayer in school, not tighter gun control laws. Interesting. He even wrote a poem about it, which of course is included in the book (page 159-160). It's not very good. 

Rachel's Tears was published in 2000.

1 comment:

  1. that is an incredibly biased opinion about a great powerful book such as rachels tears. its a shame u dont realize that. may God change your hardened heart