Well, my letter to the editor did get published, albeit in a slightly altered form. I suppose it's for the best as they did tone down the sarcasm. Anyway, the firestorm over "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" has really taken a backseat in the wake of the shooting that took place at one of Omaha's largest and best-known malls. At times like these, those kinds of disagreements over the proper structure for greeting someone during this time of year seem even more petty than usual. I must say it is a little surreal to go to work and hear the national news discussing it. It's a trite sentiment, possibly even a cliche at this point, but you never really expect it to happen here. I suppose it's also at times like these that many people search for the deeper meaning, search for solace in religion. As the years go by, I find this becoming more and more nonsensical to me. I mean, I realize that many people find comfort during trying times through religion. I am just not one of those people, and I don't really understand how they make the leap. To me, it's pretty cut-and-dried: we have a teenage kid who has undergone years of mental treatment on an in-patient basis, never really had a relationship with either of his parents, a high-school dropout, loses his job (at McDonald's) and his girlfriend all in the span of about 2 weeks right before the holidays and SNAPS- kills 8 people and then himself. The only thing that was surprising to me once details about the shooter started to emerge is that he went back and got his G.E.D. In any case, there's no need to search for a supernatural explanation for all of this, it's a pretty stark example of multiple failures in the field of child-rearing and mental illness combining in a horrific display of brutality. But I sometimes wonder what lessons would I take away from this if I were Christian- or religious at all for that matter? That God hates malls? He was upset with these particular holiday shoppers and used this young man as a tool to exact his vengeance (a la the Old Testament)? That God loves us and wants us to be happy? God has a plan for everyone? I guess I never understand how to get to solace from all these kinds of questions.