Moment of unity in a disintegrating world
"An act of pure evil," said President Trump of the atrocity in Las Vegas, invoking our ancient faith: "Scripture teaches us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
"Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence," Trump went on in his most presidential moment, "and though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is love that defines us today and always will. Forever."
Uplifting words. But are they true?
Or will this massacre be like the Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut, or Charleston massacre of black churchgoers by Dylan Roof -- uniting us briefly in "sadness, shock and grief" only to divide us again and, more deeply, in our endless war over guns.
"In memory of the fallen, I have directed that our great flag be flown at half-staff," said the president. As he spoke, the mind went back to yesterday afternoon where the NFL was roiled anew by athletes earning seven-figure salaries "taking a knee" in disrespect of that flag.
Also on Sunday, cable TV was given over to charges that Trump, attending a golf tournament in New Jersey, cared nothing about the suffering of "people of color" in Puerto Rico.
And we just closed out a summer where monuments honoring the explorers and missionaries who discovered the New World and the men who made the America we have been blessed to inherit have, along with those of Confederate soldiers, been desecrated and dragged down.
Only the 1960s, with Vietnam and the great cultural revolution, and the War Between the States from 1861-1865, rival this as a time of national disunity and civil discord.
To understand what is happening to us, we should look to Europe, where the disintegration appears more advanced.
Sunday, 4,000 national police, sent by Madrid, used violence to break up a referendum called by the regional government of Catalonia on secession. Nine in 10 of those able to cast a ballot voted to secede from Spain.