Columbine

Columbine

by

Dave Cullen

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Columbine: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Cullen describes Trinity Christian Center, the heart of the “heart of Evangelical country.” Colorado has long been a “hotbed” for Evangelism, and Colorado Springs is known colloquially as the “Evangelical Vatican.” Preachers and pastors warn of “the Enemy,” Satan, and insist that the devil roams the foothills of Jeffco. Religion is a 24/7 commitment, and members of the local megachurches treat it as such. Cassie Bernall, a particularly devout Columbine student, transferred there from a nearby Christian school after begging her parents to switch so that she could “witness to the unbelievers at Columbine.”
The religious atmosphere in Jefferson County is, for many, all-consuming. The threat of “the Enemy” is very real, and the Evangelical mission of “witnessing to” or “saving” those who are classified as “unbelievers” is important even for younger members of the community, such as the devout Cassie.
Themes
Memory, Bearing Witness, Trauma, and Testimony Theme Icon
Religion: Escapism, Evangelism, Opportunism Theme Icon
Monday morning after prom is an uneventful one at Columbine, but elsewhere in Jeffco, Special Agent Dwayne Fuselier is “on edge.” He heads the FBI’s domestic terrorist unit in Denver, and knows that April 19th is a “dangerous” day—it is the six-year anniversary of the “worst disaster in FBI history,” the day the feds stormed the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, after a fifty-one-day standoff. Fuselier had been the last known person to speak to the Davidians’ leader, David Koresh. April 19th has become “a symbol of perverse authority,” and it was on that date in 1995 that terrorist Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City. His attack took 168 lives and was, at that point, the largest terrorist attack in American history.
Dwayne Fuselier, who will come to be one of the leading experts in the Columbine investigation, is introduced as a thoughtful veteran of the FBI, aware of the unseen dangers and threats that many around him do not perceive. In this chapter, Cullen contrasts the perception of the unseen but ever-present threat of Satan in the Evangelical community with the unseen and ever-present threat of physical violence in Fuselier’s world.
Themes
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Trauma, and Testimony Theme Icon
Religion: Escapism, Evangelism, Opportunism Theme Icon