How do you preside over the funeral of a 17-year-old boy who went to school one Tuesday morning and, with his good buddy Eric Harris, massacred 13 people just for fun? Dylan Klebold helped perpetrate one of the bloodiest school shootings in history, indelibly etching the name “Columbine” into our collective memories. Yet the Rev. Don Marxhausen believed that Dylan’s parents deserved to hear the message of God’s grace. And so when a desperate Tom Klebold phoned, the pastor—a liberal-minded Lutheran—agreed to arrange a private service. This decision has haunted him ever since. In his sermon, Marxhausen spoke of God’s love. “God, who knows about suffering and pain and loss, wants to reach out to you,” he told the grieving parents, according to news accounts. As he preached, Marxhausen could see Dylan, laid out before him in an open coffin. A small mountain of beanie babies was piled around the boy’s head, covering the self-administered wound that killed him. It was Saturday, four days after the shootings.
About The Author
Lisa Miller is a contributing editor at New York magazine. She is the former religion columnist for the Washington Post, former senior editor of Newsweek magazine, and author of “Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife.” She is a multi-year winner of the New York Newswomen’s Club prize for feature writing and has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award.