“Faith without works is dead.” — James 2:14

Today I’m thinking about Jordan and Andre Anchondo and their two-year-old son, Paul. Jordan was 25, Andre, 24. They were killed as they shielded their baby from a spray of bullets in an El Paso Walmart on Saturday. The massacre left at least 20 people dead and 26 wounded. It was one of three mass shootings this week, including two within 13 hours.

It is Aug. 5, and there have been at least 32 fatal shootings with three or more victims in the United States this year, according to the Justice Department.

The Anchondos dropped their daughter at cheerleading practice before their trip to Walmart for back-to-school supplies. Also on their shopping list — decorations for her birthday party Saturday afternoon, according to a story in The Washington Post. The story does not name the girl. It’s enough to know that she turned 6 on the day her mother and father were murdered while shopping for her party.

Read the Post story here, and then think — really think — about what it means to live in an America where families can’t go back-to-school shopping without being gunned down. No nation that abides such a standard has any business calling itself great.

Many Americans seem unequipped or unwilling to think critically. Facts are no longer neutral. Belief — no matter how bizarre or baseless — trumps hard evidence. Truth is a moving target, like a young family running from gunfire hours before a little girl’s birthday party. A nation that lies to itself cannot be trusted to think or pray with any real faith that anything will change.

Even coming from the well-meaning, “thoughts and prayers” is a cop-out, a pass on action disguised as an act of goodwill — faith without works. More than anything else, “thoughts and prayers” translates to “I feel terrible that this thing happened, but not enough to actually do anything about it. Sorry for your loss, but I can’t quite feel it as my loss, too.”

I believe in the power of prayer. I was raised in the Christian faith but I believe there are many paths to God. I talk to Him, Her, It every day and I don’t need a middleman to translate. I do need to be honest with myself and my Creator to make my thoughts and prayers more than just words.

I believe in the 2nd Amendment. I don’t want to live in a country where the government has all the guns. I also don’t want to live in a country where any overheated outcast or mentally disturbed outlier has easy access to weapons of war used to slaughter families out shopping for school and party supplies.

Other nations have citizens with mental illness, violent video games and movies, crime and drugs and racial, ethnic and religious hatred. They don’t have mass shootings. Why? We all know the answer. Some of us just aren’t done lying about it.

Today I’m thinking about Jordan and Andre Anchondo and their two-year-old son, Paul. I’m praying for their 6-year-old daughter and the survivors of all victims martyred to the profit margins of gun manufacturers and the hypocrisy of a nation that puts down rabid dogs, but arms rabid people with weapons of war.