While the media likes to pretend that the far-right has a monopoly on violence, a man named James Hodgkinson put lie to that theory last summer when he opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for an upcoming congressional baseball game. Hodgkinson, whose Facebook page was a shrine to Bernie Sanders, Trump hate, and the usual tripe that clogs up a liberal’s social media, did not manage to kill anyone, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. And Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Representative who came the closest to losing his life that day, believes that divine intervention is the only reason he’s still breathing.
“God was there on that ball field and he performed little miracles to save all of our lives,” Scalise said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. “The shooter was dead set on taking everybody out and would have been successful if not for the miracles of God and the acts of heroism on the ball field.”
Scalise is a practicing Catholic who credits God and his own faith for helping him get through the arduous months of recovery following the shooting. But in the interview, Scalise said he wasn’t quite ready to extend the branch of forgiveness to the lunatic that nearly took his life in 2017.
“At some point I’ll have to deal with the issue of forgiveness,” he said, “but for now I’m focused on my recovery. It’s something to struggle with. I’m Catholic. I’m probably not there yet. That’s something I’m going to have to work with my priest on.”
Scalise has a new book out this month. In Back in the Game: One Gunman, Countless Heroes, and the Fight for My Life, the Louisiana congressman goes into detail about that harrowing day last summer and the intense months of recovery that followed. But while Scalise may not be ready to extend forgiveness to the man who shattered that beautiful morning more than a year ago, the book does not wallow in self-pity or darkness. To the contrary, it is a book about survival and an offering of sincerest gratitude to the heroes that helped him live to fight another day.
“On the day I was shot, hundreds of pieces of bullet and bone split apart inside me and took me right up to the brink of death,” he writes in the prologue. “But it was also a day where hundreds of things came together so I could survive.”
Scalise’s work is a tribute to the police, medical professionals, family members, and Americans that rallied around him in the wake of this tragedy. It is the light to the darkness of that day, and it is the perfect antidote to the crazed psychosis that inspired his shooter.