I can hardly say why I found this article so fascinating. But I will try. There is something there—some great meaning that I think we ought to understand. You might say that it paints a picture of a deep, nostalgic disappointment—disappointment in humanity, in the people that God made. What is remarkable is that all those terrible, murderous people lived in the same place. What is remarkable is the titanic, world shattering scope of their evil—evil that might cross paths once in a thousand years—crossing paths daily in the same city block.
But what can be made of this? Sadness, for sure, and perhaps some pessimism, too. One can take up the disappointment and run with it. We can all lament the horror of the 20th Century and the people that made it horrible, and then sit aghast at the fact that many of them lived in the same place at the same time.
Yet there is so much more than that. Somehow it makes Jesus more glorious and God more forgiving, more merciful, more gracious. I am not sure that I really feel it or fully understand it, but the fact is that every city and every time could be like Vienna in 1913. Left on our own, we, as God’s creation, would almost certainly sink that low. But we aren’t left on our own. Everyday God’s grace floods the world. It changes people who would’ve otherwise become Hitler. It tempers the evil and cultivates the good. The world may seem more terrible than a good God should ever allow, but we will never know how terrible it would have become had He not intervened by sending his Son to redeem it. That is grace and there is more of it than we could ever imagine.