When the month began, a confluence of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires and a brewing international nuclear confrontation already had some Americans thinking about End Times. Then Las Vegas, the nation’s playground, witnessed the worst mass shooting in U.S. history — the latest in this peerless series of catastrophes. Some were natural, some man-made. Together, they’ve shadowed a usually optimistic nation with a cloud of sorrow and anxiety.

You didn’t have to be in Vegas, Seattle, Houston, Key West or San Juan, or have relatives in Mexico, or live in the Inter-mountain West with a respiratory condition, to be worried. A nation that had thought itself numbed to tragedy is realizing that no matter how bad things are, they apparently can always get worse. “Why?’’ asked country music star Blake Shelton in a tweet after the shooting. That was one question, shared many times by many others. There was another: “What’s next?’’ A summer that seemed destined to be remembered for its magnificent solar eclipse had lurched suddenly toward the eve of destruction. And autumn hasn’t been much better. READ MORE