Sunday, June 21, 2015

On Guns in Church

Few things have caused me as much inner turmoil
and reflection on society, prejudice, violence,
and my role in all of the above
as the recent murders of nine people
who had gathered for Bible study.

I've had time to reflect on the pervasive
and ongoing racism of our culture
and within my own worldview and being.
But that is another important ongoing conversation.

This morning I'm thinking about the well publicized
response of one member of the NRA,
who indicated that the deaths
were in part the fault of the pastor
for opposing guns in his church.

I wish all the people in that Bible Study were still living.
I wish their families were not faced with the grief of their loss
this morning and every morning to come.

But I don't wish that one of them had been carrying a gun,
I don't wish that one of them would have shot back.

I continue to wonder at the fact that
it was a florist with a phone
who led to the shooter's arrest.

I continue to hear echoing in my ears
the words of both loss and forgiveness that
grieving and devastated family members
shared at the shooter's bond hearing.

I think about the fact that the shooter
almost abandoned his plan,
telling police later that he
"almost didn't go through with it
because everyone was so nice to him."

I think about hearing ethicist Stanley Hauerwas
sharing his response a few years ago
when asked if he wouldn't abandon his
pacifist ways if someone threatened the lives of his children.
He responded,
"I want my children to know
that there are
more important things in life
than not dying."

I have strong opinions about gun laws,
but this is not a blog about that.

Many years ago
a youth in my church
expressed shock to hear
that I lived in Miami, FL
and did not own a gun.
He asked me about defending myself,
and I explained that you couldn't
use a gun like Wonder Woman's bracelets
to deflect bullets.
You could only use it to shoot someone else,
and I had chosen to not do that.

I do believe we
as a culture and a society
are called to shoot back.
We are to shoot back at pervasive racism,
by self awareness, brutal honesty, and social changes.
 We are called to battle,
to fight economic injustice,
voter suppression,
the undermining of public education.
We are called to fight back
against our own willful naivete
about the history and current practices
of overt and subtle racism in our country.

Our country needs redemptive action,
but not redemptive violence.

Our country has heard
the echo of the gunshots,
but have we heard the quiet power
of the love, the faith, and the grace
of the nine and their families?

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