Every Friday, I share links to blog posts by other writers. I link often but not exclusively to writers affiliated with Patheos, the religion and spirituality web portal that hosts my blog. Please share the blog love by reading these posts, sharing them via Facebook, Twitter, etc., and/or participating in the comment conversation.
Here are some more blog posts considering the Colorado movie theater shooting, violence, and guns through the lens of Christian faith.
Tim Fall writes on the Radical Journey about the conundrum posed by the idea that violence is acceptable so long as our target is “the bad man.” Is it always clear, though, who the “bad man” is?
Reformed pastor (and fellow member of the Redbud Writer’s Guild) Angie Mabry-Nauta links the Colorado shootings and the Penn State football scandal by asking what and whom we worship. Is it God? Or guns? Or football? Or something else that blurs our vision and distracts us from the One who asks, first and foremost, that we align ourselves with him before anything or anyone else?
Shane Claiborne writes about how Jesus consistently undermined the cultural notion of redemptive violence—the idea that killing is wrong in some contexts and noble in others—and preached a “third way…that is neither submission nor assault, neither fight nor flight. He shows us a way to oppose evil without mirroring it, where oppressors can be resisted without being emulated and neutralized without being destroyed.” Claiborne clearly articulates my discomfort with the idea of Christians arming themselves, even for a so-called good reason. Jesus lived and preached a topsy-turvy theology that turned most of our treasured notions on their head, including the idea that violence can be good and noble under some circumstances.
In my very favorite response to the Colorado shootings, Denver-area pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber preached a sermon about Mary Magdalen, the spiritual practice of just showing up, and singing defiant alleluias in the face of the grief, violence, and pain. “We sat in a noisy Denver bar and sang Vespers together,” preached Bolz-Weber. “We sang our prayer to God, and in our singing I heard a defiant tone. The sound of a people who simply will not believe that violence wins, a people who know that the sound of the risen Christ speaking each of our names drowns out all other voices. It drowns out the sound of the political posturing, the sound of cries for vengeance, the sound of our own fears and anxieties and the deafening uncertainty—because all of it is no match for the shimmering sound of the resurrected Christ calling our name.”
In light of the Aurora shooting, I have done some political posturing. And I don’t regret that. It makes sense, in light of tragedy, to talk about how policy and other remedies might prevent such a tragedy from happening again. But fundamentally, I am not a Christian because God wants or doesn’t want us to own guns. I am not a Christian because Jesus was a good guy preaching an ethical framework that can inform modern policy-making. I am a Christian because, “We know that on the third day he rose again. We do not need to be afraid. Because to sing to God amidst all of this is to defiantly proclaim like Mary Magdalen did to the apostles, that death is simply not the final word. To defiantly say that a light shines in the darkness and the darkness can not will not shall not overcome it. And so, evil be damned, because even as we go to the grave, still we make our song Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.”