Let’s just get this out of the way: Jesus is not going to fix our gun problem. And if you’re one of the people saying that “only Christ” can save us from this carnage, then you are not just being willfully ignorant: you are complicit in the murder of (how many are up to now?) countless American children who are dying–who just keep dying–in our schools.
The shooting in Parkland, Florida yesterday was the 18th of the year. It is February. We are becoming tragically accustomed to these things. And tragically accepting of the platitudes that come with them.
To imply that Jesus is the answer to this cancer of gun culture is not just bad theology; it is a dangerous denial of our own responsibility to work for social change. Furthermore, it ignores the whole incarnation element of Christ’s being. Last I heard, he had to go. Checked out of here, and commissioned us, his disciples, to be his body on the earth. His hands and feet, his broken heart, his prophetic voice raging at the continued slaughter of innocents. We don’t get to throw up a request to some mystical whatever and expect change. Prayer is not a Sear’s Christmas catalog. That’s not how any of this works.
If you’re following the narrative lectionary, the text for this week is John 11, the death and resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus heard that his good friend was ill, but he took his time getting there. He arrived too late. Lazarus was already dead and his sister, Martha, met Jesus with a tearful rebuke: Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Martha is entitled to her grief, her lament. As are the loved ones of all those who have been lost to senseless violence.
But for the rest of us? “Lord, if you had been here” is not going to cut it. It’s time to quit waiting for some cosmic miracle and get busy. There’s no point arguing with those who keep insisting that “guns aren’t the problem,” who continue to idolize the weapon industry as though it were freedom itself. It’s a losing prospect to share statistics and names and stories. We are hoarse from screaming into the void, only to be met with “guns don’t kill people…people kill people.” And of course, more thoughts and prayers…
Instead of jumping down those rabbit holes today, let’s focus on what we can do–practically, tangibly, and right now–to get moving for change.
- Donate to Everytown for Gun Safety. Michael Bloomberg’s answer to the NRA, this organization’s progress has been slow-going, and mostly focused on moderate action. But if anybody can rally more cash than the gun lobby, it’s him.
- Get involved with Moms Demand Action. Find the next local meeting and get together with like-minded people in your community. Think creatively about how to make schools safer, and work together for meaningful legislative action. A friend asked today if dads can get involved in this movement: I think it is critical that you do. If you’re in the KC metro, Grandparents Against Gun Violence is another great organization to get acquainted with. As you find other groups closer to home, let us know about them.
- Read up on how other countries manage their regulation of weapons–and how their people are generally less, you know, dead because of it–so next time you to engage the opposition on this topic, you have actual facts and alternatives at your disposal.
- Learn which of your Representatives are benefiting the most from gun lobby funding… and then work like hell for whoever is running against them. Midterms are upon us, folks, and this could be a game changer.
- Also, learn how to talk to the people who are in office, for better or worse. Find a list of up-to-date talking points that are focused on clear and specific legislative items. Your concerns will be heard and recorded, and they carry much more weight than an emotional rant about the need for gun control. Though I certainly empathize with the compulsion to rant. Here are some helpful things to consider as focal points for your (brief) phone call.
The gun advocates are right on one critical point: no law is going to fix this problem. But series of changes, in legislation and in public discourse in general, can lead to a culture shift that might finally save lives in the long run. And that’s not going to happen if we sit on our hands, waiting for Jesus to come on over and take care of this for us. “If only you had been there, Lord…” I just keep hearing him say “well, where the hell were you?”
So. Where are we?