Reading Brian Zahnd’s book, Beauty Will Save the World, last night and was really drawn to his point that when God told Noah his plan to destroy the earth – his charge against humanity was that they were the cause of an earth filled with violence.
“I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.” (Gen. 6:13)
A few things not mentioned — adultery, lying, theft and perversion. That doesn’t mean they weren’t happening but what we have recorded in Genesis as the charge against humanity is violence. And yet that seems to be one area we have just come to accept “as the way things are.”
Zahnd makes the point that so often we (even followers of Jesus) will plan to see a PG-13 or R-rated movie and make comments like “Well it’s only rated R because of violence” as if it’s really no big deal.
human civilization is founded around an axis of power established by murder and enforced by violence. The dark specter behind the history of human civilization is that it is almost always founded on acts of violence. We hide this dark specter behind faÃ§ades of glory and patriotism, but the specter remains and from time to time the ghost comes out to haunt us…
We overlook violence because it is the very foundation of the city Cain built east of Eden. We fear that to take a stand against violence would undermine the very foundation of our civilization. This is our fear, so we cling to our violence.
These thoughts makes Matthew 5:9 come alive for even more reasons.
“Blessed are the peacemakers – for they will be called children of God.”
What do you think? Have we come to accept violence as “the way things are” and as something that can’t be changed? Or can a people truly rise up and say they will reject the norms and history of violence and find a new way of living as children of God?
A new study that was published online in the American Journal of Medicine reports that gun ownership is a bigger factor than mental illness when it comes to firearms deaths. But the data suggest that both play roles.
In the study, doctors in New York looked at data on gun ownership, crime rate, firearms-related deaths and depression from 27 developed countries, including the United States, Japan, Great Britain and South Africa.
The United States had the highest rate of civilian gun ownership, at almost 90 guns per 100 people. The next two countries on the list were Switzerland and Finland, with about 45 guns per 100 people. Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom had the lowest gun numbers, ranging from less than 1 gun per 100 in Japan to 6 in the U.K.
The countries with more civilian guns also had the highest rates of firearms deaths, with the United States leading the list at 10 deaths per 100,000, based on an international mortality database.
â€œYes, we live surrounded by those who claim to be our enemies, but we refuse to be enemies. As followers of Jesus, we have no other choice but to see them as our brothers and sisters.â€ – A Christian living in the West Bank
What does it say about handguns in our country when the ability to print your own handgun using a 3D printer isn’t a game changer?
And although this is a fascinating provocation, it is not (yet) a game-changer, especially in America where traditional guns (capable of firing thousands of rounds without melting down) are cheap and easy to get. You can even "3D print" a gun by asking different CNC shops to cut and overnight you all the parts to make up a working gun, breaking the job down into small pieces that are unlikely to arouse suspicion.
As I’ve written before, I consider myself a pacifist and I want to see much stronger gun control in American because I believe the harder it is for people to get a weapon, the less likely they are to use it.
I truly long for the day when nuclear weapons, assault weapons, semi-automatic guns, muskets, pocket knifes and all other weapons of any sort are made into plowshares.
And I long for Shalom and Pax Dei.
And yet I confess that I understand that even banning all guns of all sort won’t stop all assaults or killings of any other sort. When a person’s heart is set on killing another human being – they’ll find a way.
So with this quandary at our doorstep, how do we as an American culture and society change the hearts and minds of our fellow countrymen where the life of a 1st grader is just as valuable as the life of the President, a movie star, a drug dealer or an imam living in Iran?
How do we change our mindset that murder is not an option – either in jealous rage, depression, governmental retaliation or by lethal injection?
How do we move from a culture of violence (and especially redemptive violence) to a culture of forgiveness and second chances?
During his three years as archbishop of San Salvador, Ã“scar Romero became known as a fearless defender of the poor and suffering. His work on behalf of the oppressed earned him the admiration and love of the peasants he served, a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, honorary degrees from abroad – and finally, an assassin’s bullet on account of his outspokenness.
Romero was martyred for his insistence that following Christ cannot be relegated to the spiritual realm. He did not die in vain – the people of Central America say his spirit lives on in them. As their struggle for justice and dignity intensifies, his words take on renewed urgency.
Needless to say I’m looking forward to reading it…
So, what does this kind of violent love look like to you?