Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Here is a useful article about how to make every home safer:  I really don’t know what is more disturbing – the article or a website full of articles like this, produced daily.

I still watch with wonder as everyday people  show this kind of devotion to guns as an essential part of the American dream. My wonder grows even more  to see this kind of  devotion to guns by christians who call themselves bible believing, God focussed and hungry for righteousness.  It’s not surprising though because the gospel in the West has always had to accommodate the Western myth first and the radical gospel second.

Reverend Lovejoy of Simpson’s fame, was asked if he opposed a casino in Springfield. He brightly answered, “Once something has been approved by the government, it’s no  longer immoral.”  Owning a gun is not illegal in America.  However, just because you can have one doesn’t mean you should.

Scripture teaches that the “way of the world” is a fractured understanding of a fractured world which produces fractured solutions. When we embrace gun ownership as something compatible with the way of a disciple it shows less about our living by the gospel and more about living by the myth of redemptive violence.

Redemptive violence permeates our culture. It works like this:  Right+Might=Evil righteously vanquished.  Luke Skywalker does it. Batman does it. Rambo does it. Even Popeye does it.  When Navy Seals put Osama bin Laden down we all cheer; evil is vanquished.  But it’s not. If it was why was there so much security surrounding the 9/11 commemorations?

The answer which every superhero and every Navy Seal knows is that when all the villain bashing is over they will have to get up and do it again tomorrow. The victory is simply one episode in a cycle of violence none of them have the power to control.

The remarkable transition of power in post-apartheid South Africa owed much to the decision not to create more victims with violence but rather to pursue truth and reconciliation.  Perpetrators were invited to tell the truth about what they had done. In doing so, much evil was revealed and our humanity (the vessel that carries the image of God in us) was allowed to be repulsed by the violence and in turn allowed to see how it was something we might prefer not to see as a solution.

Likewise the violence perpetrated by public officials against peaceful civil rights protesters in the United States helped turn the tide in favour of equality. People would sit down to dinner and watch on the news people attacked by dogs and hit with ax handles for simply claiming the rights the constitution promised them as citizens.  They weren’t comfortable with being associated with that violence once it was revealed. So they called for it to end.

The earliest church believed that the cross revealed the way of the world – the grasping for power, the false security of armies, of rules that exclude the outsider and the poor and the broken. It proclaimed Jesus as one who revealed the powers that be for what they were: murderous and antihuman. The church recognised that clinging to a fractured world and its false claims was not its calling. Instead it was to challenge those claims and reveal them as false.

A gun is a fine image of  a lack of faith and an acceptance of the myth of redemptive violence. Fear is at the heart of gun ownership because a gun only has three uses: to threaten, to wound or to kill. Why would a follower of Jesus want such an item?

I’d want it if I believed the myth that it would keep me safe when nothing else will. I’d want it if I believed that another person can forfeit the right to live because of how they behave. I’d want it if I believed my belongings were sacred to me and that fear is the primary emotion we live by.

But Jesus was pretty clear that when we live for our things and when we are happy to make enemies (or to see others as the enemy) we gain falsehoods and lose the truth. He’s pretty clear that when we live the same way as the world does all we do is become more deeply mired in it.

The world is full enough of those who are ready to threaten, wound and kill without a second thought. It doesn’t need us to add to their number. When we conceal a gun, we reveal ourselves for who we are willing to be.


About newnortherner

I'm a vicar in the town of Macclesfield with a lovely wife and three kids who are a credit to me. A friend at theological college told me I was a walking theological reflection so I figured a blog was the best way to get out lots of words without tiring lots of ears. I like cycling, reading, films and just chilling out.
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