No more advocates for the devil...

My heart aches tonight upon hearing of yet another mass gun attack on innocent people in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.  Let's be clear about a few truths:

+ First, the United States is being held hostage by the NRA and other gun lobbies in their perverse understanding of the Second Amendment.  For while it is true that guns don't kill people, people kill people, in a violent society where weapons of mass destruction are so plentiful and available, our inability to dismantle the NRA's power goes beyond tragic to pathological.  Dr. King once observed that while laws can't change people's hearts, they can prevent violence and new laws are essential.

+ Second, this won't happen any time soon given the political debt all the major players have with their respective lobbyists and fund raisers.  Our leaders are owned, bought and sold - and until this system is dismantled the only thing we'll hear is sob stories about our collective sorrow and how much we stand with those who are grieving.  This is, of course, true but completely insufficient.

+ Third, do we need any more evidence that we in the USA must rebuild our civil society with a foundation grounded on the common good?  Our legacy of the violent frontier, the battle of cowboys over the indians and all the rest - and our addiction to the market place as the only way we understand reality - has created a society of lone rangers.  Only today the lone ranger has no understanding of the common good - only fears and greed mixed with a healthy dose of crude selfishness - and this is true in the hood, on Wall Street or Capital Hill.

Yes, human sin and tragedy are eternal.  To be sure, human nature will always be unable to heal itself.  And because we are always both light and darkness, we need to nourish our better angels.  Tom Hayden once wrote a book called, "The Love of Possession is Like a Disease with Them."  The title comes from the Great Lakota Sioux warrior, Sitting Bull, who after defeating General Custer in 1877 decided the time had come to leave for Canada.  Reflecting on his experience with white America, he said:

Every seed is awakened and so has all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being, and we therefore yield to our neighbors, even our animal neighbors, the same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land.

Yet, hear me, people, we have now to deal with another race – small and feeble when our fathers first met them but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough they have a mind to till the soil and the love of possession is a disease with them. These people have made many rules that the rich may break but the poor may not. They take their tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule.

They claim this mother of ours, the earth, for their own and fence their neighbors away; they deface her with their buildings and their refuse. The nation is like a spring freshet that overruns its banks and destroys all that are in its path.
We cannot dwell side by side.

Hayden's book It isn't perfect - neither is this brief cartoon history of the USA - but both cut to the chase re: a culture of greed and violence continuing to bear fruit.  How did the ancients put it in Exodus 20:6:  Don't bow down to idols or serve them because I am God, your God, and I'm a most jealous God, passing on my punishment to the children to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation punishment for the sins of their fathers and mothers who hate me.  (NOTE:  I do not believe this is God's will, but rather an OT description of how people keep repeating the sins and wounds of one generation well into the future.)

The late William Sloan Coffin used to say at the close of worship at Riverside Church in NYC:  go out there and give them HEAVEN... there's already too much hell happening.  And remember:  the devil doesn't need more advocates.  Let's go be a blessing. Worship is a counter-cultural act against hatred, fear and violence.  Living as a blessing is a counter-cultural act that builds bridges in an anxious world.  And making new political alliances is an act of faith that makes our commitment to God's kingdom real in the midst of a sick and death-based society.



Elmer Ewing said…
A Powerful post--thank you.
Elmer Ewing said…
Powerful post. Thank you.
Black Pete said…
Powerful, accurate, humbling. Our prayers are with you.
RJ said…
Blessings upon us all...

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