In seminary at VTS years ago, we had a course called, “The Bible and the New York Times.” Each week, the class worked through the scriptures appointed that week, and the articles published in the New York Times, looking for connections. It was a great class.
And there are always connections. The Gospel message of Jesus has everything to do with today’s news: the moments of victory and joy, and the pain and misery that are reported every day.
Last Saturday, the NY Times did something it has not done for 70 years: it published an editorial on the front page, down the left hand side, above the fold. It’s entitled: “The Gun Epidemic.” Its point is clear: American gun policy and gun laws, and rates of death are a “moral outrage and a national disgrace.”
The U.S. is an outlier in this way – unlike any other industrialized nation. We allow easy access to weapons whose only purpose is to slaughter human beings, and we pay a terrible price. For instance, in the U.S. I am 62 times more likely to be a victim of gun death than our daughter Maggie is in Scotland.
This is not the kind of “American Exceptionalism” we can be proud of. We have allowed a noisy minority in our nation to cry “Second Amendment” whenever gun regulations are even mentioned (even though we haven’t seen a militia in these parts for a long, long time). No right is absolute and unlimited. We reasonably regulate all behavior that can be harmful to oneself or others, from seat belts to smoking to prescription drugs.
St. Augustine tells us that hope is not a passive emotion. Hope has two beautiful daughters and they are anger and courage.
Jesus wouldn’t even let his disciple defend him with a sword; how Jesus must weep to see our gun-riddled society. It’s time to change our response to the latest shooting, from lament to anger, from paralysis to courageous action. To overcome the gun lobby will require millions of us to start voting for candidates who promise to act on common-sense gun regulation. We must be noisier than they are – we can no longer be a silent majority. We need to show the world that we object to the violence of easy guns – we should be wearing buttons and ribbons. We should write our legislators. Churches and other institutions need to announce and post a “no-guns-here” policy. We need to get angry. We need courage. Let’s start praying for anger and courage to act. And then can begin to hope for a safer, saner, better future. JBM