Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Conservatism and Conversion within a Gun Culture

The Editor has been visiting this blog, Resistance & Renewal, for quite a long time. It is no surprise that so soon after the mass shooting in Las Vegas there is a timely reference to the event.  In addition, the massacre has an Australian connection.  John Kuhrt, the Editor of R& R, is on the ball -- theologically and politically.

The overtly religious America we so often see depicted and reflected politically in contradiction to the Christian scriptures, often seems to those outside the USA to be hypocritical in a confronting and conflicting way.

The Editor found the portrayal of this event republished below to be horrifying:

Two years ago I wrote a post about my friend who went to a church service in Mississippi and heard the Pastor stand up and talk about a competition they were running to see who could invite the most new people along to the church in one month.

And what was the prize for the winner? An AR-15 assault rifle – plus a 100 rounds of ammo for good measure. My friend could not believe it as he watched the Pastor hold the gun up and enthusiastically announce ‘This is a killing machine’:

There was a good ending to the story because my friend’s concerns led to a genuine dialogue which resulted in the church graciously withdrawing the prize. Instead, my friend, who is a carpenter, offered to donate a coffee table he had made which was awarded instead of the gun.  He was inspired by the passages in Isaiah about ‘beating swords into ploughshares’ (2:4) and rather than just condemning the church wanted to help find a more creative and redemptive way forward.
The terrible events of Las Vegas this week will see predictable re-runs of the arguments between proponents and opponents of gun control. We will also see plenty of hashtags and trite appeals to #prayforlasvegas. I believe God is wearied by these prayers, especially from people who are so opposed to taking any steps which will produce real change.
Many people are saying that after Sandy Hook, where 20 children were killed by a gunman, that there is no longer any hope for meaningful gun reform. Perhaps they are right.

A mass movement for change?
But could we dream about what would happen if gun-owning Christians, led and inspired by church leaders, decided to make the first step and decided to lay down their guns as part of a mass movement and hand them in?  It could be a ‘Gun Jubilee’ inspired by the cancellation of debts instructed in Deuteronomy 15.
It may sound naive but I think history tells us the only hope for radical change lies in some form of coordinated, faith-inspired, mass movement.  Faith may be easily misdirected or corrupted but it is also the only force which can provide the sufficient bandwidth of public vision and spiritual energy to create change. At its best, authentic Christianity is personal, practical, public and political.
On December 1st 1955, Rosa Parks refused to move from her seat on the bus and sparked a critical phase in the civil rights movement.  Who will be prepared to make a costly stand on this issue?

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