A day of extremes...
On Sunday morning, my husband and I played hooky from the Spanish congregation at church and went out for breakfast, just the two of us. At the table next to us were a father and son duo. The son was wearing a Charlotte Latin jacket - the most expensive and most highly regarded private school in Charlotte. They were eating. Drinking. Talking. Flipping through a catalog and deciding which handgun the son wanted. Stainless steel or black? With a pearl handle or without? With or without a laser? ("No," the dad said, "you shouldn't get a laser. That gives someone else something to shoot at.")
On Sunday evening, my daughter and I went to hear Shane Claiborne speak. He talked about how the Amish community, just days after that deranged gunman entered their school and killed several of their children, gathered around and prayed for and supported the family of the man who murdered their loved ones. Money that the Amish received from concerned outsiders was used to establish college scholarships for that man's children.
He talked about approaching gun store owners in the Philadelphia area (where he lives) and asking them to consider signing a pact that they would not sell more than 100 guns to any single buyer. He and his friends have yet to get the store owners to make such a commitment.
Shane challenged us to reimagine how we live and move in the world, how we face down our enemies with love, with grace, with mercy, with forgiveness - even while facing the barrel of a gun. He challenged us to stop thinking that violence and killing will ever stop violence and killing. He was never more convinced of the need to stand against violence than when he was in Iraq in 2003. He met many fellow followers of Christ there - who told him that they are praying for Christians here in the US. They expressed their disbelief that there are those in our country who name the name of Christ as their Lord and Savior and also think that bombing and invading Iraq and killing its citizens can be done with Christ's blessing. Some questioned Shane about whether there is any difference between killing in the name of Allah and killing in the name of God.
Shane said he was surprised at how many Christ-followers he met there and expressed his surprise to them. The pastor of the church responded, "Why are you so surprised? This is where Christianity was founded. You didn't invent Christianity in the US; you only domesticated it."
Here are a few suggestions I gleaned from a booklet I received that night:
Dismantle a bomb. (Can't do that.)
Dismantle a theological argument that justifies bombs. (The dismantling must start within me.)
Dismantle an ideology of security that requires bombs. (This one, too.)
Love according to a greater standard than the world's. (I'm gonna need a lot of help on this one. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.)
Breaking the stunned silence we shared as we listened to that father-son duo casually discuss what sounded like an imminent handgun purchase, Steve said, "What a legacy to leave to his son." Indeed.