Thursday, December 27, 2012

What Then Should We Do? Belief as a Radical Approach to Understanding

What then should we do?


In my last blog, I laid my Christian belief over top of the emotions so normal and so faithful to witnessing the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Now, I want to start with my Christian belief as a radical (in the sense of getting at the root of the issue) approach to speaking about the shooting.


We may want to take the psychological/sociological approach to understanding. There is some benefit to this approach. Coming at the conversation from a psychological approach aids us in naming and defining what was happening emotionally with the shooter. Perhaps, at a certain level, this approach will make the situation understandable by naming and defining what was "wrong with him." There is a long step to make, however, from understandable to acceptable.


We may want to take the political approach. As with the psychological approach, there is some benefit to looking at the situation politically. In this methodology, the problem is quickly identified and addressed. The conclusion from the shootings in Connecticut is that assualt weapons brought about this tragedy, so we address assault weapons. In the political system, identified problems are addressed by laws. Laws will most likely be placed on the book against this type of weapon. Yet, I ponder the reality that there is already a law against shooting and killing another, and yet, that law did not stop the shooting from happening. The power of the law is coercion. There is a threat imposed. If you perform this act, this will be the consequence. We call it a deterrent. There is a sentence set down if the law is broken. The power of the law is external to the person, and does not change a person's character or address a person's mental and emotional state.


We may want to take the religious approach. Unfortunately, religious life has been dminished to moralism. The shoulds, should nots, and oughts of life are as far as religion may go. On one extreme of this moralism, I will be told that I should love everybody and should not have enemies. The pitfall of this moralizing--we need to learn to recognize and address our enemies for our own safety and security. On the other extreme of this moralism, I will be told the root of the problem is the day we removed prayer and the 10 commandments from the schools. Yet, these children came from faith communities that prayed and believed. And, we have seen shootings, in the past, happen in churches.


Certainly, we can also consider the genetic conversation, the decline of the family, the lack of civility, and so forth. While we are unified on the horror of this event in Connecticut, we are divided on how to get at the root of the issue. In that division, we choose one discipline over another. This leads to a dis-integrated society, unable to be brought back to itself.


Perhaps it is this dis-intgration that is at the root of the issue. A dis-integrated society is reflective of dis-integrated people--broken, hurting, diminished, desperate, angry, darkness dwelling people.


At the root of the word "crisis" is the moment that a verdict is handed down, and a person has to live with himself, his actions, and the consequences of his actions. Those filled with pain, rage, and darkness--dis-integrated--have a diminished capacity  to cope with that verdict and are most susceptible to the power in this world that seeks to destroy and undo the goodness of creation. In the moment of crisis, a person's pain becomes more important to him than the lives of others. He violently violates the lives of other people.


By laying my belief in God over my emotions and starting my thinking from my faith, I have a truth, an authority, and axiom that has the capacity to bring life back to wholeness. This truth re-integrates humanity and restores humans to their fullest capacity for good. This truth re-integrates humanity and restores humans through a promise of a time when all is set right. Until that time, while we wait, we believe.

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