unTapped Topic: Violence As Means

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that
- Martin Luther King Jr.

This past week, many Americans watched the news in horror as a gunman fired into a crowd of people at an Arizona political rally. A congresswoman was shot in the head, a federal judge was among six killed, a dozen other people, including the congresswoman remain hospitalized. Saddest of all, an innocent nine year old girl, Christina Taylor Green, was caught by the shooter's fire.

While this incident is most likely the result of a deranged mind's skewed way of dealing with his misperceived world, it still brings up important questions:

  • What does this mean for our society? Are we too violent?
  • What reaction is prompted in terms of our spirituality and our ethics?
  • Is political violence ever justified? Is there an ethical difference between a government-sanctioned killing and an assassination committed by an extremist or terrorist?
These are challenging questions for our society. Faith may be a place to look for answers. The bishop in Tuscon, Gerald Kicanas, offered this in his homily at little Christina's memorial service:

God wills that we resist evil. That we live with integrity. That we speak and act with civility and respect

But, how are we supposed to 'resist evil'? Commenting about the tragedy, theologian J.R. Daniel Kirk writes that the Church has not been what it is supposed to be. From political and ecclesial power grabs to parenting our children, the church has been less than a beacon of peace and non-violence:

The church has not created within itself the counter-culture of peace that should serve as a witness against the ultimate futility of violence employed by the world around us.

We can and should react to such horrific events as we saw this past weekend with all due revulsion. But until we as followers of Jesus have managed to form communities of the cross rather than communities of the crucifiers we have no place either for self-righteousness nor, in the end, for surprise.

What do you think? Should Christian churches do a better job of resisting violence and modeling non-violence? What about other faiths? According to your faith, when is violence ever justified?

Join us at Short's Brewing this Thursday, 7pm, for a discussion of violence and spirituality.

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In order to live man must believe in that for which he lives.
- Huston Smith
unTapped is a conversation about faith and spirituality. There are many people frustrated by being forced to think of faith in the same old patterns, and would prefer to explore spirituality in different ways.

Anything goes here. No matter where you are or who you are, we want to hear from you. Feel free to join in the conversation!

You can also join us in person, every Thursday night at Short's Brewing Company in Downtown Bellaire, MI.