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The Miracle of the Season

I wish I could write a nice piece about the miracle of the season, but the Newtown shooting ripped away any remnants of a Norman Rockwell Christmas. Because the primary targets were young children, it was a stark reminder of the madness that exists in this world. Of course, every day, children are forced into war, slavery, prostitution, and extreme poverty… So, Newtown is not a new or unique story. Even the Christmas story itself has a bloody postscript of Herod slaughtering all the male babies in and around Bethlehem.

While Americans have mourned the victims and embraced the survivors, there are disturbing signs that evil continues to thrive among us. Just over the last few days, there have been more threats, some against schools, others railing against the government. Most of these people are probably just venting or seeking attention, but when police investigate, they often do find caches of weapons.

On the weekend after the shooting (December 15th), one person fired off rounds outside a mall in Newport Beach, while another shot up an emergency room in Birmingham. Just down the road from me, in Columbia, Tennessee, a 19 year old posted on his Facebook page: “feel like goin on a rampage, kinda like the school shooting were that one guy killed some teachers and a bunch of students :D” 19 people had “liked” his comment.

There’s a lot of blame to go around, but there are a few factors that directly contribute to the anger and violence in our society… For example, according to Nielson, the average TV viewer witnesses 200,000 violent acts on TV by the time they are 18. While this desensitizes all of us, many kids have also been busy mowing down their enemies in video games. These games are so lifelike, they simulate the experience, giving the player actual skills they can use to kill. Obviously, the vast majority of players never take their game playing into the real world, but it shouldn’t surprise us when a few do.

The mother of the Newtown killer was apparently stockpiling weapons and food in preparation of an economic collapse. This phenomenon has become so popular that it has launched a TV show called “Doomsday Preppers.” I understand someone wanting to protect their family from an attacker, but many of these end-of-the-world “enthusiasts” are preparing for a long, sustained war. If you indulge in a paranoid fantasy for long enough, you might turn it into a reality or, at least, a reality TV show.

We live in a country with approximately 350 million guns, and sales have been soaring since the tragedy in Newtown. For years, the NRA has effectively whipped up the fear that guns will be taken away. While no one is advocating for this, it does seem reasonable to limit the size of clips or implement background checks at gun shows. But the NRA, and its most militant members, refuses to compromise and, despite all the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, maintain that even more guns are the answer.

Violent video games, preparing for disaster, and stockpiling weapons all exacerbate the problem, but what is behind the fascination with these destructive tendencies? Of course, there are no easy answers to that question, so I’ll defer to Thomas Merton who, after spending many days meditating on the nature of war, came up with this, “At the root of war is fear: not so much the fear men have of one another as the fear they have of everything. It is not merely that they do not trust one another; they do not even trust themselves… They cannot trust anything because they have ceased to believe in God.”

Could fear be at the root of our need to make war on a global scale or strike out against our fellow man? Could lack of faith be at the root of needing to arm ourselves to the teeth? When we need to protect ourselves from perceived enemies, we are really saying we don’t trust God. Throughout the Old and New Testaments – God, the Prophets, and Christ are continually telling us to “Fear Not.” Of course, that’s easier said than done in a world with real, dangerous enemies.

Part of the problem may be that God’s protection doesn’t look like our version of it. God doesn’t necessarily come cloaked in military might. In fact, God willingly sent an innocent baby into a harsh, violent world; a world that would eventually crucify Him. This makes no sense to a world that glorifies power and strength, and yet, 2,000 years later, Christ’s light still burns in the midst of the darkness. When sometimes this world seems to have gone mad, Christ offers an alternative path of love and peace, and that’s the true miracle of the season.


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10 Responses to “The Miracle of the Season”

  1. Joy Scudder says:

    Many believe that the opposite of ‘love’ is ‘hate’. The opposite of love is actually fear and out of that fear comes the hatred. Those who would profit feed that fear. How long will we allow the profiteers to occupy our minds? May we make a conscious decision to choose love. Namaste’

  2. Karen says:

    I probably shouldn’t be commenting when I’m feeling so discombobulated about all this. I posted something about the NRA on Facebook and had a couple comments from pro-gun people saying they did not want their guns taken away. No one is taking away anyone’s guns. All common sense has been taken out of the gun issue. People are steeped in so much fear. I know Fox News especially, as well as other news programs, are not helping as they’re propagating more fear. We call ourselves a Christian nation and people are complaining that God is being taken out of everything, and yet I think people are doing that very well on their own. Too many people want to stand behind their guns rather than their faith. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone who calls themselves a Christian talk about how proud they are of having guns and that they wouldn’t hesitate to shoot someone. Really?!?!

    We have those who are pro-life when it comes to abortion, but again, they wouldn’t hesitate to kill someone with their guns. Ironic? I say no common sense. If we want to claim to be a mostly Christian nation, all this gun nonsense and shooting people is setting a very opposite example. People in other nations who have strict gun control are looking at us and again saying, Really!?! (I’ve heard from some of them.)

    Shootings have been occurring all along, but because of the shootings of the children in Connecticut, the news programs are doing what I call swarm reporting. They’re communicating all these shootings, so it seems like this is just now happening. Children (as well as adults) are killed every day in the U.S. We just haven’t been hearing about them.

    People need to realize that if you kill someone, you have to live with that for the rest of your life and it is not as easy as you think it is. Law enforcement who have had to kill someone in the line of duty will tell you that it changes you and not for the better. They’re trained NOT to shoot unless it’s absolutely necessary, and when they do, they shoot to kill. People say that if everyone had guns (even school teachers; which they would have to keep locked up), they could stop a shooter. Maybe; maybe not. If someone is not trained continuously with firearms, they will shoot in a panic and who knows who all could be shot, even children.

    So, are we mostly a Christian nation? Actions speak loud and clear, and we really need to decide whether our focus is on guns and killing, or on God, love, and faith. The example you set will be your legacy and speak for your character. Personally, I want my focus to be on love, compassion, kindness, and peace. And that is what I will continue to promote.

  3. Michael Collis says:

    This is so true, Jeff. “Fear not!”, “Do not be afraid!” and other phrases echo throughout scripture. David believed, and Goliath fell. Paul believed, and the sailors were saved. I believe Christians have much to say to the violence of our times, but due to our own love of violence, we can not. We have to “cast out” our own love of violence, to repent or turn 180 degrees from it, We’ve been taught violence is redemptive by our culture, and Jesus came to put a stop to the idea of redemptive violence.

  4. Raypc800 says:

    The sad part is a lot of people are jumping on the ban the guns bandwagon. The weapons are a symptom. The true disease is the Fear Mongering that numerous people are hit with daily. To many are using the First Amendment to hide behind as they tell those listening or watching bold face lies to heighten their viewers fear level. After a constant diet of Fear Mongering the level of fear reaches the breaking point and snap tragedy happens.
    This Fear Mongers need to be stopped. In Canada if you advertise as a news organization then that is ALL you are allowed to report. That is the type of legislation that is needed here. If someone is Fear Mongering over the radio they should be hit with a $10 Million fine. If they continue after three fines they are off the air permanently.
    Hold CEO’s responsible, If they produce the weapon or a member of the NRA kills someone. Then make it to where any CEO’s are put in jail for the average remaining life expectancy of the victim or victims consecutively. The CEO salary is confiscated to pay for the cost of his jail time as well as all assets.
    Pass this type of legislation and not one gun will have to be taken away. All of those that will be held responsible (CEO’s) would be sure to push for mandatory screening of any and all wanting their product. You might even find out that weapon companies might just decide to give free gun safes.
    By the way the numerous lies that I have seen pushed by some bloggers, radio and TV stations when I was younger awhile back. These things would of been called TREASON. I wonder why they are no longer called that anymore?

    • Jeff says:

      These are all good comments. ‘Fear mongering’ is unBiblical and unChristian. And yet the gun lobby has built their (often self-proclaimed) Christian base on fear. In a perverse twist, they’ve helped to create a much more dangerous world and a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  5. Richard says:

    I believe that a Society will be Judged, by God, by the way they treat their children. We’ve failed so many times in America by the way we’ve treated our children.

    Some politicians are trying to do something about the mass shootings we’ve been seeing lately, while other still fight their good intentions. Gun Control is no longer something that should be put on the back burner but something that we need to do to save ourselves, our society, and our country. The Bible teaches us that, “Those who live by the sword, will die by the sword.” I’m not an expert but doesn’t that mean (Interpreted) Those who live by the gun, will die by the gun? I also believe all the comments said about “Fear.” So true, so true. Fear causes hate, and likewise, hatred causes more Fear.

    In Colorado Springs, it was reported that after the Newtown incident, gun sales jumped here locally. I know it’s Colorado Springs but still it’s strange for the city. Our lawmakers are trying to make it easier to have Concealed weapons. This is NOT THE RIGHT THING TO DO because of our fears. If this happens, we will see more accidental shootings, more gun thefts, a rise in murders, a rise in shootings at “road rage” incidents. etc. etc. etc. I see more PROBLEMS than Solutions. It’s better to have Fewer guns, not More Guns, don’t you think?

    If we compare the Gun Loving United States to the Guns in Canada, there’s a BIG DIFFERENCE. Look at the statistics for shootings in America compared to Canada. It’s a major difference and it’s an eye opener!

    Anyway, the main goal in all this is to Protect Our Children as best we can. Protect All Children. The best way to protect our children, for starters, is to advocate more help for the mentally ill. It’s only a start, but it’s been a long-time waiting.

  6. Joni says:

    So true! I might add, that it doesn’t seem to help to point out these things to most of them. They are totally blinded by their own fear. Fear is the opposite of Love. I also do not feel we are a nation of Christians anymore. Most to claim to be are far removed from God, and in fact seem to have taken matters into their own hands.
    Thank you all for making me feel there are people out there who feel as I do. God Bless you all and Merry Christmas.

    • Michael Collis says:

      We were never meant to be a nation of Christians. Our founding fathers meant us to be a secular nation, not a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, or Jewish nation. We are supposed to be a nation which welcomes all, not just some. The sooner we get THAT into our minds, the better off we will be.

  7. Karen says:

    After reading some posts on Facebook this morning, I’d like to add one comment. Too many people are blaming the shootings on the mentally ill and saying that it is a mental health issue. Except that’s only a very small issue when it comes to the shootings. There are countless more shootings committed by those who are NOT mentally ill. Therefore, it’s a gun issue and not a mental health issue.

  8. Mark says:

      On the mental illness vs gun debate-
    Some days ago Adam Lanza, a young man known by relatives to be in the deepest throes of mental illness, forced his way into a Newtown CT elementary school. He threw two flimsy, one-gallon milk jugs filled with gasoline at a classroom full of first-graders and ignited the splattering fuel with a match. Most of the victims perished.
       If the above fictional account had actually occurred, our heads would be in the right place and we’d be hearing only the appropriate outcries – that we must better secure our schools against unauthorized intruders; that we must reform a society that turns its back on tortured souls and stigmatizes the mentally ill; that we must reverse the effect of well-meaning but misguided laws that allowed Lanza to implode undetected inside his darkness. I, as a law-abiding gun owner, am part of a national data base; Lanza and others who suffer as he did in HIPAA-protected privacy, are not.
       Nevertheless, while what is clearly needed is the reform of mental healthcare and proper enforcement of existing firearms laws, a few unimaginative citizens and desperate politicians are demanding a weapons ban, a form of baseless, proven-ineffective and unfair legislative buffoonery.
       Let us be more insightful than to enact what equates to a ban on gasoline and milk jugs. Let’s stay on track, and help the next Adam Lanza to do likewise.

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I grew up in Franklin Tennessee, just outside of Nashville, where I attended a charismatic church that sincerely tried to follow Christ's teachings and actively sought the gifts of the Holy Spirit. During the summer of 84, I interned in DC with the Reagan-Bush Re-Election campaign and was indoctrinated in the dark arts of neo-conservatism. After graduating from Pepperdine University in Malibu, I worked in the financial services industry in Atlanta; then I drifted back to Southern California for a few introspective years before eventually moving home to Tennessee. Along the way, I began to question some of my longstanding beliefs and attempted to reconcile my political and religious views. Increasingly, I became saddened and angered with how Christianity was so often misrepresented for personal and political gain. Hometown Prophet was written out of that frustration.

- Jeff Fulmer