Via Hand and Heart: Part I
The movie Witness opens with eight year old Samuel Lapp (Lukas Hass) witnessing a murder. Philadelphia detective John Book (Harrison Ford) questions the boy. What did he see? Detective Book is aware that young Samuel is now in danger. As the plot unfolds, the detective is shot identifying a suspect; still he manages to drive the Amish boy and his mother to their farm.
Upon arrival in Lancaster county, Detective Book collapses from his wounds. He is now in the care of this Amish household/community. Two scenes from this movie are particularly thought provoking for me. The first scene is of Eli, the grandfather (Jan Rubes) talking with Samuel about the discovered gun. Witness Youtube video: Eli and Samuel. Eli says to the youngster “What we take into our hands, we take into our hearts.” The scene is a too easy summary of one pacifist’s philosophy — still it carries power when thinking of the violence in our modern world.
In the wake of Paris, San Bernardino, Charleston, Colorado Springs, Newtown… [This list of the massacre of innocents can go on for pages] what will we take into our hands and hearts? Thus far in 2015 there have been more than 40 mass murders in the U. S. Of these, two involved persons claiming Islamic motivations. Of over 12,500 gun deaths thus far this year, 19 were done by persons claiming a perverted radical Muslim identity. We in the United States now have more guns than people. To what end?
Congress is so controlled and manipulated by the gun lobby that all sensible legislation is blocked. A majority of Americans are seeking restrictions on gun ownership and usage. Does this change any thing? No. Background checks? Nope. This week there was a vote asking that those who are unable to fly, who are on a terrorist watch list, be restricted from purchasing guns. One would think this is an easy “yes”, right? No way! Can we limit the purchase of guns designed for military style use? Nope. Limit the amount of ammunition in a cartridge? Not a chance. Have electronic finger print control allowing only the licensed owner to fire any new weapon? Are you kidding? Not in the U.S.! We are suffering from a suicidal social addition.
In Indiana we have the added burden of being the major supplier for the armaments sold that are used in the murders on the south side of Chicago. Will the Indiana legislature act to have universal background checks on gun purchases? You know the answer — it is “No, no, no.”
At Liberty University this week, Jerry Falwell Jr. encouraged every student to have a handgun — this as part of what a Christian should be about in these days. He praised the ability to have a concealed weapon and said this would take care of our “Muslim problem.” Alas.
Two of my friends made cogent responses to Mr. Falwell. Let me close this Part I of “What we take into our hands” by sharing links to these. My friends Will Willimon and Sara Wenger-Shenk give us perspective on how we proceed. They help us better understand what it means to respond to Falwell as a different brand of Christians.
See Willimon’s at: Pistol-Whipped Preacher
See Wenger-Shenk’s at:Practicing Reconciliation