Loving Courage to Worship the Gungod No More

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Posted on September 18th, 2013 | Filed under Challenges, Community, Featured, News, Social Issues
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Non-violence sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reuters

Another mass shooting.  Do you care about the details?  Do you?  Do I? What about the mass shooting that takes place every day in the United States, one murder and one suicide at a time?  Do you care about the details? Do you? Do I?

Firearm violence in the United States is rampant, pervasive and it seems intractable.  It starts to seem like it is a force of nature, like a hurricane or a tornado or a flood, a force that exacts its inevitable death toll; a force that cannot be prevented.  But we should not be fooled.  Shootings in the form of murders and suicides are not a force of nature.  But are we even allowed to entertain the idea that we might be able to do something to reduce or stop some of the shootings?

To dare to venture the opinion that we might take some preventative action to struggle against the daily slaughter is met at every turn with shouts and demands about civil liberties; shouts and demands about the only amendment to the constitution that seems to matter. To have a gun, and to be able to wield the deadly force of a gun takes on the character of an absolute right. To have a gun, and to be able to wield the deadly force of a gun takes on the character of a God-given right.

What’s going on here?

What sort of God is it, that would approve of the violent firearm deaths?  What sort of God could that possibly be?

I mean, do we mumble utterances about how God is love, and how God loved the world so much that God sent God’s Son to earth to save human beings?  Is that the God who approves of the absolute right to own and wield firearms for the killing of the self, or the killing of others?

When we think of God as a violent inflictor of God’s will; when we think of God as the Creator of victims and sufferings-- it is in that context that the violent God takes the throne.  Love is transformed into a kind of brutality.  Love is twisted into a kind of seething violence.  And the sanctuary is set for a new liturgy for the worship of the new God, the Gungod.

And that’s just what we have here: the Gungod.

And the Gungod is an angry god who requires blood sacrifice.  Lots of blood sacrifice.

And the Gungod is an angry god who requires human sacrifice.  Lots of human sacrifice.

Why do people bow down before this Gungod? Are they afraid the Gungod will require their sacrifice if they speak or act against the Gungod? When I look around, I see that the fear is total. The worship is total.  The devotion is total.  The faith is total.

We need courage instead.  Courage can banish the fear. Courage can empower our love, and rescue us from the false God, the idol, the Gungod.

The Gungod howls and demands our faith and worship; howls and demands that we enact the futile sort of strength known as violence. But, the God who is Love beckons and invites (and pleads with) us to abandon that Gungod.

The God who is Love beckons and invites us to live with courage, and to meet our fellow travelers with gratitude for the gifts they bring that enrich us and make us whole.

The God who is Love beckons and invites us to courageously pour out our selves in generosity like God’s, generosity that rains blessing down on the deserving and the undeserving alike.

Those are the loving attitudes that will break the spell of the Gungod, and unshackle us from the false-strength of violence that enslaves us.

A person whose courage is rooted in the Loving God is the person who can be free from the cowardice that trembles and quakes on its knees in every violent act of worship and sacrifice that the Gungod demands.

Do we need firearm regulation?  Maybe.  But, what we need more is the upbuilding of Courageous Love that will give us the authentic sort of strength.  The Loving sort of strength.  The Divine sort of strength. The strength to put down the weapon. The strength to put down the Gungod, once and for all.

And that will surely be a lovingly courageous step in our becoming a new creation together.

 

Photo source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Non_violence_sculpture_by_carl_fredrik_reutersward_malmo_sweden.jpg

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8 Responses to “Loving Courage to Worship the Gungod No More”

  1. David Grant Smith says:

    Let all the people say: Amen.

    Well done, Paul. Firmly, yet compassionately, stated. I will be sharing this around, as this is a “sermon” worthy of all our considerations.

    Peace & blessings…
    David

  2. Liz says:

    Provocative article! Have you read “Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us” by Rebecca Parker and Rita Nakashima Brock? They argue that as long as Christians preach an atonement theology in which Jesus’ death on a cross is necessary for salvation (a “part of God’s plan”), they will promote violence…not only war and mass shootings, but domestic violence, battering, abuse.

    Yes, resisting that theology requires courage, but I think it requires more: noticing and challenging where glorification of violence is embedded within both our theological history and our contemporary creeds. For example, lynchings of Black Americans by white Christian Americans has been well-documented…how do we reconcile/respond to that part of our history? What are we actively doing now to resist racial profiling, over-incarceration, police brutality, economic and environmental racism?

    I respect the passion in your article, and I want to challenge your language that we have to choose between gods, a God of Love and a Gungod. Rather than assigning this violence to a deity, I suggest we look within ourselves to see where the creation and maintenance of that violence comes from. What is about how we define OURSELVES and our faith that leads us to accept and promote violence and violent theology?

    • Liz- Thanks! I haven’t read that, but will add it to my wishlist. Thanks also for the critique. I wished to go the route of using the term Gungod to drive home the deeply religious and idolatrous elements in the firearms debate. Of course there is no Gungod. It is an idol. It is a creature of our own concoction. And the Gungod is an idolatrous creation that closes the circle: when we elevate to the status of divinity the worst aspects of human existence, we can make the perverse declaration that we are enacting the image and likeness of God. “God is a brutish horror,” we seem to say, “and all I want to do is be like God, and lo and behold, I seem to have succeeded. Hallelujah!” It is dizzying, this mental gymnasium of self-justification.

  3. Kirsten Mebust says:

    Thanks, Paul. You nailed it again, as usual. I’m intrigued that both you and David O’Hara (Slowly Percolating Forms) blogged on the issue of what is in our hearts this week. BTW, O’Hara’s an Episcopalian and he’s also a Peirce scholar and ecologist and has some interesting consonances with your work. He teaches at Augustana College-Sioux Falls.
    http://slowperc.blogspot.com/2013/09/ill-tell-you-what-that-gun-is-for.html

    • What a great post, Kirsten. I wrote out a response, but the site ate it up and dumped it. I love the notion that trust is the key. If I am worthy of my neighbor’s trust, then maybe she doesn’t need courage at all. Thank you for your attentiveness to my project.

  4. […] Another mass shooting.  Do you care about the details?  Do you?  Do I? What about the mass shooting that takes place every day in the United States, one murder and one suicide at a time?  Do you care about the details? Do you? Do I? Read more here. […]

  5. As a white, 70 year old transgender female and veteran I’ve been at both ends of a discharging firearm. Blue muzzle flashes have something surreal about them when you realize that you saw it because the shooter missed.

    Any animal forced into a corner will fight, no matter how bad the odss of survival. Could it be that some of those people who possess firearms have psychologically been in the corner of ME versus THEM most of their lives? Notice I said SOME.

    I’m not a gun “freak” and this is the first time I’ve written comments regarding gun violence, since the rhetoric around this issue is so intense.

    People kill people with firearms. Let’s not forget the person in the picture. Can we truly protect ourselves from ourselves?

    No, I am neither for or against anything dealing with guns. Four of my family members took their lives with firearms. But if Big Brother took their guns away they would have found other ways to commit suicide.

    The idea of a “Gungod” to me detracts from the existential malaise, fear, and anxiety of the person who feels that using a gun to hurt and kill others will somehow take away the pain of his or her being.

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Paul Joseph Greene is attending the second year of his doctoral program, seeking a Ph.D. in systematic theology at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota. "Let's talk interreligiously about liberation, identity, power, privilege, creative transformation, process, politics, and Glee! And by virtue of our relationship, let's become a new creation together." Paul was selected as one of three Outstanding Contributing Scholars to speak at State of Formation's workshop held at the 2013 American Academy of Religion.


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