Thursday, April 18, 2013

Their Blood Cries Out from the Ground

When they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” 
Genesis 4:8-10 

The images of the Boston Marathon bombing are everywhere. But maybe most of all, they are inside of our heads. I am guessing that everyone reading this can stop and call to mind the images from Monday. The pictures of the explosion. The wounded being taken to hospitals. The man holding tight to another man’s severed artery. And the pictures of those who died.

At Yankee Stadium they played “Sweet Caroline” as a tribute to the people in Boston. On The Daily Show Jon Stewart spoke about the rivalry between New York and Boston, and he said that in times like this we are reminded that it is “a sibling rivalry.” And later this morning, President Obama will lead a healing service for the people of Boston.

A small army of investigators is hard at work, carefully examining video tapes and picture, interviewing witnesses, and piecing together the evidence that will lead them to find the killer. No stone will be left unturned. No expense will be spared.

In the meantime . . . If the hours and days since the marathon have been average days in America, then there have been nearly 100 gun murders since the bombs exploded, and there have been nearly 500 people wounded by guns. And over 150 people have used a gun to commit suicide.

In their books on early Christianity, John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg draw a sharp contrast between the Roman Empire and the Christian vision of the Kingdom of God. The Roman Empire, and every empire, is characterized by what they call “the normalcy of violence.” The Kingdom of God presents a radically different alternative based on non-violence and peace through justice.

In the United States we are so accustomed to gun violence that most of the time it seems “normal” to us. We are willing to stand in line at airports and have our clothing and baggage searched in order to prevent the violence of “terrorism.” But we are unwilling to cause even a small inconvenience in order to reduce the routine terrorism of gun violence.

Yesterday, with the images of Boston still playing in our minds, we watched the United States Senate fail to adopt a measure to provide universal background checks for gun sales. In an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, Gabrielle Giffords wrote:

“Senators say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.”

And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!”

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