Image from middletowninsider.com
Do you know what I’ve discovered? It is almost impossible to try and write something funny and Christmassy when the lives of so many innocents have been so cruelly and stupidly destroyed. It is also impossible to type when tears of sorrow and compassion keep blurring my vision as I read the list of names and ages of the victims of the insanity that happened in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14th. I tried, I mean I really tried hard to move on and be glib and funny about a Christmas story about a fat Santa Claus who goes on a diet, but the words in my mind got eclipsed by snippets of lyrics of a Christmas song being sung by Céline Dion on the Muzak loop playing in my home to foster the proverbial Christmas cheer. I’ve heard this song a thousand times but only really listened to it a few minutes ago:
So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
This painful anti-war song was written by John Lennon in 1971 and purposely released at Christmas time (now it has become an empty catalogue standard of “chirpy” Christmas songs devoid of meaning) as part of Lennon and Yoko Ono’s anti-war billboard campaign of 1969.
I was a sophomore in college when billboards by Lennon and Yoko proclaiming “War is Over If you Want It” were posted in various places. I remember how much I hated the Viet Nam war because friends of mine were being killed and emotionally destroyed there, and I supported the Lennon/Yoko protest. But life goes on, other wars came and went, and are still going on, but such is life, because I’m “dreaming of a white Christmas” like most Americans. But today I read the words of a Newtown resident who wondered if the rest of America would go on with their lives while the people of Newtown stayed frozen in their grief, and I knew that for me not to take the proper time to grieve with the residents of Newtown would be inhumane and uncompassionate.
And so Newtown, Connecticut, I will not move on with life today as if “Jingle Bells” and “visions of sugar plums dancing in my head” were all that mattered in my life. I will take the time to grieve with you and try to figure out what I can do as an individual to stop the madness happening in our country with our stubborn love affair with guns. I will pray for you for the comfort that only God can give at these moments while I wrestle with my own understanding of why a loving God would allow such a heinous thing to happen to you and to the sixty-one other episodes of mass murder in our country since 1982—not to mention the thousands of lives that are cut short on any given day and on any given inner-city street in Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and beyond by guns.
PARTIAL LIST OF MASS MURDERS WITH SEMI-AUTOMATIC WEAPONS IN AMERICA IN 2012
(Courtesy of Mother Jones Magazine via the Melissa Harris-Perry Show)
Feb. 22nd: Atlanta, GA (Health Spa)—4 people killed, by semi-automatic handgun
April 2nd: Oakland, CA (Oiko University)—7 people killed; 3 wounded by 45 caliber semi-automatic handgun
May 30th: Seattle, WA (Café)—5 people killed; 1 wounded by a 45 caliber semi-automatic handgun
July 20th: Aurora, CO (Movie theater)—12 people killed; 58 wounded by 12-gauge shotgun, AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, and 40 caliber semi-automatic pistol
Aug. 5th: Oak Creek, WI (Sheikh Temple)—6 killed;3 wounded by 9m semi-automatic handgun
Sept. 27th: Minneapolis, MN (Factory)—5 killed; 3 wounded by 9m semi-automatic handgun
Dec. 11th: Portland, OR (Mall)—2 killed; 1 wounded by AR 15 semi-automatic rifle
Dec. 14th: Newtown, CT (Elementary School)—20 children (6 and 7 year olds) and 7 adults were killed by a Glock and Sig Sauer, and a Bushmaster rifle (normally used by paratroopers)
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”—Psalm 34:18
“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” – Frederick Buechner
“I believe that man will not merely endure. He will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”—William Faulkner
“These things will destroy the human race: politics without principle, progress without compassion, wealth without work, learning without silence, religion without fearlessness, and worship without awareness.”—Anthony de Mello
“The gun slaughter of our children, family, friends, and neighbors can be over if we want it!”—Eleanor Tomczyk
HOWTHEHELLDIDIENDUPHERE ANNOUNCEMENT: I will be taking the next two weeks off and will return during the first week of January. I wish you and yours a loving and grace-filled Christmas holiday season. I pray that the peace of Christ would permeate all our hearts.
Hug your children—hold them close!
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