random musings...

Tag: guns

More Prayer, Not Less

One of the lessons Christians take from the teaching of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ is that senseless violence is no match for the love of God. Although the world may reject love way in favor or greed, violence, and a thirst for power, we put our trust in the promise that love, forgiveness, and peace will win out in the end. This does not negate our grief or our anger over tragedies of violence that make no sense. It doesn’t lessen our call to act to make such atrocities less likely. Indeed, it offers hope and renews the call to act, to live out of the love of God that is rejected by the world and build the kin-dom with faithful action, compassion, and resolve.

In the face of tragic heart-breaking violence I understand the frustration behind the sentiment that people don’t need our thoughts and prayers, especially when the prayers come from the mouths of politicians who refuse to otherwise act to reduce the violence in our culture. But I’m a little confused when people of faith say we don’t need prayers. We actually need more prayer, not less. Of course, although I think prayer is indeed necessary, prayer alone is not sufficient. We also must act.

I think those who speak against prayer have a basic misunderstanding of what prayer is and is not. It is true we don’t need empty prayers. Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:5-8 that we should not pray empty prayers meant only to put on a show for others. Unfortunately, these are the prayers we get from politicians who want to look like they care but who refuse to act when it is in their power to do so. However, sincere prayer, understood properly, is needed more than ever from people of faith. Prayer is not a magical murmuring that calls upon God to solve all of our problems for us. Such prayer is also useless because it actually discourages us from acting. Prayer is not a magical solution and it never absolves us of the responsibility to care for the world. Prayer is meant to help us act and not avoid acting. Prayer is meant to express our compassion, to open our hearts to God’s call to love and justice, giving us the courage and strength to act. We are the instruments of the Divine. We are God’s voice and hands in this world. We are the means through which God acts in this world. We need more prayer, not less, that God may work through us to end the madness of our culture’s violence. Let us pray for healing, for forgiveness, for wisdom and for courage and when we’re done praying let us take action.

The American Shadow

Have you ever had a dream in which someone was chasing or attacking you? In dreams like this the attacker represents our Shadow, where we shove all of those aspects of ourselves of which we are ashamed, hoping that they never see the light of day. When the Shadow shows up in our dreams it is basically our subconscious telling us that some repressed part of ourselves needs attention. The world-renowned Jungian analyst Robert Johnson wrote that if the Shadow gains enough energy “it erupts as an overpowering rage or some indiscretion that slips past us; or we have a depression or an accident that seems to have its own purpose.” An out of control Shadow “is a terrible monster in our psychic house.” In other words, the Shadow escapes our nightmares and becomes a real life problem causing pain and disruption for us and those around us.

Donald Trump is the Shadow of American culture. He is the nightmare that reminds us of the misogyny, racism, xenophobia, islamophobia, etc. that lurks just below the surface. We’ve tried to deny and repress these aspects of our culture. We’ve tried to claim that women are given equal treatment, that black lives already matter, that we welcome the stranger, that we offer religious freedom, but Trump is revealing the falsehood of our delusions. He is our Shadow demanding attention. He is an eruption of rage, an indiscretion. As the raging Shadow, it’s not surprising that his entire persona has no real substance. He doesn’t offer plans or ideas but only anger and vague, grandiose boasting. It’s not his function to solve anything but only to demand attention.

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