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In the wake of Newtown, what should Christians do?

In the wake of Newtown, what should Christians do?

In the aftermath of a massacre such as the one that occurred Friday in Newtown, is it helpful for Christians to do anything other than pray and offer comfort to those who have been affected by the violence?

I ask this question because there are credible Christians leaders saying that now is the time to deal with the root causes of gun-related violence and violence committed by people who may be mentally unbalanced, while other Christian leaders are saying that it is wrong to bring up these issues in the immediate aftermath of such a deeply disturbing event.

I might incline toward the second view if this were the first shooting of this kind, but at this point, the mass public shooting is a well-established trope in American life. Repeated exposure tends to move one from grief to outrage more quickly. One has an increasing sense that one is responsible for what one sees. For me, then, calls to prayer seem incomplete when not accompanied–or followed in short order–by calls to other sorts of action. That s may say more about me than it does about the situation, but there it is.

I am wondering what others think. Is this a time that should be strictly devoted to mourning, prayer and giving comfort, or is it also permissible to acknowledge the political dimension of these shootings, and to urge action against the root causes?


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Murdoch Matthew

JC Fisher: There is mass murder going on all around us. To ignore all the Ys shooting up the street to focus on the X in your living room is natural, but also obtuse and, depending on what you might reasonably be expected to know, hypocritical. Few of us bear direct responsibility for Newtown; all US citizens are complicit in the deaths of countless Arabs abroad.

Perhaps you can accomplish something by focusing on X — I hope so. Y is a bigger issue. Both have been untouchable because of the profits of the industries that promote them.

Chris H.

And perhaps another question: what are we going to do with the violent mentally ill other than put them in jail? Huff Post had an essay from the mother of a future killer. She knows it–he’s attacked her already and promises death anytime he doesn’t get what he wants. He has a high IQ and is manipulative. Her family lives in fear, but the authorities have told her that all she can do is hope he gets locked in jail for a lesser crime before the worst happens,which I’ve heard from other people with mentally ill family memebers. Apparently she lives in an area without a state sanitarium,etc.,but that isn’t that uncommon anymore. Dealing with guns is one part of it, but if Lanza’d killed 10 with a knife it would still be a tragedy.

Chris Harwood

Ann Fontaine
Gary Paul Gilbert

The Presiding Bishop herself unwittingly made the connection to the hiding of the bloody side of war from Americans when she said, “Given what happened in Connecticut on Friday, is there a place for a precise, even surgical, strike against gun violence?” The notion of the so-called surgical strike became popular in the media coverage of the Gulf War. The idea that violence can be justified or at least presented as clean desensitizes people. Violence is never pretty and should be condemned whoever does it. One must never feel good about resorting to violence–even as self-defense.

Gary Paul Gilbert


Murdoch, you’ve just engaged in the “X? But What About Y?!” rhetorical device.

Their collective effect tends to ensure that neither X *nor* Y get acted upon.

JC Fisher

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