A young, ultra-conservative and always rough-and-ready TV news pundit said in the wake of the mass killings in Paris recently:
“This is no time for lighting candles, people.”
What a grossly insensitive, arrogant and condescending thing to say as grieving people in Paris and around the world were doing what grieving people do and must do: lighting candles.
But then, the manly man who said it is the same Fox News pundit, Greg Gutfeld, who once called Pope Francis (no kidding) “the most dangerous man on the planet.”
So consider the source: the shrill Mr. Gutfeld gets a trifle puffed up in his male insecurity.
Look, I light a candle for peaceful reflection every day. But I do happen to believe that military force is sometimes a proverbial “necessary evil” in restoring peace and saving the lives of innocent men, women and children. Sometimes there are no good choices but the proverbial “lesser of two evils.”
As an “almost pacifist” who takes seriously both the Christian tradition of radical pacifism and the tradition’s “just war” theories, I maintain that doing nothing to stop head-slashing sociopaths on a reign of terror can carry its own brand of cruelty.
Radical pacifism, in my own humble opinion, ultimately collapses and, worse, ends up giving comfort and encouragement to barbarians to torture and kill still more innocents.
But even the most justified military force puts us, as Christians or people of peaceful faith traditions (I include Islam in that category) in a terribly compromising position. However necessary an evil war is, it’s evil.
It’s risky business. In resisting evil with evil–fighting fire with fire–“we,” the good guys, are always at risk of becoming “them”–the very people disconnected from anything like a conscience.
We risk the sale of our souls and the loss of God consciousness to the “Prince of Darkness.” We risk a “doubling down” of violence that so far exceeds justice and justification that it becomes about vengeance and blood lust and so what if we end up killing as many innocent people as “the bad guys” in order to “win.”
This just in to News Central: In war, nobody “wins.” Souls as well as lives get lost.
As a Christian whose Lord is the Prince of Peace–that homeless baby who was cast out to a manger in a barnyard–I want to see whatever force we may have to use to stop evil forces tempered by utter, Christ-like humility, not puffed-up chest beating and macho posturing.
Any time we have to use force to stop evil–and even the peacemaker Dr. King said we sometimes have no choice but to stop the mad man running amuck in the village–we throw ourselves at the mercy of God whose will is for peace on earth, good will to all.
I want to see billions of candles lit–especially during this Advent season–as a reminder of something my good friend and colleague in United Methodist ministry wrote on her Facebook page today, which follows:
“This present darkness is holding the Lord’s people captive because they can’t see their way out. Don’t grow accustomed to the dark. It is not God’s way. Jesus is the light that has overcome the darkness.”
A big amen to that.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
— John 1: 5 (NIV)