22 June 2015
A war on Christianity?
Another word about the Charleston massacre: some grim fun was had in the metamedia at the expense of Fox News personalities and other opinionators who speculated early that the attack on a church might have been part of a "war on Christianity," that the victims might have been targeted because they were Christians, not because they were black. Maybe they wanted to believe it was anything but what it proved to be: a racist hate crime. But the talk about war against Christianity would be more grimly ironic still if that gut feeling that faith was targeted was shared by those who now say that, regardless of the killer's motive, he would have been thwarted had anyone in the church carried a gun. The irony is that we've probably not seen more perfect Christians in ages than those nine people who had to have had some inkling of what that sick kid had in mind, yet kept on praying and let him sit in their midst. As we know from the killer's own confession, their prayer very nearly turned him from his mission. The point isn't whether Christianity works in this sense or any other, but that these Christians were something like classical martyrs, and certainly more Christian than those well-meaning people who wish one of them had shot that kid. That impulse toward lethal self-defense seems as much at war with Christianity as any atheist or Muslim or white racist. It treats Christianity like a possession when real Christianity, I presume, teaches people not to value possessions. The Christian martyr, in ideal form, dies rather than violate his faith by defending himself -- he dies to defend his faith and its principles rather than himself or any thing we'd call "the church," while the Muslim martyr, in the stereotypical case, dies fighting to defend his faith with physical force, determined to take as many with him as he can. Good people should not have to die when evil enters the room, of course, but if people claim to judge Charleston by Christian standards, then let them ask whether it is Christian to say those Christians should have armed themselves. If there's a war on Christianity at all in this country, it may be a civil war that the combatants don't even recognize.