Sunday, November 11, 2012

Blessed are the Colt Model Ps?

Somehow I don't think that our lord was referring to the revolver when he said Blessed are the peacemakers...

Still, it is interesting that a device used to project slugs of metal at high velocity, usually with the intent of ripping holes in the human body so as to make it inoperable, should bear the title "Peacemaker."

The flippant answer is that gun manufacturers are merchants of death, and that it is simply clever marketing to instill a false sense of security for owners of their product, and a feeling of vulnerability in their target customer base. Perhaps there is even some truth to this.

However, I think it speaks to a sad but nonetheless true reality about this fallen world of ours. It is sometimes hard to remember that there is simultaneously room and a need for both Gandhi and Patton. Our Lord is typified as both the Lamb of God, and the Lion of Judah. To put it more eloquently, I turn to Chesterton:

The world did not lose the last charge of Sir James Douglas or the banner of Joan the Maid. And sometimes this pure gentleness and this pure fierceness met and justified their juncture; the paradox of all the prophets was fulfilled, and, in the soul of St. Louis, the lion lay down with the lamb. But remember that this text is too lightly interpreted. It is constantly assured, especially in our Tolstoyan tendencies, that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamb-like. But that is brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb. The real problem is--Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? THAT is the problem the Church attempted; THAT is the miracle she achieved.

There is a reason that Holy Mother Church has a doctrine of just self defense, and of just defense of others. There is a reason why She has a just war doctrine, which says that ultimately war should be avoided as much as is prudent, but sometimes the prudential solution is in fact to engage in bloodshed, for the betterment of mankind.

It has been said that fighting for peace is like fornicating for virginity, but I find myself dissatisfied by the sentiment. It sounds nice, rings well (especially among college students and the internet, where another term is often used in place of "fornicating"), but it is, I think, dissatisfying. Insert Godwin's-Law-Fulfilling comment about the U.S.A. stopping the Nazi war & death machine in World War II here.

I think that's about enough of the Nazis for one blog post, don't you?

I've taken a bit of a divergence, and would like to return to the scripture we started with:

Beati pacifici, quoniam filii Dei vocabuntur.

Blessed the peace makers (pax + facio: I make, arrange peace), for sons of God they will be called.

It is not the peaceful who are blessed, it is those who bring about peace. Our Lord does not specify how. I have another scripture which strikes me at the moment, John 2:14ff:

And he found in the temple them that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting. And when he had made, as it were, a scourge of little cords, he drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen, and the money of the changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew.

An account of this event occurs in all four of the Gospels, in one form or another. Yes, it even occurs in the selfsame Gospel in which Our Lord delvers the 8 Beatitudes. The Son of God, who would himself be scourged and crucified, offering no resistance to those who sought His life, gets physically violent with those who are turning the temple into a marketplace.

To put it even a little more bluntly, read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
A time to kill, and a time to heal.
A time to destroy, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh.
A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather.
A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to get, and a time to lose.
A time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew.
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.
A time of love, and a time of hatred.
A time of war, and a time of peace.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I think the peacemaker was named correctly. Sometimes we must be both lion and lamb. In this fallen world, some are called to have the capacity for violence as a means for the imposition of justice, tempered by virtue and a true love of God an neighbor, such that we will only use it as a last resort.

Much like war is not the answer, neither is violence, though it may be necessary to curb the violence of those who will not listen to reason. If I may be so bold, there is even a place for the warrior in the Body of Christ.

1 comment:

  1. It amused me the other day when a priest to a group of us what would happen if one Sunday morning reading was taken from 1 Samuel 15, where it is read joyfully things such as:

    "3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass ... 33 And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal."

    at end of which it is said, "The word of the LORD" and the congregation says with gusto, "thanks be to God"! Context of course, matters.

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