Waking Up to Another (and Another) Death in America

From 1992’s Unforgiven.*

It was a week of bullets.

Like last week. Like last year. Like last decade. And the decade before that. Like when a Democrat was president. Like when a Republican was president.

A person about my age,

In his sixties, on the playing fields of youth,

On a bright blue early morning in Virginia,

Started shooting.

And shooting. Were the early reports really true? Was the man with two guns and hundreds of bullets targeting Republicans serving in Congress?

The bright blue bruise of a day had just begun, for on the west coast a solitary man in a UPS uniform entered his former employers in San Francisco and opened fire. He shot and killed three. Wounded two. And then he squeezed the trigger one last time. He won’t be answering any questions about why he took this gruesome action.

Two lone men. Right coast. Left coast. Two “mass shootings.”

And yet not alone.

For no reason other than seeking a city that infrequently makes the national media—and a city I’ve visited—I searched the news about Albuquerque, New Mexico. On June 5, I learned that two men had been shot. Another “mass shooting”—meaning multiple victims. But I could’ve found others wounded or killed elsewhere. In the last 72 hours (I started these words on June 16, 2017), there were 29 mass shootings in America. Continue reading →

R is for . . .


Faith’s not rational. It’s not logical, predictable and definitely not practical.

Take Christmas. Was Jesus born in Bethlehem? Yes. No. Let’s ask someone from Nazareth. What’d Mark’s Gospel or Paul’s letters have to say about Jesus’ birth? Nothing. Spoil sports!

There’s little rational about the living out of faith or celebrating faith’s traditions. If we live out faith, how can any of us choose swords over plowshares? But we’re rational (and also have thin skins), and thus we too often hit back.

As we honestly celebrate Christmas, why do we make the manger so pleasant and inviting? Rationally speaking, it’s easier to explain to the kids. Realistically, a manger’s ambience would include the stench of fresh manure and has air conditioning based on opening or closing a door.

Love my neighbor? At least I don’t have to like ‘em. Turn the other cheek? The one near the nose . . . or the other ones south of the belt?

At its best and worst, there’s nothing rational about faith.