On Violence

A spoken word piece from our Encounter service this past Sunday relating to the sermon on the sixth commandment:

Thou shalt not kill.

 

“On Violence”

Please bear with me for a minute; I’d like to share a story.  I keep thinking back to the movie “Jurassic Park”, a film in which –shocking as it may seem– a lot of people got eaten by dinosaurs.  Well, as you may or may not recall, there was one character of particular note in this movie, a rather despicable lawyer, who was consumed in one bite by a tyrannosaurus rex, and if you saw this film in theaters you might remember that the audience had a rather peculiar reaction to this man’s grizzly demise:

we laughed and clapped and cheered in darkened rooms all across America.

Sure, it was funny at the time, but in retrospect, it seems more than a bit morbid, right?  And as long as we’re being candid, can we really say we’ve gotten any better since the lawyer-eating days of the 1990s?

Take a moment to reflect a bit on the more recent films to cross the silver screen

and think of all the violence they’ve contained.

And lest we dismiss all this popcorn pop culture as mere minutia,

let’s remember for a moment what our media really says about us.

 

You see, some people don’t get why movies and TV and superheroes and all that other stuff is important, so let me spell it out for you:

 

They’re the barometers of our society:

Movies, films, and TV–

shows that speak to our hearts’ desires,

And for that reason, we should all be terrified

For it seems a trope all too common now

That it’s not really a blockbuster unless entire blocks are busted

Gone are the days of the climactic clash

Between hero and antagonist

Our movies now have to show whole worlds devastated

Since special effects budgets have escalated

So that our bloodlust can be sated

With gore and violence we’ve been inundated.

Desensitized and entranced by the sadistic dance

Showing at a theater near you

at $5 matinee prices!

 

Just look at the box office numbers, and you’ll see it:

We love collateral damage.

 

I could call you back to more innocent times,

But that would be a lie,

And rather than allow nostalgia to obscure the truth,

Let’s be honest with ourselves:

We are a violent and fallen people,

And we always have been;

It’s just that we seem to be getting so much worse.

 

Our mouths dry from screaming

as the dusts of death fill the air.

We let loose the dogs of war

and revel in despair.

Despite all claims to the contrary,

we’re a bloodthirsty race.

And so how unlikely is it that those same lips

are then called into this place

to utter praise.

 

As sweet and bitter waters flow forth from our mouths,

I’d challenge you to resist the violence and let the language of love win out,

And remember that ours is a God of Peace, though war might ravage our hearts

And when violence tightens its grip

Extend the hand of fellowship

And don’t come into this house of worship

talking about who won the game

or how you can’t believe so-and-so got killed off on your favorite show

or what new summer movie is going to showcase death and destruction

as being something commonplace,

rather than the disgrace

that those things really are

 

But just look at each other, as brothers and sisters in Christ,

And say the most revolutionary thing of all,

A phrase so unheard of in our world

Of MMA and NFL and FPSes and DC Comics

A phrase so unheard of in our world

That it puts violence itself on the defensive

We’ll turn to each other and say it now

As a reminder that it is with Christ we dwell,

For the only battle you need concern yourself with

Is that the Kingdom of Heaven is waging war on our hell.

 

So with handshake or embrace, speak these words to one another:

Peace be with you.

Because we need it now more than ever.

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