The Theology of Fear

It is no act of common passage, but
A strain of rareness.

Shakespeare, Cymbeline

Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world
seek each other so that the world may come to being.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man

Theology of fearOn Sunday Father Emmett Coyne spoke on this topic at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Miguel de Allende. The title of his talk is also the subject of his book. Thought-provoking, the talk also included a discussion of love, with examples from “history.” Unfortunately, the two stories used to indicate the power of love (one of an unnamed black South African woman who is said to have forgiven Van der Broek for his horrendous crimes and the other of a German soldier who escaped from a Russian POW camp) have had their authenticity challenged. But as parables, much as those of Jesus, they are nevertheless powerful and if they help us reach a state of peace, they are worth repeating.

Perhaps the most powerful idea that I heard is that the most powerful love is not that which might be based on feelings, but that of the love which is willed. Beginning with the ancient Greeks’ fear of emotion overtaking reason, Fr. Coyne said that “perfect love casts out fear” and that the “will to do the enemy good” when one feels revenge towards that enemy may be close to what Jesus preached. His example of the reaction by the Amish community in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania 2006 murder of five girls (aged 7 to 13) by a man with a gun is one of the best to demonstrate the power of forgiveness.

One of Father Coyne’s comments was that the U.S.A. is a nation of fear.

Say It Isn’t So

I understand the rush is on in the U.S.A. to buy guns before any controls go into place. Or perhaps the reason is to protect oneself from random assassins such as the 45-year-old man who fired nine shots at a car that was playing loud music, claiming he saw a shotgun:  police say there were no weapons in the teens’ car and a 17-year-old boy is dead because a trigger-happy man was afraid of black youths.  But you can be unarmed, subdued, lying on the ground and die because a quasi-police officer is so ill-trained that he shoots and kills you because he thinks he has drawn his taser weapon when in reality he has pulled his service weapon.

I also understand that certain states want to arm teachers and provide them with weapons training, so that instead of shepherding children to safety and being heroes they can engage in shootouts in hallways and classrooms and parking lots and, while children get caught in crossfire, they can die in the line of fire.

This line of thinking will lead to headlines like “Student Steals Teacher’s Handgun, Fourteen Dead.”

I have a friend who owns a gun shop in northern California and he wears a holster with a loaded gun. One person entered his store and pulled a shotgun on him and opened fire, and my friend as well as an off-duty police officer returned fire. The intruder was hit in the ankle. A 15-year-old passerby (across a busy street) was also struck. Thankfully, it was an arm injury that did not incapacitate him for life. The police investigation determined that only four shots had been fired, yet one of them struck someone not involved with the shoot-out. Bad things happen to innocent people. Maybe it makes sense to prevent the bad things as best we can?

Perhaps Father Coyne is right:  the U.S.A. is a nation of fear. And of greed.

I wonder what good would come if all that frenzied spending on weapons and ammunition were given to schools, to the people who suffered as a result of Hurricane Sandy, or to the survivors in Newtown, Connecticut.

I Just Feel So Weary

Here in San Miguel the following was posted on one of the electronic bulletin boards/groups:

Buenas tardes…We are still open for donations for the kids that live at the dump. My shopping partner is arriving to SMA and we have it all set for shopping for the kids-families on Thursday in Celaya.

We still need donations in money, in clothing , food, blankets  all is welcome.. Let me know so tomorrow we can meet for pick up or I will stop by.

Kids living at the DUMP!

If just some of the money poured into weapons were poured into children’s lives, there might not be as many situations as that created by Adam Lanza.


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