Even our small city has its share of violent incidents requiring a forceful response from police. Maybe we’ve been lucky, or maybe being in a small city makes a difference, or maybe our police and sheriff departments are well-trained and well-disciplined. Whatever the reason, we have not had to face questions about whether the police were justified in using deadly force.
Recently an armed man with a history of violence sent a text to another household that he was on the way to kill them.
Max Stackhouse, in his essay on “Public Theology and Ethical Judgment,” asks, “What allows human life to flourish so that the common life can flourish?” If it is a question that is ever asked in the congregational setting, it will drive teaching and preaching toward other questions, and some answers, in the political realm of the life of the community.
My friend Bill died recently. A brilliant scholar, he had suffered a number of strokes, and was being cared for in a facility that catered to patients with dementia and brain injuries. He decided that it was time to let nature take its course. He refused most food and medications, and died in short order, but he died fully confident in the resurrection life that lay ahead.
A few weeks later I was in the ER with a man in his mid-to-late nineties who had also suffered from a number of strokes.
Loving the people I don’t like. That was my Lenten discipline last year, and it is again. I’ve not made much progress in the last 12 months. It started with some prayerful reflection on what it means to love God and neighbor as the most important part of fulfilling the deepest intention of the law. Neighbors are not always easy to love, especially if you don’t like them. The generalized Christian claim that “I love everybody” just doesn’t cut it.