Graham Greene is one of my favorite authors. His novel, The End of the Affair, was the first to introduce me to the power of writing. I read it in college, as Val and I were in the younger stages of our relationship, and Greene’s depiction of love spoke to my feelings.
The main character in the novel is novelist Maurice Bendrix. He carries on an affair in the midst of WW2 that is ended when he survives a bombing in London. He finds out that his married lover, Sarah Miles, had made a deal with God. If Bendrix survived his injuries, she would break off the relationship.
The novel ends with Bendrix stating he has had enough of God.
Sitting in my dining room on this night hinting of winter to come, my thoughts drift over the shooting in California. We, as a country, are on the backs of our own deal with God. We’ve co-opted sorrow and grief, victim and violence. We are in the dark determined to find evil and destroy it.
We point fingers.
The religious establishment grasps hold of antiquated practices and wonders why it finds itself at the end of accusations and irrelevancy. Law enforcement officers are just as likely to be assaulted or killed as they are to be praised for their efforts.
Good people are lost in the noise.
In the Bible, while Jesus hangs on the cross, he sees Roman soldiers dividing up his clothes. He makes this statement:
Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
The soldiers didn’t know.
The government of the time didn’t know.
The disciples didn’t know.
The world didn’t know.
We’d taken perfect, selfless love and grace and punished it with death. The Truth had fallen against the weight of everyone too scared to listen. Those oppressed turned their back on freedom.
There are arguments to be made and conversations to be had. Violence is too easy. Guns are too easy. The intensity of faith and cause drives the lost to extreme measures to satisfy a far-off radical religious and political system destroying innocent lives in Syria and beyond.
The answer is not with Bendrix, turning away from our creator. The answer is changing the deal.
No more trading the world for authenticity. No more chasing after things of impermanence.
The American Way has failed.
Generations are adrift in a sea of debt, anger, frustration, doubt, and sorrow for the past they never had and the future that seems to be no more than a figment of their imagination. This is solved by shorting vision to a microscopic level (If I get the next new thing, I’m good).
The new deal is hope. It is grace and service. It is taking responsibility as parents to redefine value, to show our kids the meaning of friendship, love, choice and respect. It is understanding the power of a gun and the greater power of faith.
The new deal is peace. Taking time in silence and stillness. Turning off the screen and stopping the hustle for a moment. It is getting back to nature and standing in the midst of a quiet forest while snow falls.
The new deal is life. It is embracing the small moments, holding doors and shoveling sidewalks. It is giving when we are spent. It is reaching out and inspiring someone lost in the depths. It is change found by a new fire deep inside.
The mass shootings can stop. Society can change. Hope is not lost and the journey has just started.
I believe. As a writer, husband, father and follower of Jesus. I believe.