Our Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

Another mass shooting, this time at a community college in Oregon.

It is long past time for gun reform. Get in your pulpit. Go knock on a door. It is time, and it is up to us.

As religious people, most of us know what to do when confronted with a disaster. We take up donations. We show up. We bring our duct tape, casseroles, tissues, and spare coats. We will rush into your disaster with you and pray for you while you rebuild.

Let's not let mass shootings become defined as natural disasters in our time, inevitable, unpredictable events that we can do little about but prepare to respond.

As people called in to respond to disasters, we should be careful. It is nice to feel useful, even nicer to feel desperately needed. Disaster relief is apolitical, a safe outreach project. Faith communities don't usually want to generate conflict among themselves or with their neighbors. We prefer to be heroes, and some of us can even arrange to get paid to do it. It is tempting to adapt to this kind of tragedy as our new normal.

We should be careful that we are not becoming invested in a new role as mass shooting chaplains as we are called to pray over the dead and offer the legitimacy of our faith communities to politicians who support the NRA, as they mourn the latest result of their actions. We can lament the tragic loss of young life, but we must also organize so that we are not doing this again, ever.

It is a direct result of the laws of this country that we have mass shootings. It is not a complicated thing. Here's what the president has to say about it.

It is hard to stand up for gun control in every state in this nation, but faith is hard. One of the roles of religious communities is to hold a vision of justice larger than might be politically reasonable, a vision worthy of the Creator.

Dry your eyes. Call your legislators. Meet with your faith communities. Support your local gun control movements. Let's end this in our lifetime.