The major mission of humanity arises from engaging love. Only in love can the dark human soul be purified — the key insight of Christianity. We are fallen and need Jesus and his love. Without love we warp. The warp of the soul then claims innocence, much like Adam and Eve can’t face their own dark impulses and blame others or external forces. We all have to come to grips with the darkness of human life. The modern temptation, though ancient in origin, can be summed up in Manicheanism.
Manicheanism as a philosophical means to break down the world into two warring camps, those who are good and those who are bad. These two warring parties then engage in a conflict for dominance. We see such schema play out in our movies, in our policies and our politics. For the liberal, the bad people are those who stand against progress be that gay marriage, health reform, and a host of other policies. For the conservative, the bad people are those who are against traditional marriage, against states’ rights, and a host of other polices. The possibilities that neither side is as innocent as they claim never enters the drama. Defeat the bad and fight for the good. Yet, this stands against Christian theology. For as Paul so eloquently put it, all of us fall short of the glory of Love.
When Holly Fischer posted her provocative photo of her holding a gun, a bible with the backdrop of the American Flag, we can see the whole of our Manicheanism. She was hailed both as a hero and a villain and subject to glowing appraisals and the nastiest of attacks. That she is a mom that loves her children can’t be doubted, and at the same time holding a gun and bible does seem like a contradiction. As if she indulged in the sin of pride. The contradiction that the NRA’s theology upholds.
The NRA’s latest slogan is that only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. This Manicheanism is use to justify the unlimited access to all guns that the NRA has been fighting. It certainly has Hollywood’s vision behind it as many of our adventure movies have the narrative of good guy vs bad guy. Yet, on close examination, can any human transcend there passions to yield such power as a gun without at least the acknowledgment of their dark impulses. Who among us has not fallen victim to their own anger, lust, jealously or rage. Are there their really good guys? Certainly, as Christians we can point to Jesus, but only to Jesus. Then only Jesus with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun is both silly and a dark joke. We only borrow our goodness in our relationship to love. None of us can lay claim to being a good guy. And if there is not pure good guys, and we return to the insights of Christian original sin, can we accept the theology of the NRA as Christians? The reality of our need of God’s love tends to argue against being Good Guys.
Of course, this also upholds the NRA’s claim that eliminating guns will not solve the darkness of human nature. What a guns offer is efficiency in killing. The question becomes about what our founders grappled with, checks and balances to the darkness within all of us.
Art, says Ernesto Tinajero, comes from the border of what has come before and what is coming next. Tinajero uses his experience studying poetry and theology to write about the intersecting borders of art, poetry and religion.