Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Gun Lobby And The Gospel: 'What Else Did We Think We Had A Right To Expect?'

By Dean Gary Hall
Washington National Cathedral
December 15, 2013

I did not grow up in the church and up until my first year of college I only went in to churches and synagogues for life events--weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals and the like. The first time I ever went to church on my own was Easter Day, 1968--four days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. I went for two reasons--first, because I was trying to make sense of Dr. King's murder, and second because I greatly admired the Yale Chaplain in those days, William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Bill Coffin had been arrested on the steps of the Pentagon months before--along with poet Robert Lowell and the famous baby book writer Dr. Benjamin Spock--and I had heard Coffin speak on several occasions about the intersection of social and religious issues. So on Easter Day, 1968, I made my way across Yale's Old Campus to Battell Chapel to hear what Dr. Coffin might say on Easter that would help me understand the death of Dr. King.

I remember very little about that first church experience, except for two things. First, they served sherry afterward--a powerful inducement for a college freshman in those days. And second, Coffin's sermon entirely surprised me. He did, of course, use the sermon time to talk about the King assassination, but he didn't do so in any conventionally comforting way. "What else," Coffin asked, "did we think we had a right to expect?" Comparing King's murder to the events of Good Friday, Coffin intoned, "We never had a right to think it would be any different" with figures like Jesus and King.

Read the full story at www.VirtueOnline.org

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