Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shooting At The Holocaust Museum

This is what my sermon would sound like if I were to preach about this tragic event:


Scripture Text:
"Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man. (Genesis 9:6---NASB)

Violence, violence, everywhere---there is violence. There's nothing one can really say about this (the Holocaust Museum Shooting)---not because violence has always been around---but because of the sheer fact that violence is a cowardly act and against God. Violence is the very opposite of what God is like, so the church must always lift it's voice up against violence, racist ideologies and injustices everywhere. Hearing about this shooting reminded me about the stirring feelings that I felt when I visited Dachau and how you were left with an overbearing sense of melancholy, anger, guilt and helplessness---perhaps even from the souls that were violently murdered there. Dachau is a silent and ghostly memorial to a time when humans showed just how inhumane they could and still can be. There is that moment where you want to disbelieve the reality of the Holocaust, because we are humans, afterall---we are suppose to be better than animals---but yes, it really did happen all those years ago and events just like it are still happening worldwide today. I am also reminded of the Jewish philosopher and literary critic---Theodor Adorno's quip: “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric, and this corrodes even the knowledge of why it has become impossible to write poetry today”

Truly it is hard to write and think positively with such violence around us everywhere, but we as Christians always have hope---for our hope is found in Christ. Or as Paul succinctly puts it in Romans 5:1-5:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a]have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Also as the author of Titus puts it:
Titus 2:11-14---NRSV:
11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
And so we as the church, the body of Christ---must work to foster this hope in this world around us full of violence and hatred.

Turning our thoughts back to Dachau: one of the famous inmates of Dachau was Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran pastor and an early supporter of the Nazi Party, who later along with Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer became one of the most vocal Christian critics of the Nazi Party. When asked by fellow inmate, Leo Stein,
why he ever supported the Nazi Party, Niemöller replied:

"I find myself wondering about that too. I wonder about it as much as I regret it. Still, it is true that Hitler betrayed me. I had an audience with him, as a representative of the Protestant Church, shortly before he became Chancellor, in 1932. Hitler promised me on his word of honor, to protect the Church, and not to issue any anti-Church laws. He also agreed not to allow pogroms against the Jews, assuring me as follows: 'There will be restrictions against the Jews, but there will be no ghettos, no pogroms, in Germany.'"

"I really believed," Niemoeller continued, "given the widespread anti-Semitism in Germany, at that time—that Jews should avoid aspiring to Government positions or seats in the Reichstag. There were many Jews, especially among the Zionists, who took a similar stand. Hitler's assurance satisfied me at the time. On the other hand, I hated the growing atheistic movement, which was fostered and promoted by the Social Democrats and the Communists. Their hostility toward the Church made me pin my hopes on Hitler for a while.

"I am paying for that mistake now; and not me alone, but thousands of other persons like me."

Niemöller is also credited with composing this poem:
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
Then they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
I did not protest;
I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out for me.

It was the same evil spirit of oppressive violence and hatred---bigotry and racism that inspired the Holocaust, which caused James W. von Brunn to shoot those two people at the Holocaust Museum. And so today, I must lift my voice up in solidarity with all the saints living and deceased and denounce violence and hatred---in the name of Christ, I implore you to end the violence, now! Work against injustices at home and abroad and stop the spread of racist and bigoted ideologies. We as a church, a community centered around the living and loving Christ must never be afraid to stand up and be counted among the saints who stand up for the rights of the oppressed, the victims and the marginalized of society and who in unison stand against hate speech. Hate speech is the germ of violence and violence is the reason hate speech must be stopped. Hate speech must end, now! And may we as the church, the bride of Christ never fail to always place Christ at the center of all our speech as well as all of our deeds so help us, God. Amen!

Ben Currin.

For those of you interested, here is the accompanying article to the video above:
Gunman Opens Fire at Holocaust Museum
posted: 31 MINUTES AGOcomments: 2409filed under: Crime News, National NewsPrintShareText SizeAAA

WASHINGTON (June 10) - An 88-year-old gunman with a violent and virulently anti-Semitic past opened fire with a rifle inside the crowded U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday, fatally wounding a security guard before being shot himself by other officers, authorities said.

The assailant was hospitalized in critical condition, leaving behind a sprawling investigation by federal and local law enforcement and expressions of shock from the Israeli government and a prominent Muslim organization.

Von Brunn has a racist, anti-Semitic Web site and wrote a book titled "Kill the Best Gentiles," alleging a Jewish "conspiracy to destroy the white gene pool."
In 1983, he was convicted of attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board and served more than six years in prison. He was arrested two years earlier outside the room where the board was meeting, carrying a revolver, knife and sawed-off shotgun. At the time, police said von Brunn wanted to take the members hostage because of high interest rates and the nation's economic difficulties.
Writings attributed to von Brunn on the Internet say the Holocaust was a hoax and decry a Jewish conspiracy to "destroy the white gene pool."
"At Auschwitz the 'Holocaust' myth became Reality, and Germany, cultural gem of the West, became a pariah among world nations," it says.

Read Full Article: Here.

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