This reflection is now available in Daniel P. Horan, OFM’s book Franciscan Spirituality for the 21st Century: Selected Reflections from the Dating God Blog and Other Essays, Volume One (Koinonia Press, 2013).



  1. I, too, question the role of violence and my response to it. (I did stop watching gratuitously violent shows and movies, but those like The Passion in which the violence is part of the story I continue to watch – Star Wars, for me, is one of those).

    One day I went to a talk by the Dalai Lama who said, basically, that violence in and of itself is not evil but that the purpose or intent behind that violence is what matters. Now, on the victim’s side, I don’t think they really care about the purpose – all they know is that they are hurt and are suffering. No one is deserving of violence. In that, we know in Christ that God wants none of us to suffer or remain in pain from those perpetrating violence, for God is a healing and caring God. The healing ministry and the Resurrection of Christ prove God’s love for his son and for us in that way.

    The deeper question comes into how do you offer reassurance and assistance from those who do not yet have that gift of faith that would allow them to put down their arms, put down their weapons, and seek justice through more peaceful means?

    How do we go about setting boundaries against those intent to harm us physically? How do we ensure that those weaker than ourselves (whether physically or faith-wise) are protected on this journey? (Given our lackadaisical response to Libya, we, as a nation, struggle with this question.)

    The closer I grow to Christ, the less I feel afraid of violence and am able to stand up in peace in the face of it, but I cannot presume that the one near me feels the same. They may have more fear than I, less faith, and may wish for and seek protection. In that regard, I am reminded that Christianity is also not collective suicide – I can’t force them to believe in my way (whether through guilt or violence).

    In faith, I know my God is not a God of violence, and that every act of violence is a moral failure on our part. (We used to say this very clearly about war until recently.) However, we are not lone figures – we all benefit from violence in terms of our armed forces, our police forces, and even our own instincts of self-protection. Until that last day, we need to offer those still afraid our tangible help rather than our condemnation.

    The question then becomes how do we show others that the way of Christ is the best and only way?

  2. A bit off-topic, but do you know anything about James K.A. Smith’s _Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation_? The title has intrigued me for a long time but I’ve never picked it up.

    1. Hi Sonja,

      Yes, That is actually the text from which I drew the reference in the post. It’s a book well-worth checking out if you get a chance!

  3. Our family has cut out cable completely. We Netflix “g” and “pg” comedies for the most part. We didn’t pre-think the decision, it just happened when we couldn’t connect our cable.. We have not seen violence for so long that last time I watched CSI, I was floored by the gross mutilation of the human body right on TV! I think the key isn’t what we watch as much as how much we let those graphic images into our mind.

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