On Violence, Prayer is not Enough

In our last issue of The Common Good News, we shared as our Faith Reflection Rev. Phil Blackwell’s call to action in response to escalating violence in Chicago. Reminding us of the circle of responsibility involved in gun violence, his message concluded that “prayer alone is not enough…If, as the Christian scripture says, all of life is a prayer, then we must put our words into action.”

This message was reinforced on Monday, August 6 in a meditation by Pastor Steve Jerbi, following the shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on Sunday. The attack on a peaceful, prayerful faith community during their morning worship stunned the nation—a nation still struggling with the recent tragedy in Colorado. But how is it that we are shocked, really? After all, awareness of broken families, spirits, and lives as a result of violence is a constant din in our collective consciousness. The shock comes because our awareness is just that, merely a din, obscured day-to-day by what Pastor Jerbi calls an addiction to violence.

Addicted to violence, he writes, we will only see change if we work for it: “A national movement of peace will call into question our policies—our policies about guns and about war, about racism and jingoism…. We cannot recover from our addiction while living the same lifestyle.”

Steve Jerbi is pastor of All Peoples Church in Milwaukee and contributes to Sojourners’ “God’s Politics” blog. The entirety of his reflection, Wisconsin Shooting, A Culture of Violence, and Why Prayer is Not Enough, was originally published by Sojourners on August 6, 2012.

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