Even though this post touches on both current events and religion, it isn’t so much about current events or religion as where these currents collide on a personal level.
I’m sure I don’t have to rehash the news of what happened at Umpqua Community College a little while ago. It’s all over the news and if you don’t know, Google it. It’s the sort of story that’s become all too common of late and I really don’t care to try to dissect the how and why of it because I’m not interested in engaging those kinds of debates any more.
What strikes me about this case- and what makes it stand out from some other recent cases- is that the gunman asked the religion of the people he shot, according to witnesses. He seems to have had an especially strong dislike of Christians.
Now, I am a long way from what most people define as “Christian,” in the sense that my beliefs fall well outside the mainstream. I take most strongly after the Valentinians and the Goodmen of Languedoc whom the inquisitors called Cathars. I am, for lack of a better descriptor, a Christian of Gnostic theology.
And so the question is inevitable: what would I have done if I was the one with a gun pointed at me? It’s easy to say that I would be true to the end, that I would hold to the spirit of the Goodmen at Monstegur who went to the stake rather than deny what they held to be true. It’s easy to say I would emulate my own character, Godric, and put my trust entirely in a true God above God even at the hour of my greatest peril.
It’s easy to say these things because it is rare, in the Western world, for anyone to be faced with that circumstance.
Moreover, it’s easy to say it for me in particular because for many years I was not a Christian and spent a good seven years of my life when such concerns were simply someone else’s and not my own. But what happened the other day, as rare as it is, has forced me to consider that it can happen and I have to know what my answer is going to be in case it does happen.
I am not asking for an answer; I just needed to get this off my chest. I’m not obsessed with martyrdom and I think anyone who is obsessed with martyrdom is a dangerous person who should probably get their meds adjusted. But I also believe in taking a stand and living by example. What would that say about Gnosticism if I was the one Christian in the room who denied I was Christian to save my own hide?
These thoughts have been heavy on my mind. Maybe heavier than they should be but it is what it is.