February 12, 2010

Jesus with a Gun

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 9:29 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

What images come to mind when you say “Unitarian Universalism:” A chalice with fire burning in it; people marching in defense of love and justice; a group of diverse people endlessly discussing great ideas?  My favorite is of two parents (of any gender,) one of the two with an arm around the one holding the baby, while a minister touches the baby with a flower.  The religious power of images is undeniable.  That one just makes me smile.

By images I do not mean simply visuals, but ideas that are concrete enough so that a blind person can grasp their emotional and symbolic meaning.  Of course the power of an image depends heavily on  context.  For example, to the average American Lord Ganesha is a pretty weird-looking dude with his elephant head, multiple arms, roly-poly body and giant rat for a pet.  To the average Indian Hindu the image is a happy object of devotion, a most sweet and hopeful image of God and God’s abundant grace.  For many the image will immediately evoke stories and significant beginnings, like weddings or New Year’s Day.

In the Christian tradition images of God as Jesus have varied greatly, from a serene and serious and suffering lord with an otherworldly quality, to a kind and bearded guy in white robes.  I don’t know who first gave me this idea, some peacemaker and anti-gun violence advocate, but go and put the words “Jesus” and “gun” into a web image search.  Then laugh, (in a shocked and sad way,) at what comes up.  Ah the fun we can have with photo-shop software.

My favorite is Jesus with a child, holding a gun and saying, “No, you hold it like this.”  I thought the AK-47 in the famous “Jesus Knocks” painting was too much.  It seemed enough to have Jesus tapping on the door with a pistol: creepy and threatening.  Maybe it would be cool to see Jesus, like some police chaplains I know, wearing a pistol in seeking to serve and protect,  but the images online make clear to me how corrupt and skewed are the teachings of those who celebrate  “bring a gun to church day.”  Especially, in a world where UUs and many others have been shot and killed by crazy, anguished people who brought guns to church.  I want to uphold alternatives to violence and weapon wielding.

I turn back to the image of the child and the guardians of that child celebrating life in the face of all that makes it difficult.


  1. Robin Edgar said,

    :What images come to mind when you say “Unitarian Universalism:”

    You forgot the obligatory Unitarian question mark Thomas. . . 🙂

    But in light of your blog post title.

    How about UUA President Peter Morales with a submachine gun. 😉

  2. Robin Edgar said,


    *I* forgot the obligatory Unitarian question mark.

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