The week before Easter is probably a good time to think about battles and wars -- and about the futility of ever thinking things are settled.
For Christians, the Easter story is a classic example of battles and wars. Jesus lost his battle. He was crucified on Good Friday. But he won the war: Easter is the celebration of Christ's resurrection.
To be sure, these definitions of win and lose are seen through the eyes of faith. There is almost no public record that Jesus ever lived, much less was resurrected. But we do know that the handful of believers who constituted the original church was so convinced that they went on to change the world.
Not much changes, however. The forces of kindness, trust and hope are always facing crucifixion. On any given day, all seems lost.
For example, there was some hope that after the massacre of 6- and 7-year-olds at Sandy Hook School in Connecticut, this country might actually do something about gun control. Then, the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre -- who even looks like I think Satan must look -- rubbed his hands in Satanic glee and started to undermine the whole hope process.
Now, it looks as if Americans will retain their constitutional rights to carry military-style assault weapons, useful only -- so far, at least -- for killing children and other innocents and to carry magazines that enable those weapons to kill as many as possible.
More than nine of every 10 Americans favor at least background checks for those purchasing guns. They, too, seem an ineffective match to LaPierre and the merchants of mayhem he represents.
But, do you know what? It isn't the guns that are the danger in all this. The evil of the situation is that an increasing number of Americans now believe the lie that their safety lies in their own ability to shoot one another. Even Vice President Joe Biden, an original gun-control hero, now suggests housewives might start discharging double-barreled shotguns out the back door if they feel threatened.
To a certain extent, perhaps to a great extent, the powers of darkness seem destined to win this battle.
I doubt very much they will win the war. Public opinion has shifted. At some point, people who think the right to bear any arms one wishes may, in fact, serve as justification for the murder of first-graders and their teachers will start asking themselves if they really want to go down that road. Do we just sit back and wait for the next mass murderer to invade a day-care center?
Wayne LaPierre may look like my idea of Satan, but Wayne LaPierre is not Satan. He is the Wizard of Oz, a comical figure who terrorizes people who are afraid to look behind the curtain that disguises him.
That he can still intimidate Congress is no surprise. Politicians are fraudulent wizards themselves. Nor is it a surprise that the percentage of Americans who think background checks are unconstitutional relates pretty directly to the percentage of Americans who still think Congress is doing a good job.
I have no guarantee that what I am predicting will actually happen. Easter can only be seen through the eyes of faith.
But, as the arguments of those who oppose any gun control legislation grow shriller and nuttier, I think we might have some hope that reason will win.
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