The Armor Of Light, 2015 [PG-13] http://www.armoroflightfilm.com/. I was reminded of this film because of Rob Schenck’s new book Costly Grace that was featured on a recent NPR broadcast, Once Militantly Anti-Abortion, Evangelical Minister Now Lives ‘With Regret’.
THE ARMOR OF LIGHT follows an Evangelical minister and the mother of a teenage shooting victim who ask, is it possible to be both pro-gun and pro-life?
— film description —
In a gripping portrait of courage, director Abigail E. Disney follows the journey of an Evangelical minister trying to find the moral strength to preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America. THE ARMOR OF LIGHT tracks Reverend Rob Schenck, anti-abortion activist and fixture on the political far right, who breaks with orthodoxy by questioning whether being pro-gun is consistent with being pro-life. Reverend Schenck is shocked and perplexed by the reactions of his long-time friends and colleagues who warn him away from this complex, politically explosive issue.
Along the way, Rev. Schenck meets Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, an unarmed teenager who was murdered in Florida and whose story has cast a spotlight on “Stand Your Ground” laws. Also an Evangelical Christian, McBath’s personal testimony compels Rev. Schenck to reach out to pastors around the country to discuss the moral and ethical response to gun violence. Lucy is on a difficult journey of her own, trying to make sense of her devastating loss while using her grief to effect some kind of viable and effective political action—where so many before her have failed.
THE ARMOR OF LIGHT follows these allies through their trials of conscience, heartbreak and rejection, as they bravely attempt to make others consider America’s gun culture through a moral lens. The film is also a courageous look at our fractured political culture and an assertion that it is, indeed, possible for people to come together across deep party lines to find common ground.
— VIA REFLECTIONS —
This is an astounding documentary that portrays the amazing journey of one man’s ideological conversion and the subsequent painful challenge of attempting to bring others along with you. This film captivates quite well the tribal and dogmatic hurdles that one will face should they wish to make a sizable difference in our body politic or our religious communities, and it would be my hope that one would watch this with an eye to discerning thoughtful and wise postures and strategies, rather than furthering the divide of disdainful attitudes towards people with whom we disagree.
“The gun is almost an invitation to give into the temptation of fear. And fear should not be a controlling element in the life of a Christian.” – Rob Schenck
It continually astounds me how susceptible we humans are to cognitive dissonance, how vulnerable we are to our own fears, and how religious convictions feel so impotent in overriding such maladies. Yet, there are those anomalies, like Schenck, who every now and then break through. But as this documentary portrays, coming to see the light is far easier than shining the light for others to see.
“And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” – John 3:19-21 (NRSV)
Yet, it is this very reality–the painful and flabergasting ways in which people justify their own religious constructs–that I am persuaded once again that grounding ourselves in the power of a biblically informed Judeo-Christian faith and ethic is necessary if we are to truly become humans we were created to be.
“My friends, … Fox News and the NRA are not spiritual authorities.” – Rob Schenck
For ensconced in our stories, and our traditions, are the moral tools for overcoming the most detrimental impulses of our humanity, the baser instincts of our biology; fear, apathy, blindness, and greed, sins that manifest themselves in grabs for power, the dehumanization of “the other,” and the self-justification of our own wickedness. For the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Moses, Miriam, and Deborah, the God of Jesus, Peter, Paul, Phoebe, and Junia, came to tear down our totems, and replace them with “ahava” and “agape,” a kind of love that transforms fear, not into courage, but into embrace. I don’t know how long it will take before a truly Christian revolution will take place, one in which the faithful will lay down their weapons of war to pick up the Word of God (that is, Jesus). I do know that the call is codified in our most sacred documents, and have been there for thousands of years.
“When we champion the second amendment over an above the Word of God, then we must be very careful that in respecting the second amendment we don’t violate the second commandment.” – Rob Schenck
Thank you Rev. Rob Schenck (@RevRobSchenck1), for being true to your journey, for being willing to listen (שמע) to your God, and for being a voice of a dying Evangelicalism that so desperately needs a resurrection.