The Word on the Week

White Male Gunslinger

Last Sunday America was rocked by the actions of a lone gunman, Stephen Paddock.
His attack on an open air musical festival in Las Vegas took the lives of 58 and injured somewhere in the region of 500 others.
In what was a carefully planned shooting Paddock equipped himself with 23 weapons out of the 43 stored in his arsenal at his house. His Philippian girlfriend had been sent home on a holiday and $100,000 transferred to her bank account. He had reconnoitred the site and picked the 23 floor of the Mandalay Hotel with rooms overlooking the festival to give the best view of his target.
The stage was set for the ensuing massacre. A number of his guns had been fitted with ’bump stocks’ converting semi-automatic to automatic weapons. In the corridor leading to the rooms he had placed surveillance equipment so he could see if anyone was coming who might upset his plans. He even had brought his hammer to break the glass in the windows! This 64-year-old retired accountant may not have been a successful gambler, for that was one of his passions, but he was calculating when it came to killing!
This motiveless massacre is different from similar events in the past. They have been mostly staged in schools where the shooter had been preoccupied with violence or mentally ill.
A US professor was interviewed on air this week as to the possible cause. He commented that it was easy to attach motive had the gunman been black or from the Middle East but much more difficult in the case of a mature white male. In his researches he understood there to be a lack of significance among the white American male. This was possibly caused by a dilution of their rights and loss of power which had been usurped by immigrants.
These feelings of inadequacy may have been compensated for in part by the accumulation of powerful weapons.
It is a sad reflection of our world today that the only power many people rely on comes out of the barrel of a gun. There was a time that we too had not looked to Jesus and his resurrection power for the here and hereafter.
St Paul’s advice to Titus puts it well. “we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Chapter 3 verses 3/7).

The difference Jesus makes – the goodness and loving kindness at the cross applied to all who believe – once enslaved now liberated with a future in heaven.