He was Jesus. That's what Maurice Clemmons told his wife and young relatives as he ordered them to line up and undress. He had visions, apocalyptic visions of the end of the world.
At age 37, Maurice Clemmons is now dead after taking the lives of four Lakewood, Washington, police officers and taking away three fathers and a mother from nine children.
They're always Jesus. They always have the apocalyptic visions. Ain't it uncanny how the nightmarish imagery of the Bible's minority report goes so hand-in-hand with mental illness, delusions and violence involving guns?
I found the little die-cast aluminum soldier with his ancient water-cooled machine gun while cleaning the attic. Our house wasn't built until 1955-56, so the toy is only about 50 years old. But he's in World War I attire. Definitely no camo and Kevlar vest, no night vision goggles.
These days the average madman and middle schooler can get their hands on more firepower in a heartbeat. And end a bunch of other heartbeats quickly.
What the damaged and seriously ill Jesus wannabe's never seem to grasp is that Jesus never packed heat, likely not even a knife. How many did Jesus kill? How many did he save? Whose life was laid down in order to do that?
Guns don't kill people. People kill people--so often with all their @#$@#$%^#$%^# guns. We won't stop making guns. We'll never keep them out of the hands of seriously ill and angry people. But we can save the lives of countless people by taking care of the sick, by being honest about the mental health of people raised in violence and who turn to violence at a young age.
And we can prevent so much by making better people: parents, families and children.
In the Portland metro area in the month of November, there were five incidents of domestic violence that led a man to kill his wife/girlfriend/children and then himself. Oh, my God!
200 years ago Charles Wesley wrote, "Come, thou long-expected Jesus; come and set they people free..."
He has come. Time for us to set ourselves and others free from our darkness, our chains, our delusions and our violent ways. Amen.