Reflections on Peace and Violence

By Rev. Dr. Rodney Kennedy

The recent shooting in Alexandria, Virginia of members of Congress, capital police, and congressional staff members left me shaken. I thought that I should make some attempt at a pastoral response for you, my beloved congregation. Here are the words I wrote on the morning of June 14th. I offer them now as my prayer.

Reflecting on the awful shooting this morning in Alexandria, Virginia at a baseball practice, my heart went out in prayer to everyone wounded. Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise was one of those shot. I have tried to wrap my mind around this senseless shooting, and mostly my mind is a blank. Baseball, America’s sport, interrupted by an act of violence seems incomprehensible to me. In his book of essays, Good Company, Stanley Hauerwas begins with this statement: “In his novel The Brothers K, James Duncan deals only with matters that matter, namely, God and baseball.”

How can there be violence at a baseball practice for the Republican team as they prepared for tomorrow’s game against the       Democrats? A baseball game holds such promise in a government that has almost no bi-partisan activity left. And now it is attacked by a solitary gunman and the pundits are already filling social media with blame. This is not the time for blame or recrimination, but for prayer and consolation. Let us pray for the wounded. Let us pray for our leaders. Let us pray for peace instead of violence.

After all, baseball is one of the most peaceful sports in the world. The comedian and host of The Late, Late Show, James Corden, says that he has not been able to get into baseball because “it’s like watching people you don’t know have a picnic.” We will forgive Mr. Corden’s blasphemy about our game, but notice its pastoral, peaceful nature. Remember George Carlin comparing football to baseball and concluding that the goal in baseball is to “be safe at home.” I want us all to be safe at home.

In the novel The Brothers K an amazing tribute to baseball appears: “I cherish a theory I once heard profounded by G. Q. Durham that baseball is inherently antiwar. Baseball players as a group are well-coordinated guys working to make peace more interesting than war.” It is my prayer that we will all join the team that works hard and practices long to make peace more interesting than violence and war.

Rowan Williams, in Tokens of Trust, says that God has always had an agenda—a public agenda not hidden from view, an agenda not wrapped in mystery or theological jargon: “peace and praise.”   Imagine peace and praise loose in our violent and argumentative culture. Better than that, practice peace and praise every day. After all, it’s God agenda.