Wednesday, December 8, 2010

* Who Shot J.L. ?


Note; This article was originally published thirty years ago in the final edition of Holy Smoke: Opinionation from Holy Hill (1976-80) at Yale Divinity School under the title "Lennon Killing Suspect"

Who shot J.R.?  It was a cute obsessive international game promulgated by the media these last six months.

Suddenly though, the game has been played out with grisly results at the Dakota Apartments in New York City; and we are left to know that the question: WHO SHOT J.L.? will now be answered by thousands of journalists across the world until we are as familiar (PLEASE: See the root "family" in this word) with the life of Mark David Chapman as we are with those of Lee Harvey Oswald) (John Wilkes Booth), James Earl Ray, Sirhan Sirhan.

One of the witnesses to the aftermath of the Lennon-murder described Chapman as  "pudgy." A policeperson called him a "wacko."

Did either of these persons know him? Their characterization seems more an attempt to hurt him than to tell us who he is.

But ironically, those mild words of cruelty do tell us who he was: he was hurt.

In this society of ours where "the beautiful people" and the "cool" are worshipped with an intensity that makes us depict even GOD himself as an aloofly poised, Teutonically handsome patriarch, Mark David Chapman was the outsider --the disenfranchised.

And when one looks at the pictures of Lee Harvey Oswald and James Earl Ray and Sirhan Sirhan, one's gut reaction, (conditioned by years of rehearsal on the God-making medium: television) tells us WHO THEY ARE: "What losers!" our hearts say with self-satisfied smugness.

I would suggest (and the New Testament would declare) that we --- the survivors of our assassinated ---
are the real losers.

Not only have we lost the promise of their unfulfilled lives  but we have lost the desire to let the God-in-us redeem the meaning of  Jesus's  unfulfilled life: To bring about a new creation in which everyone --- the ugly and the awkward as well as the beautiful and the poised --- are made to feel family in our world, instead of stranger.

Or to put it in the words of a Newer Testament: "To give love a chance."

Paul Keane
Holy Smoke 

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