PSALM 91 is the Psalm for this time of the gun; “My refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust. For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence….You will not fear the terror of the night….A thousand may fall at your side,…but it will not come near you.” A Psalm of hope!

It seems all we have is hope against the continuing carnage of gun violence. According to NPR, as of 24 January, there have been 11 shootings in 24 days of 2018 involving schools. The places: Italy, Texas; New Orleans, Wake Forest University, Marshall, Texas; Coronado Elementary School, Grayson College, Cal State, Iowa, Seattle, Michigan. The 12 year old girl at Sal Castro Middle School brought a semi-automatic weapon to school. A 14 year old boy committed suicide in a school bathroom.

Is novelist and former marine Karl Marlantes correct when he says, “We’re not the top species on the planet because we’re nice. We’re a very aggressive species. It is in us. People talk a lot about how well the military turns kids into killing machines and stuff. I always argue that it’s just finishing school.” (CHRISTIAN CENTURY, 17 January 2018, p. 22). Our children seem schooled in gun violence as a natural expression of puberty and rite of national passage. There appears to be a connection in this carnival of carnage between national gun violence, youth gun violence and our miltaristic society. We breed violence!

We have the largest military in the world, the most nuclear weapons in the world, the most guns in circulation amongst the population in the world, the highest number of civilians in non-war torn countries killed each year in the world, the highest number of youth and children killed by gun violence in the world, the highest rate of gun violence among western developed nations, and…. We’re Number One!

Yet, the timeless Psalm 91 speaks of hope. It is this hope that stirs us to be God’s instruments of hope. Hope is a Spirit-set leading to praxis. We have hope because we work for peace. We strive for safety. We march for gun violence prevention. We make phone calls, write letters, send emails, visit lawmakers, pray unceasingly, demanding safety and justice for all. Hope is in the struggle. In the words of Frederick Douglas, “No struggle, no progress.” Yes, Psalm 91 is alive and well for us, the Psalm for this time, this moment. Let’s make it transformative!


Ron Letnes