acts of violence

How to Respond to a Marathon Massacre

Runners cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. Photo courtesy David Eby/

“How do you defend against terrorists?” asked a colleague, as we processed news reports of two bomb explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

The answer, truth be told, is you probably don’t defend against terrorism. Like a deadbolt on a residential door, you can create deterrents that slow the bad guys down. But a determined thief will only be delayed, not prevented.

Although it isn’t yet known whether these bombs in Boston were a terrorist attack, questions like my colleague’s arise because we live in such an open and “target-rich” society.

The Christian Response to Religious Extremism

Most people, Christian or not, know the story of the Good Samaritan. In it, a man, who is presumably an Israelite, is mugged on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. A priest passes by without stopping. So does a Levite. But then a Samaritan — someone who belongs to a radically different socioeconomic and cultural group than the Israelite — stops to help. This is Jesus’ vision for us as we answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?”

So it should shock us, surprise us, and sadden us, when we hear about tragedies like the shooting at the Sikh gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. For the victims of such attacks — whether they are Sikh, Muslim, Hindu — are our neighbors too.


The Way of Peace and Grace

Paul shows us how to wrestle with violent passages in the Hebrew Bible.

Derek Flood is the author of Disarming Scripture: Cherry-Picking Liberals, Violence-Loving Conservatives, and Why We All Need to Learn to Read the Bible Like Jesus Did. He is a featured blogger for the Huffington Post, Red Letter Christians, and writes regularly at his website A longtime voice in the post-conservative evangelical movement, Derek’s focus is on wrestling with questions of faith and doubt, violence in the Bible, relational theology, and understanding the cross from the perspective of grace and restorative justice.