I am a runner.  I’ve never been to Boston.  And among the few races I’ve felt like running, only one marathon, the Chicago in 1986.  I enjoyed it and would do more but my plantar fasciitis is controllable now and I don’t want to jeopardize the great pleasure and benefits running gives.  I no longer have a young man’s feet.

But I share the sentiment of one runner expressed this week after the bombings.  Let’s show up in Boston next year and run it.

Many of us are just naturally defiant.  Downright ornery.  However, prudent man that I am, God bless each of you who run the Boston Marathon next year.  I’ll cheer you on and manage my achy left foot.

Defiance is a quality we admire in those with a cause.

As of this afternoon we don’t yet know the cause of the bomb-person in Boston.

We do know that much of the bombing taking place these days around the world is connected to causes.  And if we take a moment we may also realize that most of these bomb-generating causes are from those who in a sense are powerless.

I mentioned last week Jurgen Moltmann’s Ethics of Hope.  Moltmann is a German theologian, one of the most prominent of the late 20th and this century.  He wasn’t quite a man when called up for service in the Wehrmacht during the closing weeks of World War II.  Barely a soldier he quickly became a prisoner of war when he moltmannsurrendered to the first British soldier he met.

During imprisonment he watched, and began to wonder about, the role which hope plays in human survival and existence.  Later, he became a dedicated Christian and theologian who wrote about his discoveries in Theology of Hope, The Coming of God and Ethics of Hope.

In Ethics Moltmann says “today human life itself is in acute danger.  It is not in danger because it is threatened with death – that was always so.  It is in acute danger because it is no longer loved.

After World War II, Albert Camus wrote: ‘The secret of Europe is that it no longer loves life’ … we had stopped loving life so as not to be so deeply touched by our own death and death of people we loved.

‘You love life, we love death’ claimed the letter of the Madrid bomb explosions of 2004.   ‘Viva la muerte!’ shouted a Facist general in the Spanish civil war of the 1930s.  The Nazi SS slogan was ‘Give death – accept death’.  The Taliban’s Mullah Omar boasted that ‘your young people love life; our young people love death.’

Moltmann identifies all these as symptoms of a ‘religion of death’.   It is a system of belief based on an experience of life where hope is absent.

A deterrent works only if the opponent wants to survive as well … this ‘religion of death’ is the true enemy of the love of life.

Robert Frost ends his poem The Census Taker with this yearning expressed by the lonely census taker counting up humans in places they are increasingly absent, somewhere in the wilderness of northern New England –

The melancholy of having to count souls

Where they grow fewer and fewer every

year

Is extreme where they shrink to none at all.

It must be I want life

to go on living.

Whoever made and set off the two bombs this week in Boston, is this a person who is an enemy of the love of life, whose religion is death?  Who does not want life to go on living?  Who has lost hope?

Whoever it may be, I don’t believe this person is a runner.

Is there hope?  And if so, how can we who love life bring good news to those (including bombers) who dwell in the land of the shadow of death? (Isaiah 9:2)

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