Finished Reading: Beating Guns by Shane Claiborne & Michael Martin

I want to preface this post with the following facts: I grew up in Texas, my grandfather was a member of the NRA, and I’ve never held a gun in my life.

Beating Guns is a collaborative book written by Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin. Mike attends our church here in Colorado Springs & founded RAWtools.

Shane & Mike’s new book feels like a timely read, having just finished I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening), the early chapters ask the reader to leave behind what they think they know and listen/read with open ears/eyes and minds. There are so many things I want to say about Beating Guns, so many feelings and emotions, but I’m going to share with you the basic substance of the book as well as formatting.

War is still the way of the world…”Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed (forged) by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12:2

Beating Guns talks about violence in our country, specifically gun violence and how guns are used to proliferate violence upon ourselves. They effortlessly integrate startling statistics and stories that will bring you to tears. They dismantle arguments while providing thoughtful, intelligent insight into this epidemic in this country. No one person has the right answer regarding guns and gun violence, but the path we are on cannot sustain itself.

Shane & Mike are quick to tell readers this is simply not a gun problem, it’s also a heart problem. We’re more divided than ever, and we need to assess our hearts individually and collectively. While reading statistics and stories, the authors remind readers of the words Jesus spoke about who our neighbor is and how to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:9 NRSV

The transformation required to solve our heart problem is the same hard transformation that happens when transforming a gun barrel into a garden plow. It takes several beatings, times in the forge, and shaping and it isn’t done all at once. Mike also tells readers, you can’t forge a plowshare alone, it requires at least 3 or 4 hands, kind of like how any transformation in life requires community and multiple people helping to forge us into something new.

While at times I felt overwhelmed with numbers, the stories are what carried the information in Beating Guns. There are a few non-chapters, Consider This, where the authors just put the information out there. But what broke up the chapters were the Memorial to the Lost, each one highlighting a massacre by gun violence. It was a gentle reminder of how many of these have happened in the last 20 years, and beyond, including the mass execution of Cheyenne & Arapaho Natives at Sand Creek in Colorado. When I came across the Memorial to the Lost, I took the time to read each and every name. So many children, so many young lives that never got the chance to grow up. So much innocence lost. So much violence. But Beating Guns doesn’t end there, instead our authors begin offering the reader hope.

Hope that this isn’t the way it has to be.

Shane & Mike don’t leave the reader with nowhere to go with all the history & information about violence and gun violence. They offer us a third way, not fight, not flight, instead non-violence de escalation rooted in the words and teachings and life of Jesus. They don’t deny the threats of this world..‘Violence is everywhere and has many forms – hate crimes, bullying, sexual assault’.

Love is more powerful than all the weapons in the world. – mural in Afghanistan

We cannot carry a cross in one hand and a weapon in the other, we cannot serve two masters. We cannot preach that God will take care of us when we don’t give Him the opportunity. We cannot trust in the goodness of God while refusing to share that goodness with our neighbors. We cannot believe in the sacred humanity of all while pointing a gun, or knife, or hating someone.

My biggest criticism of the book, are some of the formatting choices, and it’s purely an aesthetic issue I have. Otherwise, I deeply appreciate the amount of research included in this book. I appreciated how the authors weave the use of scripture, personal stories, with utter heartbreak for those lost to all violence experienced here in America.

Order a copy of Beating Guns, Here

I was provided a copy of this book by the author. All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing through the links on my blog I receive a small compensation at no additional cost to you.

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