An arms manufacturer has been coding references to New Testament verses on the sights of the rifles it supplies to the Pentagon for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the coded passages from John is:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.
The discovery has provoked the usual criticism that such references will be offensive to Muslims and will fuel the belief that the U.S. is carrying out a religious crusade, a reaction that in the present instance strikes me as not wholly irrational, if not actually true. But what I find most striking in this episode is the notion that Jesus’ message should be seen as inspiration for, or compatible with, blasting someone away with a high-tech rifle. This notion is almost as quixotic as the idea that the exponent of the Sermon on the Mount, who asked:
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin
is invoked to justify the capitalist acquisition of wealth. People’s capacity to read into the Bible what they want to find is as creative as their capacity to read into God what comforts them. After another non-Islamic-terrorist (and thus largely ignored) mass killing in Virginia last week, a neighbor of the victims told the New York Times:
“We’re not going out in the dark not knowing what’s out there. But we trust in the Lord to take care of us.”
Now why would the Lord take care of the neighbors, but not the eight victims, I wonder?