The horrific shooting at a midnight showing of the Dark Knight has made the fundamental questions of the trilogy all too real. To what degree should decent people go to protect themselves? What if one of the “good guys” had been allowed to carry a gun into the theater? Unless Americans want to embrace anarcho-capitalism en extremis, citizens need to entrust their safety to certain individuals. But how do we decide who has the moral judgment to wield that power? The words of Commissioner James Gordon from The Dark Knight are noteworthy: Batman “wasn’t the hero we deserve.” He’s “the hero we need right now.” Who/what was the hero the people of Aurora needed? A crackshot vigilante, stricter gun laws, or federally-implemented metal detectors?
The Huffington Post recently took a stab this morning at how Mormonism would influence his views on war and peace. I’ve seen it done worse. Ask a Mormon how Mormonism see war. If they gush on about Captain Moroni without mentioning the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, just smile. You’re talking to a Mormon who has embraced American nationalism. As Patrick Mason has argued, Mormonism offers “no consistent message” on matters of war and peace. The broader question, of course, is: how patriotic is Mormonism? On July 24th, 2011, the Latter-day Saints celebrated Pioneer Day with a tribute to veterans of the armed services. That Brigham Young had spoken (in typical Brigham Young fashion–with tremendous hyperbole) of cutting American soldiers’ throats only a block away shows how dramatic the Saints’ embrace of American nationalism has been.