One of the things that makes my day is watching a good boxing match, especially one that ends in a knockout. My wife and partner Joan can’t believe it: a sweet guy like me fixated by two guys in a little ring, bobbing and weaving, jabbing and throwing combinations, hooking to the body and to the chin, pounding each other to a pulp. How can I, she often wonders aloud, make room in my life, in myself, for such violence?


I try to justify myself, but it’s not easy: I talk vaguely about my dad taking me to see Joe Ho Shiroma, a bantamweight he personally knew, at the Civic Auditorium in Honolulu when I was little. “Uncle” Joe was so quick, so promising. But then one night, suddenly and unexpectedly, he was knocked out.


It’s the skill, I say to Joan. It’s man against man. Then I become incoherent: it’s the unpredictability of violence. You never know when that fatal blow will come.


How can I, who say I love God, be entertained by such brain-jarring, bone-crushing violence? Why won’t I give it up?


I confess that there is obviously a part of me that is not of God’s kingdom. There is something within me that invites violence. And that part of me is probably not just miniscule, as I’d like to think–just a little speck that I can eliminate with whiteout.


I know that it is larger than a speck. It is even perhaps larger than ten percent of me. It is even perhaps larger than twenty-five percent of me. It may even be, I’m afraid, larger than fifty percent of me. Shall I go on? It may likely be, if I am honest, most of me.


It may be that what is of God’s kingdom within myself is the speck. What is of God’s kingdom within myself is surrounded by that part of me that is all too prone to violence.