Wednesday, February 28, 2018
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." So where is the " well regulated Militia"? I think it is the military of the U.S. and not the ordinary citizen!
In Switzerland, they have "well regulated Militia" and every family owns a gun. They own a gun in case of an invasion- not for random shooting of school children or getting even with people like in this country!
We have more guns than people and we have more gun deaths than any county not at war!
There is some wrong with a nation which loves guns.
Maybe if a few Senators, Congress-people and Members of The Supreme Court instead of school children got killed by using guns, something would happen to end the carnage and the use of guns!
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
by Owen Jarus
New research by Joan Taylor suggests Jesus may have been an average height, with short black hair, brown eyes and olive-brown skin.
A quick Google search of "Jesus" will pull up an assortment of images showing a tall, white guy with long, blondish hair and a beard. But what did Jesus really look like?
In her new book, a scholar says Jesus probably didn't look anything like this modern picture.
The Gospels in the Bible say that Jesus was a Jew who was born around 4 B.C. in Bethlehem and lived in Egypt as a child for a short time before moving to Nazareth. These writings make no mention of what Jesus looked like, aside from some references to the clothing that he and his disciples wore, wrote Joan Taylor, professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism at King's College London, in her book What Did Jesus Look Like? (T&T Clark, 2018).
"It's so curious how little is made of it, what he looked like," Taylor told Live Science.
Even so, both Moses (the prophet said to have led the Israelites) and David, who the Bible says killed Goliath, were described as being handsome figures in the Hebrew Bible.
Additionally, the earliest artistic depictions of Jesus date to at least two centuries after he died, and they provide little credible information about what Jesus may have looked like, Taylor wrote in her book.
To get an idea of Jesus' visage, Taylor turned to archaeology and texts that provide clues about the general appearance of Jews in Judea and Egypt at the time Jesus lived. She also looked at artistic images on coins and Egyptian mummy paintings.
According to Taylor's research, rather than towering over others in Judea, Jesus was about 5 foot 5 inches (1.7 meters) tall, or the average height seen in skeletal remains from males there at the time. People in Judea and Egypt tended to have brown eyes, black hair and olive-brown skin, based on surviving archaeological remains, historical texts and depictions of people seen in mummy portraits from Egypt, Taylor said in her book.
There was interaction between Judea and people from Europe (who could have lighter skin) as well as Sudan and Ethiopia (who could have darker skin). But because Jews in Judea and Egypt tended to marry among themselves at the time, Jesus' skin, eyes and hair probably looked like those of the majority of the people in Judea and Egypt, Taylor found. Surviving texts say that Jews in Egypt couldn't be physically distinguished from the rest of Egypt's population around Jesus' time.
Historical records also showed that people in Judea tended to keep their hair (and beards) reasonably short and well-combed, probably to keep out lice, a big problem at the time, Taylor said. Jesus likely did the same.
He could have used a knife to trim his hair and beard, Taylor said, noting that people in the ancient world tended to be more skilled with knives then people are today.
Jesus is portrayed in the Gospels as a carpenter who did a lot of walking but at times didn't have much to eat. This active lifestyle, but lack of regular food, meant that he was probably thin, but somewhat muscular, Taylor said. "Jesus was a man who was physical in terms of the labor that he came from," Taylor said. "He shouldn't be presented as [in] any way someone who was living a soft life, and sometimes that's the kind of image we get."
Some aspects of Jesus' face, such as his mouth and cheeks, are anyone's guess, Taylor said. He may have had facial scars or skin damage from his work as a carpenter, but there's no way to tell, Taylor said.
She said she is skeptical of depictions of Jesus that show him as being very handsome. If Jesus were handsome, Taylor said, the gospel writers, or other early Christian writers, would have said so, as they did for Moses and David.
The gospels, along with surviving archaeological remains, do provide some hints about Jesus' clothing. He likely wore a woolen, un-dyed tunic that left his lower legs bare; possibly a loincloth; and a "mantle," or outer cloak, to stay warm.
His shoes would have looked like modern-day sandals, and the high price of clothing meant that Jesus likely did a lot of mending. Also, unless someone provided him with fresh clothing, what he wore would become more tattered as time went on. From his clothing, "I think what you would recognize Jesus as being is just really someone who looked very poor," Taylor said.
Among the biblical scholars who have read Taylor's book, Helen Bond, a professor of theology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and Jim West, an adjunct professor of biblical studies at Ming Hua Theological College in Hong Kong, gave the work generally positive reviews.
Taylor said she looks forward to seeing scholars publish detailed reviews of the book. She is also looking forward to seeing more artists try to reconstruct images of Jesus based on her findings, she said. Her book features a reconstruction by artist Cathy Fisher based on Taylor's findings.
A sometimes plane travel really stinks fight broke out because the unnamed man couldn’t stop passing gas.
A flight from Dubai to Amsterdam had to make an emergency landing in Vienna after a fight broke out because one of the passengers wouldn’t stop breaking wind. The fart-induced fracas happened February 11th, 2018, aboard Transavia Airlines Flight HV6902 when two men sitting next to an apparently very flatulent man raised a stink about his repeated gas attacks, according to Fox News. When the alleged perpetrator did not stop, his disgusted seatmates reportedly complained to the airline crew, who apparently did nothing. Instead, the captain issued a warning to the two complainants, accusing them of noisy and aggressive behavior and making threats, according to the Netherland (N.L.) Times.
When the freedom-from-flatulence fighters wouldn’t stop griping about their fellow passenger, a fight broke out on the plane, according to the Dutch language newspaper De Telegraaf.
The pilots then made an emergency stop in Vienna and removed the complainants, but apparently not the farting man. Two women sitting in the same row as the angry men were also forced off the plane as well. All four people reportedly shared Dutch and Moroccan ancestry, but the two women claim they were simply sitting in the same row as the men involved with the incident. The women are now taking the Dutch budget airline to court, according to the Metro.
“We had nothing to do with the whole disturbance. We distance ourselves from that. Do they sometimes think that all Moroccans cause problems? That’s why we do not let it sit,” one of the women said, according to De Telegraaf. ”We had no idea who these boys were, we just had the bad luck to be in the same row and we didn’t do anything. All I will say is that the crew were really provocative and stirred things up,” she added.
None of the passengers kicked off the plane were arrested because they had not broken any Austrian laws. However, they have been banned from flying Transavia Airlines in the future.
The Huffington Post reached out to Transavia Airlines, which did not immediately respond. The airline did offer this statement to De Telegraaf that was translated by the N.L. Times: The airline said: Our crew must ensure a safe flight. If passengers pose a risk, they immediately intervene. Our people are trained for that. They know very well where the boundaries are. Transavia therefore stands squarely behind the cabin crew and the pilots.
The airline has reportedly filed a police report about the incident in the Netherlands and said it was “open to a conversation with these women.”
by Bobby E. Mills, P.H.D.
In editorial writings, telling the “truth” must always be the primary objective. It’s not the story, but the TRUTH. Without a doubt, the “TRUTH” belongs to God. And, it is written: “All scripture is given for inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3: 16).
Any individual that reports on the truth should not create the circumstances or conditions for reporting the truth. Hence, “The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.” (Psalm 68: 11). Moreover, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1: 1). Any man can challenge another man, but no man should ever be foolish enough to challenge GOD (ULTIMATE-TRUTH). Of course, “There is no wisdom nor understanding against the Lord.” (Proverbs 21: 30). Of course, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14: 12).
This editorial writer’s style evolved and is a reflection of both professional training in theology as well as sociology. My graduate training (Syracuse University) was in the field of sociology, which in turn, became my profession (i.e., means of earning a living for my family). But, my “labor-of-love” training in theology at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School represents my “heart and soul”.
We know that LIFE has many twists and turns as well as ups and downs. Sociology is the study of society that is individuals learning to live in peace and harmony with each other in “urbane-concrete-asphalt” jungles. ”Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Mark 12: 31). But, our theology ought to be an expression of our spiritual-desire for eternal life with God (TRUTH)! The TRUTH is God’s word: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17: 17). No, doubt about it, God is love. This is why, we are commanded to: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength:” (Mark 12: 30). Now, what was once in the “closet” is openly being expressed in a “bold-sinful-manner” from Christian Right Evangelical Church Pulpits to family-dinner-room-tables, to schoolhouse playgrounds, and even to The White House. Discussions in all of these instances have American society in spiritual-conflict with GOD! God hates SIN. Moreover, “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Psalm 7:11). America, know full well, “Thus saith the Lord; cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departed from the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17: 5). Therefore, beware of those among us who believe that it is alright for civilians to have military style weaponry, especially as spiritually confused as American society is presently. America is a democratic-multicultural-society which, in turn, is governed primarily by White males who do not have the spiritual will or the moral courage to protect their own children from “military-style-weapons” in our public schools and churches. Obviously, it is not minorities utilizing military-style-weapons to commit “mass” murder! Think about it! Black Americans, as well as other permanent-tan-minorities, know full well that White men do not give a “damn” about your children. However, their children give a “damn” about themselves as well as other children. Moreover, just maybe, these young people will inspire their fathers and mothers toward a higher spiritual understanding that they are under siege! More importantly, their parents will begin to vote for politicians who have the “spiritual-moral-conscience” to enact an assault weapons “ban” as well as vote against the “vulgar-monetary” interests of the “NRA”. The children of Parkland, Florida are publicly demonstrating to the world community that they, in fact, have more “spiritual-common-sense” than their parents as well as most public officials who are proponents of American citizens possessing military-style-weapons as though they are in a military unit.
The election of Donald J. Trump to the U. S. Presidency has brought to the forefront the most “dreadful-shameful-sin” of American history: Institutional Racism as well as the issue of permanent-tan-minorities as second-class-citizens. We now know that the Russians did interfere with the 2016 Presidential election, but the voters had everything to do with the election of an “immoral-man”. Those Christian Right Evangelicals and Republican Party loyalists who voted for President Trump after him telling the world about his spiritual-moral-character, and what he was going to do if elected, should now ask God for forgiveness. President Trump is many things, but we all know that he is a “chronic-habitual-lair”, and: “Six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,” (Proverbs 6: 16-17). Now, especially after the goodness of God to America (Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free) those who voted for President Trump ought to be ashamed of themselves for their complicity in the destruction of America’s democratic institutions. After making such a horrific spiritual-moral-ungodly choice, in conjunction with President Trump, just maybe you can spiritually redeem yourselves by protecting our children from “military-style-weapons”: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God:” (Romans 3: 23). Question: What does one individual killing another individual really accomplish, even in capital crimes? For, we all know: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27). It is written, “Thou shalt not kill”. And, without a doubt, “The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.” (Proverbs 14:11). The Republican Party in conjunction with Christian Right Evangelicals corrupted the “spiritual-moral-meaning” of what America truly represents: The “Free-Will” Rights Of Others! Sin is sin. God hates all sins, and that is a fact! Moreover, we should forever remember that the “eternal” Supreme Court is in Heaven with God, Jesus the Righteous One, and The Holy Spirit, not in Washington, D.C.
Therefore, because of the perpetuation of extreme “military-style-gun-violence” in public schools and Houses of Worship, America’s children are beginning to walk “righteously and boldly” in the spiritual light of God. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7). President Trump, Christian Right Evangelicals, Republican Party Loyalists, and spiritually confused minds about military-style “GUNS” in the hands of civilians get on board the train is coming, because: “Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” (Jude 1: 11). However, our children are not willing to be victimized by the “Spirit of Cain” (KILLING), therefore: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightiest still the enemy and the avenger.” (Psalms 8: 2).
New research, which was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference, has found that moderate drinking is linked to a longer life. Drinking about two glasses of wine or beer a day was linked to an 18% drop in a person’s risk of early death an even stronger effect than the life-preserving practice of exercise, according to the researchers. The results came from the 90+ Study, a research project out of the University of California Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders that examines the habits of people who live to at least 90.
Although the study has not yet been published in a scientific journal, it triggered a spate of booze-praising headlines. But can alcohol actually help you live longer? Researchers have gone back and forth on that question for years. Here’s what the research really says about alcohol and health.
The new study isn’t the first to link alcohol with a long life. A 2015 study of people with mild Alzheimer’s, for example, found that moderate drinkers were less likely to die during the study’s follow-up period than teetotalers. A large 2017 study also found that light and moderate drinkers were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who never sipped. Red wine, in particular, is often singled out for its anti-aging benefits, usually because of a compound called resveratrol - although that explanation may be a little oversimplified and more research is needed.
Many of these papers come with caveats, however. Most of them are observational, meaning they can detect patterns in a dataset, but not cause and effect. That means it’s hard to tell whether the beverages themselves are imparting longevity benefits, or if the health effects come from other lifestyle factors common among moderate drinkers, such as a strong social network. Plus, most research focuses specifically on moderate drinking, which is typically defined as no more than a drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men. Research has generally not found health benefits for people with heavier drinking habits and, in fact, a recent report says that alcohol abuse is contributing to a decline in U.S. life expectancy.
The relationship between alcohol and cardiovascular health is perhaps the most contentious of all. Quite a few studies have linked moderate drinking with better heart health, but some researchers have questioned these findings based on something called the abstainer bias: the idea that many non-drinkers teetotal because they have other health issues, or because they’re recovering from addiction. Including these folks in studies could skew the data to make people who don’t drink look unfairly unhealthy, and to falsely equate booze with health benefits.
A large 2017 study looking at alcohol and heart health, however, was designed to eliminate the possibility of abstainer bias. It still found that moderate drinking may protect against heart attacks, strokes, chest pain and fatal heart disease.
Alcohol May Or May Not Be Good For Your Heart
The link between alcohol and cancer is strong enough that the American Society of Clinical Oncology came out with a new warning in November, 2017, underscoring associations between drinking and at least seven types of cancer. The relationship between alcohol and breast cancer has been particularly well-studied, with scientists theorizing that alcohol may increase estrogen levels and therefore feed breast cancer. Other research suggests that alcohol may disrupt DNA activity, potentially leading to cancers of the breast, colon, liver, mouth and esophagus. These risks may be even more severe if you have certain other habits, such as smoking and drinking hot tea.
It is easy to forget, but alcoholic beverages are often quite high in calories. Regularly imbibing, then, can sneakily contribute to weight gain and obesity. Those can come with their own set of health problems, ranging from heart disease to type 2 diabetes.
The Bottom Line
There is still a lot scientists don’t know about drinking, but the research clearly suggest that moderation is key. While it’s smart to cut back if your drinking veers into bingeing territory, there’s likely no reason to stop drinking if you do so in small amounts just as you probably should not feel compelled to start sipping if you don’t already.
Friday, February 23, 2018
The meaning of "Get off your high horse"
A request to someone to stop behaving in a haughty and self-righteous manner.
The origin of "Get off your high horse":
High' has long been a synonym for 'powerful'; 'remote from the common people'. This usage isn't limited to being on one's 'high horse' but has also persisted in terms like 'high and mighty', 'high-handed' and 'high finance' and in job titles like 'high commissioner'.
When we now say that people are on their high horse we are implying a criticism of their haughtiness. The first riders of high horses didn't see it that way; they were very ready to assume a proud and commanding position, indeed that was the very reason they had mounted the said horse in the first place. The first references to high horses were literal ones; 'high' horses were large or, as they were often known in medieval England, 'great' horses. John Wyclif wrote of them in English Works, circa 1380: Ye emperour... made hym & his cardenals ride in reed on hye ors.
Medieval soldiers and political leaders bolstered their claims to supremacy by appearing in public in the full regalia of power and mounted on large and expensive horses and, in sculptural form at least, presented themselves as larger than life.
The combination of the imagery of being high off the ground when mounted on a great war charger, looking down one's nose at the common herd, and also being a holder of high office made it intuitive for the term 'on one's high horse' to come to mean 'superior and untouchable'.
By the 18th century, the use of such visual aids was diminishing and the expression 'mounting one's high horse' migrated from a literal to a figurative usage. In 1782, Admiral Sir Thomas Pasley recorded his Private Sea Journals. These have ultimately failed to live up to their name as, in 1931, they were published by his great, great great grandson:"Whether Sir George will mount his high Horse or be over-civil to Admiral Pigot seems even to be a doubt with himself".
Deference to people in positions of power has diminished over the years and we tend nowadays to mock high and mighty people as being 'on their high horse' when they affect a superior and disdainful manner - the term is now rarely used for people who actually are powerful and remote.
by Ian Salisbury
We all know that bosses can be jerks. Now economists think they understand why although the reason may surprise you.
As it turns out, most companies end up promoting their best-performing employees, giving them responsibility for supervising others workers. The problem, new research shows, is that the skills that made employees succeed at their initial jobs don’t help when it comes to supervising others and may actually hurt.
“You might have been successful because of your independence and autonomy,” says the study’s co-author, Alan Benson, from the University of Minnesota. But supervising others requires a totally different set of skills - like the ability to collaborate and share credit. “You can’t do everything yourself when you are a manager,” he adds.
Benson, along with colleagues from Yale and MIT, used data collected by sales management software to examine track records for salespeople and managers at 214 different U.S. and international companies. They found that that top performers were regularly rewarded for their good work: Successful salespeople increased their chances of winning a promotion by about 14% each time they doubled their sales.
Once they were in their new higher-ranking jobs, however, these stars frequently struggled. Subordinate salespeople working under newly promoted managers saw their own performance decline 7.5% for every doubling in the manager’s pre-promotion performance. By contrast, new managers who were promoted despite their own poor or middling sales performance tended to improve performance in subordinates. Indeed, the researchers found that “sales collaboration experience” correlated with being a good manager but not with earning the promotions in the first place.
So will a wave of promotions for the nice-guy-who-finished-last suddenly sweep corporate America? Don’t count on it. Firms do appear to be paying a hefty price for filling their ranks with bad bosses. The study estimated that subordinates’ performance could be boosted by up 30% if their companies promoted the best potential managers into leadership roles.
Yet the researchers were quick to point out that employers may not want to change. After all, nothing gets workers cracking like the prospect of winning a big promotion.
The upshot is many companies may simply have decided that a badly run organization full of hungry strivers gunning for the top will ultimately outperform one that’s less motivated, if but better managed.
Thursday, February 22, 2018
This single cartoon about the Florida school shootings is breaking people's hearts. It is called Hero's Welcome and it is an editorial cartoon by Canadian artist Pia Guerra.
As news of the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., unfolded last week, Pia Guerra, a 46-year-old Vancouver-based artist, felt helpless. She couldn’t bring herself to go to sleep, so she began to draw.
About 6 a.m., she came up with an idea. One of the first victims identified among the 17 people killed was Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach and security guard. Feis was shot after reportedly throwing himself in front of students during the rampage. Guerra was moved by the thought of this heroic man, the father of a young child, standing in front of bullets for students.
“It’s not often that an image pops in your brain and you feel a lump in your throat,” Guerra told The Washington Post. “I need to get this down before time dilutes it,” she recalled thinking as she began to sketch the image.
Around midday, Guerra posted her editorial cartoon on Twitter. She called it Hero’s Welcome. The cartoon portrays a young freckle-faced girl reaching out to hold Feis’s hand. “Come on Mister Feis!” the girl is saying. “So many of us want to meet you!”
Behind the girl stands a massive crowd of young children and a few adults, looking to Feis with wide eyes. They look solemn and innocent. Two of the children are waving. The crowd, Guerra says, represents the children and adults who have been killed in mass school shootings.
More than 200 people have been killed in mass school shootings in the United States since the mid-1960's, according to a Washington Post tally. On February14th, 2018, in Florida, authorities say, a gunman entered the high sch ool and fired his AR-15 assault-style rifle, killing 14 students and three staff members. Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at the school, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Most of the children and teachers in Guerra’s cartoon, including the girl reaching out to Feis, represent victims killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, which left 28 dead.
Guerra’s cartoon evoked striking responses across social media. By Tuesday morning, the image had been re-tweeted more than 18,290 times, and Guerra’s Twitter account had been overwhelmed with emotional messages.
“I saw this earlier, and I sat in front of my students and cried,” one teacher tweeted on Friday. “And then I showed it to them, and they cried, too. Very powerful. The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
“When I saw your drawing, I cried hysterically for a half-hour and I couldn’t stop,” another person posted on Twitter. Guerra even said she heard from a parent of a girl who died in the Sandy Hook massacre.
Guerra had offered the cartoon to the daily comics publication the Nib, for which she is a regular contributor. But the Nib ended up choosing a different cartoon of Guerra’s for publication, so she chose to share Hero’s Welcome on social media.
To many, Guerra said, the cartoon depicted the children and teachers welcoming Feis to heaven. Guerra knew before she posted the image that many may interpret it in a religious way, and “that’s fine,” she said. But, that was not her intention.
Guerra describes herself as an atheist. After a tragedy, she said, she grows tired of always hearing about angels and heaven and the idea that the dead all end up in a better place. “Wherever all these wonderful people are, they’re not here,” she said. But the message, she said, “is beyond that.”
She wanted to show the immense collective magnitude of the loss, a visual tally of just how many people have been killed in mass school shootings. She also wanted to evoke the nature of the youngest victims of these massacres - the wide-eyed, gentle essence of a child. “This is who they are,” she said in a phone interview, her voice catching. “This is all that we lost.”
The simplicity of the cartoon, she said, means it may carry different meanings for different people. “When you leave something open enough to interpretation, more people can find something in it,” she said.
In addition to significant praise, Guerra’s cartoon also drew a wave of criticism for seemingly portraying only white children and adults, despite the fact that many people of color have died in these shootings.
“That was a direct result of rushing and not paying more attention to the makeup of the crowd, and maybe making a point about how these things always seem to happen in white suburbia and totally mucking it up,” Guerra said. She lamented the lack of representation in the image.
“I’m taking the note and I promise to do better,” said Guerra, whose father is Chilean and mother is Finnish. She was born in New Jersey and moved to Canada when she was 6 years old.
Guerra co-created the science fiction comic book series Y: The Last Man alongside Brian K. Vaughan. It began publication in 2002. But since the 2016 election, her cartoons have focused predominately on President Trump. It’s her way of “venting,” she said. One of her most widely shared cartoons, from January, 2016, depicted Trump as a child sitting on the lap of Stephen K. Bannon, then the White House chief strategist.
She is accustomed to provoking a range of reactions with her cartoons - usually anger, frustration or humor. But Hero’s Welcome, she said, was entirely different. “It’s more emotional, it’s more personal … a gut reaction,” she said.
“This is a whole other level.”Guerra plans to continue to create images related to last week’s shooting.“We should be engaged in this,” she said. “We should use our voices … whatever it is we have to amplify what’s important to us.”
Here’s one thing all Evangelicals and Christians of every stripe hold to be true: humans are sinful. They cannot stop being sinful. They will always be sinful. This is why, according to the Christian gospel, the Father deployed his Son and that Son died; to take the rap for sin. If any human could have found a way to live a perfect life, then that sacrifice would not have been necessary. The sinfulness of all humanity is one of Christianity’s foundational beliefs.
Given that, why do so many Christians, particularly those on the right, so steadfastly oppose any kind of meaningful gun control? It’s true that guns don’t kill people on their own. People kill people. But since Christians believe that people cannot be perfected this side of Glory, why not limit the harm we fallen people are able to do? We can only change one side of the equation, and that’s the gun side.
Compare the Christian attitude to guns to the Christian attitude to marriage. It is not in the nature of mammals to be monogamous, and yet churches support marriage, offer couples counseling, discourage the watching of pornography or the solicitation of prostitutes or the secret affair. Churches acknowledge people are not perfect, so they endorse the introduction of some guardrails to help them do less damage to those around them. They promote some limitations on freedom to stop people getting hurt. Yes, the Lord said go forth and multiply, but Christian people do not then take that to mean you have the right to have children with whomever you wish at any time, after a three-day waiting period.
Or let’s look at the Christian perspective on giving. Traditionally, Christians believe in the tithe. That is, they give up 10% of their income to the church or some godly purpose. The thinking behind this is that since everything humans have comes from God, they are merely returning to God what is God’s. To hoard money is to rely on something other than God. To give it away is to acknowledge that God is the ultimate provider. So why do Christians rely on guns for protection at all times? Do Christians believe guns are stronger than God?
Why not then give up even 10% of the access to guns - say, just the semi-automatics?
“I would call it the libertine loophole,” says Rev. Rob Schenck, a Washington D.C. -based evangelical pastor. “You get to do anything you want when it comes to a lethal weapon. Everything else you restrain. You watch what you drink, what amusements you go after, what relationships you pursue, even what you do with your money, your time, the words you employ and don’t employ. There are all kinds of restraints and constraints. But [owning guns] is an exception to all the rules and the question you have to ask: why? Why would we make this exception?”
About five years ago, Schenck, a pastor whose anti-abortion credentials are robust, began to question whether his commitment to life and his commitment to guns were mutually exclusive. If one believes in the sanctity of human life, how could one countenance the idea that everybody has the right to a tool that can end life so fast? This is a guy who was on Roy Moore’s side when the 10 Commandments monument was removed from the judge’s courtroom, so he’s not exactly a liberal. And while the Constitution gives Americans the right to carry guns, the Bible sees rights differently, says Schenck." The scripture says, ‘All things may be lawful, but not all things are helpful.”
But when he began to try to have that discussion with his conservative Christian base, as shown in the documentary The Armor of Light, the idea was a total non-starter. He’s now winding down his D.C.-based evangelical group Faith and Action and starting a new one, The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute.
“Bonhoeffer would say we’re creating a fantasy,” says Schenck. “It’s a serious separation of the gospel from reality: ‘I’m creating a new world where people are saved by guns.’ It’s a theological disaster. This issue is terribly, terribly, terribly important for the existence of American evangelicalism. You can’t understate the magnitude of this crisis.”
Protestors who stand outside abortion clinics with medical-looking photos or models of fetuses, as Schenck has done, like to say that if they only save one life, it’s worth trying. Why can’t the same also be said of gun control? Many young lives could have been saved this week if we had already found a way to keep semi-automatic rifles out of the hands of people who have no need for one.
The most angry of all the Old Testament prophets, Jeremiah, singles out one thing the Israelites keep doing that God finds repulsive: they sacrifice their children. The Israelites are sacrificing them to their much loved traditional gods, but God makes it clear that He’s not a fan of the practice for any beliefs, including, presumably, that of the sanctity of the Second Amendment. Yet many Christians choose Second Amendment-worship over the safety of their children and others’ children every day.
Jeremiah has a warning for his countrymen: change the way you’re doing things, he says, or the place you live will get a new name: the Valley of Slaughter. That’s a pretty apt description of that Florida high school on Valentine’s Day.