Taking Aim at Gun Culture

Ready … Aim …

My Google search for Christians and Gun Violence got some 1,130,000 ‘hits’ [no pun intended] in .38 seconds [still no pun intended].

Relevant Magazine writer Dargan Thompson said that Christians need to bite the bullet and discuss guns. She could have said, ‘THEIR guns.’ Each Advent, we proclaim Jesus as Prince of Peace. Yet rhetoric and behavior belie another truth about Christians and gun culture. In the US, guns are themselves a religion, and evangelical Christians are their prophets.

Guns Я Us

Like guns, perspectives on them and their control are plentiful.

Sharon Hodde Miller [presumably] says that all Christians can back better gun control. Russell Moore is suspicious of gun control. Equip.org offers two views and lets you decide. After the perfunctory hand-wringing, Got Questions courageously declares this to be a personal, not a moral issue and lets you decide. And Pastor Whitney’s Institute on the Constitution? With courses relating God and government, Christianity and Constitution plus cordial relations with the Liberty Council, you can likely guess. If not, masochists can gratify their darkest desires with Mr. Bullets Я Beautiful.

Finding our Voice

While mass shootings gain attention and motivate activists, far more gun related deaths happen in other circumstances. Fox News assembled these gun related deaths for a single day. Eugene Sutton and Ian Douglas put this in perspective across time.

Every 7-8 years, one million Americans are killed or injured by firearms in a country that has nearly more guns than people.

Thompson is correct. Discussion is needed. It is also happening. It will continue to happen because it must. One venue for this conversation is the Armor of Light documentary on the subject featuring Rev. Rob Schenck.

Schenck says:

‘Many pastors share with me privately that they are very concerned with the number of people who are not just procuring firearms for defensive purposes, some are bringing them to church.’

He says that:

‘Most pastors have said to me, “I just don’t touch it. It’s too volatile. It ends up dividing the church.”’

And he says:

I had a growing concern as I watched folks in my own evangelical community demonstrating a kind of escalating fear about a lot of things—government, terrorism, fear of home invasions, of being robbed or murdered.

Noel Murray also interacted with Rev. Schenck and writes:

‘Schenck finds his fellow evangelicals parroting the idea that firearms “protect the innocent.” Even harder for Schenck, the goalposts keep moving for gun enthusiasts, from mere “self-defense” to active vigilantism.’

Thompson also interviews Abigail Disney for her role in this production. Disney believes that it is among white, evangelical, conservative Christians where:

‘…the disconnect is … largest between language about the sanctity of human life and the embrace of this culture. It’s not just the gun, it’s a language and a set of values around the gun. I call it yippie-ki-yay culture—this sort of looking forward to the conflict, not exhausting all the other possibilities first, and a blitheness and a disregard for the taking of human life.’

I can’t say whether this passes the formal definition, but perhaps yippie-ki-yay culture, looks a little like this:

Christian Gun Owner Facebook

Facing our Steel Dragons

If there’s one thing we grip as firmly as our guns, it’s the narratives that rationalize them. Of course for many, guns are their own rationalization. And as safety and justice arguments easily replace trust in God with a sidearm, today’s video is on target to regard the hold guns have over us as idolatrous. It isn’t that we keep guns as much as our guns that ‘keep’ us.

Chad Hall is Director of Coaching with Western Seminary faculty. As a much needed corrective to Mr. Whitney’s Institute on the Constitution [IOTC], Hall says that American values such as patriotism, nationalism and war [etc.] are not necessarily Christian values, and that the assertion to the contrary quickly devalues religion. Hall sees that often, there is nothing uniquely Christian about the way gun debates are framed.

We have to ask, What does God think of all this? And how should a Christian approach this issue in a faithful and thoughtful way?

Hall notes that God’s kingdom brings the world under Christ’s authority not from a gun barrel, but on a cross. Perhaps in somewhat that spirit, Brian Kammerzelt’s 4 things Christians Need to Remember about Gun Control is no polemical piece but a simple reminder of four things:

  • Love God
  • Seek first the kingdom
  • Love others
  • Love your enemy

A Christian Response

Liturgy is a powerful and essential part of Christian worship and witness. And as some see it, narratives of patriotism, nationalism, chauvinism, individualism, etc. are liturgical counter-inventions that contest God’s kingdom. From this perspective, all life is a litany practiced toward God or idols. Surely then, church can incarnate in appropriate ways a kingdom of God perspective in reply to this and other crises of our time.

This interfaith liturgy alone gives fundamentalists their desired rationale to boycott such events and to host anti-gun restriction events in their own political temples. But those who prefer witness minus anal retentiveness might be open to attending events.

Several other starting points for potentially useful resources include:

It’s time to ‘bite the bullet’ on gun culture. As analyses and rebuttals on mass shootings multiply, it behooves Christians to know where lies their faith allegiance lies in these things. It is not only the power of guns but the sway of this culture which indicates that we are discussing one of the ‘powers of this age.’ Nor should we forget the staggering amount of money that changes hands as guns are sold and bought each year.

The sheer number of gun-related deaths, the dominance of cultural fear, the evolving cultural narratives surrounding guns, and their power to silence proclamation in the church — these require that Christians take their stand beneath the sign of the cross, and face our steel dragons.



NC Bathroom Blues, Yr-a-peein’ Pissoirs

No bathroom blues here ... God gave us HB2!

Redemption and Bathroom Stalls

HB2 made the headlines and already we are being so blessed by it.

Itzhak Perlman was named a recipient of the Presidential Metal of Freedom, the highest award given by the United States Government to civilians.

For the uninitiated, Itzhak Perlman is among the most accomplished violin virtuosos living today. And thanks to House Bill 2, his appearance scheduled for the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra season finale was cancelled. This will cost the orchestra hundreds of thousands in potential revenue just as musician contracts are opening for renegotiation. While in no way responsible, the orchestra must now face irate patrons who already purchased tickets for the cancelled event.

Meanwhile protesters march through Target stores spouting rhetoric. A Flush Target project plans to visit Target stores in the North Star State. No doubt other repercussions unforeseen by politicians will accrue from the septic ecclesial/political operating system running the Tar Heel State.

Codifying Discrimination

How do you gut the right to challenge discriminatory actions based on race, religion, color, origin, gender or physical disability? Easy. You let companies deny employees birth control or refuse to serve gays. After that, what is to say they can’t fire people for being atheists, Chinese or Jewish? Posing as a religious liberty bill, HB 2 becomes its opposite.

Under a near total news blackout is this clause:

Minimum Wage Eliminated

I didn’t hear of any HB2 local minimum wage ban on the news. Did you?

Given the birther/birth-certificate nonsense, perhaps we can be forgiven for asking if we must now produce a valid birth certificate to use the loo.

!!NC HB2

This bears all the marks of a well-planned and funded political operation designed to further confuse an already exhausted and disoriented public. As danger of world war mounts, poverty and inequality increases, society is militarized and states adopt dictatorial politics, House Bill 2 emerges disingenuously as the most critical issue of the day. This is political fraud.

A Political Operation

Did I say, ‘political operation?’ Yes. Consider these partners in crime: Matt Staver’s Liberty Council and Joseph Farah’s World Net Daily.

Anita Staver, Glock .45
‘I’m taking a Glock .45 to the ladies room. It identifies as my bodyguard.’ — Anita Staver

A non-profit, the Liberty Council addresses public policy issues freely. President Staver’s organization has been named by the SPLC for promoting discrimination under the guise of religious liberty. The LC home page currently links to a World Net Daily article based on an interview with Anita Staver’s husband, Matthew. The SPLC also notes that the Liberty Council loves a good rally.

The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies the Liberty Council as a hate group known to encourage defiance of law and disobedience of court orders. Christian lawyer Anita Staver has legitimized gun violence against transgendered persons. Her husband, Liberty Council President Matthew Staver is also tied to some bizarre and extremist statements regarding gays and lesbians. According to Matt Staver:

  • Act like terrorists

    WND Political Operation
    The ‘Toilet terrorists’ and Obama lets men choke girls in bathrooms articles are but a few of dozens of screeds World Net News publishes regularly. Bizarre as it is, WND is an informative source for identifying political operations from fascistic elements and the so-called ‘Christian’ right.
  • Cause bankruptcy and may
  • Cause a second, civil war

The stridency of Mr. Staver’s remarks suggest that he himself might be willing to lead such an insurrection. Such words say more about Staver than gays. His words also speak volumes about those who retain relations with him, such as Liberty University and World Net Daily.

On a somewhat related theme, and writing for Political Theology Today is University of Mount Olive assistant professor of religion Hollis Phelps. He says that the bathroom ruckus doesn’t concern ‘common sense’ so much as religious identity.’ For him, it really is no surprise at all religious leaders turned out for this. Phelps’ analysis is worth the read.

Recognizing a political operation for what it is, we might envision a totally different outlook on HB2 issues. While not addressing issues, the rest of this post introduce some levity to this subject. A European practice might help us laugh at ourselves and become better for it. Laughter is a potent tool. When we laugh at something, it’s hold on us relaxes greatly.

Meet the Pissoir

pissoir def

For more than 150 years, pissoirs have facilitated half the elimination functions of half the people in Europe. Pissoirs are used in broad daylight. Design and technology varies over time; the function remains unchanged. Paris, London, Madrid, Lisbon, Ghent, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Montreal, Sydney and other great cities embrace the pissoir. [Don’t miss the mouse-over texts].

Pissoir in Lisbon, Portugal, Used by US Sailors in WWI
Pissoir in Lisbon, Portugal, Used by US sailors in WWI
Pissoir in Bari, Italy, Used by US Soldier in WWI
Pissoir in Bari, Italy, Used by US soldier in WWI
Pissoir in Paris, with 2 US WWII Soldiers
Pissoir in Paris, 2 US WWII Soldiers.
Pissoir in old Amsterdam, modern tourist trap for unwary Americans
Pissoir in old Amsterdam, modern tourist trap threatening the safety of unwary Americans.
Plaza de España [Spanish Square]
Plaza de España [Spanish Square]. Woman and child seen fleeing in terror…
Pissoir in Amsterdam, Holland
Pissoir in Amsterdam, Holland
Pissoirs, Unknown Location
Pissoirs, Unknown Location. Note the cheeky girl in the middle.
Pissoirs all a row
Pissoirs all a row. If only people knew the exposure and danger posed by these dreadful urinary terrorists…
Clearly, a nation with no good God or decent politicians…
France, Pissoir
Man uses pissoir in France; mass havoc and civil insurrection erupts.
Pissoir, Montreal, Canada
Pissoir in Montreal. Montreal is in Canada. What would you expect?
Opéra national de Paris, pissoirs
Pissoirs, Opéra national de Paris. They call this ‘culture?’
Well Used ODU
Women and children at risk! Send missionaries to warn of danger!
Cheeky Lass Having a Bit of Fun
Cheeky Lass Having a Bit of Fun. OR … peeing while transgendered?









Pissoir in Chongqing, China
Pissoir in Chongqing, China
Another cheeky girl in a quaintly Freudian moment. Clear case of penis envy.
Another Cheeky Girl, Urilift and jacket
Am I the only one who likes it when a cheeky girl yanks around the system?

Meet US Transgendered Bathrooms

!Flush Target Truck
Given the hysteria pissoirs introduce around the world, other nations surely envy our enlightenment to cast the issue in such terms as this!

Will the Project Flush Target billboard truck generate consternation? Yes. This is, after all, the United States. But others will see our hysteria as folly whether or not it is recognized as a political operation.

Despite assertions to the contrary, no cosmic consequences will befall civilization because it switched to transgendered bathrooms. Declaring otherwise is fundamentally dishonest. By arguing to the contrary, and by allowing itself to be targeted by and absorbed into reactionary political operations, evangelical/fundamentalist sects have revealed their own weaknesses, secularity and disability to be the presence of Christ.

Robin Hayes, NC GOP Chairperson
‘Itzhak Perlman’s decision to cancel his performance is just the latest example of hypocrisy and selective outrage from the far-left that does nothing but hurt ordinary North Carolinians.’ — NC GOP Chairperson Robin Hayes

Some of the actions surrounding North Carolina House Bill 2 are childish, some are sincere but misguided. HB2 itself is a political attack on working people. Rather than supporting it, Christians ought to be the first to stand by working people, their families and their communities. Too often, we have failed and refused to be good neighbors. This shames Jesus Christ.

This controversy has nothing to do with preserving civilization or Christian decency. Political attacks are not devices of God’s kingdom, and Christians who support them do Christ’s body no service. Church leaders would better protect their congregations from such narratives and attacks by exposing them. A church that adopts alternative, narrative fictions is no true church of Jesus Christ at all. The manual for kingdom politics is the Biblical canon. The text of HB2 can be accessed here. They differ markedly in both word and spirit.

Transgendered or not, some of us would just like to get on with our lives, to hear great music, to do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with our God…and occasionally, to take a leak.