Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Guns, God, and the Old Confederacy: A Report from Down Home




Another just-can't-resist item: our statewide paper Arkansas Times is reporting right now that churches around the state are trying to decide whether to permit guns to be toted to worship of a Sunday, now that our tea-party legislature has passed legislation permitting this. For Catholics, Bishop "I Will Not Allow" Taylor of course has the last word and speaks on behalf of all of us:


The Catholic position? No guns. But swords, now--swords may be brought to church, provided 1) they're blunt and 2) you're a Knight of Columbus.

The Baptist position? At least one Baptist church, North Park in Van Buren, Arkansas, has stated via its pastor that it won't object to permitting some members to bring concealed weapons to church. Provided they have a good reason (!) for doing so.

Reckon the concealed-weapons-in-church thing will extend to those holster bras and cute pink hangdun-accesories for ladies proudly displayed at the latest NRA shindig? And surely there's a reason to permit the toddlers of the church to bring their special-made guns for kiddies, since children need to learn to use guns well sometime--and where better than in Sunday School?

But what I'm winding around to is the following grimly funny comment by one reader of the Arkansas Times thread, "I_AM_THE_NRA" (irony alert here: I'm pretty sure this is intended to be a send-up):

A member of the ACLU left her "Criminals and Terrorists Weekly" magazine behind at the doctor's office. I was not surprised to see several personal ads from muslims, gangbangers and liberals looking to form gangs to target white Christians in gun-free zones -- aka churches.  
At my church, we have gun racks on the back of each pew that are adjustable for both the AK and AR. Last Sunday, a Bushmaster accidentally fell, went off, and the round took out a darling little girl reciting the familiar passage in scripture about "blessed are the peacemakers" as part of a sermon series on the NRA.  
The pastor, bless his heart, immediately changed his sermon to "The Price of Freedom" and we sang The Battle Hymn of the Republic as they took her body out. We did our best to console the gun's owner, but God does work in mysterious ways. These things happen.

Can we Americans get any more fixated on the wrong solution to the wrong problems at the wrong time? The planet is burning up, and we're debating whether we should be allowed to bring concealed weapons to worship, and whether toddlers should be bought kiddie guns by their grandparents. 

I often think lately that my several-generations-back uncle Wilson R. Bachelor, whose diary and other writings I'm publishing in my forthcoming book Fiat Flux, would be tearing his hair out in despair at what we have made of ourselves in over 100 years after his death, if he could return to us today. On 18 August 1874, he writes in his diary that in four and a half years in Arkansas, he has seen more deaths due to violence than in all his years growing up in Tennessee. 

And he adds that part of the problem is, quite specifically, the casual prevalence of guns in his new home, where they can even be toted to church:

Every person here are allowed to carry weapons. So every desperado, and hairbrained you[th] in the country has them Swung to his Sid[e.] [T]hey go to Church, with them, they go into [a] Gentleman[’s] house, with them, and think [it] an honor. 

Wilson Bachelor didn't get this in 1874, and I don't get it in 2013. It's a form of madness to permit people to carry guns everywhere, and it verges on ├╝ber-insanity to suggest that people need guns in worship services. 

We've gone plain crazy as a nation these days, I do believe. But swords in church, now: that I can understand!

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