Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gun Control What Would Jesus Do? & Guns As Sacred Objects In America's "Civil Religion " & Pope Attacks Gay Marriage

What Would Jesus Do?

The Pope's condemnation of homosexuality and same sex marriage is predictable with a tinge of hypocrisy. If the Pope were so concerned about biblically illicit sex then why hasn't he been more forthright for instance in the numerous cases of Catholic Priest sexually molesting children instead of making excuses and blaming it on modernity.

To take another egregious sin of ommission by the Catholic Church was the deafening silence delivered by the pope and the Church during the holocaust. Many believed if the Pope had spoken out against Hitler's brutality towards the Jews in Germany before the the start of WWII threatening to excomunicate all those who took part in the violent anti-semitic violence that occurred on Kristalnacht then the Germans who followed Hitler might have been less reluctant to do so in the case of repression and mass murdering of the Jews of Germany and of Europe. Instead the Pope by not defending the Jewish people followed a long tradition of Catholic Anti-semitism going back some 1600 years or so. (see pages on Anti-Semitism & its Institutionalization by the Church on this blog & )

Later when the Pope was given information on Hitler's Final Solution and his plans to wipe out all of the European Jews the Pope refused to take action.

Near the end of the war and after the holier than thou Vatican in fact protected a number of NAZIs who happened to be Catholic from being brought to justice for their war crimes and crimes against humanity. Given these actions and silence over the issue of Genocide it becomes a fair question to wonder if after all is said and done that the Vatican at that time considered the Jews deserving of death and utter destruction because according to the Church the Jewish people in Judea were guilty of Deicide that is killing Jesus the living God in human form. The main protest against the murdering of all Jews was a theological dispute on the part of the Vatican which throughout its history was that not every single Jew be killed because according to the Biblical Second Coming a remnant community of Jews were to be allowed to live in order to witness the Second Coming of the Christ and therefore be forced to realize that their rejection and killing of of Jesus was in defiance of God.

Pope Benedict Takes Anti-Gay Marriage To New Level In Christmas Speech On Family Values by nicole Winfield at Huffington Post, Dec. 21, 2012

VATICAN CITY — The pope pressed his opposition to gay marriage Friday, denouncing what he described as people eschewing their God-given gender identities to suit their sexual choices – and destroying the very "essence of the human creature" in the process.

Benedict XVI made the comments in his annual Christmas address to the Vatican bureaucracy, one of his most important speeches of the year. He dedicated it this year to promoting traditional family values in the face of gains by same-sex marriage proponents in the U.S. and Europe and efforts to legalize gay marriage in places like France and Britain.

In his remarks, Benedict quoted the chief rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, in saying the campaign for granting gays the right to marry and adopt children was an "attack" on the traditional family made up of a father, mother and children.

... Church teaching holds that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered," though it stresses that gays should be treated with compassion and dignity. As pope and as head of the Vatican's orthodoxy watchdog before that, Benedict has been a strong enforcer of that teaching: One of the first major documents released during his pontificate said men with "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies shouldn't be ordained priests.

For the Vatican, though, the gay marriage issue goes beyond questions of homosexuality, threatening what the church considers to be the bedrock of society: a family based on a man, woman and their children.

In his speech, the pope cited Bernheim as lamenting how a new philosophy of sexuality has taken hold, whereby sex and gender are "no longer a given element of nature that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society."

He said God had created man and woman as a specific "duality" – "an essential aspect of what being human is all about."

Now, though, "Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his own nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will."

The Vatican's opposition to gay marriage has been falling largely on deaf ears. In addition to the U.S. election gains, the Constitutional Court in largely Roman Catholic Spain upheld the law legalizing gay marriage last month. Earlier this month, the British government announced it will introduce a bill next year legalizing gay marriage, though it would ban the Church of England from conducting same-sex ceremonies.

It is odd that a supposedly Christian nation such as the USA is such a violent nation arming its citizens against each other and against the government while as a nation America launches one war of Aggression after another . America since 9/11 has put itslef on the path of perpetual war and seeking revenge by spilling the blood of those who were involved with the 9/11 attacks while Jesus said we should forgive even our enemies .

The USA has gone even father down the opposite path as that preached by Jesus by adopting unjustifiable policies allowing for kidnapping /renditions to denying the humanity of those they imprison in order to facilitate the use terror tactics such as torture to make others they hope more compliant. America since 9/11 has maimed ,tortured and killed over 1 million innocent people which they depict as merely "collateral damage " in their pursuit of these supposed enemies of America . And yet America still prides itself on being morally superior to all other nations and of being a Christian nation blessed they claim by God Himself. So America like the ancient Israelites are commanded by God to hunt down all the evil doers around the globe and to crush any resistance to America's claim to being God's Chosen nation to eventually usher in the Second Coming and the 'End Of Days".

This is why it is more appropriate to call the religious beliefs of America not as merely or primarily traditional Christian but as a different brand of Christianity which can be referred to as "Americanized Christianity" with its founder the "Americanized Jesus" who would advocate the use of violence against those who are violent or who represent a possible future threat of violence.

As part of this Americanized Christianity God by way of the Founding Fathers made visible His presence by the issuing through these human intermediaries the new documents that is The Declaration of Independence, The US Constitution , The Bill of Rights and the Amendments to be appended to the Bible itself. So belief in these documents is in tandem some might argue with a belief in the Holy Bible . So that there is then no real separation of Church and state since they are both born out of the "will of God".

What Would Jesus Say to the NRA? by Shane Claiborne at Huffington Post ,Dec. 24,2012
...When soldiers come to arrest and execute Jesus, one of his closest friends defensively picks up a sword to protect him. Jesus' response is stunning: He scolds his own disciple and heals the wounded persecutor. It was a tough and very counter-intuitive lesson: "The one who picks up the sword dies by the sword ... there is another way."

That lesson that Jesus taught his disciple is as relevant to us, and the NRA, as it was the early movement of Christians in the first century. Violence will not rid the world of violence. You do not use swords to get rid of swords or guns to get rid of guns. There is another way.

Many Christians have begun to speak of Jesus as an interruption to the "myth of redemptive violence," the assumption that we can use violence to get rid of violence or that we can destroy a life to save a life. The myth of redemptive violence has many ugly faces. It teaches us that we can kill those who kill to show that killing is wrong. It teaches us to live by the law of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" a law that Jesus firmly spun on its head, saying, "You've heard it said 'an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth ... but I tell you..." There is another way. Killing to show that killing is wrong is like trying to teach holiness by fornication. The cure is as bad as the disease.

At one point Jesus even weeps over the violent world he lived in, lamenting that "they did not know the things that would lead to peace." The fact that Jesus carried a cross rather than a sword has something relevant and redemptive to offer our violent-possessed world. After all, the Bible has a lot to say about loving enemies, and "Thou shalt not kill," but doesn't even mention the right to bear arms.

So let's imagine. What would Jesus say to our nation, where these are things are true:

10,000 people die from gun-related homicides each year, that's one Sandy Hook massacre a day, every day
There are nearly 90 guns for every 100 people
There are more than 51,000 licensed gunshops (and 30,000 supermarkets)
Guns that can shoot 100 rounds a minute, and are only designed to kill, are still legal
Other than auto accidents, gun violence is the leading cause of death of young people (under 20)
$20,000 a second is spent on war

There is a reason we talk about "Peace on Earth" so much around Christmas. There is a reason why we talk about Jesus as the "Prince of Peace." He consistently taught that we can disarm violence without mirroring it, and that we can rid the world of evil without becoming the evil we abhor. So let us recommit ourselves to Peace this Christmas season and new year -- in honor of Jesus, and in honor of the holy innocents.

It can be argued as the authors of the article below do that the attitude towards the 2nd Amendment by those who are pro-gun and view gun ownership as a right as being inviolable like all other rights is in fact akin to making gun ownership a right which is guaranteed not just by man's law but as a right issued from God and not the state . Thus gun ownership is a duty which can be viewed as part of America's "civil religion" in which Guns themselves are seen as sacred objects . This attitude towards guns and gun ownership according to the Bible is a form of idolatry. That is this object is seen as holy as a cross or a Church or the Eucharist . As we see gun ownership and the "right to bear arms " is part of America's "civil religion" which adds to or substitutes or takes precedence over Christianity. As these writers put it " That is, people (notably NRA members) have turned their guns into an extension of God, sources of security (supposedly) in any storm. That this is, theologically speaking, idol worship - that which is not God being revered as God - should go without saying."

The pro-gun believers in America having taken the 2nd Amendment out of context ie "...the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." are mistaken in their belief that the 2nd Amendment was aimed at individual citizens rather than citizens as part of a collective ie armed militias . These militias in this age have been made redundant with the formation of a professional military to protect the populace as a whole and that citizens are not expected to arm themselves with their own weapons since these are now provided for them .

Another problem with the 2nd Amendment is that the weapons America's founding fathers were referring to were owned by individuals but now anyone joining the US military is provided with the weapons and gear they will need.

The NRAs interpretation of the 2nd Amendment again ignores the context and reality of the time the amendment was passed. That is citizens in that period of time only had access to muskets which did not have the deadly firepower of the weapons available now. One need not reload these modern rifles after each shot and can have the ability to fire off 30 to a hundred rounds per minute. This makes these weapons in the hands of the average citizen quite deadly. In just a few minutes a shooter can wound and kill dozens of people as we saw at Sandyhook elementary school.

The Bible and the Second Amendment by Rev. Wil Gafney Ph.D. and Jon Pahl,ph.D, at Huffington Post, Dec. 27,2012

...Among other features, the American civil religion is marked by sacred places--the Lincoln Memorial, Gettysburg Battlefield, the Liberty Bell; sacred times--the 4th of July, Veterans Day, Flag Day; and sacred texts--notably the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

...First the immediate literary context, the entire Second Amendment:
"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."

The literary context provides the socio-cultural context of the Amendment, namely the American Revolution and establishment of new nation, one without a standing army. In that context, people owned the weapons they would use in defense of the common good...

The Revolutionary Era militia has been superseded by an Army and Navy, which spawned the Air Force (formerly Army Air Corps), and Marine Corps, now augmented by state and local police - which have their own colonial and pre-colonial predecessors, National Guard and Coast Guard. And in each case those women and men have their firearms supplied by the governments (local, state, federal) that employ them. The necessity met by a "well regulated militia" in the Revolutionary Era and its aftermath is now met without militias. The originating context of the Second Amendment no longer exists.

Next, arguably, one of the most significant terms in the passage is "infringed." What did it mean to "infringe" upon the rights of people to "keep and bear arms" in the Revolutionary Era? What does the right to "keep and bear arms mean" in our current context? A simple and straightforward understanding might seem to be that nothing should prevent the people (note this is a collective term and not the same as every individual) from keeping and bearing arms - in the context of militia service from which this text cannot be severed. The courts have ruled that individuals do not have the absolute right to keep and bear arms; that is why felons can be deprived of the right to keep and bear arms, which is entirely consistent with the original context of the Amendment.

At present, we contend that an individualist interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that has been read to uphold a universal "right to bear arms" of any kind, in any context, serves functions that are more accurately described as theological than legal. That is, people (notably NRA members) have turned their guns into an extension of God, sources of security (supposedly) in any storm. That this is, theologically speaking, idol worship - that which is not God being revered as God - should go without saying. That it has proven destructive is repeatedly evident historically. But until we address the sacred functions of the language that legitimizes this idol we will not likely get far in fostering rational limits on gun owning in America, because the religious needs being met by this interpretation (and by possession of the fetish object of the handgun or assault rifle) will continue to operate unabated.

...A pressing issue emerging from our contemporary interpretive context not present in the originating is the nature and kind of "arms" to which the people - again collectively, not individually - have a right. We are no longer talking about muskets. And since the general citizenry does not form the basis of a militia or army charged with the security of the nation they do not have a Constitutionally enshrined right to military-grade arsenals.

No comments: