Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts

11 March 2013

The gun of self defence?

How do you comment on American gun law if you are not American? On the whole I think it may be best if you don't, so instead here is something gun-related, in a way. Hopefully it will amuse but also provoke thought, though not necessarily pertaining to guns.

Armoured Roman legionaries
March's Synchroblog is on the subject of guns, specifically how we think and act as followers of Jesus.

There's a list of all the contributions at the bottom of this article. Here's the opening statement from the Synchroblog website...

Like many hot political topics, the issue of gun control is a big one for Christians. People are all over the place on the issue–from passionate pacifists to dedicated NRA members.

Well, I don't know about that. You see I live in the United Kingdom where we have very strict gun control. Except in Northern Ireland, even the police are not allowed to carry arms, never mind the general public. Yes, the police do have stocks of arms and ammunition but they cannot take them onto the streets except in cases of an emergency such as an armed siege, a shooting incident, or a terrorist attack.

Opinion in the UK - Gun laws are not hotly debated here. Public opinion is strongly against the possession of firearms. The annual rate of death by shooting is 0.07 per 100 000 of the population, about forty times lower than in the USA. Police deaths by gunshot are also extremely rare.

So if I'm asked whether gun control works I'd have to say, 'Yes, it does'. At any rate it does for us in Britain. I'm simply not qualified to enter the US debate, but I do enjoy posting on the synchroblog. So in amongst all your serious discussions on gun control I have decided to have a little fun. I hope you'll forgive me because it is a serious matter, I realise that (and I will read the other synchroblog contributions). But hey, it's good to lighten up a little sometimes.

Even if I felt it was acceptable to give an uninvited foreign opinion (and I don't), what could I add to the debate? Nothing, really. You guys will have to work it out for yourselves, I'm not going to comment. Of course, if the presidential system doesn't work out for you there's always the possibility of inviting the Queen to take you back as her subjects. Then you'd have to hand in your weapons.

The full armour - But, I had a thought. How would it be if we looked at the full armour of Elohim and added a gun - just experimentally? What would that look like?

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the vestplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of the Almighty, and the gun of self defence. (Ephesians 6:14-17, NSDV)

NSDV? Oh, sorry, that's the New Self Defence Version of the Holy Bible. It's not widely available so I quoted from it for you. It's mostly quite similar to the NIV (UK) version.

So let's do a Bible study.

Useful and defensive - Note that the belt and the footwear are purely for practical purposes. The belt represents truth and just as truth supports useful arguments, so the belt also supports useful devices. It's a veritable military tool-belt for holding all sorts of special equipment - night sight goggles, radio, ammo for the gun of self defence, that sort of thing.

The vestplate and the helmet are defensive and fixed. In other words they are worn and don't need to be held. Naturally it will be a bulletproof vestplate, that is very important.

The shield is also defensive but is strapped to the forearm so that it can be readily positioned between you and any incoming flaming arrows. It doesn't need to be bulletproof, just flaming arrowproof.

That just leaves us with the sword and the gun. They are offensive in nature and therefore fundamentally different from the defensive items we've considered so far.

Offensive? - The sword is the sword of the Spirit. That is to say it is the sword of the Spirit of Christ. Notice that it is only good for close work. You need to be close enough to the enemy to love them. The Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit) provides an extraordinary advantage in close combat. He is capable of disarming the opposition by cutting them down with love, joy and peace, also patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control and self defence. No. Hang on. Let me check my notes...

Oh yes, that's it. Self control is from the Spirit, but not self defence. Sorry, slight slip on my part. I was a little ahead of myself.

And so we come to the gun of self defence. Notice that all of the other parts of the armour, including the sword, are provided by the kingdom for your personal use. As soldiers of Christ you may (and should) take advantage of all of them, they are free of charge, part of the standard kit, and guaranteed to work when needed. Using these you will be kept safe and enabled to advance ever further against the enemy - even if he uses flaming arrows.

But the gun of self defence you must provide yourself. It wasn't available two thousand years ago when the armour was designed and issued. But now many believers have found that defending themselves with this long distance weapon enables them to make a lot of noise, and never need to bring the sword of the Spirit into play.

Some problems - There do seem to be some disadvantages, however. For a start, it's incredibly easy to shoot yourself in the foot. (A safety catch is provided. Use it!) And some have said that self defence is wrong, that instead we should let Papa defend us. Another common issue is getting a flaming arrow in the chest while busy reloading the gun of self defence. The bulletproof vestplate can't stop those, you need to hold the shield of faith in the right place to be safe from flaming arrows. It's tricky to manouvre the shield while rummaging for ammo and loading the gun.

Some kingdom soldiers are beginning to abandon the gun of self defence again and they do actually seem to be doing better that way. Some have even taken to going the extra mile when asked. Some have been experimenting with blessing the people that oppose them. And a few have been seen offering their shirt when only their cloak had been demanded. It's a bit odd. Could it be said to be a cloak and dagger form of warfare? No, I suppose it can't really, can it? It's more cloak and shirt warfare.

See the questions below for some thoughts on self defence and the church.


  • Forget the gun, what about self defence? Has there been too much self and too much defence in church life?
  • How might less of me and more vulnerability to others transform church?
  • And how might less of me and more vulnerability transform sharing the good news?
  • Are there things you could do in your own life that would be like putting down the gun of self defence and depending only on the other items of armour?

See also:

Synchroblog links:

06 August 2011

SOCIETY: Between a rock and a hard place

The USA's credit rating has dropped from AAA to AA+ and people are upset. Like most economies, our friends in the USA are between a rock and a hard place. Most nations have over-borrowed, financing current expenditure by selling government bonds and securities.

Euro notes and coinsThe only ways out are to cut spending or increase taxation (or some combination of the two). Neither is palatable.

So what will happen next? Nobody knows! The BBC's Mark Mardell writes on the political aspects and Robert Peston covers the financial situation.

Here are some extracts that strike me as particularly interesting.

From Mark Mardell
  • The decision by Standard & Poor's ... puts the USA below the UK, Germany, France, Singapore, Finland and 14 other countries.
  • All America has been saying: Washington doesn't work.
  • America's debt will continue to balloon and [S&P] have little hope of the politicians fixing it.
  • They single out Republicans for ruling out tax rises.
  • Americans are likely to bemoan the failure of politicians to bridge an apparently unbridgeable gap between two different world views. They may put their faith in Washington politicians, in an outburst of patriotism and goodwill, stumbling on a synthesis that suits all sides. But I wonder whether any of them will muse that the system itself may not be fit for purpose.
From Robert Peston
  • Almost everything in the world - loans, goods, services - is priced in or priced off the dollar ... the dollar has a status in the financial system once occupied by gold.
  • Whenever investors believe that the world is becoming a riskier place, their instinct is to buy US Treasury Bonds, to lend to the US government.
  • When the price of US government debt rises and the yield on that debt falls, that typically means investors believe prospects for the global economy have deteriorated.
  • Last week ... global share prices fell on the back of concerns that the eurozone isn't gripping the problem of investors declining confidence in the ability of Spain and Italy to repay their debts.
  • The US losing its AAA rating ... is a very loud statement that there has been an appreciable increase in the risk ... that the US might one day struggle to pay back all it owes.
  • The fiscal and economic challenges are conspicuous: a substantial and intractable gap between public spending and tax revenues in the US at a time of anaemic economic growth.
  • Chinese news agency Xinhua said: "China, the largest creditor of the world's sole superpower, has every right now to demand the United States address its structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China's dollar assets."
  • Probably the only thing to be said with any confidence is that the downgrade could hardly have come at a worse time, in that conditions in global markets are febrile.
In other words the world is at an economic crossroads and we have no idea where we will find ourselves in the future - but none of the options look very promising.

Meanwhile Europe and the USA are both struggling with debt issues while China, the major creditor, is anxious about losing its savings.

The future doesn't look good, does it. Things could easily get much worse.

02 May 2011

RESPONSE: The death of Osama bin Laden

We live in a violent world. Today's news that United States forces have killed Osama bin Laden in a reinforced hideout in Pakistan just emphasises that. What are we to make of it?

Osama bin LadenViolence seems to be everywhere. A civil war is under way in Libya, pirates are active off the Somali coast, in Iran retribution is quick and severe for those who dare to oppose the authorities, the battle continues in Afghanistan and Iraq is racked by shootings and bombings. Closer to home trouble is stirring again in Northern Ireland and in Bristol there have been clashes between protesters and police over (of all things) the opening of a small, local Tesco shop.

Let's face it, there's nothing new about violence, it's as old as the human race. But it certainly hasn't gone away!

The latest news about Osama bin Laden's death is astonishing and raises many questions. You can read some of the background in an article by the BBC's Mark Mardell. No doubt more detail will emerge over the coming days and weeks. There is also likely to be strong reaction from Pakistan and perhaps from Russia and China too.

The principles - But what about the principles involved? For those with no faith it just comes down to a matter of morality and personal opinion. Is it reasonable to kill someone who has done bad things? Is it acceptable to mount a raid into another country, even if the purpose seems noble? Everyone will have opinions on these matters and we will not always agree.

Many religions teach that violence is wrong or that it is justifiable only in certain circumstances.

Love and forgive - But what for those who follow Jesus? Three things, I think.

First, it's clear that we are to love the Father. We are to be like him, pouring out love on one another and even on our enemies. Yahshua told Peter that those who choose to live by the sword will die by the sword. It is surely better for us to die by love than to die by the sword. As we judge, so will we be judged. 'Be like your Father in heaven', is not a suggestion - it's a command. But be warned, loving may cause us to die. If we truly love we will certainly die to self. But we may also die physically in situations where violence might have 'saved' us. It's better to be saved by grace than to be 'saved' by violent action.

And secondly, we are to forgive as we have been forgiven. If someone murders my wife or my child I am to forgive them. That's hard, isn't it? We are not called to seek revenge or punishment. We are not even called to seek justice. We are called to forgive.

Forgiving a wrong often seems like excusing evil. In fact forgiving and loving our enemies pours fire upon them. Forgiving is harder than lashing out with the tongue or with the fist or a firearm. Grace and patience lead us to love and forgive. Anger leads us into sin.

The actions of others - And the third point is this. Not only are we to forgive our enemy, we are not to judge others who make different choices.

So what about Osama's death? It's not for me to say. All I can say is that it would have been entirely wrong for me to kill him, but others must decide for themselves. My Father gave us freedom of will, freedom to choose. He expects me to extend the same freedom to others. I may not judge, I may only love and forgive.


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