Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A SHOT AT GUN CONTROL


I wish I could write something original about gun control. All the cogent arguments are out there. I’ll be content with whatever the President can get through the congress. I’ll have to be. It astonishes me that so many Democrats, including Harry Reid, a good guy, can be  staunch believers in gun availability for most people.

I am a moralist enough to hate hunting for sport. Grown men and women loving to kill helpless birds and animals for fun is sickening. Respect for life, all life, is not a bad motto for Christians and also for all human beings. A hunting guide in the TV show Downton Abbey said animals deserve a merciful death. A touch of civility for a professional hunter.

I loved toy guns as a youngster and so did my brother. We played kill the Japanese and Nazis during World War 2. Cap pistols, handguns and pieces of wood sat in for rifles around our toy boxes. Eventually I outgrew them.  Dad forbade BB guns, fearing we might shoot someone’s eye out.

The summer I worked a the farm in Oneida, NY, in 1944, I shot a woodchuck and a robin. I was glad I hit the targets, but felt bad afterward.  I did like handling the rifle, however.  Once in the 1980s I helped clean out a man’s apartment and discovered a small revolver. I took it to a gun store and sold it. I felt creepy just handling it and a bit afraid, too. I might shoot myself or someone else because I was too ignorant of how it really worked.

In high school I thought about going to Annapolis or West Point. I liked the uniforms. Then I found out you needed math and science to prepare for those institutions. I realized that was not for me. I barely passed either subject. It never occurred to me until later that those academies were places where one learned to shoot and kill. Like most kids I idolized the military for its glamour, not seeing deeply that one learned to kill and be killed. I certainly never thought of the pain inflicted or received. The notion of suffering never entered my adolescent mind.

I wobbled between support and opposition during the Korean and Vietnam War. However, during the anti Vietnam war days I realized I could only be a pacifist. I do not want to kill other people. War is madness. The civil rights movement and the writing and speaking of Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired by Gandhi solidified my antiwar convictions. The natural result were my anti-gun sentiments.

As a life long-Episcopalian I heard precious little teaching about the ethics of war and guns. The late Norman Pittenger at The General Theological Seminary did give a powerful talk against hunting. Today the national and diocesan church is silent on gun control. I seldom preached or wrote about gun control. I’ll remedy that. I often preached anti-war sermons.

The Quakers have always seen it as their Christian duty to oppose war. I see it as mine.

I certainly hope churches and seminaries will provide study and sermons dealing with these important issues. Youth groups could expand their programs to include issues of war, guns and alternatives for military careers. Kids can be taught about the joys and perils of being a conscientious objector.

Those of us who follow Jesus as a revolutionary rather than a pale pilgrim, notice his voice rang out for peace, forgiveness and compassion. That plus feeding the hungry and healing the sick were the essence of his words and ministry. We Christians could be leading the way to peace and safety from guns.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Fred Fenton said...

"Grown men and women loving to kill helpless birds and animals for fun is sickening." I heartily agree. Even worse is the terrible treatment of innocent animals in American agribusiness. The "wild animals" on earth are we humans. The silence of the Church about our mistreatment of the animal world is a disgrace.

Government "of the people, by the people, for the people" does not exist in America. A dysfunctional Congress is under the control of big corporations and their lobbyists. The failure of sensible gun control is just one of many examples of this.

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