The Prophets: Parents of Newtown

The parents of the murdered children of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown are back in Washington, D.C today and tomorrow. They are meeting with our nation’s law-makers.

Like Jeremiah, “the Weeping Prophet” who cried over the plight of his people, these mourning parents are courageous spokespersons for sanity, compassion, and an end to America’s love of violence.

May the Spirit that inspires these grieving parents to leave home for meetings in the center of American power and public scrutiny stir the consciences of the Congressional Representatives and Senators with whom they meet.

A friend brought to my attention “Thank God, I’m Alive” on the latest tragedy of gun violence to garner national attention in Santa Monica, California.

As Moses said when Joshua wanted to silence two people (Eldad and Medad) who were speaking out without authorization: “I wish that all God’s people were prophets!” (Book of Numbers 11:29, Torah, Hebrew Bible).

I invite your prayers and well wishes for the parents of Newtown as they carry forward the prophetic tradition. Let no one silence you. Speak the truth with love, and let the Spirit do its work.

Please share your comments.

Private Guns and Public Health

Parents of children killed at Shady Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut arrived in Washington, D.C. with President Obama on Air Force One yesterday. They came to make their case for tough, far-reaching legislation.

Today a news conference has been scheduled by a bi-partisan working group of U.S. Senators to announce an agreement that barely begins to address the problem.

Making a Killing: the Business of Guns in America by former NRA member Tom Diaz unmasks the peculiar legal exemptions that keep the firearms industry in the shadows of American public life. When it was published in 1999, the Ft. Worth Morning Star-Telegram wrote,

“Although the gun industry is shrouded in federally protected secrecy, Diaz has uncovered a remarkable amount of data on individual manufacturers. Making a Killing is frightening and enlightening.”

The National Law Journal review said, in words that apply equally today,

“Rather than rehash old arguments on handgun availability, Diaz looks at the financial motives behind the gun industry. He points out how few restraints the government places on guns as consumer products, and how this lack of restraint plays out in society.”

In Private Guns,Public Health, “a dramatic new plan for ending America’s epidemic of gun violence,” Devid Hemenway uncovers the complex connections between guns and self-defense, guns and homicide, and gun violence and schools. He argues for a bold new public-health approach that would reduce gun-related injury and death. David Hemenway is Professor of Health Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health and Director of Harvard’s Injury Control Research Center and Youth Violence Prevention Center.

If only he’d had a gun!

Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus - James Tissot

Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus – James Tissot

Jesus of Nazareth (ca. 30 CE): “Those who take up the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52b)

American City Council (2013 CE): Mandatory Gun Ownership Law Passes in Georgia Town

Gun-buying after Newtown massacre (2013): : Customers pack Connecticut gun stores after deal on laws

George Carlin (ca. 2000 CE): “I’m not concerned about all hell breaking loose, but that a PART of hell will break loose… it’ll be much harder to detect.”

Out of the Mouth of Woodbine Willie

“Woodbine Willie” is a strange name for an Anglican priest. The nickname was given to

G. A. Studdert Kennedy (18813 - 1929)

G. A. Studdert Kennedy (1883 – 1929)

G. A. Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929) by the battered troops of the British forces to whom he ministered in World War I.

The name came from the “Woodbine” cigarettes he gave to the troops. Woodbine Willie grew up among the desperately poor. He had two great passions: the church and social reform. He never winced and, oh, how he was loved by what were then known as “the common people.” He was a fighter for social justice and human rights, but he also advocated civil conversation, what he called “a plane” upon which people of differing views and good conscience would come together to resolve a problem.  Think about the current national debate in the wake of the tragedy at Newtown.

There is, and there must be, a plane upon which we can think and reason together upon questions arising out of our wider human relations, social questions, that is, apart from and above party prejudice and sectional interest. If it is not so, and there is no such plane, and we can not think of these big questions outside the prejudices and passions that arise in party strife, then it is safe to assert that there will never be any solution of the problems whatsoever. The idea that politics in the true sense – that is, the art of managing our human relationships on a large scale – must remain a separate department of life, distinct from morals and religion, is ultimately irrational and absurd, and is an idea with which no  responsible teacher ought to have anything to do. – Sermon, “The Church in Politics: a Defense”

Tomorrow night, Tuesday, Feb. 5, Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska will do its best to provide “a plane” for reasonable discussion of the epidemic of gun violence in America. 7:00 – 8:30 PM. Hope and pray that it be an evening where we step back to discuss “the big questions outside the prejudices and passions that arise in party strife.”