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.

You should be ashamed of yourself!

Ever want to say OUT LOUD how you REALLY FEEL and why … without self-censorship?

Carolyn sent this to every Senator who voted against “gun safety” in the U.S. Senate.

Gun SAFETY

The Second Amendment to the Constitution was written by men whose notion of “gun” was a musket needing reloading after each shot.

With your recent votes on gun safety, you represented the interests of manufacturers of guns and ammunition, and voted against the safety of Americans, as well as against the expressed wish of 84% of us. You also spit on 26 graves in Newtown, CT, and on those of many, many thousands of other victims of gun violence.

You put forth high sounding phrases, and tell lies about the effects of the bills, but we know that your sole motivation was and is to keep collecting legalized but still immoral bribes from the gun manufacturers and to keep the votes of those few Americans who either think serious differences of opinions are best resolved by violence or threats of violence, or the subcategory who think they some day may need to solve differences of opinion with our democratically elected government by armed insurrection — that is, treason.

To be sure, very many (not all) Senators bury their dead consciences before taking the oath of office, and you are clearly one of the many who did. Therefore it behooves me to remind you that you should be heartily ashamed of yourself.

Carolyn and I went to Kindergarten together. Our families were closest of friends. She is now retired from the University of Pennsylvania Music Library, well-versed in the do’s and don’ts of ascribing motives. Carolyn is also VERY polite; her speech is routinely moderate and carefully considered, but she decided on this one to throw caution to the wind.

“I’m certain it changed no minds,” said Carolyn’s email to me, “but it was a relief to me somehow to ‘tell them off.’

“I sometimes quarrel with myself about things in it like ascribing motive — “…we know…”. But it certainly is how I feel. …[T]hen I reassure myself — there are many who make the same assumption. What’s more, I think it is a fair one.”

When you look at the fact that the 45 U.S. Senators who voted against “gun safety” received in excess of $8,000,000 in campaign contributions from the NRA and gun manufacturers, it’s hard not to go where Carolyn went. These Senators know that the Second Amendment would not have been breached by the bill sponsored by their two courageous Senate colleagues who chose to do the right thing despite their A ratings from the NRA.

Gabbie Giffords: “they looked over their shoulders”

“I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done,” Giffords wrote. “… I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. … I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say, ‘You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.'”

The former Congresswoman (AZ) is still recovering from the assassination attempt that left her with serious brain injuries and caused her to vacate her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The quote above is from her Op Ed piece in the New York Times. Click “A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip” to read the entire piece. Here’s a further excerpt:

They looked at these most benign and practical of solutions, offered by moderates from each party, and then they looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby — and brought shame on themselves and our government itself by choosing to do nothing.

They will try to hide their decision behind grand talk, behind willfully false accounts of what the bill might have done — trust me, I know how politicians talk when they want to distract you — but their decision was based on a misplaced sense of self-interest. I say misplaced, because to preserve their dignity and their legacy, they should have heeded the voices of their constituents. They should have honored the legacy of the thousands of victims of gun violence and their families, who have begged for action, not because it would bring their loved ones back, but so that others might be spared their agony.

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.

Home of the scared and the land of the tyrannized

This afternoon from 3:00 to 4:00 Protect Minnesota will host a demonstration in the MN Capitol Rotunda in support of state legislation re: gun violence.

As part of its efforts, Protect Minnesota invited individuals to write letters to MN Senate and House Judiciary Committee members. This letter went out this morning.

Greetings,

I am a Christian Pastor. I write you out of deep concern for the unrestrained violence taking place in the name of “the right to liberty” that imperils “the right of life…and the pursuit of happiness”. The three rights proclaimed in The Declaration of Independence are intended to be mutually supportive, not mutually exclusive. The right to liberty was never intended to take the other two rights hostage.

I strongly support legislation and enforcement of laws that place gun ownership in its proper place in our common life. The Second Amendment does NOT grant unlimited rights for anyone to purchase and use a gun anywhere anytime any more than the First Amendment on free speech allows speech that slanders or libels, lies under oath, or yells “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

As Senators and Representatives, you were elected by the people in your districts. Once you took the oath of office, your responsibility changed. You entered the halls of representative democracy where leadership requires you to act by your own consciences, not by public opinion polls in your districts. We are a representative democracy, not a pure democracy). Your responsibility as Senators and Representatives is to LEAD WISELY not only for the sake of your own constituents but for the greater good of the entire State of Minnesota.

We are quickly becoming, if we are not already, an armed camp in which the “neighbor” of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic teachings is regarded as an anachronism. Unless you plug the holes in our background check system by requiring a check for every pistol or assault weapon sale, the rights of life and the pursuit of happiness will be held hostage by unrestrained liberty, and the home of the brave and the land of the free will continue on the way to become the home of the scared and the land of the unrestrained individual tyranny.

Thank you for listening.
Respectfully,

Gordon C. Stewart

Out of the Mouths of… #1

Edward Everett HaleEdward Everett Hale was asked if he prayed for the Senators. He replied:

“No. I look at the Senators and pray for the country.”

The Reverend Mr. Edward Everett Hale (1822 – 1909) served as  Chaplain to the U.S. Senate. He was appointed to the position because of his outstanding public ministry as Minister of South Congregational (Unitarian) Church in Boston. He proposed a public retirement pension system for both women and men long before there was Social Security.

First Church Boston’s website provides this account of his  ministry.

Thanks to Caroll Bryant for capturing our attention with her blog’s publication of the witticisms famous historical figures.