Some Words About Gun Violence

I’ve waited, using the time to think, before writing about gun violence. Again. I am not so arrogant as to think my words could change anything, nor do I wish to persuade anyone of my positions. I even hesitate to write at all. I waffle from anger, to cynicism, to hope and then at some point I worry this kind of news will no longer shock me.

As I wrestle with it, I’ve tried to focus on what is true in all of this. We live in a time when truth is under attack from every front, so it is better to work from truth rather than from cliche or assumptions. Here goes my attempt, and then I will give some analysis. But before I share the truths I’ve come to accept on this issue, I need to remind you that multiple things can be true at the same time, and those truths aren’t necessary always in harmony with each other or with a particular worldview.

The first truth, a big picture truth, is that an unarmed populace is a vulnerable populace. Specifically, it is vulnerable to tyranny. Whatever else our founding framers might have envisioned when they crafted the Constitution, keeping people armed in case of an outbreak of tyranny was certainly on their mind, especially given the fact of the Revolutionary War they’d just fought. The first thing a tyrant seeks to do is take away the populations defense mechanisms.

The second truth is that guns have always been regulated in our nation. Always. Most cities and towns in the past had very strict gun control laws, such as no one could have a gun on them in the city limits. These types of restrictions were very common throughout our history.

The third truth is liberty and security do not play well with each other. The more secure you make something, by definition, you restrict its liberty. A well educated, rational society that cares about both liberty and security will learn to find the balance between these two in order to create the best possible outcome for the majority of people.

The fourth truth is a society has an obligation to its children to protect them until they reach adulthood.

The fifth truth is that decisions made out of fear are never good decisions. Our nation is afraid right now. I see it on the faces of people at church, at work, in the supermarket, at the movie theater–everywhere I go. People who are afraid are often not thinking properly, which makes them susceptible to bad ideas or demagoguery.

The sixth truth is though they are alike in kind, there is a difference between the random killings we’ve seen at schools and churches and the traditional gun violence demonstrated in urban environments or domestic violence. Do not misread me, those are horrible problems and need to be addressed as well, but they are different problems than what we saw in Parkland, Florida last week.

Here is the last truth, the seventh truth, I’ve come to. We don’t have a gun problem. We don’t have a mental health problem. We don’t have a teenage problem. What we have is much more specific than this–we have a young, white, male with mental health issues who has access to guns problem.


Now, for a little, but not much, analysis.

  1. One possible solution would be to think about schools and education differently. Maybe large schools with a high concentration of students is the wrong way to go. Perhaps some of the mental health issue is caused by the attempt to raise our children in large, massive industrial-styled complexes with hundreds or thousands of students as if they were a product being made. Maybe we need to decentralize, create smaller, more intimate learning spaces where children can’t fall through cracks.
  2. Banning particular kinds of weapons is not a viable solution. The solution would be more akin to restricting, or banning, certain types of people from having firearms. Most Americans, myself included, have no problem whatsoever with a sane, well-adjusted soul owning a weapon. But I think, given the recent issues, we need to put the onus on the individual to prove sanity and stability. This would require far more than a background check. Bonus thought–if people are serious, they will not restrict weapons at all, but instead restrict, limit, regulate, and record the purchase and sale of ammunition. A gun without bullets is just a heavy stick.
  3. Look at the venues where these tragedies occur–schools, churches, concerts, movie theaters, and night clubs. If we turn these places into fortresses complete with armed guards, razor wire fences, metal detectors, and staff (think kindergarten teachers, theater ticket takers, pastors, bartenders) who are armed, then liberty has not only diminished, it is dying. It will also kill these institutions. The movie theater experience will die, as well as congregational worship as we know it, along with schools. Parents will pull their kids out, and thus the public school will fade away. I just don’t think the answer to these issues is more security, because that poses greater issues and takes us down the slope toward a police state–where everyone is secure, but liberty is a myth. I have already witnessed the loss of too much liberty in my lifetime. I don’t want to see us lose any more.
  4. I have argued in the past, and still believe, that the mental health issue emerging in young boys as random violence is actually a larger problem. The problem presents itself differently in other demographics, but has the same causes. I say causes because there is no one cause, but I do believe there is one basic solution. The causes are manifold and include but are not limited to–fatalism, despair, glorification of violence, dissolution of home life, the teaching of Darwinism, and propserity. The solution, though, is singular. As a believer in Christ Jesus, all of this points to the need for spiritual renewal. Our society is broken, because we have neglected our soul.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Good people can disagree on issues, and you might be in a different camp on some of this, and that is okay. Whatever we do, it is imperative that we learn to listen to one another and realize that we are all on the same team, because none of us want what happened in Parkland, Sutherland Springs, Sandy Hook, Columbine, Charleston, Miami, Las Vegas  . . . and sadly so many other places, to happen ever again.

6 Things You Might Not Agree With

Lots of stuff going on around here. Tonight is Cajun food night at our church meal, and I got nothing, so I’m just gonna go get tacos from Taco Bell. I know, it is the lowest form of food, but I figure they have Taco Bell in Louisiana, too.

But here are some things that are on my mind, and I need to get them out. I recognize you will probably not agree with some of them, which is fine. Maybe It will stimulate some thinking.


1. President Trump is right to question why good financial news, like more people working and higher wages, causes the stock market to go down. Probably points to the reality that Wall Street and Main Street have two completely different sets of priorities.

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2. As a Seahawks fan, it is extremely rewarding that the man who cost us a Super Bowl victory also cost the Patriots a Super Bowl victory to a team wearing green. Thanks, Malcolm Butler.

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Seeing this picture still stings.

3. Yesterday was Ronald Reagan’s birthday. He would have been 107, if my math is right. It made me a little nostalgic to remember a time when conservative Republican presidents advocated for walls to be torn down, not built.

4. I have an almost uncontrollable desire to buy a red Tesla Roadster. Watching that launch was amazing, and really made me miss when NASA use to do great things.

5. I’m watching a lot of Oscar movies right now, which means I’m eating a lot of popcorn. I will blog about them all when I’ve seen all the best pic nominees, but for now I will tell you that The Shape Of Water was a terrible disappointment. I mean, it was almost unwatchable at times, but it did make me miss The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

6. I’m preaching about the Holy Spirit right now, and finish the series up on Sunday. I think the smartest thing I’ve said in a very long time is something I tried to point out this past Sunday.

The reason we have so many different churches and kinds of churches is a strength, not a weakness. The Holy Spirit takes pleasure in diversity, and this diversity makes it possible for there to be a spiritual home for all different kinds of people.

 

Okay, that’s all I got for now.

Update, while writing this, I decided to go with KFC and a bucket of chicken. Everyone loves chicken, right?

Orphans in Uganda

The last month has been very hard on our friends in Jinga, Uganda.

Pastor Dominic and Rachael Achen run the Tender Love Care Orphanage there. They feed, care, and teach. Many of the children were orphaned because parents died of diseases, violence, or were simply abandoned in the streets. Dominic and Rachael responded, opening up their lives. They have thirty children that they care for. Thirty! And they do this work pretty much by themselves.

Thirty!

To add to the normal stresses of this work, in the last month:

  1. Someone has tried to rob the orphanage.
  2. Their water has been turned off.
  3. Their electricity has been turned off.
  4. The orphanage is four months behind on rent, and the landlord is threatening eviction.
  5. The school year started up, and that means tuition and expenses for all those kids.

Here is the good part. Dominic met the guy who tried to steal from them, and forgave him, and shared the love of Christ. The man repented and gave his heart to Jesus. How cool is that? Also, the funding for the kids to start school for the first term has been met. There will be a big need in July for funding for the second term, but for now the need is covered.

However, just feeding these children is expensive. One can only imagine the struggles just to make ends meet in this environment. Mrs. Greenbean and I started a GoFundMe for them, which makes it easy for you to help out. Please consider giving–every little bit helps. Click HERE for the link.

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I don’t post things like this often, and it is certainly not intended to guilt anyone. If you want to help, this is how you can do it. If you don’t, that is fine, too. I know that you all have many things you help out with and contribute to, and sometimes it is overwhelming. But if you can, and you want to, I can think of no more noble way to be a blessing than by making sure the lights stay on, the water runs, and thirty orphans are fed. Dominic and Rachael need to know they are not alone–we stand with them.


Below I’ve posted a scan of some of the letters they sent us at Christmas. They call my wife “Momma Kim”, which she loves. One of the letters called me “Aunt Jamie.” I don’t know what that was all about, but . . .

 

 

My Thoughts On A Theoretical Presidential Knife Fight

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Some ideas are good.

Some ideas are bad.

And some ideas are completely genius.

I found one of those tonight thanks to my friend Joe Shaw. He posted a blog post link on his Facebook page. The blog was written by Geoff Micks who I think calls his blog faceintheblue. The link to the blog post is RIGHT HERE CLICK ON THIS NOW and you all should go read the blog, in its entirety, from start to finish and then share it. Don’t want to read the blog–check out this video below, but I warn you, the blog post is gold. Pure. Gold.

Apparently this has been around for a while. There is even a card game. How is it I am just now discovering this over the Christmas holiday?

Here is the premise: All forty five U.S. Presidents are locked in a Thunderdome or Roman Coliseum type arena and must fight with a knife to the death. Who walks out? In the end, there can be only one.

I want to see this made into a movie. Of course we’d have to enlarge it to a Hunger Games type competition, or maybe it is the theme for a one-off Fantasy Island feature film.

Who do you got? Here is some of my thoughts.


The Favorites

The first reaction is to start picking up military folks for favorites. The problem is, before Barack Obama and Donald J. Trump, all presidents had military experience of some sort. That being said, some stand out, and that makes this a bit easier.

  1. George Washington–He was a ruthless warrior who executed a plan for survival with brutal efficiency and without mercy.
  2. Andrew Jackson–the writer of the article rightly said he’d have the highest kill count. He loved killing people, and his first victim would be Barack Obama, because Jackson was as big a racist white supremacist as you could imagine.
  3. Teddy Roosevelt–he would use his cousin in an alliance, and then shove FDR’s cigarette holder down his throat with one hand while sticking his knife into Polk’s kidneys.
  4. Abraham Lincoln–Lincoln would last a while, but his great weakness is that at some point he’d stand up and ask if people couldn’t put down their knives and appeal to their better angels. That is the moment LBJ would stab him in he back.
  5. George W. Bush (43)–I know you might not think this likely, but 43 has Jedi reflexes when it comes to dodging things, like a shoe thrown at him by an Iraqi reporter. He also runs, so, like the movie Zombieland, cardio is gonna be big in this.

 

The First Outs

Most of the presidents from the 19th and early 20th century were overweight and slothful. All of those, most of this people whose names you don’t know, would be gone quickly, like Grover Cleveland, William Howard Taft, Chester A. Arthur. Aside from this group en masse, there are some notable names who will fall quickly.

  1. Barack Obama would be gone before the first minute. Whatever else you might think of him, and this is not a political statement, but he wasn’t rugged by any means. And I think it would be Andrew Jackson who kills him.
  2. Richard Nixon, and it would be Gerald Ford who did it because he’d be looking for the slimy fellow.
  3. Woodrow Wilson, like Obama, was far too academic to survive this environment.
  4. Trump would be gone very quickly.
  5. Thomas Jefferson’s brilliance and poetics would not be much use here, plus John Adams would be looking for him.
  6. U.S. Grant would go quickly because one must be sober to fight. Usually.

 

Alliances

There would be alliances, of course, that form to get through the initial melee.

  1. The Bush boys would ally, and they might drag Reagan in too. It is not hard to imagine George Washington finding a natural affinity here, as well.
  2. The two Roosevelts would do well together. They would probably have LBJ on their team.
  3. The two Adam’s boys would team up. I think they might draft Eisenhower into their lot.

 

Underdogs

I don’t figure these people to do particularly great, but they might have a fighting chance.

  1. Franklin Pearce–He was very tough man.
  2. Jimmy Carter–Read the original blog post on this. Just read it and tell me you don’t think he’d be capable of hanging in there. Plus, Carter was a Southern Baptist, which means he is filled with Klingon guile.
  3. John Kennedy–his health was famously awful, and his moral character was almost non-existent, but there was a gritty toughness to him. The man who didn’t blink at the thought of WWIII over Cuba and Berlin probably has a good chance of walking over the dead bodies of Bill Clinton, Millard Fillmore, and Calvin Coolidge.
  4. Andrew Johnson–not Jackson and not Lyndon, but Andrew Johnson. This child of the South who could never fill Lincoln’s shoes might have enough pent up frustration to go a while.

 

And the Winner Is?

I think it comes down to George W. Bush (43) and Andrew Jackson. In the end, Jackson will be wild-eyed and crazed, but spent. Bush’s extended cardio regiment and zen-like connection to paint brushes, not to mention that Dick Cheney’s voice is in his head, will be the difference.