The NRA Is Waging a Jihad on America

Prolegomena: There are two guns in my house — 12-gauge shotguns. They are in a gun safe; each has a trigger lock; the shotgun shells are stored elsewhere. I hunt, and I fear guns. They are breathtakingly powerful.

Premise 1: When you live in a society with other human beings, you necessarily give up some of your freedoms. This is incumbent upon each individual citizen in order to reap the benefits that society offers. For example, you have the benefit of driving a car, an incredible perk of modern society: it gets you places far more quickly than your feet, adds billions of dollars to our economy because of its efficiency, etc. However, you can’t drive a car anywhere you want; you must stay on the paved roads — indeed, you must stay on one half of the paved roads. If you cannot abide by these rules, you abdicate your right to drive a car.

Premise 2: The Bill of Rights is an anachronistic document, and it therefore must be interpreted for our present situation. It was written at a time in which firearms were not nearly as powerful nor accurate as they are now; today, firearms can do exponentially more human damage than they could in 1789. It was written in order to protect against a monarchy or military dictatorship; under the command of the president, the US military is the most powerful force in the world by an order of magnitude, and could therefore easily put down any populist uprising.

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President Obama, Stop the Drones!

I am a supporter of the president. However, the ever-increasing use of drone warfare has got to stop. It’s gotten out of control, and the president seems virtually unaccountable for it.

This week, the highest ranking official yet voiced concerned over the use of drones:

Gen. James E. Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a favored adviser during Mr. Obama’s first term, expressed concern in a speech here on Thursday that America’s aggressive campaign of drone strikes could be undermining long-term efforts to battle extremism.

“We’re seeing that blowback,” General Cartwright, who is retired from the military, said at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “If you’re trying to kill your way to a solution, no matter how precise you are, you’re going to upset people even if they’re not targeted.”

Go back and re-read that last sentence. Let’s take one issue at a time.

If you’re trying to kill your way to a solution.” Do you get that a military general is accusing a (Christian) civilian president of being too violent?!? That alone should take our breath away.

You’re going to upset people even if they’re not targeted.” Huh, no shit. When people get mistakenly bombed by virtually invisible, silent, unmanned aircraft, it tends to piss them off. Good to know.

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Vote for Jesus? [Darrell Dow]

I’m taking a week away from the blog this week, and I’ve asked my friends to post in my absence. This post is by Darrell Dow, a friend I made last year on my trip to Sri Lanka. Darrell blogs at Stuff Fundies Like and My Obama Year. I think his post will challenge you — and look for him in the comments.

American politics is religious in its fervor. American religion is political in its function.

Darrell Dow

No matter how tall the wall that our Constitution has built between the church and the state, you’ll find some people from every political persuasion who will invoke Christian thought as the basis of their convictions. Every agenda has its religious texts and scriptural narratives informed by biblical images. An embattled union is David to the corporate giant’s Goliath. Those seeking social change cast themselves in the role of prophet or Apostle by turns speaking uncomfortable truths to the powerful and spreading the gospel of equality and justice. Most of all, Jesus gets quoted by everybody.

Who doesn’t own Jesus in an election year? Jesus is a Democrat. Jesus is a Republican. Jesus would want more social programs for the poor. Jesus would strike abortion providers dead in their tracks. Jesus would outlaw assault rifles. Jesus would institute the death penalty. Jesus has a seat on every side of every issue. It’s a good thing he’s got divinity on his side because anyone else would likely crack under the strain.

During the last election cycle I even began noticing Vote for Jesus as a slogan on bumper stickers and signs. This campaign to elect the Lord is problematic for many reasons, not the least of which is that I’m pretty sure Christ doesn’t have a US birth certificate. I can only imagine what Donald Trump would have to say about that.

I’ll have to confess that I’ve never voted for Republican Jesus but I did admire him as I pictured the muscular man who favored free enterprise, led an ear-chopping posse of swordsmen, and taught the poor that the path to happiness was hard work as a cog in the capitalist machine. I imagined that someday he would lead troops into a bloody final battle against the forces of Communism, atheism, and pretty much anybody else that didn’t go to my church. This image of a conquering right-wing Christ was very satisfying stuff in my youth but I’m happy to say that my Jesus isn’t like that anymore and hasn’t been for many years.

Even though my Christ had grown kinder and gentler over the years, however, he was still pretty darn conservative so when I started a new project last month that I’m calling My Obama Year, I realized that spending twelve months of listening, empathizing, and trying to understand those who live to my political left would mean understanding their Jesus as well. That takes a good deal of doing. Jesus is pretty personal.

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Who Should Replace Giglio?

If POTUS has called me, I don’t know it. I dropped my iPhone.

Two lists have surfaced — there are probably more. Salon has one (that includes Your Favorite Blogger):

Brian McLaren: In the post-evangelical, non-denominational “emerging church” movement, McLaren has distinguished himself for promoting the idea of what he calls a New Kind of Christian (also the title of his 2001 book). Time magazine named him one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in 2005, a year when conservative evangelicals were ascendant after helping George W. Bush secure a second term.

Rabbi David Saperstein: Newsweek dubbed him one of the most influential rabbis in the country and the Washington Post called him a “quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill.” Rabbi Saperstein, who represents the Reform Jewish Movement in Washington, has worked to combat hate crimes and discrimination, in addition to pushing a host of other progressive causes in Congress. He’s even had a trial run, delivering the invocation at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

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