samedi, décembre 15, 2012

To people who keep God out of our schools ( and those who want him back in)

I hear that God isn't allowed in our schools.

Apparently, that's why the tragedy in Newtown occurred -- because God is a "gentleman" who doesn't go where He's not wanted (in spite of a history of doing precisely this throughout the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures). 

Prayer is not an official part of the public school curriculum.

So God decided to leave -- and, by implication, to abandon children to the mercy of a crazed killer.

One can assume that it went down something like this.

God listened to the discussions of school boards all over America. He also sat in on courtrooms, where the "Establishment Clause" was debated.

The judges decided that while it was o.k. to have a Bible Study meet in a classroom after school, or an individual student pray, having an officially sanctioned or mandated prayer in the morning wasn't. It violated the Establishment Clause.

At which point, God said "if they don't want me, I don't want them", leaving public schools which disallow prayer and innocent students to their fate. 

In other words -- God is not all-powerful, or all-compassionate. He doesn't distinguish between good and evil. 

He takes our debates so seriously that if we put a foot wrong (assuming that one believes that not sanctioning state-sponsored prayer IS wrong), He's going to leave us to boil like a lobster in the waters of our own sin.

Those who fought for the establishment clause would be amazed that they were powerful enough to bar God from schools.  

I happen to believe that He can't be barred, in spite of all our puny human battles -- and the evil that stalked those halls that day.  

He was present in the classrooms of Newtown. 

He inspired the brave teachers and hero principal.

He comforts the grieving families.

He does, as our President said yesterday, bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted.

That's the God I believe in.

 He's so, so  so much bigger than we are.

Thank goodness.

vendredi, décembre 14, 2012

America the violent

I went out for a walk this afternoon.

Having been working at my desk in the kitchen (with a perfectly excellent office upstairs, I wonder that I continue to do this), I crossed the street that divides us from the elementary school and walked towards it.

Parents drove past me to pick up their children at the kindergarten-fifth grade school, built around four years ago for the growing district.

I didn't look up too often, tuned as if hypnotized to the reporting on the massacre in Connecticut.

According to media accounts, Newtown is a bucolic, lovely, traditional New England exurb -- except for that it's the capital of the American firearm industry.

Aside from this fact it's a bit like Glenmoore.

Have you been to my little village?

Let me tell you about it.

There's no traffic light.

One store that sells pizzas,  pretzels and little else.

A few churches.

And our school, set back from the road, circled by a walking trail on which I am, often enough, the only one walking.

It is unthinkable that the kind of carnage that took 20 young lives and eight adult (including the gunman's) lives could happen here.

Or maybe it's just that we don't WANT to think about it.

The same way we don't want to consider how our slackening gun laws and assent to extraordinary First Amendment "freedoms" to peddle violence open the door to so much senseless killing.

Look at other civilized (yes, I know I'm being very politically incorrect) countries, and we are loss leaders, continuing to lower the bar on violence.

That's certainly true when it comes to gun control

The assault weapons ban expired in 2004, and in 2009 it became legal to carry guns in the national parks.

Some gun "rights" advocates are now pushing for open-carry laws where they hadn't been legal before.

And the gun lobby has the gall to talk about "politicizing" the discussion about sane gun  laws.  They politicize it every time they propose a state bill that weakens existing laws.

Apparently the guns used to kill kids in Newtown were legal.

But the question remains: why don't we regulate guns the way we regulate automobiles? Why aren't guns considered (note the nature of this question) dangerous weapons? Why aren't they treated as such?

One wonders why there were (at least) three guns in the house of the murdered mother, weapons that don't seem to have been used for hunting.

Why does a man shoot a Congresswoman and kill her aide and a nine-year-old girl, and some other innocent bystanders?

Why does a man shoot his own son because his sister sees him lurking outside her house, instead of calling the police?

Perhaps it's because, by loosening our laws and not speaking out against the enduring violence of  society, we all have given them permission.

So when IS the time to talk about gun control?

When the shock of the carnage of today, or of the Oregon shootings, or of Gabby Gifford's bullet to the brain is lessened?

When we go back to remembering how powerful the NRA is, and the stranglehold they seem to have on our Congress?

When we recall President Obama's lack of courage in standing up to the gun lobby?

Don't you see? If it were up to the well-financed merchants of violence who pull the strings in our House and Senate, there never WOULD be a good time.

Here's how British-born New Yorker writer John Cassidy put it after watching President Obama's emotional words to the public from the White House --

"They were only words, of course—words and tears. If we really want to persuade people overseas, people such as ones I grew up with, that what happened today was an aberration—a desecration of American values rather than a twisted display of them—more, much more, will be needed: a willingness to face down the N.R.A. and introduce proper gun control. Until such a display of national resolve materializes, the massacres will occur at intermittent intervals, the toll of needless deaths will climb, and our overseas friends will continue to shake their heads, saying, “It’s America, you know. That sort of thing happens there.”

Read more:

Coming back from my walk, I watched the bus drop off two children at their house across the street.  The little girl toted a guitar case, the boy a backpack.

Watching from a distance, I wanted to shout: "You're safe!" You're o.k.!"

But I didn't.

And couldn't.

When our children aren't safe in their schools,  we are in danger. Not solely our bodies, but also our souls.

Do those of us who call ourselves Christians and bear arms love our guns more than we love "our" Jesus, the nonviolent Prince of Peace?

When the blood of little children stains our national conscience, it's tough not to wonder.