Saturday, August 20, 2011

20 AUG 11: The Best Defense

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find the following item humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)

The church pastor was talking to his congregation about the recent riots in England -- and how people are protecting their homes and property by purchasing aluminum baseball bats. Of course, this brought one thought immediately to my mind. Britons finally may be turning away from cricket.

But no, that wasn't the pastor's point. He said British residents gave up their rights to gun ownership "years ago," so they're desperately resorting to any form of self-defense they can find. Yet people still can own shotguns if they're licensed and registered with the government. Otherwise, British fox hunts would be a lot less interesting.

The pastor went on to compare two U.S. cities which have been contrasted for decades, for their stands on gun control. Kennesaw, Georgia requires every household to have a firearm with ammunition -- in response to Morton Grove, Illinois banning guns completely. Why the TV series "Wife Swap" never did something with this, I have no idea.

The pastor claimed Kennesaw's crime rate dropped, while Morton Grove's went up. But that all happened 30 years ago. How do the cities compare now -- and is there a lesson for Columbus in it? After all, Columbus already is known for young people with baseball bats....

In the Internet age, an objective answer to my question is easy to find -- and the answer was surprising. The "Neighborhood Scout" website shows in every category, gun-free Morton Grove has a lower crime rate. On a one-to-100 scale, it scores six points "safer" than Kennesaw. Of course, critics might argue the criminals took everything from Morton Grove and fled.

For the sad record, Columbus scored far below both cities -- and the website actually rates Phenix City a safer place. The new statistics announced by Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson this past week may change that. Of course, Phenix City renters fleeing to Columbus may change it all again.

So the Pastor's claim about cities and guns may have been true 30 years ago, but today.... what? What's that you're saying? You're wondering why a church pastor brought up guns and baseball bats to his congregation in the first place? Why, we're in the South. Haven't you seen the bumper stickers declaring God and guns made the South great -- not necessarily in that order?

Strange as it may sound, I've been in church groups over the years which focus much more on the second amendment of the Constitution than the first one. The "right to bear arms" seems to matter more than freedom of religion -- although sometimes I've heard ministers warn against women with bare legs.

(Only a few weeks after moving to Columbus, an older woman in my congregation showed me a photo of a dead armadillo. She shot it a few nights earlier in her backyard. Too bad it wasn't a deer, because that meat would have lasted a lot longer.)

I think these church groups care more about gun ownership because deep-down, they really don't accept freedom of religion. They believe their teachings and doctrines are right, while all others are wrong. And they expect Jesus to verify that when He comes back -- even if the Bible shows Jesus's mouth has a "sharp sword" instead of an long-barrel shotgun.

The Bible indeed shows Jesus will come back to resurrect those who died in the faith and "endured to the end." But it also tells me God wants us to look to Him for protection in the meantime. That's one main reason why I don't own any weapons -- and I only pull out carving knives when a rotisserie chicken is too tough and rebellious.

I doubt any minister in the South would dare ask this question in a sermon -- but if you own weapons, have you made your guns your "god?" If you have, I think your priorities are out of order. An underground bomb may lift you out of the grave, but it won't bring you back to life someday.

A hymn I've sung church groups sets music to a Biblical psalm: "No trust will I place in my bow to defend, nor on my right arm for my safety depend...." I'm daring to take those words literally. Even if it means I don't get invited out to many hunting trips on autumn weekends.

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