They’re All Crazy

In explaining my difficulty of focus yesterday at work, I mentioned San Bernardino and a friend averred that his vote for president would go to the first candidate to stand up and take mental illness seriously.

This while the Republicans in the Senate vote to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act. Spear-headed by the segment of the insurance industry that made money by excluding coverage for sick people (I was denied coverage because I was once prescribed anti-depressants for situational depression).

This while we had the Bureau of Land Management faced down in Nevada a couple of years ago by a rancher who used “state’s rights” theories to justify non-payment of land use fees. Not that Nevada didn’t cede land to the federal government because they couldn’t afford to secure the desert occupied by the Native Americans.

It’s not about crazy people – follow the money. It’s that people that are emotionally unstable are easy to sell nonsense to – like the idea that you’ll be safer if you and everyone else buy more guns.

Dying in the Face of Reason

The latest assault on public safety: On the Chris Hayes show last night, an opponent of gun control stated that “nothing that proponents have suggested will work.”

Simple fact: America’s death rate by gun violence is three times the rate in any other advanced democracy. Our rate is forty times the rate in the United Kingdom.

So if you won’t do what we say, do what they do.

The Criminals Will Get Them Anyways

Among other opponents of gun control, Marco Rubio has been in the news stating that additional regulation is counter productive, because criminals will get guns anyways.

What does the evidence tell us?

Chicago, with strict gun control laws and among the nation’s highest rate of gun fatalities, is interpreted by some as evidence that gun control fails. But a Newsweek article points out that New York City has similarly strict gun control laws, and a far lower rate of gun fatalities. The singular difference is that New York is surrounded by states with similarly strict gun control laws, while the states around Illinois have among the most permissive gun sale controls.

It is for this reason that Walter O’Malley says that gun control should be brought under federal regulation. This is the same rationale used for environmental control: when lax state regulation allowed dumping of industrial waste into major rivers, it affected the citizens of other states. When the clean water and air acts were passed, it was because all across the country rivers were toxic (or flammable) and the air was raining down acid. Federal regulation was required to protect the people and ecosystems downstream from polluters.

In failing to respond the evidence that lax gun regulations bring death across borders, what Carlo Rubio is really indicating is his favor for policies that facilitate the acquisition of weapons by criminal gangs that dominate their communities by murdering anyone that stands up to them.

O’Malley is also echoing others who have recommended that the industry be held to strict safety guidelines. For example, gun “enthusiasts” used to put about that many semi-automatic weapons could be converted to full automatic by taping a penny behind the trigger. This is a design defect that could be remedied. Similarly, microstamping would enable police to trace guns from factory to crime scene, and by identifying corrupt sellers to prevent rearming of criminals when they abandon a gun after a crime.

Rather than supporting measures to prevent criminal use of guns, Congress has passed legislation that protects the gun industry from product liability lawsuits, thus shielding them from the need to reduce the threat to police and law-abiding citizens represented by their products.

What astonishes me is that these common-sense measures are interpreted as an leading to the confiscation of guns. I have yet to figure out what it is that drives that concern. Nobody is talking about taking away guns lawfully purchased and managed – what we want to do is reduce the fear that drives people to believe that they need a gun. Rather than walking about the world in suspicion, we want people to focus on caring for one another.

To be without fear is the foremost exhortation in the Bible. Jesus demonstrated the power that comes from a commitment to peace. To be blunt, politicians that facilitate the spread of fear through violence are simply anti-Christ.

Anger Got the Best of Me

I apologize to those who have been following my commentary on Roseburg. I spent most of Friday morning at work with the Kleenex box when I wasn’t holding my head in my hands. I am emotionally worn out, and have been indulging my anger when I should have been focusing my intentions toward the community that has been so deeply wounded. I pray that they find the strength to open their hearts to Christ in this moment, so that he may help them bear the burden of their sorrow.

However, Friday day ended with a message from James Kushner, who heads the Society of St. James, publisher of a number of conservative Christian magazines. His message regarding abortion echoed many of the statements I made in my post on September 30th. He pronounced the Supreme Court decision as the beginning of a long descent into moral darkness for America.

Given the use of abortion as a political issue to redirect attention from inaction on gun control and financial justice issues, I felt obligated, as the shooter in Roseburg specifically targeted Christians, to respond with following message.

Mr. Kushner:

I know that this is a contentious issue, but following the killing of Christians in Roseburg yesterday, your message touches a raw nerve.

As evidenced by Jesus’s crucifixion, laws are no substitute for compassion. I won’t prescribe policy for you – you need to follow your own conscience. But as you do not write of specific spiritual experience, I hope that these thoughts give you some sense of the complexity of the problem of abortion as I navigate it. The spiritual aspect of pregnancy is something that not every man is sensitive to.

I therefore ask your consideration:

1. A sin is a sin because it leaves wound in the soul, delaying our reunion with God.
2. I am concerned by your resort to material reductionism. Life does not begin when the sperm penetrates the ovum. It begins with the infant soul enters the womb. This can happen long before material conception, or well into the process of development, and typically ONLY THE MOTHER KNOWS.
3. Early in development, the fetus is a weak anchor for the infant spirit. The primary wound of an abortion is therefore entrapment of the infant spirit in the womb. A loving father has the capacity to rescue the unborn child. I have done this upon encountering spirits trapped for years after the procedure. They were ready to give life another chance.
4. The wound of an abortion is not less than the wound of growing up unloved or in a household ruled by fear. Rather the opposite, in my judgment. It is up to the parent(s) to negotiate with the unborn spirit the circumstances of its birth. I have participated in one such negotiation, and the consensus of the mother and child was that they should wait until a man was joined to the family. To be explicit – they agreed that the pregnancy should be terminated.

While most pregnancies abort spontaneously, I would prefer that no surgical abortion be committed. However, as a child I was confronted by the story of a young woman in my religious community who came back from Mexico in a pine box. Making abortion illegal is not going to prevent harm when out-of-wedlock pregnancy carries powerful stigma. The only lasting solution is to make our youth stronger. Those of us with the opportunity to create strong children should not judge too harshly those that grew up without that benefit – and we should certainly not force a woman to carry the burden of a weak man’s aggression. As Jesus did, we need to meet people where they are, and focus on healing and learning, rather than beating them down with the cross of their mistakes.

In entering through the “narrow gate” of self-control, I see our struggle with our sexuality as an essential part of the journey, much as is our struggle with gun violence and “freedom” (the “broad gate” that Jesus warned us against). But I doubt that any surgeon finds satisfaction in performing an abortion, unlike the youth who taunted the Christians he murdered yesterday, or the hedge fund manager who takes home a billion dollars a year. Not everything can be settled on this one issue, and abortion policy should not be offered as a cover for those committing far more egregious crimes of governmental negligence.

Brian Balke

The Roseburg Ostrich

The Sheriff up in Roseburg, OR is a little testy about gun control.

More than a little, maybe, having put up a post recently in a public forum that suggested that New Town was staged by the federal government in order to build public favor for additional gun control legislation.

Anyways, his office has revealed that the college shooter had obtained all thirteen of his guns legally.



That doesn’t strike anyone as an unhealthy obsession? That doesn’t strike anyone as something that law enforcement would have benefited from knowing about before the community was shattered by death and permanent disability?

Or does the sheriff send men around to check on households and rattle windows and doors at night if they find less than ten guns on the premises?