A religious nation in love with guns leads to some strange juxtapositions. In a home goods store that I won’t name—hey, you can have fun trying to find it!—we came across just such an oddity. Appropriately for a franchise near Bethlehem, there was a framed painting of the holy family: Mary, Jesus, and Joseph, halos and all. Completely surrounding the Prince of Peace and company were framed replicas of guns. I’m sorry to state that the holy family, notwithstanding divinity, was sadly outgunned. There’s only one such family, but of the making of firearms there is no end, and much shooting wearies the body. Of all the weirdness that has plagued Christianity, this love of guns among the evangelical followers of the Prince of Peace has to rank near the top.
Believe me, I know what it is to be afraid. I grew up with more than my share of phobias, and since buying a house different ones from my childhood set have come to light. People want to feel safe, and the gun industry has successfully spread the message that a firearm or two will do the trick. Often it backfires. Those meant to be protected are killed in an accidental discharge or a domestic dispute turns deadly. The real drawing power of guns, I think, is the sense of power. The message in our society is that God wants you to protect your property. That doesn’t mean that the government can’t take it away, but hey, at least you’ve got a gun, right?
I’ve always felt that ownership was a strange concept. I look out the window and see the birds perching on “my” roof. I see the squirrels digging in “my” yard. I see the rain soaking “my” investment. In what sense do I own this house? Am I not just borrowing it long enough to live here while I’m alive? We met one of the former owners. Who lived here before him I don’t know. I have no idea who built the house. Besides, the money to purchase it came from a bank, and if I don’t pay my mortgage, the real “owners” will step forward and sell it to the highest bidder. I own no guns. They’re dangerous and costly and would I ever find peace after shooting anyone? I look at the holy family. Joseph and young Jesus have firearms aimed at their heads. If the holy family isn’t safe, what hope do the rest of us have?