Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chicagoans Go Outside of Hermit Kingdom, Protest Scary Guns

Yep. Jesse J's at it again. The funny part is Jesse's lack of proof when he accuses the gun shop owner of having sold all the guns that are being used in crimes in Chicago. At least the good reverend admitted he couldn't prove it when pressed.

More disturbing, though, is Reverend Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Parish in Chicago. According to the stories posted on the Illinois State Rifle Association homepage from May 29, 2007, Father Pfleger has called for the murder of the gun shop owner at this rally.

So, I listened to the remarks posted on the website. If this is legitimate, Father Pfleger should be ashamed at the language he used. Calling out the gun shop owner by name then saying "we're going to find you and we're going to snuff you out" (starts at 0:49 in the recording), and during the crosstalk he apparently says something about dragging the gun shop owner out like a rat and snuffing him out.

Great. Just great, Father. Let me guess, it's okay when you talk about Jesus purifying the Temple with a whip (used to drive out the sacrificial animals, the merchants, and the moneychangers) in the Gospel of John (John 2:14-17, New American Bible) but don't even realize that it shows that sometimes you've got to use violence to protect what you love. How about the Gospel of Luke when Jesus instructs the Apostles with the words that a time is coming when a man should sell his cloak and buy a sword with it (Luke 22:36-38)? Was he talking about how they should just prepare for the world's hostility and people not liking them, as the explanatory footnote says? I think the footnote writer got it wrong there. No, I'm no expert on classical Greek, but if the context and translation are close to correct, it sounds like Jesus is saying "Look, you're going to have some nasty run-ins with the authorities, both Jewish and Roman. Be ready to protect yourselves with argument and with force if argument fails."

So, why is Father Pfleger calling for aggression towards a gun shop owner? No idea, short of "he wants to be noticed."

What makes it worse is that situations like this make being Catholic that much tougher. I'm a member of the Knights of Columbus. We're supposed to stand up for priests when others won't. I'm also a big believer that the right to keep and bear arms is what protects my ability to say what I want and worship how I want. I can't support Father Pfleger's words. I cannot support them because they are irresponsible. I cannot stand up for this priest's calls to disarm the residents of Illinois when I see the results of disarmament in Chicago: I see African-American kids shooting others with stolen guns because they know they have that power over others. I see white guys, cops no less, attacking and overpowering women who don't give them another beer at the bar. Why? They realize there's no restraint to their use of power. There's no equalizing force to stop them immediately, to make them realize their actions will have a less than desirable and immediate reaction.

I think this is ultimately why I cannot become a priest as much as I'd like to become one. I have a right to bear arms, and with that comes the responsiblity to defend those who cannot defend themselves. My right to bear arms comes with many inherent responsibilities. I will not disarm myself because someone else has misused a weapon and caused suffering. I will not tell someone to weaken themselves. If that makes me a bad Catholic, so be it. We're supposed to conquer sin with forgiveness, hate with love. However, we also forget that some people don't want forgiveness or love, they want power. Man is sinful by nature; the very nature of Christianity is to reconcile a sinner with God's love. There are a lot of us sinners out there, and some among us not only deny the right of others to live peaceably, but also want to deny God's very existence, erasing Him from the heart of all believers. These people don't get the symbolism of offering yourself up to God. Instead, they see weakness. Blind to God's grace, they end one life after another. They cause us to suffer further. Though we have the power to defend ourselves, we refuse, submitting to what we think is God's will.

Pardon my rough language here. Frankly, that's fucking stupid. God wants us to defend ourselves. He wouldn't have given us the tools to do so if He hadn't wanted it. God gave us the brains to realize that the strong should not dominate the weak by physical force. He gave us the hands to make the tools to defend ourselves, to keep the strong in check.

Father Pfleger, go out and preach non-violence, renounce your poor choice of words, and understand that your words might fall on deaf ears. Understand there are some who see your calls to disarm as a sign that they've got more victims lined up. Understand that there are some of us who refuse to be victims. Some of us understand that the Good Shepherd uses sheepdogs every so often to keep the wolves at bay.

Richard Pearson, director of the ISRA, I understand your concern with Father Pfleger's choice of words. It's a shame, and inflammatory to boot. I hope, however, you don't expect Father Pfleger to reveal any sins confessed to him. The seal of Confession is absolute. I also hope you're willing to forgive him in the name of Charity, love that flows outward. Absolution is completed only with a proper penance. If Father Pfleger does penance, forgive him.

This is a very difficult situation for a Catholic who likes being able to use guns for purposes of sport and defense. People like me, we want to be faithful and to listen to God's Word as transmitted through his priests. When our priests say something to effect that we should renounce all violence regardless of what non-Catholics do to us, it always comes off as insincere. It makes us wonder when our Church became a suicide cult.

(Hat tip: Jeff Soyer at Alphecca)

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