Advent Preppers

John went into the wilderness proclaiming:
“as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth;and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. ’” (Luke 3, Year C, Advent 2)

Advent is the beginning of the Christian liturgical year. It is a time of anticipation and preparation for the coming of the Christ child. So, what does it mean to prepare the way of the Lord? What does it look like? Sound like?

  • Does it look like a stockpile of guns and ammunition?
  • Doe is look like the gift of a weapon, of any kind, under the Christmas tree?
  • Does it look like a group of citizens standing outside a Mosque armed with assault weapons?
  • Does it sound like a preacher calling for the deaths of Muslims?
  • Does it sound like the empty prayers of politicians who stand before the public like whitewashed tombs but do nothing to stop the slaughter of the innocents?
  • Does it sound like speech that is xenophobic, incites fear, and dehumanizes?

No. Those are the actions people who are preparing for violence and death.

Preparing the way for the Christ means, like John the Baptizer, proclaiming the Good News in the wilderness that is our world . . .

            A wilderness that did not come from God
            a jungle that has been caused by innumerable
            human decisions that are 
                        wrong
                        short-sighted
                        selfish
            decisions that have created havoc on the lives of many. . .

           It means proclaiming that  Jesus is going to bring a total difference
          and will only be realized when justice and integrity are victorious.
          Then, and only then, will the whole of human kind will be saved.
                                  “In the Wilderness,” by Joseph G. Donders, adapted.

For the Christian, welcoming the Christ child involves a different kind of preparation. It means being “cut to the bone ” ( Donders) and facing the reality of our world’s current condition. It means humbling ourselves and being open to the possibility of mercy, forgiveness, and peace. 

People will prepare how they will in these times. But we must know the difference  between the kind of preparation that leads to fear and death . . . and the preparation that leads to life.

Guns, Mental Illness, and “Autistic Shooters”

Screenshot of a now deleted Facebook page intended to scapegoat people with Autism for America's gun problem.
Screenshot of a now deleted Facebook page intended to scapegoat people with Autism for America’s gun problem.
In the wake of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, a  Facebook page was created with the title, “Families Against Autistic Shooters.”   Scapegoating people with autism for America’s gun problem is as irresponsible as blaming people with mental illness.

We can have a conversation about autism.  We can also have a conversation about mental illness.  But if we are going to have a  conversation about gun violence in American life, then we need to talk about guns.

Gun advocates like to point to anything but the problem, whether it’s misplaced blame or irrelevant statistics.  Automobile deaths are a favorite among the most vehement opponents to sensible gun legislation. But that stat is no longer at their disposal, as deaths from gun violence  (deaths- not including casualties) are poised to surpass auto mobile deaths in the U.S.  Downplaying the frquency of mass shootings is another. But there have been 994 mass shootings– 4 or more fatalities and/or casualties in 1 incident- over the last 1,004 days in the United States.  In 2011, the most recent year compiled by the CDC, there were 32,351 firearm related deaths.  It isn’t just homicides recorded by the FBI that must factor into this conversation.  We must include ALL firearm incidents that result in fatalities AND casualties.

This problem isn’t a parenting issue, or an autistic issue, or a mental health issue, or a blacks-in-Chicago-issue: this is a gun problem. The only pathology I see is the defend-the-second-amendment-at-all-cost mentality, even it means a rising body count of innocent people. The 2nd Amendment won’t be repealed.  But it needs a serious reinterpretation for the 21st century.  This isn’t 1778.  We’re not carrying around musket rifles anymore and we have a standing army (modern day militias are usually driven by hate and fear mongering). There’s no such thing as a zombie apocalypse and nobody is coming for our weapons.  The latter would be  a terrible decision anyway, as it would be a fantasy come true for gun fanatics itching to use their weapons  against the government.

It’s time we start finding solutions born out of reason and concern for the safety of the public and not driven by scapegoating, fear, paranoia, or profits from gun sales.

*Part of this post was paraphrased from the linked articles and reports found in The Atlantic, The Guardian, and form the CDC.

United States of Adolescence.

As the State of Texas pushes forward to foolishly join other states with open-carry legislation and the US Congress continues to bolster war spending and cut vital social safety nets, I thought of this spot on insight from Richard Rohr:

In the first half of life, success, security, and containment– “looking good” to ourselves and others– are almost the only questions. They are the early stages in Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs”. In a culture like ours still preoccupied with security issues, enormously high military budgets are never seriously questioned by Congress or by the people, while appropriations reflecting the later stages in the hierarchy of needs, like those for education, health, care for the poor, and the arts, are quickly cut, if even considered. The message is clear that we are largely an adolescent culture.~ from Falling Upward. 

In short, our leaders legislate like teenagers  Short sighted.  Driven by emotion and fear.  Selfish.  But the only ones to blame are the people who put them in power.