Thursday, February 11, 2016

Utilitarian, neutral tool?

Tom Diaz says the firearm is less a utilitarian tool than an icon, so laden with implicit values its hold over its devotees approaches the mystical. In this context, guns are not simply mechanical devices to be used as means to such ends as self-defense, target competition, or hunting, but function as tribal totems embodying a complex of values that includes manliness (defined in warrior terms), individual liberty (as against the state), self-reliance (as against everyone else), and the administration of preemptory justice by ad hoc personal means (shooting “bad” people).—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, pages 115–16

<idle musing>
What do you think? Is he correct? If your initial response is, "B.S!" then he might have hit the nail on the head...
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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Transformation—but into what?

An individual who says yes to God is transformed and is blessed with a new way of looking at life, a new understanding of oneself and his world, and he must reorder his attitudes and priorities. A conversion also takes place in the life of one who believes a gun has the power to save and protect. She too becomes a new creation with a new way of looking at life, a new understanding of herself and her world, and she must reorder her attitudes and priorities. She develops a new spirit, which is akin to the idol itself. The new spirit of the idol captures “the new believer.” The gun is only a thing, but it is a thing with a spirit. If one loves mercy, does justice, and wants to walk humbly with God, one grows to be like God. That is God’s promise. Conversely, if one looks to tools of violence for deliverance, one grows to be like those tools. The psalmist’s words ring true: “Those who make idols are like them; so are all who trust in them” (Ps 115:8)—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 114

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Too true

Linguistics comes close to satisfying a definition once proposed for philosophy: the systematic misuse of a technical vocabulary invented for that purpose—Cognitive Grammar: A Basic Introduction, 269 n. 10

Unintended consequences

If your child is invited to play in a neighbor’s home, please, please inquire if they have a gun. If they do, parents must then ask if the gun is locked up. If there is an unlocked gun in your neighbor’s home, it is not safe for your child to play there. You can invite the neighbor’s child to come play in your home. My friend, Carole Price, who told her young son, “Sure, you can go play at the neighbors,” knows firsthand the agony I seek to prevent. She says, “If you think asking your neighbor if there’s a gun in the home is hard? Trust me. Picking out your child’s coffin is worse.”—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 110

Monday, February 08, 2016

Cult of personality

Carnegie’s metamorphosis from farmboy to salesman to public-speaking icon is also the story of the rise of the Extrovert Ideal. Carnegie’s journey reflected a cultural evolution that reached a tipping point around the turn of the twentieth century, changing forever who we are and whom we admire, how we act at job interviews and what we look for in an employee, how we court our mates and raise our children. America had shifted from what the influential cultural historian Warren Susman called a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality—and opened up Pandora’s Box of personal anxieties from which we would never quite recover.

In the Culture of Character, the ideal self was serious, disciplined, and honorable. What counted was not so much the impression one made in public as how one behaved in private. The word personality didn’t exist in English until the eighteenth century, and the idea of “having a good personality” was not widespread until the twentieth.

But when they embraced the Culture of Personality, Americans started to focus on how other perceived them. They became captivated by people who were bold and entertaining. “The social role demanded of all in the new Culture of Personality was that of a performer,” Susman famously wrote. “Every American was to become a performing self.”— Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, page 21

<idle musing>
And we lost a lot! By the way, this book is well worth the read. I won't be excerpting anymore from it, but if you are an introvert you must read this book and if you are an extrovert, you should read this book—if only to realize that anywhere from 30–50% of the population is introverted.
</idle musing>

Friday, February 05, 2016

Ancient Assyrians and their computers

Eisenbrauns has used this (adapted) Assyrian image for many years. I figured I should post it here, what with the sudden popularity of the "Greek computer" image out there...

Ponder this

There is one indisputable fact that must be taken into consideration by leaders in statehouses and in houses of worship. Wherever guns are in abundance, cumulative deaths by those guns will surely follow. There are more guns in America’s Southland than any other section of the country and it is not a coincidence that the South has the highest rates of gun deaths, with New Orleans holding the distinction of being America’s per capita murder capital. As more and more students acquire concealed carry permits, we can with certainty predict there will be more murders and heartbreaking accidents. Concealed carry individuals, just like the rest of us, have their own idiosyncrasies, limitations, and breaking points.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 106

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Controlled fear

Trusting that the most powerful semi-automatic handgun or assault weapon will calm one’s nerves or bring peace of mind is destined to disappoint. Instruments of death are incapable of bestowing peace of mind and security. They provide only a “controlled fear.” Peace of mind and security are spiritual gifts that only God can dispense. They are God’s gifts; God’s alone. We can’t supply them for ourselves.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, pages 104–5

<idle musing>
That's like drinking coffee to relax! It ain't gonna work!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Misplaced trust

When God is trusted there is always more; when an object made with human hands is trusted, there is always less. That’s a dilemma, particularly for the idols of power and deadly force. People place too much trust in them. People expect too much of finite things, human ideas, and ideologies that capture their imaginations and fantasies. In the end, our idols always disappoint us.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 103 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
Indeed, as they must. Mere things cannot take the place of the living God!

Along those lines, take a look at Preston Sprinkle's post today. Trickle down economics doesn't work, but trickle down ethics (unfortunately) does. Ideas trickle down more easily than money...

It’s tragic. It’s detestable. It’s a shameful evil that someone would open fire on a crowd and kill dozens of innocent people. But it’s inevitable. It’s inevitable that nationalistic values of retaliation, power, and violence toward our enemies will trickle down and nestle in the hearts of its citizens.

As long as we keep promoting a “we don’t take nothing from no one” narrative, we will have violence. Take away our guns. Fine. But we will still have vengeful, militaristic citizens who will destroy their perceived enemies at every will and whim.

What more need be said?
</idle musing>