Thus, it is sometimes a bit difficult to turn that process off when I am browsing social media and run upon a rant, whether the rants are political, spiritual, or personal. I’m especially intrigued by the anger bandwagon so many jump on in their moment of anger. Someone will say something, labeling, screaming, and denouncing the opinions of others while making a statement of their own. I am sure I can find something close to it in my own Facebook history. Something touches me so strongly; I type a response to a posting without stopping to ask myself where the anger is coming from. It doesn’t always stop there. Oftentimes, the ranter makes a statement based on what appears to be fact, when it is actually just words from another ranter.
I’m especially drawn to a repeated one-paragraph rant that appears over and over again. It goes something like this, “People need to remember our country was founded on Christianity and guns.” So, first of all, I have no problem with people owning guns, and most certainly I support Christianity in its pure form. So when I look at this rant, I scratch my head because it seems so divisive and not quite on point.
I saw this rant about 4 times last week. I wanted to stop and reply, but I had no idea what I would say. What is so wrong (if anything) about it? Why does it feel so in your face?
In fact, I was sitting in a place of judgment with the statement rather than analyzing my reaction to the button(s) being pushed as I read it.
After thinking about it for a while, I came to a temporary understanding. I say temporary because I don’t have the exact history stored in my head and I realize I need to research the history before I make an educated statement…if I make one at all… (at least on Facebook. I guess I'm making one here, but this is MyBook, not Facebook!)
The “founded on Christianity and guns” statement just makes me cringe. Then it brings up all sorts of questions. Didn’t the founders flee England to get away from religious suppression? Even though it seems they were a religion that seems suppressive, linear and not very loving. Yet, their foundation of faith is similar to mine. The Puritan’s relationship (at first) with the local natives was positive, even cordial. The Native Americans helped the English survive their first winter and taught them the cultivation of corn and the practice of using fish to fertilize their fields. We all learned that in elementary history and probably acted it out in a Thanksgiving play. (That was my first exposure to “Indian Corn.”
That kind of help, offered from the Indians, is the same kind of help the organization Freedom From Hunger has adopted today, helping others with the spirit of the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Obviously, this kind of kindness was learned from somewhere. The Spiritual practices of the Native Americans seemed peaceful, productive, kind and loving. Why, oh why was it so important to disturb those practices rather than learn from them? Why is it so important to be right? How did the actions of the Puritans defile their beliefs? They preached their doctrines without practicing them with others who did not see it the way they did. Rather than preach love they preached fear. Love our way, or you aren’t really loving. Yet, the lessons and generosity of those Native Americans were eventually set aside and the thanks they received from those they helped included disease, rape and stealing of their land. In the moment, I am sure the Puritans thought they were “helping” these kind natives in return for their generosity, because they were offering eternal salvation. If they could have sat for any length of time with the spirit of their actions, how could they have felt right about it?
We have so many pictures of Christians that it is hard to call myself Christian without explaining what it means to me. I have been told I am not a good Christian because I love and honor those of other faiths and I am not completely Bible based. (Says who?) I am Christian because I believe Jesus had an answer that helps me love others and do my best to help others. My relationship with Jesus is personal. I refuse to get into battles about salvation and choose not to take personally the statements of well-meaning Christians that say unless I profess that Jesus Christ is Lord and savior and died for me, I will not go to heaven. I'm a rebel, and will choose how to profess my faith,or not, in ym own way. How and when I make those statements probably have nothing to do with anyone’s salvation if my actions become devisive and fear-based. I want to live the word not bash people over the head with it. I cannot and will not make the judgment for God, and will not knowingly say anything that separates me from loving someone else. (And - I admit I wish I could practice what I preach 100% Confession is good for the soul, they say!) (And the ranter in me says, "If you want to tell me how to practice my faith, you might just as well jump the next ship back to the Mother Land. phhtt :P)
So,saying we were founded on Christianity is a generality. Telling people to like it or leave it smacks of the Anglican Church from which the Puritans fled to found a nation without religious restrictions. A side note is that the Puritans then tried to prove their religion was better than the Anglican Church. That was lack of focus. Believing to be "better than thou" seemed to backfire on them."
Our founding father, Thomas Jefferson wrote: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Notice the label “Creator” not Jesus Christ, not Mother Nature, not Allah, not God, etc. It was an inclusive statement and I am grateful for it. It means we have the right to walk our journeys, including our spiritual journeys with a freedom that was unbeknownst to the new world people.
So – take another look at the statement, “our nation was founded on Christianity.” If you really believe it, then take a look at your own rants filled with name-calling and labeling others who are not Christian. It is not Christ-like. Next, notice the feeling inside when you post something like that. Is it a feeling of kindness?
As far as a country being founded on guns? Not. But guns were important to the founding of a wilderness nation. It was a time when reloading was manual. It was a time before organized law enforcement and a time before the military could provide standardized weapons. It was a time when people needed to both defend themselves and provide food for the table. We weren’t founded on guns, but used discernment to advocate the right to bear arms. It is still a right, and I haven’t really heard anyone saying, “take everyone’s gun away.” (I’m sure they exist, but have to be a minority) I do see that there is a lack in discerning what weapons really need to be supported in our world.
People of high intelligence and wisdom who dare look at gun control are being called idiots and are accused of wanting to take away the rights of others. Those statements are reckless. It is a given that guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but it’s too much of a generality. Criminals kill people. People full of hate and anger, kill people. Most gun owners are full of love and honor. People without honor kill senselessly. People with mental disorders kill people. We cannot control that. We can be mindful of this as we make sense out of our right to bear arms. This should be a decision made from a united people that care for one another and care about the rights of everyone. That means that the rights of those killed senselessly have to be honored. We forget about them when the gun itself becomes more important than the unjustly deceased.
If not for the gun, Hitler would have ruled us. If not for the gun, my brother’s family would have gone hungry and been on food stamps for a long time when he was disabled.
I don’t have the answer and this blog wasn’t really to be about gun control, but rants.
It’s a sermon to myself.
What I love about some of the rants and raves that show up and are endlessly shared by others who are moved in the same direction is that they cause me to pause. When I feel the flush of anger, embarrassment, confusion and a number of any emotions, I am learning to stop and NOT reply with the first thing that comes to mind. It's also humbling to know, that what I have to say doesn't really matter to most of the world. The act of saying something is all about ME if I don't write with discernment. I also find I cannot and should not respond unless I do some research. I look at history, culture and psychology. I look up medical terminology. But most of all, it encourages me to sit with my feelings and question my emotions and see where they may be deeply rooted to a belief that could be based on nothing but the rantings of others. It happens. Then I decide if what I have to say is helpful.
Rant on, oh world of Facebook and Twitter. I say, “Challenge me with your rants!” Give me something to gnaw on. I am learning a lot. I am learning a lot…