Guns, American Conservatism & Jesus?

On my drive each morning to drop my son off at school, I drive past a normal looking yellow house. What is interesting to me about this house is not its color, or where it sits, but the political and religious statements that the occupant displays in his homemade yard signs. It is this commonly held, yet incongruent relationship I see in my nation and especially in my state of residence, to which my comments are aimed today. Now I freely admit that I am speaking about my perceptions of culture and even regarding the intent behind the signs in yard of the above mentioned residence. But, I believe that they are accurate.

Late last year the residence and it occupants mentioned above displayed a sign which obviously indicated much about them: their political leanings, their views about gun ownership, and most clearly a frustration with the current political happenings, i.e. Obama and the democrats. The sign in the front yard read: “Bitter Gun owner and I vote.” While I certainly noticed the sign back in the fall of 2008 and obviously haven’t forgotten its message, my reason for mentioning it today isn’t solely related to that occurrence.

This morning as I drove by, I saw a sign in the front yard that read: “Easter season, Jesus is risen,” which is a phenomenon that will play out all over our city, and I imagine, all over our country in the coming weeks because of the Easter holiday. I am not really even commenting about that occurrence specifically. I myself and a Christian and am looking forward to and preparing for this most sacred time of the Christian year.

What I do want to comment about is the relationship that I see in my nation, and in my own state and city between religion, conservatism and guns. The people who live at the above mentioned residence are a classic example to me of the alliance of perspective that has been drawn between the “right to bear arms” and self designated following of one who spoke against violence and even laid his life down, submitting himself as victim to such violence so that we might see life by the sword for what it really is, unrighteous and egocentric. Additionally, many of these folks also loathe the “liberals” and “democrats” because of their orientation toward social action and compassion toward the least in our midst and their tendency to use monies from taxation to accomplish this. Now between these two tendencies which fits more with the life and ministry of Jesus? Now some will say that guns are not the main ideology on which most conservatives and republicans are centered, or at least some. But, I would say that from my perspective, it is one of the biggies.

Another fundamental theme which I see in the conservative perspective is “capitalism”. It seems that the market is expected to bring healing to most of our woes, the way to fix most anything that culturally ails us is to reduce taxes and promote business. The problem that I see with this is that what actually seems to happen is the rich get richer and the poor stay poor. Profit, which drives the business world, is kept rather than shared. Profits come from limiting the gain of those utilized in production so as to increase the bottom line. This is a huge part of the problem with health care today, insurance companies are in the business to make a profit, not to pay medical bills. Every medical claim is a potential loss, a reduction in profit. Yet the parables of Jesus (see Luke 14 and 16) seem to rail against this accumulation mentality and Jesus seems to point rather that wealth should be used to help those who are less fortunate. If fact I see nothing in the teaching, life and ministry that supports the values that American culture values in capitalism. Rather I see that Jesus words, life and teaching condemn much that I perceive in our consumer and business orientation.

I am not saying that I live the teachings and life that I am called to live as a Christian; I don’t nor do any of us. What I am commenting on is the fundamental themes that I see in this conservative world view: Guns, Business and Jesus. I find them to be incongruent. Yet it seems that this incongruence seems to be a blind spot. Now I have postulated much from my perspective. What do you think?

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