Inspection- Prayer and Guns?
Tis the season of silly pushed by those I’m sure would claim to mean well. But no one is laughing at the silly: dead children remain dead, school shooting rates soar, the number of grieving parents, brothers and sisters increase geometrically, while memes, Facebook posts, pundits, pols and appointees blame it on still not enough guns, Ritalin, too many exits, too many entrances, abortion, we need to “harden the target,” the schools are too old, everyone entering at the same time, or my fav: Barney. Damn that Barney, purple terrorist that he is since he was dragged off the stage because he kept singing I Love You to little kids. Perv.
But the one that gets to me, because I have a very personal experience with it, is because prayer was taken out of schools.
Heading towards 60 years ago? Wow, delayed reaction much? Of course many societal ills have been blamed on this over the years. Thank God, praise Bejesus, we never had any of those ills before that.
How many school shootings when I grew up in the 60s? The only one I remember was from a college tower in Texas. It was so out of the ordinary Harry Chapin wrote a controversial song about it called Sniper years later when it was still one hell of an anomaly. How many school shootings since that little brat tweeted out, “Happy New Year” followed by an endless stream of ‘intellectual’ responses like, “SAD,” “NO COLLUSION,” “What about Hillary?”
I remember the year prayer was pulled out of public schools well. The court case came out of New York State. I was in elementary school in New York State with an over the top; discipline-focused, teacher who, when she called me up to lead the class, found out I didn’t know the school prayer by heart. Hey, no one had told me I had to memorize the bloody thing. By the way the official New York State public school prayer was so general I would guess these days Fundies might object too. If I remember it right in an attempt to make it offend no one Jesus was put in a maze with no exits, hence never found his way into the prayer.
So, this over the top discipline 3rd grade teacher made me stay after school until 5am, gave me an assignment to copy the school prayer a 1,000 times and, “If you don’t know it by tomorrow you’ll stay until 7!” I have no doubt she would have; she did far worse to others.
Considering all she did to my fellow classmates; especially towards the end of the year, I got off easy. Ever had a teacher kick over random desks then demand each student clean up what she did? Plus the random corporal punishment that turned more than a tad vicious by the end of the year. It was a scream at the top of her lungs fest too. As the year wore on she got worse and worse, and looking back as an adult I am guessing she was having serious problems with her new husband because the abuse got worse after she came back from her honeymoon and then horrible once she came back again wearing a neck brace.
But this was earlier in the school year before it got real bad. Want to bet I would have been so nervous the next day I probably would have stayed until 7 anyway?
My father was so mad he wrote her a note about how I had to stay up way past my bedtime to finish the assignment, writing when I had supper too, and why hadn’t she insisted all the students memorize the prayer, in class, if this was so important?
The next day, nervous, I tried to go over and over the prayer in my head but I kept losing it: scared as all get-out. (“Get out?” Where did THAT cliche’ come from?) Prayer time she skipped right over it. For one of the first times in my life I’m sure I looked upward and said, “Thank YOU God!” Never guess what decision came down the day before?
Dad was mad I never gave her the note, but I knew better than to kick that hornet nest.
The school prayer thing; didn’t Jesus say something rather negative about those who pray loudly in public, make a scene of it, and was more positive about a quiet, personal conversation with one’s maker?
I find the whole prayer approach very magical-thinking-ish, and not unlike gun free zones causing the shootings. When I grew up all schools were gun free zones: no sign needed, and that lasted a long time after prayer was pulled. You simply just didn’t bring one. Our attitudes as a society towards guns are more likely the problem than gun free zones, lack of an official prayer or any of the other excuses. Considering in some of these shootings security had guns the result is close to zero regarding the effectiveness of the more guns approach. And not too hard to argue that that “zero” may go into the negative range. Armed security is probably viewed as a challenge to be overcome, and shooters plan for it.
And it certainly isn’t that guns are more available now. Hell you could buy them through the mail back then.
My conclusion is this is more about obedience, theological and political correctness and distracting us from considering modest regulations on clips, bullets, etc. And it is a great distraction. My theological spidey sense keeps telling me God’s response to all this is…
I am not pleased.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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