Bitter Clingers

Listening to this MPR show from last Wednesday that is broadly characterized as discussing the intersection between faith and guns.

I don’t think it’s unfair to speculate that the stentorian Kerri Miller’s exploration of the premise is to obliquely validate a liberal notion that conservative people’s belief in gun ownership is a fellow traveler with their religious faith.  And ya know, thus antiquated, unenlightened, and flat earthy.

Such that the theologian there, Chan, does not seek to put an academic underpinning under ‘bitter clingers’, he is it seems interested in explaining the supposed faith and guns relationship in a way that is not pejorative.

Good for him.  But I don’t think he’s remotely on the right track.  In America, they are not that related despite I guess gun owners being somewhat churchy as a rule.  They are perhaps superficially related, like two pillars standing parallel, but supporting different structures.

In old Europe you had the Church granting legitimacy to a feudal state that said, civilians are not to have arms.  The arms stay in arsenals, and if that time comes, we’ll distribute them to the people.  And when the time of urgency passes, we’ll put them back in the arsenal.  And the Church / feudal state duopoly were very hard for the citizen to defy.

Here, the frontier was initially too dangerous for the elaborate mechanism of a municipal arsenal.  Then, separation of church and state and the basic fact of American pluralism meant a dominant religion couldn’t evolve to be a duopoly partner with the state…. and, common citizens decided they rather liked having their own small arms…

I’m saying, churchy people liking guns is a product of having achieved a secular government at a certain time and place in history, not churchy people liking guns.


2 thoughts on “Bitter Clingers

  1. pm1956

    I happened to catch that while driving, and thought it was interesting. The academic, Chan, seemed interested in how gun people (who were also church people) created/invented some sort of religious justification for their guns. he didn’t seem interested in gun people who were atheists–i remember him being asked that question, and responding that that was not his focus. I think what really interested him was how people who are religious will use (or create) religious justifications for their existing beliefs–whether strictly justified or not. His focus was on the flexibility and utility of religious belief–and could just as easily have been on the use of religious belief to justify eating organic foods. Of course, he apparently started out as a religious scholar, so the interest in how beliefs can alter based on the believers needs/interests is kind of natural.

    So, yeah, he is a classic academic with a fairly narrow focus who is interested in the world as it is, and what various people do and how they justify it internally. He was certainly not putting words in people’s mouths.


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