When I stumbled upon a website called godfamilyandguns.com, I thought it was a parody – some silly conflation of machismo and religion. Certain less-evolved persons presume that violence is a morally acceptable and even virtuous reaction of manly believers to those of whom they disapprove. To be both so misguided and to feel so virtuous, you’d have to think that Jesus, when he counseled “turn the other cheek,” intended “turn your nether cheek.” And so, the hallowed teaching would be Moon Thine Enemy instead of Love Thine Enemy.

I don’t like firearms, I find them loud, scary and unpleasant, in spite of which I now own four: two pistols, a 12 gauge, and an assault rifle. It’s not because I plan to hunt, unless the whole system goes down – I dislike killing anything – but simply that the world is full of well-armed jerks who think that violence makes sense toward those with whom you disagree. Let me be clear – as lots of politicians say, especially as they obfuscate – I own these guns to use in self-defense if someone acts aggressively toward me, my wife, my kids, my dog, my Guinea pig, or anyone I love, or is a threat to our democracy. 

Does that rap sound familiar? Well, it should. It’s what the folks I see as (maybe) threats so often say. I honestly believe that some of them might punish you for what you simply feel or think. (If that sounds paranoid, Amen!)

So, why not knives or baseball bats instead of firearms? Well, just because so many guys and gals in this great land own lots of guns. “You don’t bring bear-spray to a paintball fight,” as Grandma said. 

The situation is insane these days. Whenever a Democrat is elected to high office, the N.R.A. and G.O.P. insist that THEY – The Democrats – will take away our guns. In consequence, the public rushes out to buy lots more. Last year, alone, in this great land, about 40 million firearms were sold, half of them to first-time buyers. 

The pandemic didn’t help. Whatever breeds uncertainty makes people more afraid, and they buy guns. If there were fewer guns, we’d be more safe. Is it too late to start again? You bet! Do I have a solution to propose? Well, no. Do you? I’m pretty sure there isn’t one.

Musing about this reminded me of something, although, at first, I didn’t know what. And then, Aha! I knew. What’s true of guns is also true of God. When things get scary or uncertain, people turn to God. For me (and those I can respect) religion’s deep and personal – a basic and mystical sense of connection with all that is and ever was. Call it Eternity. 

Although they may have started with this deep, instinctive sense, established sects become bureaucracies, with rules and dogma out the old wazoo. They even get involved – by taking sides – in politics. Like corporations and the army, they are hierarchical, as if they think it’s possible to quantify enlightenment. Most claim to be the voice of God, and yet, they can’t agree. If only there were fewer creeds, we’d – more of us – be “saved,” to use their word. 

Is it too late to start again? In general, I reckon so. But, even as established sects promote their points of view, for people who are pure of heart and know that love transcends belief, there’s lots of goodness in the world, along with its huge warts.