Tuesday, January 19, 2010

...and pass the ammunition!

Primarily, this story about gun sights offends me because it takes holy scripture completely out of context and wields it as if it were both universally and unitarily understood. Which is to say, it ignores the confessional and liturgical purpose of scripture, something even Muslims are averse to doing (which is ironic, in other words).

And it offends me because of the scriptures chosen (taken, again, out of context). Alternatives that wouldn't serve the manufacturer's stated purpose, but which would better serve the Word of God, would include (just for starters):

The maker of heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them, Who keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free;
the LORD gives sight to the blind. The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD protects the stranger, sustains the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked.
The LORD shall reign forever, your God, Zion, through all generations! Hallelujah!

--Psalm 146:6-8

Of course, "wicked" there would depend on which end of the gunsight you were on, so maybe that entire passage isn't the ideal choice (but you begin to see the problem here!). So let's try, in their "coding," DT10:18:

He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.
That would at least fit with what the military is doing in Haiti just now. And how about something from Psalm 10?

You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.
Or PS72?

Give the king thy judgments, 0 God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son.

2. He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment.

3. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.

4. He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.
That tends to point back as much as forward, I think.

Or even this:

Help us, Lord,
for no one stays loyal,
the faithful have vanished.
People lie to each other,
no one speaks from the heart.
May the Lord silence
the smooth tongue
and boasting lips that say:
"Our words will triumph!
With weapons like these
who can master us?"

Then the Lord speaks out:
"I will act now,
for the poor are broken
and the needy groan.
When they call out,
I will protect them."

The Lord's word is pure,
like silver from the furnace,
seven times refined.

Lord, keep your promise,
always protect your own.
Guard them from this age
when wickedness abounds
and evil is prized above all.

No, it just doesn't work for any purpose related to military equipment. But there are reasons for that above and beyond "separation of church and state" or "He shall be called the Prince of Peace." Scriptures like these addle up the notion that peace comes from war, that violence leads to order, that might makes right. There are precious few scriptures which advocate violence as the way of God's law, but more than a few which advocate justice for the poor and the helpless as God's will in the world. If you need a pithy example of that, one that could easily make it onto a gun sight, how about "PS41:1?

Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.


  1. Anonymous10:19 AM

    Something about this story just triggers disgust in me with all manner of ill-behaved and wrongheaded Scripture-spouting (finding work littered with Chick tracts didn't help...)
    Seriously, were I to practice theurgy to improve my skill at war, I'd use a passage from Joshua or Judges, they're suitably bloodthirsty...

  2. War as an evangelistic tool is particularly creepy and wrong-headed, isn't it?

    Clearly the intent is to invoke some kind of "Magic" (in the anthropological sense) on the military equipment; which is even worse.