The US cop show has immersed us all into the clichés of American gun culture. It is one aspect of American life which most of us find hardest to comprehend (especially when it gets defended theologically by the Christian right – though if this is where you are coming from, please help us out here – I do want to understand how it can still be justified other than on purely pragmatic grounds). After all, in contrast to most police forces in the world (including across Europe), the British police do not carry guns while on normal duties. And I would argue that we are all much safer as a result.

So it is interesting when a few jibes about it come from across the pond. Here are a couple of great cartoons from the New Yorker last month (5th September).

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20th Century

“O Tempora! O Mores Evangelicii!” 10. A milestone and a decision

Something Hugh said at that meeting in Sheffield has been etched on my memory every since. I’d only been in ordained ministry perhaps 2 or 3 years and we were having our normal post-Summer catchup and planning session.

We would habitually begin with a short devotional, but that day, Hugh was in reflective mood. Only a few weeks before, he’d celebrated his 50th birthday, and now he openly described how affecting that milestone had been. If memory serves, it was on the lines of “I now realize that I have more years of formal ministry behind me than ahead of me.” 

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20th Century

“O Tempora! O Mores Evangelicii!” 9. Believing the propaganda

You will know of Godwin’s law, I’m sure, whereby the longer an internet discussion countinues, “the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” So, I’m afraid, the time has come.

One of the most gripping if chilling works of history that I’ve read is one that I find myself returning to a lot these days, despite the fact that it is well over 10 years since I first encountered it (in early research for Wilderness of Mirrors). Sir Ian Kershaw has spent a lifetime researching 20th Century German history and has brought all kinds of profound insights to the anglophone world (including through his mammoth two-volume biography of Hitler).

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. steve

    love the New Yorker, Mark! one place to start on the 2nd amendment might be looking at the Bill of Rights in general. those amendments have a historical and philosophical basis that starts w/ america’s founding. it’s definitely a unique part of american culture.

    1. quaesitor

      ah yes, thanks Steve.
      my question, though, is not so much a constitutional one (because of course there are plenty of arguments and counter-arguments about whether or not the constitution still mandates this), but a theological and ethical question…

      1. Steve

        Hmmm, could the constitutionality and the ethical elements be somewhat linked? It might be argued that there is a strong cultural sense of individual liberty and empowerment that gun ownership fits in with. So something like an Aristotelian idea with these virtues? I think other ethical frameworks aren’t as easily applied in the US. Theologically… I have no idea!

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