Thoughts on Sandy Hook

I’m not impressed by claims that mass shootings aren’t becoming more common. Compared the when? Where?

I accuse, in part, the violent toxins Hollywood pours into Television screens and movie theaters. Cathartic? So’s a fix for a junkie – until next time.

It behooves us to remember that murderers are real people, with families and lives. They’re not stock villains. They’re us, messed up – which may be why we’re so eager for distance. Take a look here and here, for instance.

Father Jonathan Tobias made A Pledge. My Lutheran brother thought it had too much “I will,” and that “I will” is especially futile for the mentally ill. I perhaps misrepresented it as “A 12-step program for not becoming Adam Lanza.” So take it for exactly what the author says about it. I still think it’s wise and largely effectual (though brother has a point about mental illness). Then use it as you will. (My Lutheran brother and I, by the way, continue to disagree, primarily over sola scriptura and synergy. That’s why he’s Lutheran and I’m Orthodox. Either of us would lack integrity trying to switch religion while retaining our current convictions.)



Why are we so quick to blame the NRA, single-minded defenders of the Second Amendment and nonprofit, while we run shrieking from the room if someone dares blame Hollywood, profiteers wrapped in the mantle of the First Amendment, or the makers of violent video games? As a friend asked on Facebook, “why give books for Christmas?” The answer is “because a scented candle never changed anyone’s life.” We are affected by what we read, view, and steep ourselves in. Quentin Tarantino has a lot more blood on his hands than Wayne LaPierre.

Quoting Eugene Volokh: “One can’t just deal with these questions through broad generalities, whether ‘we can’t do anything’ or ‘we must do something.’” You wouldn’t know that from the conversation that’s transpiring on the PBS News Hour as I write. The entire focus is gun control. There’s no focus on mental health care or on violent games. The only good thing is they’re focusing on the big clips, not on firearms generally. But what assurance have we that banning the clips will be effective? That’s not a rhetorical question.

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Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

10 thoughts on “Thoughts on Sandy Hook

  1. I agree with much of what you said, but to call the NRA a defender of the Second Amendment and a nonprofit is a tad disingenuous. They rake in profits in donations from ammunition manufacturers, gun manufacturers and dealers. That gives them a vested interest in ramping up the rhetoric about Obama stealing YOUR guns!!!! and doomsday and whatnot to continue to sell more guns. It gives them a vested interest in continuing to keep these little AR-15 shaped nuggets of profits available for sale…

    1. “Nonprofit” is accurate. It’s not a charity (except for its separate foundation), and I take it for granted that nonprofits may pay executives handsomely.

  2. Rebecca,

    I am sure that it is true that the NRA receives a lot of donations. But if they spend that money on the advocacy that their contributors support, there is no profit involved. Of course they have paid staff, but I very much doubt if that their staff is paid megabucks.

    You can bet that the progressive groups opposed to the NRA are watching their books closely. They would love to take the NRA’s non-profit status away. If there is anything in their books that looks like profit, they would squeal to the IRS in a heartbeat. (I’m not a gun owner or an NRA member, though I do support the 2d amendment until such time as it is legally repealed.)

      1. I would not call it modest by any means. But the NRA is an organization of very considerable size and scope. An executive running a comparable company in the private sector would probably be paid a good bit more. And I imagine that the NRA’s members and contributors feel that they are getting their money’s worth in Mr LaPierre’s services.

  3. John,

    This is a bit off-topic, but since you brought it up, here are a couple of points to mention to your Lutheran brother the next time you two are talking theology:

    The phrase Sola Scriptura is of Reformed, not Lutheran, origin and the phrase does not actually appear in the Lutheran Confessions. Sola Scriptura is a multi-valent phrase, and for Lutherans it doesn’t mean (or at least shouldn’t mean) the same thing that it does for Reformed and Evangelicals. An authentically Lutheran understanding of Sola Scriptura is predicated on the Lutheran Confessions’ commitment to the historic teaching and practice of the Catholic Church, and the Scriptures are read and interpreted in that context. A Lutheran holds to the traditional teaching and practice of the Church, rejecting only that which is forbidden by Scripture; a Reformed or an Evangelical rejects the traditional teaching of the Church and purports to hold only that which is positively taught by Scripture. A better description of the Lutheran position than Sola Scriptura would be Prima Scriptura inter Traditionem — “Scripture First, within the Tradition.” (Though to be fair, that phrase is my own coinage rather than something from the Lutheran tradition.)

    On synergy it has to be said that most Lutherans (including a lot of pastors) don’t know what they are talking about, and don’t know what their own Lutheran Confessions teach. Have your brother read and comment on the following:

    From this, then, it follows that as soon as the Holy Ghost, as has been said, through the Word and holy Sacraments, has begun in us this His work of regeneration and renewal, it is certain that through the power of the Holy Ghost we can and should cooperate, although still in great weakness. But this [that we cooperate] does not occur from our carnal natural powers, but from the new powers and gifts which the Holy Ghost has begun in us in conversion, as St. Paul expressly and earnestly exhorts that as workers together with Him we receive not the grace of God in vain (2 Cor. 6:1).

    This, of course, is from the Lutheran Confessions (Formula of Concord, SD 2.65), and as such is the official teaching of the Lutheran Church. And I do not find it substantially different from the teaching of the Orthodox Church on synergy. Too many Lutherans have imbibed the Evangelical view of “salvation as a one-time event,” but our Confessions clearly understand salvation as a process, one in which the Holy Spirit and the believer cooperate.

    All of this is not to say that there are not important differences between Lutheranism and Orthodoxy. But on the two issues that you mention Lutheranism and Orthodoxy are far closer than most Lutherans realize.

    1. Chris,

      I know those things. I’m Lutheran on purpose, having been raised evangelical Protestant. My only quibble with the 12 “I Wills” was any notion that one can invariably accomplish what one resolves – especially if one suffers from a mental illness

  4. Tipsy,

    I have emailed several columnists of The Washington Post to ask them to write articles expressing a similar level of outrage toward Hollywood and video game violence as they have expressed toward gun owners and the NRA. I have no interest in guns (my mother denied all my requests for Hopalong Cassidy, Lone Ranger, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers guns – maybe she was on to something) and believe that something reasonable can be done to limit access to guns and bullets, but to ignore the pandering to violence lust, as these outraged columnists have, is to bury their heads in the sand and undercut anything sensible they might be promoting regarding gun control.

    1. That would come as a surprise to its many, many members who pay dues to become proud members. If one were to examine NRAbooks to see what proportion of revenue is dues, what proportion advertising in its magazine (I assume it has one or more) and what proportion gifts from “BigGun,” one might find an illuminating pattern. But I’m not that “one.”

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