Thursday, November 19, 2015
Palin's Christ Supports Open Carry
Sarah Palin has written a devotional.
To those who may be unfamiliar with the jargon proliferating within our vast evangelical industrial complex, a "devotional" is a book of daily meditations intended to provide encouragement and insight regarding our faith.
Many famous Christians have written at least one devotional. Devotionals are kinda like the secular world's children's books; if you're famous, or a wanna-be, it's become expected that you churn out something literary, and devotionals are the easy projects in Christianity that children's book are for Hollywood celebrities.
Palin, of course, has already become an established writer within evangelicalism, which probably says more about the literary standards of evangelical readers than Palin's literary talents. She's written a book defending Christmas, in addition to a couple of autobiographies. But adding a devotional to her resume builds her theological credibility in a political party that apparently believes there's no such thing as too much patriotic hermeneutics.
(Hermeneutics, by the way, is the process of studying literature, like the Bible.)
Indeed, Sweet Freedom: A Devotional makes no pretense of being anything other than a celebration of Palin's belief that God votes hard-line Republican. Just listen to any of the many interviews she's been giving recently as part of her book's publicity tour.
On Mark Levin's show, for example, Palin won a questionable endorsement from her self-proclaimed Jewish radio host, who casually tells his listeners that they don't need to be a Christian to enjoy Palin's devoutly-American devotional.
A devotional you don't need to believe in Christ to enjoy? To what kind of Christ has Palin devoted her book, then? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, it's a devotional celebrating Christ as a proud supporter of things like open carry.
Indeed, in the several interviews of hers that I've reviewed, one of the first things she trumpets about her devotional is her discovery that Christ encouraged His disciples to bear arms. And she's not talking about the toga look of their day.
Now, please understand: I'm no gun-control person myself. Guns don't scare me, as long as they're owned by people who respect them and are trained in their proper use. Considering how lethal they can be when used improperly, I think gun owners should have permits for their weapons. But I don't see the merit of placing legal limits on the number and types of firearms an individual can or should own. Why not? Because the people who want to commit crimes with guns probably won't abide by any laws controlling the number and types of guns they own in the first place.
But a lot of conservatives love their guns. And speaking of hermeneutics, conservatives tend to read a lot more into the Second Amendment than is actually there. Combine that propensity for gun worship with a savvy politician who knows her target electorate, and is willing to boldly misinterpret the Bible as a divine homage to America's ethnocentric exceptionalism, and perhaps it was inevitable that Palin would pen a devotional enshrining everything it takes to keep your name in the fickle political press.
Consider what Palin told talk show host Dana Loesch:
"In the Bible it says Christians are going to be persecuted. You know, don’t we wish that it said ‘mmm, we’re not going to be persecuted’. But we are. But that doesn’t mean that we have to sit there and suck it up and just accept it all. No, we have to fight back. It tells us in the Word - in the Bible - that we are expected to arm ourselves. Luke 22 says Jesus told his disciples, 'Hey, take up your arms. Sell you cloak or whatever it takes to go buy a sword and arm yourselves and don’t wait for somebody else to do it.'"
Okay, now let's look at the actual passage of Scripture, and see how accurate Palin is. Here we are, from Luke 22:35-38:
And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”
Hmm. Two swords are enough for 12 men. Is that a ringing spiritual endorsement for the Second Amendment? And let's not rip this idea out of context. A few verses later, when one of the disciples (the Apostle Peter) cuts off the ear of a soldier who's come to arrest Jesus, the Messiah - almost apologetically - heals the soldier instantly. If that isn't a rebuke about our appetite for lethal weaponry, I'm not sure what it is.
Several other fallacies exist between this one excerpt from Palin's imagination and actual Scripture, not to mention some complex prophetic themes buried in the thick allegorical tone of this passage that neither Palin nor I are qualified to explain. But you get the point.
Besides, there's this other verse, from another, parallel account of Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane: "He who lives by the sword dies by the sword."
So, would Christ advocate for the Second Amendment if He were bodily living in the United States today? I won't be like Palin and presume to put words into His mouth, but from the passage she's picked to argue her point, Luke 22, I'd say that Christ seems a lot more interested in what we do, rather than whether we have the legal right to amass a large number of tools with which to do it.
Meanwhile, I can't help but be drawn to Psalm 20:7, which reminds us of where our trust is supposed to lie - and it's not in weaponry. "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord, our God."
Yup, Sarah Palin has written a devotional. But in her hands, the pen really isn't mightier than the sword.