[Editor’s Note: May all of you have a prosperous and happy new year!]

molon-labeThe words above (pronounced mo-LON la-VEH) were spoken by King Leonidas of Sparta at Thermopylae. When the Persians asked the Spartan-led army to lay down their weapons, Leonidas told them to “come and get them.”

I’m afraid that that’s where we’re at in America. There is no way that tens of millions of law-abiding American citizens are going to trust the government with their weapons. There are several reasons for this but the most fundamental one is that sensible laws are grounded in some type of natural reality. We must eat, therefore property exists so that we can farm land; we must reproduce, so laws exist to channel sexual activity in fruitful ways; we must have shelter, so we have real estate; and so on. Things get a little dicier the further we get from bare subsistence –think intellectual property rights, marginal tax rates, and “blue” laws. There is no reality more grounded, more central, and more fundamental than the right of self-preservation. Period. End of story. No other benign human activity can take place if a person is murdered. No Mona Lisa can be painted, no woman courted, no child educated.

That’s why President Obama is going to lose if he decides to further restrict our abilities to defend ourselves. Some tinkering around the edges will probably happen (restrictions of magazine capacity for example) but nothing as far-sweeping as Clinton’s “Assault” Weapons ban back in 1994. The law-abiding majority are going to say “molon lave.” We simply aren’t going to disarm ourselves no matter how much more we may be demonized.

Although these defiant words will cause bouts of hysteria among the elite, that’s where we’re at. Be that as it may, the law of unintended consequences will kick in soon enough and it will take liberals in places where they don’t want to go. Already talk is growing about the manifest failures in the field of mental health; how parents and relatives live in constant fear because of a violent family member whom they can’t control. There is precious little recourse in the law. And anyway, as Mark Steyn pointed out, standards have been thrown out the window. Norms no longer exist. Society lauds the “transgressive” and the elite will fight to the last ditch to denigrate Christian sensibilities in whatever venue they control.

There is however another culprit who is going to be actively targeted (pardon the pun) and rightly so: the Media. Please take a look at the Youtube video. Look at all the smarmy, sanctimonious actors and dim-witted starlets as they dare to lecture people who can’t afford armed bodyguards or live in gated communities.

(Caution. Some rough language.)

Consider their heartfelt words. Then look at the scenes of hyper, gratuitous violence from their films and television shows and tell me that there is not a major disconnect here. Mark my words: the more they demand that “something be done about guns,” they will unwittingly force the Congress to look at the entire picture — not only the availability of guns but the failure of the mental health system and the filth that is spewed out by the film industry (especially videogames). In other words, the public will demand that Hollywood be brought into account. At that point, you can bet your bottom dollar that these bloviating airheads will run like scalded dogs from the gun-control debate. We’ll see how long their umbrage lasts. (And how long Obama can afford to antagonize Hollywood.)

There is a lot of nonsense put out by the Democrat Media Complex regarding guns and the supposedly astronomical murder rate in these United States. Please take the time to read the following essay. It’s a recitation of facts — nothing more, nothing less. A word of warning however: it’s going to cause some bed-wetting liberals serious bouts of incontinence.

Source: American Thinker

Listening to the latest media chatter, one could get the impression that murder in the US is historically bad and getting worse. As the Reverend Al Sharpton put it, “The time for their talk is over. Now’s the time for action, and real change on gun control.”

Actually, now would seem to be a very bad time for such action. The reason is simple: the murder rate is historically low and is already trending downward. In fact, the murder rate in 2011 was the lowest since 1961: 4.7 murders per 100,000 people. In only 5 years since 1910 has it been lower: 1955-59, when it was only slightly lower at 4.5 or 4.6.


Data source: The Federal Bureau of Investigation. For years 1900-1991: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/glance/tables/hmrttab.cfm. For years 1992-2011: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/table-1

Today’s murder rate is essentially at a low point. The murder rate in 2011 was lower than it was in 1911 [emphasis added].

And the trend is downward. Whatever we’ve been doing over the last 20-30 years seems to be working, more or less. The murder rate has been cut by more than half since 1980: from 10.7 to 4.7.

We can only speculate on what might be behind this trend, but I will point out a few interesting facts.

  • From 1980 to 2000 our prison population more than quadrupled.
  • From the 1980s to 2000, the number of prisoner executions more than quadrupled.
  • From 1986 to 2006, the number of states adopting “shall issue” Concealed Carry permits nearly quadrupled.

While the most recent murder rate is fairly low for the United States, we often hear that other countries like Australia, Japan and the UK have much lower murder rates. If we want to compare countries, we should not “cherry pick.” Let’s look at all countries. The United Nations collects such data. Out of 206 countries, the US ranks 103 – smack in the middle.


Data Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/homicide.html. (Rates are for most recent year, since 2000, of available data.)

You might guess that the Congo (30.8) or Uganda (36.3) would have higher murder rates than us. But would you have guessed Jamaica (40.9), Saint Lucia (25.2), Brazil (21.0), Greenland (19.2) and Costa Rica (10.0) do too?

Here is the list of European countries whose most recent murder rates exceeded the U.S.’s.

  • Greenland (19.2)
  • Russia (10.2)
  • Moldova (7.5)
  • Lithuania (6.6)
  • Ukraine (5.2)
  • Estonia (5.2)
  • Belarus (4.9)

It is true that all countries in Southern and Western Europe had lower murder rates than the U.S. But it might be worthwhile to parse the U.S. number if we continue to make such comparisons.

In over 52% of the murders in the US in 2011 in which the race of the murderer was known, the murderer was black. Over half of the victims of murder were also black. But blacks are only 13.6% of the population. Put all that together, and the murder rate in the US for non-blacks was more like 2.6 per 100,000 in 2011.

As Peter Baldwin put it in his book, The Narcissism of Minor Differences, “Take out the black underclass from the statistics, and even American murder rates fall to European levels.”

A rate of 2.6 would put us below the Southern European countries of Albania (4.0) and Montenegro (3.5), and in the neighborhood of the Western European countries of Liechtenstein (2.8) and Luxembourg (2.5).

The Government Accountability Office estimated that 25,064 criminal aliens (non-U.S. citizens) were arrested for homicide in the U.S. Compare that number to the total number of homicides in the U.S. in 2011: 14,612. The criminal aliens committed their murders over a number of years, but that is still a high percentage of all murders in the U.S. that are committed by non-citizens.

And let’s not forget that we are the United States; there are 50 states. (U.S. rates are for 2011 unless otherwise stated. Foreign rates are most recent year available.)

  • Idaho (2.3, was 1.4 in 2010)
  • Finland (2.2)
  • Oregon (2.1)
  • Maine (2.0)
  • Utah (1.9)
  • Belgium (1.7)
  • Canada (1.6)
  • Iowa (1.5)
  • Greece (1.5)
  • Minnesota (1.4)
  • New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island (1.3)
  • UK and Portugal (1.2)
  • Hawaii (1.2)
  • France (1.1)
  • New Hampshire (1.0 in 2010)

But what about guns? Does the US have a murder problem because of so many guns? Again, let’s not cherry-pick; let’s look at all other countries.


Data sources: UNODC and the Small Arms Survey

To the eyeball, it looks like a more heavily armed population goes hand-in-hand with less murder, as an average. The statistics bear that out: the correlation coefficient is negative, -0.23, and it is statistically significant.

You can look for various trends, but there is no evidence here that the availability of guns leads to more murders. Two of the most heavily armed countries, Finland and Switzerland, have murder rates of 2.2 and 0.7, among the lowest in the world. On the other hand, every country with a murder rate at least 5 times greater than the U.S.’s has at least 5 times fewer firearms per person than the U.S.

Yes, you can look for trends, but the Centers for Disease Control already did that for you. During 2000-02, a CDC task force “conducted a systematic review of scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of firearms laws in preventing violence, including violent crimes, suicide, and unintentional injury.” Here was their conclusion.

“The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes.”

In short, the Al Sharpton advice is exactly wrong: this is not the time, and gun control is not the action. To put it mildly, we have better things to worry about.

In my view, this whole issue is a distraction. The homicide rate in the U.S. is one of the few things that are on a good trend. Why are we even discussing something that is historically low and declining instead of our unsustainable debt which is historically high and climbing? It is another sign of our dysfunctional politics. We seem incapable of even recognizing our real problems, much less tackling them.

Randall Hoven can be followed on Twitter.

Data source: The Federal Bureau of Investigation. For years 1900-1991: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/glance/tables/hmrttab.cfm. For years 1992-2011: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/table-1

About GShep


  1. Bingo. The left, and all Big Statists, hold dear the view that “the little people” are imbeciles not to be trusted with a weapon of any kind while they destroy our community ties along tribal lines, undermine our moral and family ties, and foster historical ignorance. Not to mention the cultural sludge that they support – nothing beats clogging the heart up with vileness, gratuitous violence and lefty hate in every cultural media and academic front available.

    Seeing an adult pointing out the damage done by our “betters” is refreshing. They do not have the moral high ground. Never cede the moral high ground to them. Ever. That is not an imperative to treat progressives nastily when talking to them, but they are not used to being challenged at all in the arena of Political Correctness to own the consequences of their views. Or even to acknowledge its history.

    The UK is now considering banning even long kitchen knives…..

  2. Subdeacon Justin says

    Ok, I’ll bite. Let’s clear the air and hear Orthodox insights on how we reconcile the practical application of the Right to bear arms with the Holy Scriptures, traditions, and canon law. I’ll state my bias upfront: I’m a bitter clinger, born in Michigan, raised with a Ruger 22, NRA life member…the whole 9 yards. But, as Orthodox, I’m struggling anew with the issues since Sandy Hook.
    For example, if someone ordained to the major orders pulls a legally obtained, permitted gun and mortally wounds a bad guy at the Burger King (and the police agree it was self-defense), how would that be judged/perceived by the parish, the ruling Bishop, this blog?? Is that a sin that needs to be confessed?

    Another question is how to reconcile “obeying those who rule over you” and rendering to Caesar. If Caesar changes his mind about the 2nd Amendment, and decides to enact a mandatory gun buy-back, are Orthodox Americans obligated to obey? If we instead bury the guns, and conceal their location, are we to confess our disobedience?

    Finally, if we (bitter clingers) believe that an armed society is a polite society, and as Orthodox we have an acute awareness of the high body count of martyrs defending the faith, then logic follows we would be comfortable celebrating the Divine Liturgy with our concealed weapon permit in our wallet and 9mm in our pocket. And, when the Muslim fanatic enters the church with a bomb strapped to his chest waving a gun around, are we to pause and collectively shoot him in the aisle?

    You can see where I’m going with this. While I have the Right to keep and bear arms, do I really want to anymore? If possessing a gun contributes to my committing a sin, than shouldn’t I pluck it out and cast it away? Many thanks for your input. Please forgive my ignorance, and any offense my questions may have caused.

    • Subdeacon, it is a common misconception in these United States that the president, or at least the people making up the various elected governments, federal, state, and local, are somehow the equivalent of caesar as mentioned in the Bible. The fact is that we are not a government of men, but of laws; and our governing authority is not a man, but a document – the Constitution. This being the case, the president, congress, supreme court, etc., are no different than any other citizen – they must obey the Constitution, and cannot impose laws and regulations that conflict with the Constitution. If they do, those laws and regulations are automatically null and void; no citizen need obey them, and no court need enforce them. If the people composing the various governments enact and enforce laws and regulations in defiance of the 2nd Amendment, or any other part of the Constitution, it is those people who are acting against the governing authority, and violating the Biblical commandments, such as those in Romans 13, to obey the governing authority; and it is those people who need to repent and confess, not the people who reject their illegitimate laws.

      You have the natural right, recognized in the Constitution, to own weapons for self-defense. Should you voluntarity choose to relinquish that right, you are free to do so. You cannot, however, make that choice for anyone but yourself; and no government can legitimately take that right from you.

      For those who wonder, I am also an Orthodox Christian.

      • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

        Yes, in the USA the Constitution is Caesar, and more than that the entire country is founded on the idea that even if the Constitution was somehow changed or dismissed to the point that the Bill of Rights is gone or meaningless then the populace is actually expected by the Founders to rise against the “government,” it would be the government that was in treasonous rebellion.

        But, then again, in Orthodoxy the only legitimate government is monarchy, and ideally we wouldn’t have freedom of religion/speech as it exists now, Orthodoxy would be the state religion and others would NOT be treated equally by the state. Therefore, Orthodox should probably be neutral if possible in such a potential civil war, since it wouldn’t be as clearly a just war (yes, such a thing seems to exist in Orthodoxy) as the example below:

        St. Sergius of Radonezh, p. 35 of The Northern Thebaid

        When the pagan Tatar hordes were preparing to invade Russian soil, St. Sergius blessed the Grand Duke Demetrius Donskoy to go to war with them and conquer them, giving him two of his own disiples to help him. Facing the Tatar multitudes in the Field of Kulikovo, the Grand Duke and his followers began to doubt and fear, but at that moment a courier arrived from the saint, who assured them that God was on their side; and the Russian armies fought boldly and conquered.
        The Saint saw this battle with his spiritual eyes, and the whole brotherhood prayed by name for the Orthodox warriors who had fallen.

        • “…in Orthodoxy the only legitimate government is monarchy…”

          If you are referring to the future kingdom of God, where every knee shall bow to Him, and every tongue confess to Him (Rom. 14:11), your statement is accurate. Otherwise, human monarchy is far from legitimate for Orthodox Christians. When Israel demanded a king from the prophet Samuel, it was because they wanted to be like the pagan nations surrounding them, and because they were rejecting the kingship of God – hardly a sterling recommendation for human monarchy. And when Samuel described the results of human monarchy to the Israelites – their sons taken to fight in his wars, their daughters taken to slave in his kitchens, their property plundered to give to his servants, their lives so oppressed that they cried out to the Lord for relief (I Samuel 8) – he was painting an accurate picture of human monarchy.

          There is not one ideal form of human government envisioned or endorsed by the Orthodox Church. Ultimately the only legitimate form of government for Orthodox is the rule of God, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Human government in its various forms is simply a placeholder until the ideal is realized.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Ladder of Divine Ascent claims, “in Orthodoxy the only legitimate government is monarchy.”

          The oxygen must be pretty thin up at the top of that ladder.

        • Archpriest John Morris says

          If the only legitimate government for Orthodox is a monarchy, what are we to do in the modern world where there are no Orthodox monarchs?

          • “Ladder of Divine Ascent,” whoever it is, is overstating things a tad, I believe. The most we might say is what St Gregory the Theologian said:

            “We Orthodox, be it said, hold monarchy “in honour”, because it imitates the unity of God,”

            … or words to that effect.

    • Archpriest John Morris says

      If an Orthodox Priest kills anyone under any circumstances he is removed from the Priesthood. Orthodox clergy are forbidden to bear arms. The Orthodox were shocked when they saw Western Bishops and Priests fighting during the Crusades. I am not sure, but think that the principle of economy may allow a Bishop to reinstate the Priest under certain circumstances. When I was in seminary a student killed a person in an accident. The seminary officials did an investigation to determine if the accident was his fault. Since it was not his fault he was allowed to remain in seminary. Even an Orthodox soldier who kills in self-defense during battle is placed under penance and cannot take Holy Communion for a time. I have asked an Orthodox chaplain in the American military and was informed that this rule is applied to Orthodox members of the American armed forces.

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      St. Dmitri Donskoy and St. Alexander Nevsky.

      • Archpriest John Morris says

        They defended their country from a foreign invasion. Under those circumstances, although war is evil, allowing another nation or the Tutonic Knights to invade Russia and force Catholicism on them would be a greater evil.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Father, that is too simplistic. By your example, we would be justified in killing those who would force a secular/humanist view on us. Or more concrete: Dr. George Tiller was a notorious abortion doctor here in Wichita, KS. He was shot and killed in the foyer of his church which happens to be right across the street from St. George Cathedral.

          A man was killed and abortion in this city has stopped. An outcome that Randall Terry and all of the non-violent protests and witness did not even come close to achieving.

          Every Orthodox cleric I know has condemned the killing of Tiller as evil, yet it demonstrably and quickly ended a far greater evil did it not?

          So, Father John and Father Alexander what is the moral and spiritual lesson we should take from the death of Tiller, aka the baby killer (he would abort any child at any time for $5000, even minors impregnated by relatives and step-fathers–some of his best customers I hear).

          • Archpriest John Morris says

            Killing Tiller the killer did not stop abortion in the U.S. so it did not really accomplish anything. I do not think that any authority on Orthodox ethics would approve of the murder of Tiller. By the way, I brought up Tiller during an Orthodox Lutheran dialogue because Tiller was an active member of a Lutheran church. The Lutherans were terribly offended.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Father John, Tiller’s murder did stop abortion here in Wichita one of the few places left in the US that did late term abortions. Its gone from our city and the entire area he serviced as far as the late term killings anyway.

              The Churches, the un-churched, Randall Terry, the politicians, nobody else was able to stop it. The next closest abortion mill is in Lincoln, NE but I don’t believe they do the late term killings. Maybe, like with prostitution, clean up one block it moves to another, but it still put a good sized dent in the process.

              An evil was done, a greater evil at least truncated. Given your argument, why is that wrong?

              Like my son says: If war is necessary, then it can be conducted, at least at the personal level, in a righteous manner (not easy). If it is evil, then we should have no part in it. Therefore he adamantly rejects the phrase “necessary evil” but he has yet to compromise his morals and his principals in the manner that many of us older folk have.

              Tiller’s church was a member of the most liberal of the various Lutheran Synods. I’m sure if the folks you were talking to were from the Missouri Synod, for instance, they’d have a right to be offended. Did you make the distinction?

              BTW, to me the greatest evil is that Tiller’s murder artificially cut short his opportunity to repent in this life. Nonetheless, your argument that we can occasionally do evil to prevent a greater evil just does not fly with me.

        • With St Alexander Nevsky, the invader was the Swedes and their religion was Lutheran. About 18 years ago, I was at Our Lady of Kazan Skete in Santa Rosa and after the Divine Liturgy I walked up towards the front and on the wall to the right of the iconostasis there was a huge painting of a warrior in armor with his sword in front of him and pointed downwards. As I contemplated the painting, Abbess Susanna walked up behind me and said, “That painting is of Saint Alexander Nevsky, he saved Russia from the Swedes. The Russians were under the Tarter Yoke at that time and the Russians could have joined forces with the Swedes and forced the Tarters out of Russia. But, the Tarters only required the Russians to pay tribute and left their religion alone whereas the Swedes would have forced Lutheranism on the Russian people. They chose to fight the Swedes and were accorded a remarkable victory over a very powerful enemy.” That was a good history lesson for me (a new Orthodox convert at the time). The Tarters were defeated at a later time.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Excellent reminiscence Jacksson, but I believe that the Swedes at that time were Catholic.

            • You are correct, George. Martin Luther wasn’t born until 1483, whereas Alexander Iaroslav, later Nevskii, defeated the Swedes in1240.

          • Archpriest John Morris says

            St. Alexander Nevsky defeated the Swedes at the Battle of the Neva in 1240. There were no Lutherans in 1240. The Reformation did not begin until 1517, when Luther nailed the famous 95 Theses on the door of the Palace Church in Wittenberg. St. Alexander is also famous for defeating the Tutonic Knights who were on a crusade to force Russia to become Roman Catholic at the Battle of the Ice on Lake Peipus in 1242. The Germans wore such heavy armor that they broke the ice and drowned. It is not against the Orthodox Faith to defend your homeland from a foreign invasion. It is a paradox, of which there are so many in the Christian life. War is evil, but sometimes to prevent a greater evil, you have to resort to a lesser evil.

        • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

          Fr. John, how can it be a “lesser evil” if all evil is to be avoided? If action is necessary, can it really be evil? Maybe we could call it undesirable or something like that, but why would we ever sanction actions that are evil?

          I am not making an argument for pacifism (I’m not a pacifist). I’m asking if our language and thus our concepts are correct.

          • George Michalopulos says

            I agree. Fr Webster wrote the decisive peace on war in which he called it (not always mind you) a “lesser good,” not a “necessary evil.” The distinction is crucial.

          • Archpriest John Morris says

            We pray for forgiveness for all sins, known and unknown, voluntarily and involuntarily. Sometimes in life there are no good choices. We are Eastern Orthodox and do not think in terms of black and white, but recognize that there are shades of gray. You cannot call the killing and destruction that accompanies war anything but evil. It is like cleaning up a mess, sometimes you get dirty. We cannot glorify war by calling it just.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Fr. John says:

              You cannot call the killing and destruction that accompanies war anything but evil.

              How would you advise one of your young parishoners seeking guidance on whether or not to enter the military? “Go forth and do evil?” “Avoid that possibility of evil for the good of your soul and thereby place that burden on someone else?”

              You say that we Orthodox don’t think in black and white, then proceed to think in black and white. Confusing.

              Some folks (and nations) have to be forced back into a more restrained mode of behavior. When a nation or group has gotten so far out of control as to be a mortal threat to other nations and groups, then the possibility of war is not evil in and of itself. The use of war simply to achieve political ends is evil.

            • Cold, Hot and Lukewarm says

              There is good and evil, but there is also discernment, which is a fine tuning orthodox kinda thing. To that end, organized nonviolence with the addition of prayer can create a good environment for discernment . liturgical lives

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Sub-Deacon Justin,

      If you were to mortally wound a “bad guy,” I imagine your bishop’s reaction would depend entirely upon the situation, but let me ask you this: If you or someone else were threatened by someone holding a gun and you were able to take him out, would it MATTER to you whether or not you remained in the clergy? In other words, would you risk your life to protect your status as a sub-deacon? Just wondering. If the answer is yes, then perhaps you shouldn’t carry a gun; at least not for protection.

      The martyrs laid down their lives for the Faith. That does not mean they would fail to defend their lives or the lives of others in a different context. I don’t think the were COs (conscientious objectors) or anything like that.

      The Orthodox are told to obey all civil authority. If the laws change and we are no longer permitted to carry weapons, there would be no more 2nd amendment rights to defend. I can’t see where burying guns would be helpful. How could you use them?

      If we are in Church and a fanatic (don’t care WHO he is) comes in with a bomb strapped to his chest, please DO take him out! I’ll support you when you discuss it with your bishop. 😉

      Don’t mean to be flippant and I appreciate the fact that you take these things so seriously. I truly do. I wish all gun owners were this responsible. Sadly, there is a certain element that carry guns with the intent to do harm. If all the guns were taken away, these people would find some other way to hurt people.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I totally agree. Pacifism can only be self-applied. Like fasting, chastity, and faith. It cannot be forced on anybody and any decent human being should come to the defence of the weak to the extent that he can. Otherwise, taken to its logical conclusion, we would be excused from colluding in murder.

        • Michael Bauman says

          The Church is not, nor has she ever been pacifist although kenotic sacrifice in the spirit of the martyrs is a worthy goal. That bears little resemblance to modern pacifism though.

          • Archpriest John Morris says

            Orthodoxy is not pacifists, but it is very close to pacifists. We do not accept the Western just war theory. War is always considered an evil. Sometimes it is a lesser evil than allowing a foreign country to invade and deprive their people of their freedom. Thus, a nation has a right of self defense from a foreign invasion as when Russia fought Napoleon. It would be a greater evil to ignore aggression. For example, Hitler and Naziism were evil and had to be fought and destroyed. A person has a right to defend their home and family from a criminal. It would be a greater evil to not take out someone who comes into the Church with a bomb on his chest or a gun and threatens to kill everyone there. However, even in war an Orthodox soldier who kills during battle is placed under penance and cannot take communion until after he has been to Confession. That is also true for American Orthodox soldiers, who are put under penance by Orthodox chaplains if they kill another person even during battle. However, Orthodox clergy are never allowed to bear arms.

            • George Michalopulos says

              I don’t believe that war is evil qua evil, otherwise soldiering would be ipso facto evil. Yet when soldiers went to John the Baptist, he never told them to lay down their arms but to not abuse their position in society. No prostitue, abortionist, pornographer went to John the Baptist.

              • For once, I have to disagree with you George. Probably many prostitutes, abortionists, pornographers or their equivalents in that day went to receive baptism from Saint John the Baptist, first repenting of their sins. That is what the message of the saint was all about.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Of course. My point was that they did not ask him how they could be better prostitutes/pimps/abortionists/pornographers/etc. The soldiers specifically asked John the Baptist how they could be better soldiers and he told them. At the very least this meant that there was nothing evil about soldiering per se. No different if a lawyer came to him. My guess is that John would have said “don’t overbill clients, encourage perjury, etc.” or doctors: “don’t overprescribe medication, do unnecessary surgery, etc.”

            • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

              Father John, I must, in all charity and collegiality, challenge your invocation of the “lesser evil” dilemma in your response to Mr. Bauman’s comments about pacifism and warfighting. That supposed dilemma has become de rigueur among contemporary English-speaking Orthodox theologians and historians, although it is contrary to the clear teaching in the New Testament (e.g., Romans 3:8-9, which the Oxford philosopher John Finnis dubbed the “Pauline Principle”), the patristic corpus, and elsewhere in the Orthodox moral tradition prior to the modern era. To echo the challenge I issued on p. 107 of my co-authored book titled, The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West (Regina Orthodox Press, 2004)–namely, “a sweep of patristic literature would fail to detect even one Church father who gives moral permission to commit an unmistakably evil act, lesser or otherwise”–if you, as a reputable Orthodox historian, can cite a single Orthodox patristic text that justifies an evil means to a good end as an acceptable moral act, I shall henceforth concede a fundamental error in my scholarly oeuvre and dub your discovery the “Morris Principle.”

              • Archpriest John Morris says

                Dear Fr. Webster.

                There is no need for sarcasm. I do know something about Orthodox history and theology. The Church recognizes the paradox of war. War is always evil. But it is also an evil not to resist a greater evil. I do not know how you can call war anything but evil when people are killed, including innocent people and their homes destroyed in collateral damage. However, sometimes you have to fight to protect your homeland for the greater evil of foreign invasion and occupation. No father calls for doing evil in any form. However, you know as well as I do that the Church blesses soldiers going to war to defend their homeland and prays for our armed forces. Therefore, we do not take a strictly pacifists position. However, we have not embraced the Western just war theory. There was an incident, I would have to spend time looking up the specifics, but a Byzantine emperor asked the Patriarch to give a blanket absolution guaranteeing that soldiers who fell in battle would go to heaven, I believe that it was against the Persians or Muslims, and the Patriarch refused unlike the Pope who gave an indulgence guaranteeing entrance into heaven to the Crusaders. I know from talking with Orthodox chaplains in our American armed forces that an American Orthodox Christian soldier who kills during battle must come to Confession and serve a penance before he can take Holy Communion. We live in a fallen world and sometimes are effected by this. As I wrote elsewhere war is a mess and you get dirty cleaning up a mess but the mess must be cleaned up. You cannot stand by and ignore an evil like Hitler and Nazism. It had to be destroyed. But it was evil that millions of people had to die fighting Hitler. For that reason, I do not see how anyone can consider war good and not an evil. Remember, as I said in another post, we pray for forgiveness for all sins, known and unknown, voluntarily and involuntary. I believe that my position on this issue is a correct reflection of the teaching of the Orthodox Church.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Fr John, the problem lies in your third sentence: “war is always evil.” If war is indeed “always evil,” then what political enterprise (and I mean “political” in the sense of something done by the polity) is not evil?

                  Should we not fine (extract money) from those who are speeding?

                  Should we not confiscate the wealth of embezzlers (like Bernie Madoff), thus impoverishing them and their posterity?

                  Should we not imprison burglars and other criminals?

                  Should we not execute criminals? (I know I’m stepping in this one but the death penalty [like poverty] we will always have with us)

                  Those are the negative things. What about the positive things that the polity does? Fix this road instead of that one, fund a space program instead of a mandatory reading one, etc?

                  Leaving aside the death penalty, how can any of the above be evil qua evil even in our present fallen state? Especially if the Lord Himself instituted government, not only on earth, but in heaven as well? I other words, I very much agree with Fr Alexander that these are “lesser goods,” that punishment is given for our repentance and hence, our salvation.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    George, there are certainly evil acts done in war that would not have occured had the war not been waged. Even in a justifiable war such acts occur. Do we impute those evils to the war itself or to the individual actors?

                    My problem with imputing them to the war itself is that one’s personal responsibility for not doing evil is removed. Personally, I think that such a philosophy is one of the roots of both the high incidence of PTSD among returning vets and the high suicide rate.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Of course there are evil acts that occur in wars. Just as there are crooked cops, IRS agents, etc. Quack doctors, shyster lawyers, pill-diverting pharmacists, etc.

                  • Archpriest John Morris says

                    I feel that we are arguing over semantics rather than substance. I do not see how something that causes so much death and destruction can be anything else but evil. On the other hand, I do not believe that at people should humbly submit to invasion and domination by a foreign power, or that we should sit idly by while someone like Hitler spreads death and destruction through Europe and kills millions in gas chambers. However, lots of Germans who really had nothing to do with the Nazi atrocities also suffered during the fight to rid the world of the curse of Adolph Hitler. That too is evil. It cannot be good to bomb cities into rubble that was still visible 41 years ago when I was a student in Germany. Therefore the allies had to resort to evil to fight the evil of Nazism. It is a paradox and a mystery, something that we Orthodox should have no trouble recognizing. I am not advocating pacifism, because I do ot believe that it is moral to allow evil to be victorious. However, I do not feel comfortable in dignifying war by calling it any form of good, even a lesser good.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Fr. John, while many people in Germany did not directly participate in the evils of Nazism, all were in some sense responsible, just as we all are to some degree responsible for allowing (at least passively) a culture of death and destruction to develop in our own country.

                      It is simply impossible to separte a people and their leaders.

                      The fire bombing of Dresden, for instance, was not required to defeat the Nazis. It was an act that exceeded what was necessary and was protested by some commanders at the time. I think that it is fair to say that bombing was an evil act. Such does not make the whole war evil.

                      What we are discussing is important and is not “merely semantics” It is tough to wrestle with the antinomical reality of the Church’s attitude toward warfare. It is tough precisely because it is not black and white. It is much easier to retreat into a black or white position concerning warfare. However, that ignores the existential reality of our life in the world.

                      Not everyone will come to the same conclusion or act in the same manner. Personally I will not criticize either those who choose to serve or those who, out of conscience, cannot serve.

                      The main point is engage the question not retreat from it. IMO, it is a question that will be faced by our young people in ever more immediate and intense ways in the years to come.

                      Comfortable formulas from either side give no real guidance.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Excellent synthesis, Michael. The firebombing of Dresden was evil. I think as well the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was evil as well. But your larger point is well-taken: when a nation does evil (e.g. Nazism), the people will pay. How much more so in a democratically-elected republic where the people themselves are responsible for the leaders they have? Perhaps monarchy is more moral in this regard? That is that the monarch is responsible before God for his actions and the people thus are blameless.

                    • Thank you Fr. Norris for saying war shouldn’t be described as a “lesser good.” As someone who is considering orthodoxy, I have to say sometimes I’m aghast at what I read here.

                    • Archpriest John Morris says

                      To logan46

                      I would not take the comments on this site as representing Orthodoxy. They only represent the opinions of the writer. I agree some of the comments shock me as well. Frankly, I have stopped reading this site as much as I once did, because I am tired of reading about the fights within the OCA. It would be much better if discussions focused on theological and spiritual issues and even discussions of comparative liturgical customs so that we can learn from each other. I do not claim to be an expert in Orthodox ethics, but remember what I was taught about war by Fr. Stanley Harakas at Holy Cross.

                    • Archpriest John Morris says

                      First I had a long telephone conversation with Fr. Webster this morning. I yield to his superior knowledge of the issue of war. I am not an expert in ethics. I am an historian. I think that we can all agree that was is evil, but that there are times when the good thing to do is to resist evil.
                      On the guilt of the Germans. Having studied German history, I am reluctant to blame the whole German people for what Hitler did. We must remember what was going on in Germany in the early 1030s the country was economically destroyed, partially by the Great Depression, and partially by the Treaty of Versaillles which most historians agree was too extreme and motivated by the desire for vengeance of the French and British who imposed reparation payments that crippled the German economy. The political leaders of the Weimar Republic were not able to cope with the situation and the country was literally falling apart. Most Germans were convinced that either Hitler or the Communists would take over the country. By that time they had seen the totalitarian state created by Lenin and Stalin and did not want that to happen to Germany. Hitler did not tell the German people that he was going to establish a tyranny, get the country into a devastating war, build concentration camps and send millions to die in gas chambers. He told them that he would restore order and rescue the German economy. Once the Germans realized what Hitler really wanted to do, it was too late because Hitler had already established his totalitarian state and anyone who questioned Hitler risked being sent to a concentration camp. The extermination camps were not in Germany and were the most closely guarded secret of the Third Reich. There is not even a written record showing that Hitler signed an order authorizing the death camps. Most Germans did not really know or if they did suspect what was going on, they were too afraid of the Secret Police, Gestapo, to say anything. We have records from the psychiatrist and guards at the Nuremberg trials of private conversations between the defendants that show that even high officials of the Nazi Government were not fully aware of the atrocities committed in the camps.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I very much agree with you about the Germans being driven to distraction because of the onerous strictures placed upon them by the allies after the Great War. Both Churchill and Wilson agreed that if they were allowed to stand then they would lead to further war. Churchill even went so far as to call the Second World War “the unnecessary war.”

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    The problem with the statement “war is always evil” is that “war” is not a single act that can be judged good or evil; it is a characterization of many acts by many actors. Among those many acts and actors, some are good, and some are evil, and that’s always the case, for all sides. Lord have mercy.

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  I have a few questions for Archpriests John and Alexander:

                  1. Does God ever send an angel to kill someone?
                  2. Would an angel sin in obeying such a command?
                  3. Does God ever send a man to kill someone?
                  4. Would a man sin in obeying such a command?

                  My own guesses would be yes, no, yes, and yes. My reason for the last yes is that even if we really ought to kill someone, we mere men can’t do it without some sin in our hearts on account of our lack of faith and love.

                  • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

                    I’m with you, Father Deacon, until the last point. It is possible, though highly unlikely, that a soldier could carry out his duties in a justifiable war with an unblemished motive and singular focus on justice–or, as St. Augustine of Hippo implies, with deep regret for the act of killing, or even inflicting non-lethal physical harm upon, another human being, but without personal fault or sin. Such a personal righteousness does not, however, characterize the otherwise noble warriors whom I have known and ministered to as a U.S. Army chaplain.

                    It is for that reason, above all, that St. Basil the Great recommended (in what the 6th Ecumenical Council promulgated as his Canon 13) that soldiers who kill during war, even those who “defend themselves on behalf of moderation and piety,” refrain from receiving the Holy Mysteries for three years (compared to 20 for murder), “since their hands are not clean.” Whereas some Orthodox scholars interpret that canon as a blanket comdemnation of all wars and all killing in wars as “sin” that, as an intrinsic evil, requires temporary excommunication, the 12th century Byzantine canonist Ioannes Zonaras regarded St. Basil’s advice as extreme, an excessive burden and unfair punishment for Orthodox Christians who perform so noble a service to the people of God as the defense of faith and empire.

                    In any case, the soldier who kills in a justifiable war (of which, to be sure, there have been precious few) may be, and probably is, personally unrighteous–or at once sinful and noble–as he performs a professional duty that is both politically necessary and morally justifiable, but by no means a “lesser evil” or “necessary evil.” I pray that Orthodox Christians will ban from our vocabulary once and for all that oxymoronic, noxious concept imported from the modern Protestant West.

          • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

            Mr. Bauman, your comment that the Orthodox Church “is not, nor has she ever been pacifist” is inaccurate. You might wish to take a gander at The Pacifist Option: The Moral Argument Against War in Orthodox Moral Theology (Lanham, MD: International Scholars Publications / Rowman & Littlefield, 1998). I am acquainted intimately with the author.

            And, while you’re at it, you could tackle the same author’s complementary study titled, The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West (Salisbury, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, Inc., 2004). That slimmer volume was co-authored with Prof. Darrell Cole of Drew University.

            Absolute pacifism and justifiable war are both, unexpectedly yet antinomically, embraced in Orthodox moral tradition as social ethical applications of the virtues of mercy / love and justice, respectively.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Fr, does “absolute pacificism” include not defending those whom you are given to protect, or is it (as I believe) solitary?

              • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

                Absolute pacifism in the Orthodox moral tradition historically reflects a spirit of non-resistance, as well as non-violence, unlike the more “activist” or manipulative varieties that seem to prevail in Europe and North America since the late nineteenth century. That does not, however, preclude attempts to protect or save innocent victims through non-violent forms of intervention such as diplomacy, distraction, or delay, or even physically putting yourself between the aggressor and the targeted victim(s) or offering yourself to the aggressor in exchange for the targeted victim(s). To be sure, the pacifist ethic does not necessarily ensure a desired result, but the key moral imperative is the moral duty to employ only moral (or at least morally neutral) means toward moral ends. For the pacifist, respecting and honoring human life entails never directly inflicting violence and death upon anyone for any reason.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  To: Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webste


                  I would be interested in hearing your opinion on the Syrian war. Would it fall under one of the “more ‘activist’ or manipulative varieties” we are accustom to seeing in the West?

                  Elsewhere, I commended the position of Patriarch John X (Yazigi) for NOT taking sides. In contrast, Metropolitan Philip firmly supports Assad. – I am open to hearing if I am mistaken, but they seem to be on different pages.

                  Which position is more firmly grounded in Orthodox moral tradition?

                  If we are confronted by opposing points of view, how do we, the laity, reconcile this? Would it make sense for the Holy Synod to come to an agreement before they encourage us to support/not support a given effort?

                  • Archpriest John Morris says

                    As usual Americans do not understand what is really happening in Syria. The opposition to Assad is dominated by Islamic radicals who want to turn Syria into a Muslim dominated state that would institute Sharia law and persecute the Christian minority, most of which are Orthodox Christians. As was the case in Cyprus, Bosnia, and Egypt, the US Government has no interest in protecting Orthodox Christians from persecution. If the radical Muslims win in Syria as they have in Egypt our fellow Orthodox Christians will face severe persecution by the imposition of Sharia law. However, if the truth is told, our Government is more concerned with protecting Israel than in protecting human rights in the Arab world. Israel claims to be a democracy, but treats Palestinians including Orthodox Christians was second class citizens. Ultra Orthodox Jews .spit upon Orthodox clergy in Jerusalem and harass Orthodox religious processions. Israel is no friend of Orthodoxy nor are its supporters in the United States. I believe in democracy, but there is a difference between majority rule and democracy. A true democracy cannot exist in a state that does not protect the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. Islam has no concept of toleration of non-Muslims or of separation between religion and politics, but insists that non-Muslims be treated as a subject people (Dhimmi) and must accept domination by Muslims. As usual the American press has not reported the truth about what is really happening in Syria.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Father John, I think many Americans do understand the dilemma in Syria. It is the professional bureaucrats and politicians who make US policy who just don’t care if the Christians are wiped out.

                      Western powers have long played the “dominant power” chess game in the region and the dominant power is Islam, despite the committment to Israel.

                      This administration, IMO, wants the Christian presence destroyed and doesn’t care at all about the loss of life that entails.

                      Nevertheless Patriarch Ignatious refused to get drawn into that game, Pat-elect John seems to want to continue the same way.

                      It is not about the geo-theocratic-political games, it is about people whose lives are been taken, people whose livelhoods are being taken, people whose land and hertiage is being taken (on all sides). The Christian presence in the Middle East is just as much a part of the Muslim heritage as it is ours. Certain Muslim leaders may resent that, but they cannot altogether ignore it either. We were there first.

                      If the West, particularly the US, with our “to hell with Christians” attitude (Clinton and Bush had it too) would just keep our hands off and quit supplying weapsons and other financial support to the rebels, things might work out better.

                      That does not mean being a toady for tyrannts either.

                    • “Islam has no concept of toleration of non-Muslims or of separation between religion and politics,”

                      Islam, like other religions (and the Quran, like other texts), is subject to different interpretations. Some may be better than others, but the point is that factually speaking there are different interpretations of Islam just as there are different sects of Christianity, all claiming to be Christian and all engaging in debate with one another. I’ve spent a good deal of time living and traveling all over the Middle East, including to Iran and Saudi Arabia, and encountered a good deal of tolerance, curiosity about Christianity, and so on. I’ve never once been threatened, though naturally I have been encouraged to convert to Islam. There are plenty of Muslims (mostly on the Left) who are in favor of reducing religious influence in politics.

                      Sharia law is law based on the Quran and Hadith, which are both open to many interpretations. Islam *does* have a “concept of toleration” of non-Muslims, right in the Quran for all to see:

                      ““There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256)
                      “In fact, all those, be they the believers, the Jews, the Christians or the Sabians, who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and do the righteous deeds shall have their reward with their Lord. They shall have no fear, nor shall they ever grieve!” (2:62)
                      “O mankind! We created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know and honor each other…” (49:13)
                      “Say: O unbelievers, I serve not what you serve, nor do you serve what I serve, nor shall I serve what you are serving, nor shall you be serving what I serve, To you your religion, and to me my religion.”

                    • Archpriest John Morris says

                      To Matt

                      I am sure that there are good and tolerant Muslims. In fact, in Syria Muslims and Christians have lived together in peace for many years. However, there is a growing radical Islamic movement that has caused great suffering for Christians in every place where Muslims are the majority. Try to build a Christian Church in Saudi Arabia or any number of majority Islamic countries and you will see the intolerant side of Islam. The Quran does teach that Muslims must treat Christians as subject people and make them pay tribute (jizya) to the Muslims. Sharia law does give Christians fewer civil rights than Muslims. Muhammad was basically a bandit who led bands to attack non-Muslim caravans. The Quran has a whole section describing how to distribute the booty from raids on non-Muslims.

                    • “I am sure that there are good and tolerant Muslims. In fact, in Syria Muslims and Christians have lived together in peace for many years. However, there is a growing radical Islamic movement that has caused great suffering for Christians in every place where Muslims are the majority. Try to build a Christian Church in Saudi Arabia or any number of majority Islamic countries and you will see the intolerant side of Islam. The Quran does teach that Muslims must treat Christians as subject people and make them pay tribute (jizya) to the Muslims. Sharia law does give Christians fewer civil rights than Muslims. Muhammad was basically a bandit who led bands to attack non-Muslim caravans. The Quran has a whole section describing how to distribute the booty from raids on non-Muslims.”

                      We can cite religious texts back and forth until the Day of Judgement. I was specifically addressing your contention that “Islam has no concept of toleration.” Clearly it does. By the same token you can find some pretty violent passages in the Bible too if you want. That doesn’t mean that Christians are intolerant or violent, because the Bible does not explain the actions of Christians, does it? Would this blog with all its attention to scandal exist if the Bible could actually predict how Christians behaved? It probably wouldn’t. Like the Bible, the Quran can be used to support all sorts of things good and bad. Like the Constitution, it’s a text which provides a framework for debate and discussion among believers (or citizens, in the Constitution’s case).

                      History is a better guide to actual behavior than religious texts. The enforcement of the jizya tax varied greatly between time and place (and exists nowhere today that I know of). Even where governments are intolerant of the building of actual churches I have found the people to be quite decent. Talking about “Muslims” and “Islam” as though it is a monolithic group of people with one uniform interpretation of the Quran is misleading – we wouldn’t make the same generalizations about “Christians” or “Jews” would we? Because they are familiar to us we know that there is great variation among those groups. Muslims are less familiar and therefore we’re willing to take for generalizations for granted.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Matt, just curious, are you a descendant of one of the Christian populations indigenous to the Middle East/North Africa?

                    • Matt is totally correct. The man that wrote this sentence is propagandizing on the basis of half-truths and misinformation; “Islam has no concept of toleration of non-Muslims or of separation between religion and politics, but insists that non-Muslims be treated as a subject people (Dhimmi) and must accept domination by Muslims.”
                      On the contrary Islam does have a concept of toleration and does practice religious toleration more often and more consistently, historically than Christianity. It is POST-CHRISTIAN Western societies that are more tolerant than traditional Christian Western societies.. It is garden-variety “spin” to translate “dhimmi” as “subject people” although all ‘dhimmi” and non-“dhimmi” peoples in Muslim states are subject peoples. This is elementary and should not even have to be spelled out. Furthermore, there non-Islamic peoples in Muslim states that are NOT “dhimmi.” ‘Dhimmi” refers to only those non-Muslims among the subject peoples of a Muslim state who are PROTECTED by LAW. They do pay special taxes. Why not? If they’re going to get special protection are Muslims supposed to pay for it? The Christians in the lands of the former Arabic Caliphates and Turkish Sultanate propered and flourished: In Egypt, the Copts and the Melkites and the Greeks practically RAN everything to do with commerce, taxation, and trade, until the decay of Ottoman Turkey, Armenians, Jews, Melkites (and all other “heretical”Christian Churches), flourished under Islamic law in Islamic states more than they ever could have under the government of the Christian (Greek Orthodox) Empire.
                      Muslims and Jews in Spain would have been glad, overjoyed if they had been allowed to remain in Spain and practice their religion under the “Reconquista” Catholic government of that country as “Dhimmi” and having to pay a special tax, but Christianity there offered them no such choice. They had three choices given them by Christians: Baptism, Expulsion, or Death.
                      No, no Christian sovereigns, except the Russian sovereigns ***had a concept of toleration” of Jews and Muslims until the modern era, and then only sporadically.
                      Thanks, Matt, for your notes of sanity and know-how in the area!
                      Of course, there is ONE horribly intolerant Islamic state; the closest ally of the U.S.A., namely Saudi Arabia, ruled by a fanatical Islamic denomination that has, while talking loudly, been Israel’s greatest backer in the region and also provided ALL of the 9/11 successful terrorists, including their Fuehrer, Osama Ben Laden.
                      The Islamic Republic of Iran has flourishing Christian and Jewish communities: in Tehran, thirteen synagogues with attached Hebrew Schools, two Kosher restaurants/delicatessens, a Jewish public library and cemetery, as well as an elected Jewish Member of Parliament (Majlis). There are Armenians and their Churches in almost all the more important cities, especially the old capital, Isfahan, while the main concentration of Assyrian Christians outside the U.S. is in Northwestern Iran.
                      They wonder when they learn that many Christians in America were alarmed at the thought of a mosque in Manhattan and elsewhere. They marvel that in Palestine (Philistia), Christians and Muslims that lived together and prospered under the Sultan, are being squeezed out to provide Lebensraum for European Jews, and NOT because the Philistines/Palestinians sinned against Jews, but because Europeans, in NON-Islamic societies with a totally Christian heritage sinned against Jews.
                      Here’s a fact: Islam has turned out to be more tolerant than Christianity.

                  • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

                    Gail, I had prepared a long, detailed, nuanced reply to your excellent question, but lost the message while trying to save it before posting here. (My mouse sometimes plays tricks on me.) To save time and effort, I’d prefer to discuss the issues via my cell telephone, which you may obtain by sending me an e-mail: chaplain.webster@gmail.com

              • No, George, I’m a fourth-generation American of Norwegian, German, and Scottish ancestry. But I have many friends who fit into the category you describe, I study the Middle East for a living, and I’ve lived and traveled extensively in the region.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Father, I am well acquainted with your work. Although it has been awhile, I’ve read them both and engaged the ideas you present deeply (I think). What I was trying to say was that, as you point out, pacifism is an option, it is not the only option. Even in that option, it does not appear to me that what you describe is equivalent to modern ideas of pacifism.

              The Church is not dogmatically pacifist in the modern sense of the word. Even Jim Forrest does not like the term because it connotes a passive outlook in his opinion. Despite his commitment to non-violence, he uncomfortably recognizes the antinomical stance of the Church. More, though, he sees the need to actively engage in making peace.

              Pacifism and peacemaking are not the same thing. Pacifism and non-violence are not the same thing. Certainly the Church and her people are always called to active peacemaking.

              The following link shows the result of my son’s engagement with your work (and others) when he was examining the possibility of military service: http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles7/BaumanWarrior.php

              His essay was fruit of two years of reading, praying and disccusing with me and many others beginning when he was 16. His thoughts have continued to evolve and eight years later we still have incredible discussions on the issues involved. I’m sure he would love to talk with you about it if you are so inclined.

              The most telling part of your work for my son was what you termed the ‘zero sum dilemma’: that our failure to act, in some cases, allows people to come to harm. His conscience would not allow him to go that route.

              Modern pacifism in my experience of it is an ideology that is largely informed by either anti-Americanism and/or a certain strain of Calvinism that views our actions, whatever they are, as inconsequential and irrelevant. It is all “God’s will” and He will make it all right in the the end so it is better to do no harm. Neither of those are Orthodox as your work, IMO, clearly demonstrates.

              In short, my comment is primarily about the ideological content and baggage the word pacifism carries. Sorry to be unclear.

              • War is a microcosm of this present world. It is the ultimate manifestation of the battle in which those of this world are always engaged, albeit stripped of the façade of civility that is commonly referred to as peace. For war is the logical extension of the hatred which results from the struggle over wealth, power, and pride – and their reduction to the essential violence thereof.

                Those who rightly decry the evil of war need look no further for its cause than the hatred, the selfishness, the lust for power and possessions present in each of our everyday lives. For war, like pain, death and the struggle for economic survival, is the inescapable consequence of our common fall into sin. It cannot be avoided whether we are combatants or civilians. Nor can it be considered “just” from our human point of view, for how is it just that the evil actions or even the apparently justifiable reactions to evil of a few are able to cause the suffering of so many?

                The essential violence of this present world made manifest in war can only serve to reveal what is in the hearts of men altogether aside from political motives for armed conflict. War reveals hate and love, selfishness and sacrifice, cowardice and courage, greed and generosity, pride and humility… All the vices and virtues present in our hearts are brought into sharp relief by the immediacy of the danger of death – to ourselves, our loved ones, our countrymen, our security, our way of life.

                No amount of rationalization can change the fact that all war is evil. But the evil of war is not external to us personally, something at which we can wave our fingers in condemnation. It is the shared lot of humanity. And like all the evils which the providence of God allows us to suffer in common, it can be used for our redemption or our destruction. It all depends on how we respond to Him in the midst of it. War can never be said to be just, but it can be transformed into a means of redemption through the deeds of just men caught up in its torrents.

                “There is a time for everything…”

                • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

                  I gave you a negative vote by mistake.Please count this as a positive vote.

      • “If the laws change and we are no longer permitted to carry weapons, there would be no more 2nd amendment rights to defend.”

        This is not true, since the right to self-defense is a natural right, based on man’s creation in the image and likeness of God; it is not a man-created “right”, based on men’s law and permission. The Constitution does not grant us the right to bear arms for self-defense; it recognizes the right as already existing in man’s nature, and forbids the government from interferring with it. The right to bear arms for self-defense cannot be swept away by the decree of a man or group of men calling themselves a government.

        “The Orthodox are told to obey all civil authority.”

        Really? Can you give some examples where we are told to do this? We are called upon to pray for those in government, to promote the peace and tranquility of the Church and our fellow citizens; but I know of no blanket order to “obey all civil authority”. If that was true, weren’t the Apostles wrong to disobey the civil authority by continuing to preach Jesus Christ? Weren’t the martyrs wrong to disobey the civil authority by continuing to worship God and refusing to sacrifice to idols? Wasn’t Rahab wrong to hide the Israelite spies, instead of giving them up as the civil authority demanded?

        This idea that Christian people are to obey civil authority without question is not an Orthodox idea, but rather came out of the Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther. Luther wanted to receive the protection of the various princes etc. of the territories in which he and his followers were sheltering from persecution by the Roman Catholic Church. He therefore expounded the idea that these princes etc. were absolute authorities that must be obeyed in all things by the people over whom they ruled. The royalty of course loved the idea, and helped Luther; however, this idea has no place in Orthodoxy.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          TO: Libertad

          RE: “The Orthodox are told to obey all civil authority.” – Really? Can you give some examples where we are told to do this?”

          Read Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Pet. 2:13-14. The Holy Scriptures, which help to form the foundation of the Church, tell us to obey civil laws. It is only when civil authority attempts to usurps God’s authority that we are free to disobey so, no, the Apostles weren’t “wrong to disobey the civil authority by continuing to preach Jesus Christ.”

          I’m not sure what you mean when you say, the “right to self-defense is a natural right.” What does “natural right,” mean to you?

          • Natural rights, such as the rights to life, liberty, and property, are those universal rights of mankind that arise out of natural law, the law written on the hearts of all people by God, as St. Paul says. James Fenimore Cooper stated that natural law was the will of God’s providence operating in nature according to observable principles, resulting in such things as property rights. So, in this case, self-defense is a part of the right to life; additionally, government cannot take the means of self-defense (for instance, guns) away from individuals without our consent, because that would violate our right to possess our property with security. Government cannot legitimately violate our natural rights, as they come to us from God, not from the permission or whim of men.

            Hope this helps, Ms. Sheppard.

          • BTW, I regret that it wasn’t more clear to you that I have indeed read the Scriptures you mention; as an Orthodox Christian, I strive to read the Bible every day, and to discern what the Lord is saying without filtering it through worldly lenses (never an easy task). I can only repeat that, as the whole of Scripture shows, when the world, and the governments of the world, demand something of us which violates natural law and the rights arising from that law, we are not bound to obey it, even if the demand is presented to us as “civil law”. Such unquestioning obedience simply makes the civil government an idol, which I’m sure neither of us would agree with.

      • Subdeacon Justin says

        Thank you.

        I used to have a concealed pistol permit, and used to carry a pocket .380 as permitted by law. Now, I wonder what carrying a pistol would infer about my faith, or my understanding of the Scriptures. For example, am I to view a pistol as more powerful than prayer when I find myself in danger? With prayer, entire cities have been spared. Am I to go through life fearful of others, expecting and seeing the worst in other members of society? After all, they have been made in the image and likeness of God. And why is it that I am judging everyone else a miscreant? For, I am first among sinners.

        I once met someone who faced fierce tribulations at gunpoint. Fr. Roman Braga’s, “tribulations produced perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” In fact, the only fear I ever saw in Fr. Roman was at the Holy Altar during the Epiklesis when he called upon the Holy Spirit. It was readily apparent that he feared God infinitely more than he feared men.

        Some have raised the question of whether it is better to shoot a potential murder before he has the opportunity to harm others. Do we offer ourselves as a sacrifice instead, and is it really worth dying to save a bunch of strangers? “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.” At my funeral, I would hope to be remembered as the one who died attempting to save others, rather than the one who killed.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Sub-Deacon Justin,

          I’m not sure how “Orthodox” this is (feel free to comment), but there have been times when I have done things I would not normally do, because (I believe) the Holy Spirit willed it. Doesn’t happen often, but it happens. I’ll give you an example. I worked for a company that faced a busy four lane highway. Our office had floor to ceiling windows. I was in a meeting with a least a dozen men (no women). We sat there in horror as we watched a woman wander directly into the middle of the street. I do not know why, but I jumped up and ran faster than I should have been able to run (I was in high heals) into dense 40 MPH traffic so I could pull that woman to safety. I did not think about it; I just did it. Turns out she was blind and disoriented and thought she was heading for the sidewalk. – This is what I think happens in these situations. If your heart is with God, He will prompt you to action. Again, I don’t know what the Church teaches about this, I only know from my own experience and I’ve seen it happen more than once. – Another time, my husband and I were having an elegant dinner with friends on the waterfront when he abruptly left the table, ran outside, jumped into the frigid water (in a business suit, no less) to save this woman he saw slip off a boat. She was flailing around in the water. Turns out she couldn’t swim. Again, there were a lot of people around. Why did HE jump in that water? He wouldn’t be able to tell you if you asked him. He just did. – None of this is earthshattering, I know, just peculiar from a self-preservation POV. Now the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93. . .. THAT was amazing and you can’t tell me God wasn’t with them every step of the way.

          Because this subject seems to run deeper for you, I would strongly encourage you to get a blessing from your priest to carry a gun. If you get his blessing, pray every time you touch it that God will direct you when and if you need to use it.

          May God bless you, Sub-Deacon.

          • Subdeacon Justin says

            Dear Gail,

            I would think that your actions were very Orthodox, since you both risked your lives to save another. What could be a higher expression of love for one’s neighbor than that? Plus, sounds like your husband ruined his suit, or at least had a big dry cleaning bill!

            As previously mentioned, I no longer carry. Since I spend a significant amount of my time outside of the US, it wouldn’t be possible anyway.

  3. Will Harrington says

    Gun control is a distraction. A way for politicians to say “look, I’m doing something”, while doing nothing positive. In my more cynical moments, which happen with increasing frequency, I am not so charitable to politicians and see the push for gun control as nothing more than the worst sort of power grab. What we really need to do is hard. We have to identify those policies that have disenfranchised black men to such an extent that a violent and criminal lifestyle seems like a reasonable option. There are too many with no real connection to the children they have fathered and no real hope for leading a successful life in mainstream society. They do not have the motivation or the education to succeed. This goes back to the Great Society and we now have generations of families (using the term loosely) that are dependent on the government and have no incentive to create family units with a mother and father. Lets demand that Obama deal with the real problem, institutionalized racist government policies. Welfare should always be a hand up, not a hand pushing people into the muck of government dependence so they are too scared to vote for anyone but the ones who give them their livelihood.

  4. Michael James Kinsey says

    The devil’s utterly efficient trap confronts all of us daily. It is the lesser of the 2 evils. The lesser evil is sin and a violation of the Royal Law. Reveaiing where the Jews are hiding instead of lying to the Nazi’s, is a classic case. Shooting and perhaps killing the bomber in the church to prevent him from killing people who love you is forced by the killer The horror and guilt for allowing the killer to harm your loved ones will be far greater than stopping the killer by whatever means necessary. Of course, you know this. Stopping the killer is the lesser of the 2 evils. Only the Victorious Lord Jesus Christ perfectly escaped this trap every time it confronted him. The devil had nothing in Him. The devil has something in all of us in varying degrees, we all have fallen short. It is better to fall short with the lesser evil. Rejoice daughter of Zion, and her sons, the Lord has covered your sin. All sins against men shall be forgiven, especially the ones we don’t want to commit, but are trapped into doing. A veil of tears indeed!

  5. Nate Trost says

    Good grief, that lead up in the other thread and you present work that isn’t even your own? From what you said I thought you were slaving away on an essay, not prepping to reblog someone else’s. It’s really a shame this blog comment system doesn’t support inline images. This could really use some animated GIFs for levity, and having to hardlink them is so 2004. Oh well, onward we go…

    -Actually, now would seem to be a very bad time for such action. The reason is simple: the murder rate is historically low and is already trending downward.

    That the murder rate has been declining over the past several decades is well-known fact. At least, well-known among people who take care to be informed about trends in American society that don’t revolve around entertainment. This is, admittedly, a far smaller percentage of the population than it should be. I can see how this data point would be a surprise to people steeped in a “America is in an ever descending spiral of moral decay into SecularMarxistProgressivistSocialistHedonismModernistMaterialsm(tm)” mindset. Of course, if in response to being surprised by such data, one dusts off one’s hands and says “It’s ok boys, everything is coming up roses, no room for improvement here! Better and better everyday!” only to promptly return to the previous “America is doooooomed” mindset, mind the cognitive whiplash. (visual accompaniment: http://i.imgur.com/unPSm.gif)

    -We can only speculate on what might be behind this trend, but I will point out a few interesting facts.

    There is no way we can know such things! But here is a list of things that my readers will nod their head to and attach a positive correlation to, even thought I offer no evidence to support them whatsoever!

    Leaving aside the rest of the world, trying to ascertain the causes of this reduction the US has actually been the source of no small amount of head scratching and study. The suggestion that the giant drop in the amount of lead we subject children to being a significant contributing factor to the reduction in violent behavior is far from fringe, and has nothing to do with gun laws, much less capital punishment. What I find precious is he does source the information for his facts, but since he knows he is preaching to a choir, apparently doesn’t have to worry about the details behind the document he is linking to:

    -From 1980 to 2000 our prison population more than quadrupled.

    The source document is a Justice Policy Institute paper from May of 2000. One wonders whether it crossed the mind of the author to perhaps use material that included the decade most recently concluded. He certainly didn’t feel any qualms about hinting at a positive correlation between declining homicide rates and throwing tons of people in jail despite linking to a source paper that has such tidbits as:

    The connection between incarceration and crime rates appears as elusive at the end of the 90s as it has been in previous decades. There is little correlation between states with skyrocketing incarceration rates and the recent crime declines witnessed across the country. The “New York Miracle” – the sharp drops in homicides and violent crime rates experienced by America’s largest city between 1992 and 1997 – have occurred at the same time that New York State had the second slowest growing prison system in the country, and at a time when the city’s jail system downsized.

    New York’s modest prison growth provides a solid contrast to the explosive use of incarceration in other states. During the same 1992-97 period, California’s prison population grew by 30%, or about 270 inmates per week, compared to New York State’s more modest 30 inmates a week. Between 1992 and 1997, New York State’s violent crime rate fell by 38.6%, and its murder rate by 54.5%. By contrast, California’s violent crime rate fell by a more modest 23%, and its murder rate fell by 28%.

    Put another way, New York experienced a percentage drop in homicides which was half again as great as the percentage drop in California’s homicide rate, despite the fact that California added 9 times as many inmates per week to its prisons as New York.

    Yes, apparently we can only speculate as to whether or not the author actually reads things he is referencing. (visual accompaniment: http://i.imgur.com/hJsDx.gif)

    -While the most recent murder rate is fairly low for the United States, we often hear that other countries like Australia, Japan and the UK have much lower murder rates. If we want to compare countries, we should not “cherry pick.” Let’s look at all countries. The United Nations collects such data. Out of 206 countries, the US ranks 103 – smack in the middle.

    The author isn’t going to cherry pick, he is going to do the opposite! Sadly there isn’t a formal colloquialism for this, perhaps dumping rutabagas? I think I find this amusing because it’s kind of reverse American exceptionalism, from quarters that usually demand American exceptionalism. U-S-A! U-S-A! We’re number 103! We’re number 103! We’re doing better than Congo and Turkmenistan is our peer country! To which I say, nuts on that. If we are going to benchmark America against other countries, let’s do it against countries that actually have valid claims to be peers. There aren’t a whole lot of countries that fit that list. I wonder how the US stacks up against them using the UNODC data cited?

    Country 2010
    United States 4.8
    South Korea 2.6
    Finland 2.2
    Belgium 1.7
    Canada 1.6
    Greece 1.5
    Ireland 1.2
    United Kingdom* 1.2
    Portugal 1.2
    France* 1.1
    Netherlands* 1.1
    New Zealand 1.1
    Australia 1.0
    Sweden 1.0
    Denmark* 0.9
    Italy 0.9
    Spain 0.8
    Germany 0.8
    Switzerland 0.7
    Austria 0.6
    Norway 0.6
    Japan* 0.4
    Singapore 0.4

    * 2009 statistic

    Average of non-US countries: 1.1

    So, yes, the US has over four times the homicide rate than the average of the above 22 countries.

    I think it’s also worthwhile to dump a full table of stats from that document, because you may be wondering at this point, if homicide rates were falling in the US in recent decades, what was the trend in other advanced developed countries?

    Country 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
    United States 8.1 7.3 6.7 6.2 5.6 5.5 5.6 5.6 5.7 5.5 5.6 5.8 5.7 5.4 5.0 4.8
    South Korea 2.0 2.3 2.1 2.1 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.9 2.6
    Finland 2.9 3.0 2.7 2.2 2.8 2.9 3.0 2.5 2.0 2.8 2.3 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.3 2.2
    Belgium 2.1 2.8 3.1 2.2 2.6 2.1 2.1 2.0 1.9 1.7 1.7
    Canada 2.0 2.1 2.0 1.9 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.9 1.7 2.0 2.1 1.9 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.6
    Greece 1.4 1.6 1.9 1.6 1.4 1.4 1.3 1.0 1.1 1.0 1.2 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.5
    Ireland 1.2 1.2 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.3 1.3 1.1 0.7 1.3 1.5 1.8 1.1 1.3 1.2
    United Kingdom 1.6 1.5 1.5 1.6 1.6 1.7 1.8 2.1 1.8 1.7 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.3 1.2
    Portugal 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.1 1.1 1.0 1.1 1.4 1.4 1.3 1.5 1.7 1.2 1.2 1.2
    France 2.0 1.7 1.6 1.6 1.8 1.8 1.9 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.3 1.4 1.1
    Netherlands 1.9 1.5 1.5 1.3 1.5 1.4 1.7 1.4 1.5 1.4 1.2 1.0 1.0 1.1 1.1
    New Zealand 1.1 1.3 1.6 1.3 1.2 1.3 1.3 1.5 1.1 1.1 1.5 1.2 1.1 1.2 1.5 1.1
    Australia 1.8 1.7 1.7 1.5 1.8 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.5 1.3 1.3 1.4 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.0
    Sweden 0.9 1.1 1.0 1.1 1.1 1.0 0.9 1.1 0.9 1.2 0.9 1.0 1.2 0.9 1.0 1.0
    Denmark 1.1 1.3 1.7 0.9 1.0 1.1 1.0 1.0 1.2 0.8 1.0 0.5 0.7 1.0 0.9
    Italy 1.8 1.7 1.5 1.5 1.4 1.3 1.2 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.0 1.1 1.1 1.0 1.0 0.9
    Spain 1.0 1.0 1.2 1.3 1.2 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.2 1.2 1.1 1.1 0.9 0.9 0.8
    Germany 1.7 1.5 1.4 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.1 1.2 1.0 1.1 1.1 1.0 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.8
    Switzerland 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.1 1.2 1.0 1.2 1.2 1.0 1.1 1.0 0.8 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7
    Austria 1.0 1.2 0.8 1.0 0.8 1.0 0.9 0.8 0.6 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.6
    Norway 1.0 1.0 0.9 0.9 0.8 1.1 0.8 1.0 1.1 0.8 0.7 0.7 0.6 0.7 0.6 0.6
    Japan 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.4
    Singapore 1.5 0.9 1.1 1.0 1.0 0.9 0.8 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.4

    Short answer: it also declined, although by a smaller amount. Basically a 40% reduction in the US from 1996-2010 compared to an average of 17% for the rest. Strangely the author never appears to make a mention that this trend of reduced homicide rates appears to be a global phenomenon among peer countries. Funny that. (visual accompaniment: http://i.imgur.com/QIRn7.gif)

    -Here is the list of European countries whose most recent murder rates exceeded the U.S.’s

    Once again, apparently I am supposed to be comforted that we are doing marginally better than Belarus. It’s also where I start to lose my patience with the author because he actually adds Greenland, a country with ~56,000 people to that list.

    -In over 52% of the murders in the US in 2011 in which the race of the murderer was known, the murderer was black. Over half of the victims of murder were also black. But blacks are only 13.6% of the population. Put all that together, and the murder rate in the US for non-blacks was more like 2.6 per 100,000 in 2011.

    As Peter Baldwin put it in his book, The Narcissism of Minor Differences, “Take out the black underclass from the statistics, and even American murder rates fall to European levels.”

    A rate of 2.6 would put us below the Southern European countries of Albania (4.0) and Montenegro (3.5), and in the neighborhood of the Western European countries of Liechtenstein (2.8) and Luxembourg (2.5).

    Author says he doesn’t want to cherry pick. Proceeds to cherry pick. This is my surprised face. (visual accompaniment: http://i.imgur.com/q6myr.gif). Setting aside the racial issue for a moment, when I run the numbers attempting to duplicate his methodology for “non-black” I ended up with a figure of 2.8 for 2010. Which is still approaching three times higher than the average from the basket of countries above. The author tries to sidestep this inconvenience that no, you can’t in fact blame it all on “the blacks” by then comparing us whities favorably to Albania instead of Germany. Then, because his moment to finally strap on the pink hot-pants of statistical insanity finally arrived he compared it favorably with Liechtenstein, whose homicide rate leapt by a rate of INFINITY DEATHS to 2.8 from 0 in the years it actually had a murder. That’s murder, singular, as in: there was one. If we run the average for the years data available including the years where the homicide rate was 0, we end up with an average rate of: 0.8 for Liechtenstein.

    Since we’ve discovered that pretending there are no black people in America doesn’t actually help *that* much, I suppose it’s worth noting that the author makes absolutely no attempt to correlate this violence with the narcotics trade. In my mind there is a difference between “Hey, look at figures would be if blacks didn’t exist!” and “Hey, look at what would would happen if blacks didn’t exist but the drug market only made a modest corresponding downward adjustment in consumption and the violent behavior continued accordingly conducted by non-black actors!” One is at least not nakedly racist.

    -The Government Accountability Office estimated that 25,064 criminal aliens (non-U.S. citizens) were arrested for homicide in the U.S. Compare that number to the total number of homicides in the U.S. in 2011: 14,612. The criminal aliens committed their murders over a number of years, but that is still a high percentage of all murders in the U.S. that are committed by non-citizens.

    I find the saying “Don’t ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence” words to live by. But this little gem right here? You’re going to have a hard time convincing me that this isn’t willful, intentional disingenuity on the part of the author. He has such a specific estimate from the GAO: 25,064, yet no time-span to give context to this figure? What happens if I google “25,064 aliens homicide”? If you answered: you get like four useful links, one to the source essay, one to monomakhos, and one to http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.+Res.+461: House Resolution 461 from the 112th Congress (thanks to Steve King “Steve King!“), which, clearly states in the first couple lines: “Whereas, according to the Government Accountability Office, there have been 25,064 homicide arrests of criminal aliens since 1955”. 1955-2011 = “a number of years”. So when you use such a vague term, 14,612 homicides in 2011?!? 25,064 aliens responsible for homicides an a matter of years?!? Stop the presses it’s an crisis!

    Total homicides between 1960-2011: 908,965. Apparently the author considers 2.8% a high percentage. (visual accompaniment: http://i.imgur.com/58dmS.gif)

    Or, perhaps he realized in context it isn’t a higher percentage, so in order to maintain the fantasy for his readers that if we got rid of all those blacks and illegals we’d make the socialists in Western Europe look like a bunch of bloodthirsty killers he deliberately omitted the time-span. Or, perhaps he really is that staggeringly incompetent at actually looking at his source references. You, the viewer must decide!

    -But what about guns? Does the US have a murder problem because of so many guns? Again, let’s not cherry-pick; let’s look at all other countries.

    Have we gotten tired of this dance yet?

    -The statistics bear that out: the correlation coefficient is negative, -0.23, and it is statistically significant.

    After the above, don’t you have the sneaking suspicion this guy has bit of a shaky grasp of statistics?

    -Two of the most heavily armed countries, Finland and Switzerland, have murder rates of 2.2 and 0.7, among the lowest in the world.

    Hey, yeah Finland, that was in our list earlier, he didn’t mention the other Scandavian countries, how does it compare to…

    United States 4.8
    Finland 2.2
    Sweden 1.0
    Norway 0.6

    You know what’s coming: http://i.imgur.com/DDv1J.gif

    -Yes, you can look for trends, but the Centers for Disease Control already did that for you. During 2000-02, a CDC task force “conducted a systematic review of scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of firearms laws in preventing violence,
    including violent crimes, suicide, and unintentional injury.” Here was their conclusion.

    Could he be misrepresenting the report? Is the answer really going to surprise you at this juncture? You might be saying to yourself, self, I’m reading this CDC report, it seems like a summary review of what seems to be a shockingly small number of available existing studies relevant to gun violence. The review makes it clear that the existing body of work has issues, in some cases due to methodology, in other cases due to lack of available data. It seems like the takeaway is better data and better studies are needed, not that inadequate research means firearms laws are meaningless. I wonder why important data isn’t collected? Surely it couldn’t be because of relentless efforts by a large well-funded special interest lobby? Why isn’t the CDC and NIH using their expertise to do appropriately rigorous studies? Surely it couldn’t be because they are legally barred from doing so? That would imply the relentless efforts by a large well-funded special interest lobby!

    Audible sigh. Once again. Not. Impressed.

    • George Michalopulos says

      The reason I posted this essay was because Mr Hovell did the leg work and an excellent job of synthezing the data into a coherent narrative. All I did was lead up to is. I’ve done that in the past BTW. It’s done all the time.

      Of course as a Christian I decry one death (as well as one abortion) but I’ll gladly take the 2.8 per 100,000 murder rater (for whites) in the US to the 2.0 for France and of course the 6. for Ukraine, Moldova, Estonia, Russia, etc. And of course the astronimically high ones for Sudan, Nigeria, Phillipines, etc. (Curious as to why you left those out and compared the US to lilly-white countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark? Care to expand on that for us?) What terrifies people like you is that even with the total murder per 100,000 the US is still far safer than half the world’s countries. And it is far safer than England/Wales when it comes to home invasions (wonder why?)

      As for the 25,000 murders by illegal aliens, I agree that the author left out the timespan. But ultimately that’s immaterial: that’s 25,000 murders that wouldn’t have happened had we enforced our borders. Because, you know, illegal aliens are ILLEGAL. That this number spanned decades means nothing. The Rosenbergs only spied once on the US. Using your logic the fact that there have been so few spy rings in the US makes what the Rosenbergs did something like a nothingburger, because, after all, they were just one. Don’t think so.

      The problem of course is that statists like you really don’t like the fact that we live in a Republic made up of free men. And like most coastal metrosexuals you view Red State America with disdain because we still believe in the Constitution and natural law principles. There are a lot of reasons those of us in rural and suburban/exurban America want to keep our guns –we live miles from the nearest police station for one thing. (The sheriff’s office for my county is 15.2 miles away from my house, and it’s all two-lane road that is unlit and twists and turns over hill and dale.) The problem for the largely urban Blue State liberals is that you all cower in fear in your high-crime cities and you want the criminal element disarmed. Of course you can’t say who it is you want disarmed and we Red Staters aren’t playing along with you. Hence you want all guns confiscated hoping in this way that you won’t appear to be racists.

      Are there problems with America? Yup. Don’t like our founding principles? Move to Lichtenstein.

      Audible sigh, as ever: not impressed.

      • Nate Trost says

        We disagree as to whether he had a coherent narrative, as my previous comment demonstrates.

        Of course as a Christian I decry one death (as well as one abortion) but I’ll gladly take the 2.8 per 100,000 murder rater (for whites) in the US


        You don’t get to take a 2.8 murder rate, because even in your preferred version of America, where apparently, black people don’t exist, you wouldn’t have a 2.8 murder rate due to underlying causation for the homicides not magically going away once you get rid of a racial group.

        Now, that unsavory element aside I can at least respect an opinion of “I don’t care if the US has X times as many deaths as other advanced developed countries as long as I get to own guns”.

        And of course the astronimically high ones for Sudan, Nigeria, Phillipines, etc.

        Sudan?!? You don’t pay much attention to geopolitics, do you? Strange, the countries are the very bottom of of my list aren’t lilly white. And many of those other countries from my list have significant ethnic minorities as well.

        As for the 25,000 murders by illegal aliens, I agree that the author left out the timespan. But ultimately that’s immaterial: that’s 25,000 murders that wouldn’t have happened had we enforced our borders.

        If I didn’t know better by now I’d think you were being facetious. It’s rather hard to “enforce the borders” in a country like the United States, due both to our size and our liberties, how much money and manpower has been spent trying to prevent the flow of illegal drugs into the country? You want to pretend that number could actually be zero without becoming North Korea circa 1980? Or is North Korea a small price to pay for that <3%? You were willing to trade multipliers of homicide rates for the liberty of gun rights a minute ago. And you want to call me a statist?

        The Rosenbergs only spied once on the US. Using your logic the fact that there have been so few spy rings in the US makes what the Rosenbergs did something like a nothingburger, because, after all, they were just one. Don’t think so.

        Remember when you wanted to know about fallacies? This would be one of them.

        And like most coastal metrosexuals you view Red State America with disdain because we still believe in the Constitution and natural law principles.

        Once again, despite knowing nothing about me, you fall back on presumption and derogatory labels that fit your stereotype for someone who would criticize you. It sure is easier than mounting a coherent argument! I suppose eventually you might have a presumption about me that turns out to match reality, but today is not that day, I fear.

        • George Michalopulos says

          So much to chew on but work awaits. Just two points for now:

          If it is really “hard to enforce the borders” of the US, then how in heaven’s name are you going to confiscate 300 million weapons?

          Regarding the Rosenbergs being part of a spy ring, I guess you don’t get the proposition that that one spy ring did incalculable damage to the US. In their own way, the relatively smaller number of murders by illegal aliens likewise does massive damage to their victims.

          • Nate Trost says

            The problem here is you are now ascribing an absolutist position to me which I have never taken. In fact, one of my prime criticisms of your re-blogged essay is that it itself takes what can be described as a bit of an absolutist position: that there is utterly no point in doing anything regarding the law and guns in the United States to affect homicide.

            It goes on to attempt to provide support for that opinion by throwing around a bunch of statistics to try and put the US in a better light regardless of how ridiculous those comparisons actually are, comes back after an initial dog whistle to get a good round of racism in, and then has the chutzpah to pretend that an entity banned from doing research and study on gun violence actually thinks that studies have proven that there is no correlation between gun legislation and gun violence.

            Nowhere did I turn around and suggest confiscating 300 million weapons. You, however, seem to think it is perfectly reasonable to expect that a country with thousands of miles of borders, a country that has a free and open society that is supposedly anathema (Achtung! Papers Please!) to police-state internal controls can somehow magically prevent all murder by people who legally aren’t supposed to be in the country.

            Good luck with that. What, you want to spend another $100 billion a year and shred the Constitution to try and reduce ~14,000 murders a year to ~13,500? What kind of nanny statist are you? Or maybe we should change priorities on the billions we do spend attempting to do difficult things like detect radiation sources in stuff coming across the border and divert that funding to the existing efforts on trying to keep people out who maybe, just maybe might shoot somebody with a gun. I question those priorities.

            • George Michalopulos says

              I am not, nor ever have been, an “absolutist.” Hence the rest of your argument falls apart.

              • Nate Trost says

                I point you to your own words:

                that’s 25,000 murders that wouldn’t have happened had we enforced our borders


                That is an absolute statement. You didn’t qualify it with such terms in “reduction of”, you stated that number would not have happened. Which is ridiculous because it implies perfection is possible. If you don’t want to be accused of absolutism, don’t quote 100% of the number.

                Amusingly, I did make a mistake with this section, which you could have called me out on if you had actually bothered to read the source bill. I noted it but then forgot about it:

                Whereas, according to the Government Accountability Office, there have been 25,064 homicide arrests of criminal aliens since 1955

                Aliens who commit crimes are of course criminal aliens. Aliens who are in the country illegally are also, of course, criminal aliens. But not all aliens are criminal aliens, many are in fact, legally here. In other words: unless otherwise more specifically quantified, this statistic may include every alien legally in the country from 1955-2011 who subsequently committed a homicide, thus becoming criminal aliens. I’m embarrassed by that oversight: this part of your approved essay deserved far more derision than I gave it.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  I didn’t say “all aliens are criminal aliens.” There are thousands of resident aliens living in America legally, possessing a Green Card. But I take your point and stand corrected, but with this major qualification: the vast majority of legal resident aliens are not criminals nor do they engage in criminal activity. Hence the vast majority of murders by aliens are perpetrated by illegal aliens, hence the concern with enforcing the border.

                  The point remains: not all aliens are criminals but all illegal aliens but all illegal aliens are by definition criminals since they broke the laws of our land to get here. The fact that perpetrated only 96% of the murders attributed to aliens in general is small consolation to the families of those natives who had a relative killed by one of them. This indictment would stand if illegal aliens only committed 92%, 83%, or even 30.01% of the murders. They have no business being here illegally (stand in line like my everybody else and get a green card) and anyway, the purpose of the state is to protect its people. If it can’t do that, then it’s illegitimate and needs to be replaced.

      • Daniel E. Fall says

        Actually, the editorial is quite a bit off. The real problem in the US is handgun violence and the actors in Hollywood get no pass with me, but not for trying to wake people up to gun violence.

        Stallone is currently advertising his new movie Bullet to the Head, all proper punctuation intentionally left out. Hollywood is part of the problem with their advocation of violence. They are not alone. Software companies are making a fortune in the world of gore as well. Capitalism. Shall we discuss the eastern seaboard pharmas selling bad dope. Rampant greed is contributing to violence. Even the poor black kids shooting each other all the time are trying to make a buck selling dope.

        The handgun violence is horrific and no other country compares. The founders did not intend for 10,000 handgun deaths a year, so don’t tell people to move if they recognize the founders decision making didn’t account for all things. We can go down that road all day and keep missing (Amendments anyone?).

        As a bird hunter, I can attest there is nearly no need for handguns and certainly no need for 30 round clips.

        Our politicians, however, have not enough cajones to even raise taxes to pay for wars, so it’ll be awhile..

        • George Michalopulos says

          What you describe is the collapse of morallity. The individually-owned muskets that were envisioned by the Founding Fathers when they wrote the Bill of Rights were the ultimate weapons of their day. If they didn’t want Americans to be armed with the most lethal weaponry they would have specified that only dueling pistols, machetes, bows and arrows, slings, and knives were necessary. Had semi-automatic weapons been a reality then, then the Founding Fathers would have left them in as part of the mix.

          The 2nd Amendment was never about hunting or burglary.

          • Nate Trost says

            If you state that the 2nd Amendment was never about burglary, then you actually disagree with Heller. The law of the land is that the 2nd Amendment explicitly applies to protecting the right to ownership of firearms for traditionally lawful activities, such as self-defense in a homestead setting. I’m kind of amused if you are actually such an Originalist that you are at odds with the NRA, assorted gun rights fanatics, and the Supreme Court.

            Simultaneously with apparently disbelieving that the 2nd amendment isn’t actually relevant to individual self-protection, you seem to imply a belief in an interpretation of the 2nd amendment that suggests the Founders intended the general public to be armed with the most lethal weaponry possible.

            To which I reply, I am very very worried about tyranny and potentially having to fight off oppression as part of a well regulated militia. Unfortunately when I run wargame scenarios against potential aggressors I am concerned about several severe shortcomings in operational capabilities. In order to try and rectify this I sent a RFP to Pantex requesting quotes on an appropriate tactical munition capable of variable yield in the 0.1-200 kiloton range. Basically I just wanted something like the W-84, only incorporating modernization advances to the trigger package and a modern PAL based off the LEP of the B-61. When making that kind of investment, I do want it to be able to last long-term.

            They have not replied to my RFP. I am outraged, but knowing your views on the interpretation of the 2nd amendment, I find myself encouraged and have little doubt that I will prevail in court and get the appropriate arsenal I am entitled to under the Constitution. Mind you, I do expect you to be a witness on my behalf.

            What I find truly, truly sad and pathetic about this whole business is we now live in an age where the Supreme Court has firmly established precedent that the 2nd amendment accords the right for individuals to own weapons that include such things as rifles, handguns and shotguts for purposes including self-defense. Despite these legal precedents, certain quarters have inflated hysteria to even greater levels, inspiring fresh floods of orders for advanced and lethal weaponry flooding the country well in excess of what is actually necessary for the average American citizen to, you know, protect themselves. Part of this hysteria is even greater, well monied resistance to establishing any laws to better reign in and enforce accountability for high-end equipment capable of causing mass casualty incidents.

            I suppose you can, in theory, argue that if you had walked into the Constitutional Convention and demonstrated weaponry capable allowing a single individual to kill a couple dozen people and wound more in the span of a few minutes that it wouldn’t have changed their wording of the 2nd amendment one iota. I would love to see you try and argue that you could demonstrate a device smaller and lighter than a period cannon capable of killing the entire population of the continent at that time in a matter of moments that they wouldn’t have spent a lot more time wording things, much less spent time questioning various religious beliefs.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Although I very much agree with the outcome of Heller, I must disagree –based on the best available evidence–that the Founding Fathers very much wanted an armed populace. Guns for self-defense against burglary and/or for hunting were never an issue in that that these two activities are as natural as breathing the air and eating food. There is no need to legislate against these things. If you did, you might as well enact laws that mandate you remember your wife’s birthday, buy her flowers, and take her out for dinner.

              The revolutionary aspect of the American experiment was that the government was going to be devolved to as many citizens as possible (again, not Amerinds, slaves, indentured servants, women, children, cripples, those on the parish dole, non-property-holders, etc.). In other words, they were going to try and resurrect the ancient Greek citizen concept which granted political authority to as many people as possible, which they deemed to be those free-born men who could carry the hoplon (heavy shield) in battle-formation.

              So yes, the Founding Fathers did intend for the largest amount of people possible to be arrayed with the most lethal weaponry, otherwise they would have specified which muskets and what caliber (and the amount of ammunition) were allowable to said populace.

              • Daniel E. Fall says

                Well, there you have the whole story. Women and their crippled children ought not bear arms.

                That’ll go over well with the NRA, not to mention SCOTUS.

                And God might not even know what Alex Jones might do, but spit would be involved.

            • Archpriest John Morris says

              The Constitutional Convention did not adopt the Bill of Rights. During the debate on the ratification of the constitution by the stats, the supporters promised to add a Bill of Rights to insure the ratification of the constitution. The Constitutional Convention adopted the Constitution in 1787 which went into effect in 1789. The first 10 amendments that form the Bill of Rights were introduced into the first Congress by James Madison and ratified as amendments to the original constitution in 1791.

              • Nate Trost says

                You are quite correct, that was a sloppy error on my part. That’ll teach me for being too preoccupied with whether they’d be more impressed by the Saiga or the SPAS-15…

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Envy and sloth are as worrisome as greed when it comes to perpetrating violence. Throw in some anger and you really have a problem.

        • oliver douglas says

          Sorry, but being a “bird hunter” does not qualify you to restrict other people’s rights, or to even comment on their exercise of them with any bit of wisdom. After thirty years in law enforcement, I believe that a hand gun is necessary -to protect me and my family. I had much more to add, but all I am going to write here is that after thirty years of regular practice, extensive study in the mechanics of firearms operations, psychology and the laws and statutes of the federal government and state and local governments pertaining to firearms, I am extremely tired of politicians and others who are very uninformed about the topic making overbroad statements. Please study up before commenting. A very sad example of the dangers of firmly believing in the correctness of one’s position without obtaining outside expert/qualified advise can be seen in a recent instance where those in charge of a school must have strongly believed that a locked front door abutting a glass panel was good security. A little homework for all please.

          • Daniel E. Fall says

            You sound like a scared little child Oliver.

            Where did I advocate for taking all handguns away? I just said not everybody needs one.

            I’m not even advocating for restricting handsticks to people like you, but not everyone needs a handgun and I won’t own one to my death, so it is humorous to call me uninformed when I’m only stating a fact that we have severe handgun violence here.. And being a bird hunter or even a manure cleaner upper qualifies me to comment on other people’s rights when they can infringe on mine, so you are wrong. My only point is I am a gun owner and have no wishes for a gun ban.

            As a law enforcement officer, you have the classic symptom that what you say matters, but what I say does not. That might work in your uniform, but fails here.

            As for the glass panel slam on the school; you sound pathetic as hell. Open your eyes.

            Why don’t you check out some of the other thousands or so schools in the US. They all have glass doors and nearly none go into a lockdown. And most of them have one way access into a classroom. A gunman can walk in, block the door and kill everyone.

            It is too bad you bring such a wise, cogent point whilst slamming the school principal that died. Odd that you find it necessary to credit the dead lady in order to do it.

            Not odd; shameful.

            After all my comments to your post, truthful thanks for serving the public. I geniunely admire cops.

            • George Michalopulos says

              I know many gun owners like you who think that the Left does not wish to ban all guns. OK, I’ll bite. Then why did The Journal News publish the names of all gun owners in New York State? Why didn’t they publish the names of all welfare recipients, or women who had abortions, or sexual predators?

            • oliver douglas says

              Huh? Are you Piers Morgan in disguise? In addition to studying a topic before commenting, one should also (carefully) read a letter before commenting.

          • Daniel E. Fall says

            You sound like a scared little child Oliver.

            Where did I advocate for taking all handguns away? I just said not everybody needs one.

            I’m not even advocating for restricting handsticks to people like you, but not everyone needs a handgun and I won’t own one to my death, so it is humorous to call me uninformed when I’m only stating a fact that we have severe handgun violence here.. And being a bird hunter or even a manure cleaner upper qualifies me to comment on other people’s rights when they can infringe on mine, so you are wrong. My only point is I am a gun owner and have no wishes for a gun ban, but perhaps a few guns and grenade launchers need banning. As a cop, find it funny you’d be okay with a grenade launcher flying through your squad window someday. We just lost a MN officer to a guy taking revenge for DWI arrest-the guy set up an ambush with a shotgun.

            As a law enforcement officer, you have the classic symptom that what you say matters, but what I say does not. That might work in your uniform, but fails here.

            As for the glass panel slam on the school; you sound pathetic as hell. Open your eyes.

            Why don’t you check out some of the other thousands or so schools in the US. They all have glass doors and nearly none go into a lockdown. And most of them have one way access into a classroom. A gunman can walk in, block the door and kill everyone.

            It is too bad you bring such a wise, cogent point whilst slamming the school principal that died. Odd that you find it necessary to credit the dead lady in order to do it.

            Not odd; shameful.

            After all my comments to your post that I found generally distasteful and off, truthful thanks for serving the public. I geniunely admire cops, just not all words uttered.

            • oliver douglas says

              You say “As a law enforcement officer, you have the classic symptom that what you say matters, but what I say does not. That might work in your uniform, but fails here.” Where was that stated? Quite to the contrary. Just thinking out loud.

              Where did I accuse you of wanting to take away all handguns?

              No one “slammed” the dead principal. She probably relied on “expert” advice. Sometimes reliance on plain old common sense is as valuable as the opinions of the experts.

              And yes-maybe a gun man can walk into most schools and block the door and shoot away. Is that supposed to be an argument for doing nothing-no trying to improve things? Is that your conclusion?

              Where did the comment about “grenade launchers” come from? Your straw man, perhaps?

              Who are “people like you” [i.e. me]? Law enforcement? You assume I wear a uniform. You must also assume I just have a high school diploma. In fact I have one-it stands right next to my doctorate. I am the child? No-you sound like the guy who got pulled over one night and were unable to impress the cop that you were too smart or important to get a ticket. Once again-study up before you comment.

              • oliver douglas says

                FYi, just to be clearer-I am the guy who polices the police. The guy you call when the traffic cop goes beyond his authority, or when you or your house is searched without a warrant. You’re welcome. Now go read something.

      • Archpriest John Morris says

        Anyone who thinks that gun control will stop violence is an idiot. If guns were made illegal, a person looking for a gun could still find one. Narcotics are illegal, but people still get them. Guns do not kill, people kill. We need to look at the moral break down of our society to see the reason why events like New Town took place. We also need to reevaluate our mental health system to identify and institutionalize people with serious mental problems and people who cannot take care of themselves like many of the homeless who suffer from mental illness or substance abuse problems. It is not Christian to let someone who is obviously unable to take care of themselves live on the street. There used to be vagrancy laws that would have taken care of most of the homeless. We have become too concerned with civil rights if we think a person has a right to sleep on the street or stand on corners harassing people begging for money.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Gun prohibition would breathe new life into organized crime as well.

        • Daniel E. Fall says

          Before you go making blanket statements Fr. Morris; perhaps you ought to at least back it up with a conversation about a country like Austrailia. After the AR15 assault ban, there are certainly changes to statistics there. Exactly who are you labeling an idiot? By the way, I fully agree with the rest of your statement; there are people that belong in places where they can get adequate care. The balance of liberties is certainly a difficult one to reconcile with societal needs, but the MMPI could certainly be utilized for some that are considered dangerous. Most of the data I’ve heard cite reduced violence in Austrailia since the clampdown on guns there…the buyback cost something like 50 billion. People like hunters were excepted, by the way.

          Interestingly enough, the very weapon used in Newton was the man’s version of the AR15 that drove the Aussie ban if my facts are right (I’m close). And George it is very interesting you embody the knowledge of what the intent of the founders was; that is a mystery of its very own. Noone does.

          Sorry if I offend you, but falling back on the intent of the founders is a baseless science. We truly can’t suggest the laws of then are sufficient for the laws of now and there is more than one Amendment to address changes in our lives since then. Consider the Old and New Testament; are those not essentially the embodyment of a change of laws from eternal condemnation to forgiveness of sin?

          Almost noone wants a total gun ban, but there are certain things that could make a difference. Registration, follow ups by law enforcement on rejected applications, a database reconciling reportable instances with gun/ammo purchasing with follow ups, etc. Why was Lanza declined and then noone followed up with him about why he wanted a weapon? If the school had reported a domestic incident with him and later a gun registration was flagged; perhaps his plot might have been uncovered…it isn’t such a stretch really and impinges on noones rights by asking a few questions. If his Mother found out he wanted a weapon; perhaps even she would have had him committed at that point; we might find out.

          In all of these, I can see where extreme positions of the right and the left would be problematic. The far left would cause trouble institutionalizing people and the far right would cause trouble on any gun law changes.

          To blame morality is an insufficient exercise of sitting and pointing at those you find less moral than you, but ask yourself for one second if you think Lanza was immoral or his mother was for owning all those guns and teaching her wacky kid how to use them. If you blame her morals, you would be consistent. If you blame gays; you fail. If you blame the rampant excessive buying of guns by gun owners instead of them giving to charity you are consistent; else you fail. The morality of gun owners is certainly in question.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Re your second paragraph: obviously you have never read any of the writings, letters, correspondence, etc. of our Founding Fathers.

            • Daniel E. Fall says

              The real problem is that America doesn’t require a Bill of Rights when we get involved in foreign countries.

              We seem to believe in a pseudo-prime directive for all you Star Trek fans. That is, it is okay to require democracy, but to require a Bill of Rights would harm the culture.

              The only thing we should require is a Bill of Rights and hold any type of government to it. A Democracy absent a bill of rights is essentially useless.

              Suggesting the slaughter of 20,000 Syrians or more at this point is necessary to avoid the persecution of Christians seems like it is missing something sort of basic in Orthodox teaching as I have learned it.

              Bauman’s suggesting the current administration wants the Syrian Christian population wiped out is nuts. Unbelievable depths your reactionary hatred Michael…I wish I could find a way you could save face.

              Assad has no way out. That is the real problem. All those people are dying to save him. If he had a spit of wisdom; he’d have flown his family out of there a long time ago.

              • George Michalopulos says

                No, Michael’s opinion should be studied. The East Coast elite which populates the State Dept and started the CIA has long had a visceral disdain for non-Protestant, traditionalist Christians. I call it Romophobia for short. The Presbyterian Yankees who set up the American Univ of Beirut back in the nineteenth century for example really had it in for the Catholic and Orthodox natives of the Middle East and actually preferred the Sunni majority. They also didn’t care much for the Jews and the Shi’ites. The only reason Lebanon was carved out of Syria to the benefit of the Christians was because the French demanded it following the Great War.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Daniel, I have no hatred. I don’t trust the man, his ideology or his motives. My opinion is based upon many things that Obama has said and done and, in particular, his dedication to the anti-colonialism of his father’s native land, Kenya.** Obama’s actions in Libya, Egypt and now Syria show that he favors the more radical Islamic groups. That, by default, means that he does not care about what they do to the indigenous Christian populations. Neither did Bush. His administration stood silent and inactive while the Christian population of Iran was decimated by the post-Saddam rulers. Clinton certainly didn’t as the bombing of Serbia on Pascha and his handing over of Kosvo to Albanian Muslim drug lords show. The darling Reagan did nothing to help either. He ran scared, IMO.

                The potential slaughter of Syrians in their civil war can be laid at the feet of all U.S. Presidents who have done nothing or conspired with Islamic groups and/or Islamic ‘secular’ tyrannts in Syria and througout the region always at the expense of the indigenous Christian populations who were there long before either the Muslims or the artificially inserted Jews.

                The foreign policy of the United States and the west (with France being an exception at times) has long favored the Muslim rulers of the Middle East. Thomas Jefferson was the last President who really acted against the Muslims. Every other American Predisent since has either not been involved, ran scared or was complicite with the persecution of Christians in the Apostolic lands, including the Armenian genocide and the persecution of Christians that was instrumental in the creation of the Antiochian Archdiocese in the first place toward the end ot the 19th century.

                The immigration policies of the time put great barriers in the way of Orthodox from both the Slavic lands and the Apostolic lands as well. One of the reasons that the GOA is the largest ethnic jurisdiction.

                Even the Christian-Zionism that holds that Israel can do no wrong helps create an atmosphere where indigenous Christians suffer.

                The Christians in the Apostolic lands face a cruel dilemma: protection from murdering tyrannts or some form of marytrdom under more religiously oreinted Islamic rule. It is a dilemma I would not care to face. I daresay, the existential difficulties the dilemma presents are far too easily dismissed by the neo-Wilsonian idealists who sit in their comfortable homes without much challenge to their faith (yet) especially those who have abandoned their faith in favor of a comfortable secularism with a slightly Christian patina.

                Patriarch Ignatius, Patriarch Elias before him and Patriarch elect-John have taken the stance of attempting to be mediators and directing their people not to take up arms. That is a noble and courageous postion to take.

                I am strongly opposed to Met. Philip’s public stance which is, as Gail pointed out, contradictory to the Patriarchal direction and, IMO, detrimental to the indigenous Christians as well.

                Bottom line, anyone who believes that Obama, his administrtion or any of his cronies don’t want traditional Christianity to be silenced anywhere it is found are allowing thier own political ideology to cloud their vision. However, such policy is nothing new, it is just more fully embraced than it has been for a while.

                **The same anti-colonial ideology that was evident in the Mau-Mau rebellion. There is a gentleman in my parish who was a Jesuit missionary in Kenya at the time. He had the horrific experience of watching his bother priests butchered by one of the Mau-Mau bands simply for being Christian and therefore a symbol of western oppression. Obama sent Churchill’s bust back because Churchill put down that rebellion with bloody force. IMO, it is Obama that has the hatred. It is not beyond the realm of possiblity that Abp Demetris was extended the “gracious invitation” to offer the benediction at the inaugural breakfast because the dear Abp is likely to make a fool out of himself again as he did with the Alexander speech a few years ago.

                • Assuming Obama is dedicated to anti-colonialism, I find it odd that an American would find this a bad thing. America was born in an anti-colonial revolution, based on the right of self-rule. America only had a few colonies, all gained in a very short period in its history (around the McKinley presidency) which was an aberration. Read Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the Atlantic Charter, Henry Luce’s article on the American Century, and so on, all of which acknowledged the rights of self-determination of peoples. So at least in rhetoric, American leaders have almost always taken a strongly anti-colonial position.

                  Of course the reality of our foreign policy has hardly been anti-colonial. America tends to contract the messy business of governance to pliant native elites and promote so-called “free trade” which is to the advantage of our financial class and trickles down to everyone else. (Radical Sunni Islamists, fyi, tend to align with Saudi Arabia and the global capitalist system – it is possible for the US government to work with them).

                  BTW, a bust of Churchill is still in the White House, just not in the Oval Office. It is common practice for new Presidents to do a bit of “redecorating” when they enter office, so the Churchill bust that the British Embassy loaned to Bush was automatically returned at the end of his term. The entire saga is here: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/08/the-case-of-the-two-churchills.html

            • Daniel E. Fall says

              This got posted to the wrong section….sorry.

          • Archpriest John Morris says

            If the government banned all guns, it would be like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. There are enough guns around that anyone who wants one can get one.
            I do not own a gun and would not have one in my house. My understanding of Orthodox canon law would forbid a priest from owning a gun. Clergy are forbidden to bear arms.
            I have no problem with mandatory gun registration. We have a right to own a car, but still have to register it and buy a license plate. When I was a boy, in Oklahoma City, we even had to register our bicycles.
            But gun registration will not prevent anyone who wants to get an illegal gun from getting one because there are already many guns around. Narcotics are banned, but I have no doubt that with a little effort, I could find them even here in Mississippi.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Case in point: Yesterday here in Wichita a 24 year old man who has an extensive, violent criminal history (a convicted felon) and is a white supremicist got into an arugment in a McDonald’s drive thru. He pulled a shotgun out of his car and blasted away at the driver he was mad at.

              Fortunately, amazingly, he didn’t hit any one. The police found him quickly at his home and arrested him.

              He is a career criminal already and probably a violent sociopath with no legal right to any firearms of any type. He had several and he’d only been out of jail for a few months. Any attempt to restrict demand artificially by law of anything that is desired will create a black market. That is basic (fallen) human nature. It must be decided whether the regulation is warranted enough and the toxic effect of the black market to be created at at a low enough level to make the regulation sensible.

              Draconian gun regulation will, IMO, create an extremely toxic black market that will further erode the fabric of our society and increase mistrust of the federal government. It is incredibly divisive. It will also create a mini-boom of intra-state gun companies. Companies that manufacture and sell their guns only withing the borders of a specific state only to citizens of that state. No inter-state commerce, no federal regulation. Texas and Wyoming already have such companies and legislators willing to protect them from federal interference by force of law.

              ALWAYS, regulation in response to tragedy is deeply flawed and onerous and the consequences far different than the intent.

              More to the point read Fr. Stephan Freeman’s post: http://glory2godforallthings.com/2013/01/10/shame-and-envy-our-secret-sins/

              Among many other insights, the article points out the way we have reacted to the Newtown massacre is indicative of our personal and national shame. A shame that we refuse to acknowledge and face together. Instead we engage in predictible patterns of displacing the shame through anger, blame and punishment of people not responsible for the tragedy (in this case law-abiding gun owners).

              Let us not forget the horror of Newtown, let us remember that it is ultimately the result of a culture that has divorced itself from God and the sacramental coummunity of the Church. Each of us is responsible for that divorce by our refusal to repent, by our refusal to love prusuing our own passions instead.

              The ultimate horror of Newtown and what is so difficult to face is that I am little different from the young man who did the killings. There is a place in my heart filled with homicidal envy, rage and destruction. My heart of darkness. Few, if any, escape that reality.

              Such impotent rage is the demonic gift that we each must refuse but still must encounter. It is evident in all sorts of ways in our culture and our discourse. It is evident in the OCA and in every aspect of our Church life regardless of jurisdiction, it is widely popular on the internet and makes its appearance here from time to time.

              “We all like sheep have gone astray, everyone to his own way…”

        • Crime seems to pay well in this world, but the eternal repercussions need to be considered. In my own family, my father parlayed his position as a graduate of New York Nautical School in about 1920 and his position as a Merchant Marine officer into a Chief Warrent Officer position in the US Coast Guard during the Prohibition era. The USCG needed ships officers with pilots licenses for the eastern seaboard (which my father had) to command their patrol boats in their war against the rum runners (smugglers of booze into the US). What is interesting is that he told me one time that the number one target for the New York segment of the USCG forces was (as he specifically stated), “a Boston gangster named Joseph Kennedy.” But, he added that they never did catch him because he was too smart; only his hirelings got caught.

  6. 2d Amendment says

    As passed by the Congress:

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:

    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed

    Now, what does this mean? As a southerner and an old one at that, I remember my uncles who described being called up for WWI. They each were required to supply their own weapon and each one that survived and made it back home still had that weapon. A couple of them even had the weapons they had captured off some enemy. Their own contributions to the war effort, besides their hardy selves, were hunting rifles, sometimes dating from the Civil or French and Indian Wars, because my family had always done their duty and I can personally prove that back to medieval european records. Rest of the time, if someone was not hunting or putting down a beloved animal or going to war, those guns were locked up, not at the bedside locked and loaded. The rifles and even a couple handguns were for providing for the family and doing one’s military duty. The concept was to avoid killing and avoid death, not to stay locked and loaded in a survivalist scenario. The idea of having a death on one’s conscience was abhorrent as was war itself. Closest to that today is probably Switzerland which follows the 2nd amendment to the Bill of Rights pretty closely: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Switzerland

    Note the relatively high personal weapons ownership in that state. But, note also that this implies a trained militia member having a weapon, that the person with the weapon is under and regulated and that the individuals are not forming private militias.

  7. A few points:

    1) It is more likely that a hypothetical tyrannical government of the American future will be taken down by defecting members of the military (a la Syria and Libya) or by hackers than by some sort of Red Dawn-style militia.

    2) Anti-gun hysteria is often met with pro-gun hysteria, as though the Great Gun is the solution to all problems.
    Armed guards at Columbine and Virginia Tech didn’t prevent shootings there. Firing guns in self-defense in a dark movie theater is as likely to lead to more confusion and accidental deaths as it is to saving lives. In fact the only thing that we *know* stops school shootings is the same thing that leads to the capture of terrorists before they strike: human intelligence, and someone reporting the plot to law enforcement before it happens (see a recent article in the LA Times on this, which for the life of me I can’t find a link to).

    3) Neither more guns nor more gun control will have much of an effect on violent crime, which rose dramatically from the 60s to early 90s and has declined ever since. Like any other long-term trend there are multiple causes – some theories include longer jail sentences, better policing, less lead in the paint, more abortions leads to fewer criminals being born (the odious nature of this theory goes unremarked), cultural changes in the African-American community, the end of the crack epidemic, you name it. But they have little to do with guns and gun control.

    4) The author’s linkage of race to violent behavior in the absence of any other variable – class, neighborhood, job opportunities, discrimination, education, family – is misleading (to be kind) and fantastic.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Point three is demonastrably false. Gun crime very often increases after a gun ban. There’s a simple reason for this: prohibition never works. Only the law-abiding abide by the law. Criminals don’t.

      • Ok, let’s have some statistics then that prove your point. In Australia firearms-related deaths decreased 27% after 1996, when several types of guns were banned. But I’m sure we could find another place where crime increased after gun control was implemented. My contention holds, that neither gun control nor guns have a direct, one-to-one correlation with crime.

        Since “prohibition never works,” are you in favor of legalizing drugs? Just curious.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I am in favor of revisiting all our drug laws. Some will need to be legalized, others decriminalized, yet others remaining under a general ban.

          • Certain drugs and hallucinogenic plants and fungi could be sold in drugstores with a tax commensurate with their popularity. Could provide good revenue and get neighbors out of the trade.

            • George Michalopulos says

              And also regulate the frequency of their consumption.

              • Michael Bauman says

                George, the fallacy of legalization of drugs is that no matter how legal they become such things as taxes and the restrictions on consumption you mention would still lead to an illegal black market and drug based crime.

        • Here is what I have found so far:
          1. After gun ban firearms-related deaths is decreasing.
          2. Violent crime is skyrocketing

          Example: UK – very few death by firearm, but violent crime is 3.5 times higher, then in US.

          1. Gun is a crime tool in hand of a criminal.
          2. Gun is a defense tool in hands of law obedient people.
          3. Gun ban brings number of firearms down for both groups.
          4. After gun confiscation guns are less used in crime, but violent crime skyrocketing. (There is no armed defense anymore)

          Another important point:
          Not all gun bans led to tyranny, but every tyranny started with gun ban and gun confiscation.

          • Daniel E. Fall says

            Your post is the reactionary problem true to form.

            Oh no, the radicals are trying to talk about gun laws; this means they wish to take mine away.

            If Lanza applied for a gun and was denied, why was he denied and who did the follow up?

            The far right are so anti-government, they refuse to see the duty of government when it slaps them in the face.

            Noone did the follow up. It isn’t about taking guns away; it is about making sure wackos don’t get guns or get them less often. And it is about reducing the availability of means for multiple killings. The 30 round clip, for example, is unlawful to hunt with…

            If you hunt ducks in MN, you must put a plug in your gun so you reduce your total shell count to 3.

            The duck hunting laws are stricter than the capabilities afforded nutjobs for mass murder and noone sees that as a potential problem.

            Hey, I know, let’s adjust the laws so duck hunters can have a 30 shell magazine.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Being for the Constitution does not mean that we are “anti-government.”

              Oleksandr’s list of facts is correct. Violent crime is up in countries that he restricted guns. There’s a reason for this. Before Samuel Colt made men equal, physicality was the determinant in mano a mano oppression.

              • Daniel E. Fall says

                The second amendment says, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state”.

                The intent was clear, the militia is to prevent attack.

                The militia is to be well “regulated”.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  False again. Read the various Supreme Court arguments as well as the personal correspondence and writings of the Founding Fathers.

        • oliver douglas says

          Great Britain. Gun crimes (not necessarily murders) went up 89% after the virtual gun ban. It appears that the criminals chose not to surrender their firearms in accordance with the new law.

    • oliver douglas says

      What armed guard at the movie theater? As for Virginia Tech, the campus police were elsewhere on campus. “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

    • Archpriest John Morris says

      The greater threat is Obama’s announcement that he will ignore pass Congress and enact his policies by presidential decree if Congress does not do what he wants it to do on this and other issues. He is shredding our Constitution and ruling this country like a third world dictator. We are watching the destruction of our democratic system by Obama and his radical leftists supporters who have no respect for democratic institutions because they think that they are more enlightened than most Americans who they consider too ignorant to govern themselves.

      • Nate Trost says

        By all means, please direct me to these statements by Obama and actual proposed executive orders that breach the sphere of the executive branch. Your hyperbolic statements lacking any anchor in reality grow tedious.

        • Artakhshassa the Great says

          President Obama would have to work day and night to produce as many anti-constitutional”signing documents” as Bush created in order to ‘shred our Constitution!”

          • Archpriest John Morris says

            Why is it that Obama’s supporters always try to change the subject by beating up on Bush whenever someone criticizes Obama. Let’s discuss Obama. Bush is gone. Obama uses executive orders to circumvent Congress and rule by decree. We have not had an approved national budget since he assumed office. If he cannot get Congress to pass the legislation he wants, he issues enacts the proposed law by executive order. That is unconstitutional. When he announces that he will not negotiate with Congress on the debt limit that is unconstitutional because it is clear that Congress controls the finances of our nation, not the president. In fact, the law to prevent the expiration of the Bush tax cuts to the middle class was unconstitutional, because our constitution specifically states that legislation concerning taxation must originate in the House of Representatives. However, Obama could not get his tax raises on the rich through the House, so he had it begin in the Senate which is clearly unconstitutional. I hate to think what other executive decisions he has in mind to usurp the authority of Congress. Obama is ruling this country like the third world dictator he wants to be. He is arrogant and refuses to recognize the rightful place of Congress in our constitutional system.

            • There you go again…

              We have not had an approved national budget since he assumed office.

              You repeat this falsehood a third time, despite having been corrected on it. Not once, but twice. How many times until I may reasonably conclude that you don’t actually care if one of your statements is true, as long as it is critical of Obama?

              In fact, the law to prevent the expiration of the Bush tax cuts to the middle class was unconstitutional, because our constitution specifically states that legislation concerning taxation must originate in the House of Representatives. However, Obama could not get his tax raises on the rich through the House, so he had it begin in the Senate which is clearly unconstitutional.

              Wrong. H.R.8 of the 112th Congress (American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012) originated in the House and evolved into the final bill that was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President.

              It would have taken you one minute to discover this by going to the Signed Legislation page on the White House web site and following the link to the Thomas record. But, apparently you are so convinced that Obama is on a non-stop rampage of Constitutional shredding that you will uncritically and blindly parrot anything you hear critical of Obama without bothering to even make a cursory effort to verify whether in fact what you are saying is true.

              And then, apparently if we go by your budget statements, if you do so and are called out on it, you feel entitled to just ignore any correction and keep repeating your version of reality as if repeating it enough times will make it true. How postmodern of you.

              When he announces that he will not negotiate with Congress on the debt limit that is unconstitutional because it is clear that Congress controls the finances of our nation, not the president.

              What audacious spin. The irony here, realized by the informed reader, is that Obama has flatly ruled out action by the executive branch to mitigate the debt ceiling breach that would trigger a constitutional crisis. In other words, he has stated that he isn’t going to do anything that would actually give you a valid charge of “unconstitutional!” Therefore, you are left with the dazzling leap of disingenuity to claim that letting the House GOP decide whether to trigger a global financial meltdown over expenditures they already authorized is an executive branch power-grab.

              Obama is ruling this country like the third world dictator he wants to be. He is arrogant and refuses to recognize the rightful place of Congress in our constitutional system.

              And yet the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 passed.

              Obama uses executive orders to circumvent Congress and rule by decree.

              I already challenged you to flesh out this bold, sweeping, bombastic assertion above. You ignored it, only to jump back into the thread to pounce on a poster that dared bring up Bush. Why should I let you use Bush to misdirect from discussions involving Obama? From where I sit, it seems like you’re the one trying to change the subject all whilst reiterating multiple incorrect assertions.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Wrong again, Nate. According to the 1974 Congressional Budget Act, the Congress must pass a budget by April 15 of each year. You remember 1974 don’t you? That’s when those Wascally Wepublicans controlled the Congress under the Gingrich Who Stole Christmas. Oh wait, I’m wrong about that. The GOP didn’t take over Congress until 1995. So…I guess it was the Democrats who passed that Law.

                As Emily Littella would say, “Never mind.”

                • Nate Trost says

                  You are saying “wrong again” but failing to actually point to a statement I made that was wrong. The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 has nothing to do with my following points:

                  1) Congress did pass a budget resolution for FY2010, which occurred after Obama was elected. Therefore the sweeping claim that “we haven’t had a national budget since Obama was elected” is broadly false. As to whether we have had a national budget since the FY2010 budget, the devil is in the details. And there are a lot of details.

                  2) The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was the end result of a bill that originated in the House. Therefore the claim that it was unconstitutional because it was legislation that didn’t originate in the House is false.

                  Are you denying either of these two points? By all means, please clarify where you think I am “wrong again”.

                  Congress has not, of course, followed the Budget Act for the last couple FY cycles. While we are in an current environment of extreme dysfunction, Congress not following the Budget Act is not a new phenomenon that began under Obama. Hint: what happened in FY99, FY05 and FY07, and which party controlled both houses of Congress during those budget cycles?

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    The Senate has yet to pass a budget, going on three years now. Last I checked in the Constitution, the Senate was part of Congress. It’s in Article I I believe.

                    • Nate Trost says

                      In other words, you cannot refute what I have stated and show it to be incorrect. Despite being willing, if not chomping at the bit to call me wrong. Instead of owning up to this, you are instead going to begin complaining about something completely different. And you have the chutzpah to chide other posters for moving the goalposts.

                      In the process, you also reveal that you care far more about political theater than the actual mechanics of how the government functions. I guess we have to get into the nitty gritty. Now become a man and put away childish things.

                      Congress has not been able to pass a joint budget resolution since FY10. As I have previously explained. Even though FY11 didn’t see a budget resolution, it did ultimately see a full year appropriations bill (H.R.1473). Although not until basically halfway through the actual fiscal year. It would be fair, perhaps to snipe at the Senate Democrats in FY11 for punting on passing a budget resolution. Although they failed to do so, that a budget resolution didn’t pass Congress was not in and of itself some kind of extraordinary anomaly. A GOP Congress failed to pass a budget resolution three times within the span of a decade.

                      As far as FY12, well, first the 2010 mid-terms happened. The House FY12 budget resolution was the Ryan Budget. To say there was long, long bridge to gap between the Ryan Budget and anything the Senate Democrats would pass is the understatement of the year. Now, here it is far to accuse the Democrats of a bit of political theater: they basically delayed constructing a formal resolution pending the bipartisan deficit talks that included discussions over raising the debt ceiling. Which took place entering the summer of 2011.

                      And we all know what happened in the summer of 2011.

                      The end result of that incident was the Budget Control Act of 2011. Which negated the need to pass a budget resolution for FY2012. Don’t believe me? Here is the relevant text from the bill:

                      SEC. 106. SENATE BUDGET ENFORCEMENT.
                      (a) IN GENERAL.—
                      (1) For the purpose of enforcing the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 through April 15, 2012, including section 300 of that Act, and enforcing budgetary points of order in prior concurrent resolutions on the budget, the allocations, aggregates, and levels set in subsection (b)(1) shall apply in the Senate in the same manner as for a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2012 with appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2011 and 2013 through 2021.
                      (2) For the purpose of enforcing the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 after April 15, 2012, including section 300 of that Act, and enforcing budgetary points of order in prior concurrent resolutions on the budget, the allocations, aggregates, and levels set in subsection (b)(2) shall apply in the Senate in the same manner as for a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2013 with appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2012 and 2014 through 2022.

                      Why, yes Virginia, that language does also include FY13 as well as FY12. This was not only binding on Congress, as with the traditional resolution but was also signed as the law of the land, unlike the budget resolutions. Remember, the joint budget resolution is merely guidance (albeit binding guidance) on Congress providing direction to the appropriations process. The actual appropriations bills are the law of the land in terms of authorizing the actual expenditure of money.

                      So the Senate did pass legislation serving the functional purpose of a budget resolution for FY12 and FY13. And this wasn’t merely proposed by the Senate, it was passed by Congress and enshrined in law by the President.

                      In case we are keeping score:
                      FY10: Joint budget resolution
                      FY11: No joint budget resolution, eventual full-year appropriations bill anyway
                      FY12: Budget Control Act of 2011
                      FY13: Budget Control Act of 2011

                      This is a bit more nuanced than “hasn’t passed a budget in three years” much less the outright falsehood of “hasn’t passed a budget since Obama was elected”.

                      To criticize the Senate for not passing a budget resolution in FY12 and FY13 without acknowledging the wrinkle of the what the Budget Control Act did to the budget and appropriations process is something I find extremely disingenuous, to put in language for polite company.

                      But, of course, I suspect you weren’t actually being disingenuous because you didn’t actually know this. Which, again, goes back to me charging you with being more interested in partisan theater than the actual workings of government.

                      It’s also hilarious to have this subject coming up in the midst of sputtering about Obama being “unconstitutional” because Obama is not in fact a dictator and cannot dictate to the legislative branch what the budget is going to be. He has made his budget requests, but guess what: what Congress has actually passed as appropriations legislation and what he’s ultimately signed is anything but a rubber stamped copy of his original budget request. Which is perfectly normal.

                      And as far as Congress being “unconstitutional”, the Constitution is rather vague on the budget and spending process. The framework for the modern process didn’t emerge until 1921 and is legislation, not an amendment. Even the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 was primarily a protective action against perceived executive branch encroachment on the congressional prerogative. Congress, obviously, can decide to interpret its actions as representing the spirit of the law, as we see in the above Budget Control Act language. But even setting that aside, Congress can still actually pass appropriations bills in the absence of a budget resolution.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Quite the contrary. The Senate leadership has admitted that they have not passed a budget in almost three years.

                    • Nate Trost says

                      Quite the contrary what?

                      Wait, just so we are clear, because it is anything but clear what you are actually objecting to, you do know the difference between the calendar year and the US government fiscal year, correct? It almost sounds like you are arguing that I’m wrong, that there was no FY10 budget because the Senate hasn’t approved a budget resolution in almost three years (incorrect, it’s almost four years). But the appropriations guided by the FY10 budget resolution took effect at the beginning of FY10, which was October 1, 2009 and the FY10 budget resolution passed in April 2009, about three months after Obama was elected.

                      You need to clarify these things at this point because there are some things I do assume you know, and your terse, imprecise replies and complaints eventually give me the impression you are thinking I am wrong because you don’t actually know things I was assuming you knew. Again, I’m really assuming you did actually know this, but that circles back to:

                      No one is arguing that the Senate hasn’t passed a budget resolution since FY10. Again, the original falsehood was that the government hadn’t done so since Obama took office. You aren’t citing a reference for “Senate leadership admitting”, that would be nice to see. However, if you ask Senate leadership about FY12 and FY13 budget resolutions, they are going to point you to the section of the Budget Control Act I already pasted.

                      “Failed to pass a budget” is an overly broad term. “Failed to pass a budget resolution” is precise and correct, but implying that because the Senate hasn’t passed a budget resolution, that there have been no budget bills handling appropriation is simply incorrect. It implies that either the government has shut down, which it hasn’t, or that the government is spending money illegally, which it isn’t. I find the arguing over the technicalities of the resolution process a bit pointless for FY12 and FY13 due to the Budget Control Act, as it was pretty explicit in its language and, of course, the House signed off on it.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      You know Nate, Talmudistic sophistry is the last defense of those who have no defense. It’s usually the sign of a civilization which has lost its way and is on its last legs. When real men rule a country with real purpose, voluminous laws and equally voluminous evasions are not necessary. The Senate in its ideal hearkens back to the Roman Republic. In the American context it evokes the memories of men like Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, John C Calhoun, etc. These were serious men. They had their squabbles to be sure. But nobody took them for mountebanks. And NONE of them would have bent themselves into pretzels justifying their dereliction of duty.

                      Duty. Honor. Country. We no longer have that.

                    • Nate Trost says

                      You are not only continuing to fail to actually engage with anything I wrote, but now you are apparently switching gears and pretending you are an Aaron Sorkin character delivering a monologue.

                      Reading your reply to my immediately preceding post might give readers the impression that you consider basic accounting concepts “Talmudistic sophistry”.

                      “When real men rule a country with real purpose”, what is this, a No True (living) Congressman argument? And you’re going to trot out the Great Triumvirate? What was the Compromise of 1850 if not a great big pretzel, a pretzel made of slaves.

                      So far we have established that you can’t apparently point to anything I’ve been saying as being incorrect despite being more than willing to denounce me, that you apparently have a far lesser understanding of federal fiscal operation than I was giving you credit for, and that you have a rather romanticized view of the 19th century Senate.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Nate, the US never was, is not, nor can ever be perfect. The Compromise of 1850 was an abomination. But at least the men who crafted it cared about their nation enough to take their responsibilities seriously. Something that cannot be said of a Democrat-controlled Senate that won’t even pass a budget. (I’ll leave out the fundamental immorality of an obscenely high amount of deficit spending.)

              • Archpriest John Morris says

                You are right about one thing. I do not like Obama. He is arrogant and has been the most divisive president in American history. His announcement that he will not negotiate with Congress on the debt ceiling should lead to his impeachment and removal from office for refusing to follow the Constitution which gives Congress the power of the purse not the president. He took military action in Libya without asking for Congressional approval, has adopted policies that are anti-Christian, and has violated his oath to follow the Constitution in many different ways.

                • Nate Trost says

                  For those playing at home: not only have you failed to answer for repeatedly making incorrect statements as “facts”, you still haven’t bothered to fill in the details of any of your bombastic assertions about Obama before launching into fresh new ones. I really wish for once your posts would be something besides all sizzle and no steak.

                  You are right about one thing.

                  This implies I was wrong about other things in this thread of conversation. Which you have so far failed to substantiate. Further your statement carries the implication that you have not been wrong, which I have charged and so far, you have not been able to disprove.

                  He is arrogant and has been the most divisive president in American history.

                  Again with the wild sweeping statements with no hint of substantiation. Most divisive? By what benchmark? Approval ratings? That can’t be it. Civil War resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths? Nope, that’s not it either.

                  His announcement that he will not negotiate with Congress on the debt ceiling should lead to his impeachment and removal from office for refusing to follow the Constitution which gives Congress the power of the purse not the president.

                  Ahem. Article I. Section 7. Clause 3.

                  Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

                  Obama is perfectly within his rights to veto debt ceiling legislation he doesn’t like. And Congress would be perfectly within their rights to overrule his veto. Please, please explain to me how this process would be unconstitutional. How many other Presidents have you demanded be impeached for threatening to veto legislation?

                  It seems like a rather low bar for impeachment. I suppose you are fortunate that you have to do far more than repeatedly make easily disprovable false statements about a President you don’t like to the entire Internet to warrant being impeached as a cleric.

                  He took military action in Libya without asking for Congressional approval

                  Putting him in such esoteric company as Reagan and HW Bush.

                  has violated his oath to follow the Constitution in many different ways

                  “In many ways”, once again, without actual details. Such a compelling, compelling case you make.

            • Artakhshassa the Great says

              Why is it that when some accuse a sitting president of malfeasance relative to the constitution in issuing executive orders and others reply that the president is performing a weak version of what the previous incumbent did so mightily, this is termed “changing the subject?”
              A partisan excuses his illogic by stating “Bush is gone.” Ah, so we forget Bush and do NOT compare Obama to previous presidents who are also “gone?” Think about it, if that’s ;possible, ok?

  8. I can’t quote statistics but I can recount some American history. My father served in WW II. He was a First Sargent and prisoner of was in the Phillipines. He became a Chicago Policeman. In the 1960s I drove him to work in the race riots (he didn’t want to leave his car where it might be burned). Anyway, the point of this is he hated guns. He was supposed to carry his gun at all times, on and off duty. He rarely carried it off duty. He kept his guns under lock and key when he wasn’t carrying. None of this hiding it in the night stand next to the bed..

    He taught me that you only point a gun when you intendt to kill something.

    So you guys with guns, be sure you intend to kill whomever you point your gun at.

  9. Lola J. Lee Beno says
    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Very interesting piece, Lola. Thanks for publishing it.

    • Artakhshassa the Great says

      The more people carry guns, the more the police can murder them with impunity. it’s proved to be an almost impregnable defense for murder; “the terrified officer saw he had a gun (or slingshot) and fired, fearing for his life.”

  10. cynthia curran says

    Well, there are plenty of places that have murder rates like western europe, Mission Viejo Ca, Plano Tx, Freemont Ca, I believe that since Western European countries have more immirgants now like the US that some of their murder and crime rates have gone up. Let’s say San Diego Ca has a lower murder rate than parts of Greece.

    • Artakhshassa the Great says

      Some Germans complain they’re overrun with Guest Workers and the like, mosly Turks and gypsies. Yet their rate of homicide by gun is INFINITESIMAL compared to the U.S., controlled utterly by the NRA.
      Which lobby is richer and more successful at ruling the House of Representatives? The AIPAC or NRA?

  11. cynthia curran says

    Gee, let’s do the Bay area Santa Clara is lower than a lot of western European countries. San Jose has the highest crime there.

  12. Bible Studies Update says

    No bible studies with Metropolitan Jonah this week.

    Archive of bible series recodings of the Metropolitan recorded by various people at:


    Click on whichever you want to get a page where you can download because right clicking does not work

  13. And he taught them in parables saying, “A certain man went out and found that an ice storm and a strong wind had broken the top out of his loblolly pine tree. So he called the Great Tree Physician Service to fix it and went into the city to work.

    “When the man returned, the Great Tree Physician had cut the tree down to the ground. ‘Why did you cut down my tree?’ he wailed.

    “’Because the top had broken out,’ said the Physician.

    “’But there was still a lot of tree left!’

    “’Yes,’ said the Tree Man, ‘But it was going to die. You see, this tree grows from the top down. If the top is dead, the entire tree will die.’

    “’But it could have lasted a few more years,’ the man whined.

    “’Yes, but in the end it would die. It is better that it be cut down and not be allowed to take the nutrients from the soil that could nourish another tree.’

    “Then the man looked, and in the freshly filled mound of dirt where the stump had been, he saw that the Great Physician had planted a seedling that with care might grow into another stately pine like the one that had died.

    “And the man was comforted.”

    • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

      Who is “he”? Are you paraphrasing Our Lord’s parables? Does the cut-down tree represent Metropolitan Jonah?

  14. cynthia curran says

    Well, the odd thing of WWII we had to have an alliance with Stalin. Stalin of course once had an alliance with Hitler. Stalin purged the generals in the Soviet Union before Hitler invaded which might had led to the millions killed in the Soviet Union in World War II. Oliver Stone is doing a weird movie where Stalin is a hero.

    • Archpriest John Morris says

      I would not call the non-aggression pact between Stalin and Hitler an alliance. The reality is that had Hitler not invaded the Soviet Union, he might very well have won the Second World War. Actually, when Hitler attacked the Soviet Union Stalin was surprised. The first Russian leader to get on the radio to call the Russian people to defend their mother land was Met. Sergius who became Patriarch in 1943, not Stalin. Ironically, the German invasion saved the Russian Orthodox Church which Salin had almost destroyed. The Russians at first greeted the German troops as liberators and reopened the Churches that Stalin had closed. That forced Stalin to turn to the Russian Orthodox Church for support and to allow the Church more freedom. Of course once the Germans began to treat the Russians as a conquered people, the Russians realized that the Germans were not liberators.
      I personally think that our state department is missing a great opportunity by not recognizing that Russia should be a natural ally against Islmaic extremism.

      • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

        Yet it was Stalin’s non-agression pact with Hitler that enabled the latter to begin the war.And they did divide Poland up between them(a year earlier,when the western powers basicly gave Czechoslovakia to Hitler,the Poles grabbed some Czech territory for themselves).Not only did Stalin grab Eastern Poland,but also a good chunk of Romania;Moldova,which today is an independent state after having been a Soviet Republic;and Bukovina,which is now part of Ukraine,but he also grabbed the three Baltic states.He then invaded Finland,when the Finns refused to cave in to his demands.Let’s remember that at this same time,Hitler was occupying Norway,while at war with France and England.Had neutral Sweden,which lies between Norway and Finland,aided Finland against the Soviet Union,that could have brought about Hitler’s attack on that country.The result might have been Hitler and Stalin fighting on the same side during WW II.That continued alliance might have resulted in even more attrocities.

        • Archpriest John Morris says

          That is correct, Hitler would not have invaded Poland without the non-aggression pact. Stalin certainly took advantage of the situation to enlarge the Soviet Union. He also took advantage of Roosevelt at Yalta, but Roosevelt was so ill that it is possible that he hardly knew what was going on. Look at the picture of FDR, Churchill and Stalin taken at Yalta, FDR looks almost dead.

          • George Michalopulos says

            FDR also made a strategic blunder in Casablanca in 1942 in which he said that the goal of the Allies in the West was nothing short of unconditional surrender. He did this to reassure Stalin that the Allies were in it for the long haul but in the meantime, it strengthened the resolve of the Axis to fight harder and longer.

  15. March for Life says

    March for Life and Orthodox March for Life related events follow. I cannot find any information for Greek or Antiochian Orthodox events surrounding the March for Life, so will one of the Greek or Antiochian Archdiocese members please inform. ROCOR events also appreciated:

    Map of Right to Life March: http://www.marchforlife.org/images/2013/map%2010-10-12%20%20horozontal.pdf

    Right to Life events, tickets, hotels: http://www.marchforlife.org/content/view/69/73/

    from oca.org: On Friday, January 25, 2013—the eve of the enthronement of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon at Saint Nicholas Cathedral here—Orthodox Christians from across the country will gather in the US capital for the annual March for Life.

    The members of the Orthodox Church in America’s Holy Synod of Bishops will join Metropolitan Tikhon, students from Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, PA and Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, NY, and clergy and faithful from the region and beyond for the march. Marchers are asked to gather under the “Orthodox Christians for Life” banner at the Ellipse at noon. They will march to the Supreme Court, where Metropolitan Tikhon will lead the hierarchs, clergy and faithful in prayer for the victims of abortion.

    Father John added that on Thursday, January 24, Metropolitan Tikhon will preside at the celebration of Vespers at the OCA’s Saint Nicholas Cathedral, 3500 Massachusetts Ave. NW, at 6:00 p.m. A reception will follow. All marchers are invited to attend.

    On Friday evening, the annual Rose Banquet will be held at DC’s Hyatt Regency Hotel. Tickets are still available and may be ordered by contacting Father John at lmpm46@aol.com or 570-876-1241.

  16. Asleep at the moderator wheel, George? What the heck is this?

  17. cynthia curran says

    Republicans want to take revenge. Well, Republicans want to hit the blue coastial counties with getting rid of the mortagage deduction which is funny is in those coastial counties, the poor people voted more for Obama. Take Los Angeles County in East Los Angeles where Obama receieved high votes while in Santa Claria where property is higher Romeny did better. Same goes for Orange County, Romeny did the highest in rich Newport Beach which is close in income to Beverly Hills but Romeny did the worst in poor Santa Ana where there are a lot of illegal immirgants. Newport Beach property is over a million in Santa Ana housing values are 320,000. Same does for San Diego County where in Rancho Santa Fe housing over a million Romeny won and in El Cajon where property is much lower Obama won. Republicans want to tax Republicans in coastial counties. In fact the SO California area is around 20 million while the Bay Area the Republicans want to hit which inclaudes more rich Democratics is around 7 million.

    • Joseph Baxter says

      I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.

      • Michael Bauman says

        That’s because there isn’t any.

        • Daniel E. Fall says

          By that very same token, for the Congress to allow wars and allow them to be unfunded liabilities is a greater sin against country.

          Let’s call it 2 trillion bucks.

          • George Michalopulos says

            I actually agree with you. Hey, here’s a thought! Let’s get back to the Constitution and really take seriously the ennumerated powers clauses that regulate the three branches of government? I’m game. You?

            • Michael Bauman says

              George, if we did that it would mean no EPA, no HHS, no Dept of Education, no department of energy, many, many fewer executive orders (only those involving the ordering of the executive branch)

              It would also mean repeal of the 17th amendment and the resurgence of the states soverngity.

              I don’t expect many will be game. The unemployement rate would sky rocket.

              I mean really, the EPA’s hubris has extended to the position that it is necessary to delcare both air and water as pollutants. The last one was rejected by a federal judge, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be inforced elsewhere.

              • Daniel E. Fall says

                Well, let’s see, how would it work if State X polluted State Ys river just before it left State X.

                I suppose State Ys well regulated militia….

                That’d really fix things.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  That’s why there’s a Constitution and a federal appellate court. States all the time work out their differences in those venues. I know of whereof I speak: my own state has taken Arkansas to task for effluents seeping into the Illinois River from their chicken farms. It’s not rocket science.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  My state has taken both Colorado and Nebraska to court for using too much water. We won both cases. NE complied, CO hasn’t yet. They have to water Denver.

                  It’s called due process. Liberals ought to try it sometime.g

  18. Michael James Kinsey says

    Authentic Christian martyrdom is always accompanied by the intersession of the Holy Spirit and is ordained by God. It is an honor given by God to be called to do this. While we all have to face death, martyrdom is the best of deaths done exclusively for the purposes of God. Most are not called to do this, and we cannot claim the Holy Spirits intersession, even if the desire to sacrifice one own self is sincere. God must send the supernatural strength of the Holy Spirit. The Holy people who were given this honor, knew, without doubt, when the Holy Spirit was leading them. I am humbled, and praise God for such brethern God has given, even if I an unworthy of such an honor, To date, obviously, I am not numbered with these Blessed Ones. But I do have a miracle, 5.8 earthquake, that convinced a San Jose Judge to dismiss all charges against me and my pro-life friend for an abortion clinic blocaked in Sunnyvale. I told him , ” I want another judge”, exercising a preemp-et oral challange. The earthquake started immediatly, and he dove under his bench in terror.I just stood looking up.He dismissed all charges releasing us. I am the only guy I know who got a earthquake to get him out of jail, like St Peter. I am just being mischeivious, here. I enjoy telling the story . It is true.

  19. Joseph Baxter says

    Wow, there’s an hour I’ll not get back. All you nice folks are arguing about how many angels can dance on the point of a pin, IMHO. A whole lot of wheezing and whining when the answer is as plain as the noses on your faces:

    I take it as an article of faith that ALL humanity is broken and that such brokenness is impossible to fix completely in this life. That means that sin is an ever-present part of life. No avoiding it.

    Also, there is evil in this world and there’s nothing we are going to accomplish here as humans to extirpate it. It’s up to the Big Fella to have the final whack at Old Scratch. The best we can hope to do is hold the line and wait for Him.

    I don’t expect my priest to take up arms and fight. I DO expect that you exercise a bit of common sense. Use a smidgen of the rational faculties God gave you to see that resisting evil requires that SOME of us take on the risk of eternal damnation to keep that evil in check. If it gets messy, I’ll see you at confession afterward (if I make it through). You keep praying, I’ll keep watch.

    Now, if you dither and dally while the “do something” mob is busy trying to disarm us I promise you that it will get very messy. There are enough of us left in this nation of soft-handed and soft-headed who will not submit to the soft-tyranny being peddled to us under the guise of safety and security.

    Mολὼν λαβέ, indeed.

  20. Obama, The Benevolent Dictator says

    Guns and Gold baby, Guns and Gold!

  21. The final miracle of Christ’s living ministry was to heal the wound inflicted in his defense by the disciple Peter. This miracle was so important to the Lord that he made certain there would be at least two swords in the possession of his supporters, so that it could be accomplished.

    The first saints of the Russian Church are the saints Boris and Gleb. Each of them made the decision not to use violence when the result of this action for one led to the death of his brother and for both of them probably the realization that the wrong person would gain further power.

    I don’t understand how statistics and probable outcomes have anything to do with these things.

    Guns do kill people. People holding guns kill people as if they were God, and they are not God.

    We have in our Church history some who have been designated saints who are not really saints. We have some miracles that are not really miracles. That is okay; we are men and men are fallible. God will sort it out. Perhaps they actually are saints because of their bravery and willingness to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their brothers as Saint John has written. But perhaps it was the two first Russian saints who embody this and are remembered always for it, while St. Alexander Nevsky’s sainthood is somewhat perplexing.

    My kingdom is not of this world. A Christian with a gun is like St. Peter with his sword. If you are not required by the State to carry a gun, why do it?

    • George Michalopulos says

      For the same reason that I am not required by the State to feed and clothe my wife and children. I do these things out of love.

      • If you were not feeding and clothing your children, CPS would intervene.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Possibly. Then maybe not. There’s a whole lot of young men out their spreading their seed far and wide and not taking responsibility for their actions. You and I on the other hand, are paying dearly to feed and clothe the 40% of children who are born in a state of bastardy.

      • Yes, I understand. So, I think, did Peter – out of protective love, I mean.

        Here’s another example I just thought of, from ‘Les Miserables’, so it’s current. The scene at the beginning where the hero steals the candlesticks and is sent on his way possessing them. I know, protecting your family is pretty hard to argue with, on the chance that there might be an attack on them. I just wonder if the example of not bearing arms doesn’t in its ongoing simplicity make the world a better place than standing against a potential enemy with weapons, concealed or otherwise – even in the case you present.

      • Michael Bauman says

        I don’t know about OK, but in KS a married couple is equally and jointly responsible for the financial necessities of the family. That’s where the whole idea of child support, etc. comes from.

    • Michael Bauman says


      Although I will not criticize anyone who chooses the self-scarficial path neither will I criticize those who choose to defend themselves, their families and their property against evil and violent people. The evil one is not just active on the spiritual plane.

      We must confront evil in our own hearts first and foremost, but there are times when it is necessary and proper to confront it physically with physical and even deadly force.

  22. cynthia curran says

    As stated before if most cities had the demographics of San Jose and Santa Clara county murder in the us would be as low as western europe. Afro-Americans add to the murder rate. Most afro-Amiercans don’t killed but a small percenrage difference would make a difference that’s why hisapanic Anahiem-53 percent of the population does better than Oakland which is still about 28 percent afro-american.

  23. cynthia curran says

    True, I was no big fan of Bush either but Obama has gotten off the hook on Libya. Also, Clinton got off the hook on the Balkins conflict which we probably should not have been involved either. The Serbs ended up with a raw deal with our involvement in the Kosvo affair. Granted, I believe that some Serbs did rape and murder people but I also believe it was on the other side as well.

  24. I’m not sure exactly why but this web site is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.