Gun culture and the end of American Christianity by Christopher B. Hays
- Do you have hope that gun violence will recede? If so, what is the basis for your hope? If not, why not?
- How do you react to Bruno Latour’s assertion: “You are different with a gun in your hand”?
- In what ways does having a gun feed an illusion of personal power? What’s the downside of combining guns and a feeling of helplessness?
- What is the relationship between the Christian faith, which was originally not violent, and an increasingly violent culture?
- Are you shocked by the author’s reference to “gun Christianity”?
Transition: Christopher B. Hays calls the church to its proper end, its telos or goal — working for peace and love by putting our lives on the line for the world God loves. Otis Moss III offers an impassioned plea — “enough already!” There are more than enough guns, too many deaths, and few people willing to change. How can Jesus’ counsel that two swords are enough limit the number of guns?
Enough already by Otis Moss III
- With the powerful interests of money and fear driving sales of these weapons, will we ever convince our neighbors to give them up?
- What do you hear in the author’s plea “to just be rid of guns once and for all”?
- Sit with Luke 22:35-37. How do you feel hearing Jesus say, “two swords are enough?” Does that offer a moderating word about limits in our hyper-weaponized culture?
- When can it be said that we have loved enough? How do you respond to the idea that there is no limit to the mandate to love our neighbor, the stranger, and our enemies? Never will God say to us, “You’ve arrived. No need to love anymore!”
Transition: David Lincicum builds on the love of neighbor mandate, citing the biblical practice of laying aside one’s rights to secure the lives of others.
Do not destroy the one for whom Christ died by David Lincicum
- What would a world without the Second Amendment look like?
- How do you react to the assertion that the Bible’s witness stands squarely against a celebration of the gun?
- Does the author’s appeal to Paul and laying down of rights for the sake of love transfer helpfully to the gun issue? Why?
- If Christians are called to care for the weak over the right to self-preservation, what kind of political commitments might that inspire?
- What kind of country do you want for our children’s children? Is the second amendment part of that future?
Transition: Leslie Scanlon reports on the narrow passage of Measure 114, one of the strictest gun control measures in the country. She interviews several Presbyterians who hold different perspectives on the issue.
Presbyterian gun owners address the complexities by Leslie Scanlon
- Todd Jessell enjoys guns, and he supports gun safety legislation. Does Jessell’s story offer you hope?
- How do you react to the prevalence of gun ownership among Christian households?
- The gun safety discussion often pivots to preventing people with mental illness from obtaining weapons. Is that a persuasive shift for you? Or is it a tactic to scapegoat the mentally ill?
- What role does a Christian denomination have in shaping the hearts of its congregations? What influence can a top-down Christian hierarchy have in a church and country whose foundations are based on grassroots movements?
Transition: Deanna Hollas, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship’s Gun Violence Prevention Ministry Coordinator, finds hope for reducing gun violence in patterns of advocacy and activism in
From despair to hope by Deanna Hollas
- How do you react to the assertion that “nothing sells guns better than gun violence”? In your mind, who feeds that cycle of “the more gun violence we have, the more people buy guns; the more guns we have, the more gun violence we have”?
- If, as the author stipulates, most Americans, including gun owners, want common-sense gun safety laws, why doesn’t it happen?
- What do you know about the Presbyterian Decade to End Gun Violence? What commitments do you need to make to get involved?
- Who can you talk to about initiating a Guns to Gardens event?
- Do you resonate with John Calvin’s take on the sixth commandment that it “not only forbids killing but carries the obligation to prevent harm, preserve life and build shalom, or peace, in human society”? If so, how can you not speak out against gun violence?