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CULTURE

BY STEVE DUNN

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Last Sunday, the worst mass shooting in Texas history occurred at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland TX as 28 people were brutally murdered by a gunman.  This was not the first time this happened; in fact, in the past two years “houses of worship” have become soft targets for this type of criminal.

It was ironic that many people who are absolutely obsessed with fighting the terrorist threat from radical Islam were not even using the word “terror” in this instance.  Christopher Kline, a friend of mine from Virginia, posted this comment on Facebook:

“Why is it that following a mass shooting of innocent people we hear from elected officials that we should not politicize what occurred with a discussion regarding gun policy but within hours of a terrorist attack on innocent people we hear about the need for increased vetting, the need to end visa programs, etc.? Why is it okay to politicize the death of innocent Americans in one situation and not another? This applies to elected officials at all levels!”

I suspect that Chris has hit the nail right on the head.  Americans — far too many — so dearly love their right to own guns that I suspect they fear letting any discussion follow a line that might lead to questioning that right in the extremes with which it is defended. In fact, one person responded to Chris with the comment “Guns are not the issue.”

No, they are not the ONLY issue – but the access to assault weapons and automatic ones ARE part of the overall issue.  The violence in America, promoted in our entertainment, video games, and political diatribes are part of the issue.  The failure for the government both nationally and locally to invest in mental health that could identify and keep guns away from those who are mentally disturbed is part of the issue.  Yes, people kill people. Mentally ill and untreated people kill people with guns.

If the NRA and other pro-gun citizens would invest even half of the dollars that they invest in fighting gun control, marketing weapons and ammunition of increasingly deadly force, and other things that add to the gun culture–if they would invest these dollars in mental health, then we might begin to turn the tide on mass shootings like Texas, Charleston, Virginia Tech, Newtown, and Colorado Walmarts.

At the very least they might begin to convince some of us who are increasingly fed up with this nation’s out-of-control gun violence to be more open to their “right to bear arms.”  If this doesn’t stop, you will find more and more people who will even want to take guns away from sportsmen (a position with which I disagree).  (Although the question still lingers in my mind–why does a sportsman need a weapon with which he could wage war to kill a deer or a rabbit for food?)

Some of you will insist on responding to me in a predictable manner and sadly, your responses will too often simply repeat the gun lobby line or question my patriotism.  And this will mean that too many will not even bother to mention the merits of my suggestion that we must get serious about mental healthcare instead of living with the increasing insanity of our out-of-control gun violence.  But I post this in hopes that some of you will enter into that dialogue about mental healthcare and now to fund it.

 

© 2017 by Stephen L. Dunn.  You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to www.drstevedunn.com.  For all other uses, contact Steve at sdunnpastor@gmail.com

 

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BY STEVE DUNN

I am thankful to be an American. I live in perhaps the most prosperous nation on earth. I enjoy freedom and security still unequaled around the globe. My neighbors are by and large good people seeking to live at peace with one another. I believe that my nation, despite its flaws and inconsistencies, has done more good for our world than most other countries and has often carried a load for the larger population of this planet far beyond our fair share—and have done so generously and sacrificially. I dislike when others bash our nation because we are a convenient whipping boy while at the same time aspiring to come to our land to find fulfillment, safety, and some measure of prosperity.

As a Christian, committed to living by the truth and facing the consequences of that truth. I am deeply troubled by fellow Americans who would deny the truth because it inconveniences or offends them.   And I am offended by fellow Americans who attack people who simply tell the truth because they do not do it in a politically correct way. (Note: The Left does not have a monopoly on “political correctness.” The Right has its own version and just as resolutely promote and enforce it).

But more than anything, my heart grieves when Christians make earthly political positions and man-made symbols more important than Biblical integrity in their words and behaviors. And I am sure that God is grieved when our words and actions, Facebook posts and Tweets, and other public pronouncements ignore the Second Commandment, “Love thy neighbor as Thyself.” Ignore is not too strong a word.

Although you may be offended by taking a knee during the national anthem, have you bothered to try and understand the motivation behind such exercises of free speech? (Many of those athletes are devout evangelical Christians). You may not agree with them, but have you sought to understand them?

And when several million of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico have had their lives devastated by two hurricanes, why is all of our attention on sports stadiums and what occurs there instead of getting help to our brothers and sisters in need?

For those who would honestly want to think about the current NFL and MLB protests, you might find this helpful reading.

© 2017 by Stephen L. Dunn. You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to www.drstevedunn.com . For all other uses, contact Steve at sdunnpastor@gmail.com

By Steve Dunn

Watching the news lately, I have grown tired, very tired. I am tired of ….

Politicians who demonize people and political positions with which they disagree.

Politicians who spin or even ignore the truth that is inconvenient to them but who insist on

accountability and even punishment for others who do the same.

Politicians who believe that they are above the need for civility and respect towards others.

Politicians who demand absolute conformity and support from people who work for them even

when they are wrong.

Politicians who put their mouth in motion before their mind is in gear.

Politicians who don’t know when to simply keep their thoughts to themselves

Politicians who worship political correctness but who believe people who do not agree with

their definition should ostracized.

Politicians who believe that character is a private matter.

Politicians who do not know how to choose their battles.

Politicians who believe people should never question their motives or integrity.

Politicians who believe they are always right.

Political supporters who support these “leaders” unquestioningly and pounce on those who dare to question their pet politician.

Political supporters who always assume the other side is lying.

Political supporters who justify these actions by saying the other side does it, too.

Neither these political leaders nor their uncritical supporters do our nation a service.

Dr. Michael Cheatham, chief surgeon of the Orlando Health Regional Medical Center hospital, addresses reporters during a news conference after a shooting involving multiple fatalities at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. Watching are Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, second from right, and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.                           (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
 by Steve Dunn

A horrible tragedy occurred this past weekend in Orlando.  At a night club popular with gays and lesbians,an attack was unleashed by a man with suspected ties of Islamic terrorism.  At least 50 people were killed and 53 more injured in what is the worst mass shooting in US history.

A year ago another group of people were shocked and saddened as a young man murdered people in a Bible study in Charleston SC. 9 people including the senior pastor and the gunman died when the young man opened fire in a Bible study at the Emmanuel AME  Church.

In between those two of high profile events there have been hundreds of such incidents–often unexpected, mostly inexplicable, filled with fatality and tragedy.  Sadly, such events are almost daily in this country.

I could launch here into an emotional plea for gun control (which I do support) or some theologically judgemental pronouncement about the lifestyle of the victims in Orlando. I could rail against terrorists-Islamic and otherwise.  There are a wealth of responses and comments that can be made and will be made.

But my immediate and daily response was articulated quite well by Southern Baptist ethicist Russell who following the Orlando incident,  tweeted “Christian, your gay or lesbian neighbor is probably really scared right now. Whatever our genuine disagreements, let’s love and pray.”

Why do I say this?  Because this is what the Bible tells me is the appropriate fist response:

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” – Psalm 34:18
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” – Romans 12.15
He heals (God) the broken-hearted and binds up their wound”- Psalm 147.3
Would you join me in this prayer not only for this incident but for our American culture and its people?

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 BY STEVE DUNN

Dianne and I were shopping today at Walmart.  As we started pulling out of our parking space, a Walmart Nascar Wannabee came racing up the lane, easily exceeding the speed limit.  Only Dianne’s alertness prevented an accident. (The rapid braking action however gave me a near concussion as my head rocked back against the head rest.) Made me think of a post  wrote six summers ago for my devotional blog THRIVING IN CHRIST.  I share it again while it is still “ringing” in my mind.-Steve

 
Came close the other day to going home to be with Jesus – as in heavenly home – for eternity. I don’t know if it was the appointed time in God’s will but the opportunity was definitely there for me to be yanked home to meet my Maker. That intersection of grace and free will (someone else’s) was coming together to make this a real possibility. If it had happened, the launch point would have been the Walmart parking lot on Fruitville Pike in Lancaster PA.

I had just finished making my purchases and had returned to my Saturn. I was backing up slowly and cautiously because, of course, I was surrounded on either side by two monster trucks designed to obscure any view for at least a mile.  As I attempted to back, I had not yet reached the stage of cautiously inching my rear end into traffic when a vehicle raced by at a speed that would have earned a ticket on the interstate.  Then I took almost another full minute to back up stopping with great frequency, i.e., I lost count, as more vehicles backed out into the space I was trying to occupy.

When I finally made it “out”, my vehicle was accosted by the rear ends of at least three other vehicles who seemed to have simply kicked it into reverse and pushed the gas pedal before even beginning to think that there might be someone else out there.  Once this exercise in “dodgem” was over, I still had to navigate a parking lot where people were making wide turns or occupying the center of the lane because they were talking on their doggone cell phones. (Actually, I had another expletive/adjective in mind but this is a religious blog site. Forgive me, Lord, for allowing that to even be in my vocabulary’s secret vault.)

After about six minutes of near-death experiences (it seemed like sixty), I made it into the safety of actual traffic where God spared my life so I could be home to be with my lovely wife instead of my Maker.

Did you ever notice how dangerous life can be? Even for those people who try to insulate their lives by taking no risks, eating bland foods, staying out of traffic, avoiding their neighbors, keeping their heads down and mouths shut, life comes at you fast and you really have a lot less control than you’d like.  And at times it can scare the socks off of us.

That’s why wise people like David teach us that we need to put our lives into the hands of the Lord.  “Even though I must walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”  To do business as a human being requires us to venture into the Walmart parking lots and human intersections where another person’s freedom can rob us of our peace and attack our joy. Where damage can be done that then we will have to deal with.

But we can live with confidence because “nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35)  It’s that confidence that removes my fear and allows me to live with confidence even in the Walmart parking lots of the planet.  I may suffer a fender-bender, or I may actually meet with a fatal “accident”, but I cannot be separated from God.

© 2010, 2016 by Stephen L. Dunn. You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to www.drstevedunn.com. For all other uses, contact Steve at sdunnpastor@gmail.com

BY STEVE DUNN

memorial-day-quotes
Memorial Day Weekend has arrived.  For the first time in years I have had no pastoral responsibilities during this time and basically unlimited freedom to relax, to follow my own agenda, and to refresh mind, body, and spirit.  An old friend of mine, Kenneth Hall referred to this as “freescence.”

Saturday morning when I arose (early as usual) I drove around hitting some garage sales and doing some grocery shopping.  I noticed how many of the homes had people out early diligently doing yard work or garage doors open to reveal people working on some home improvement project.  It seemed to me that they were getting things out of the way so they could enjoy Sunday and Monday more fully. I wondered how many barbecues or picnics were scheduled.  Or having lived in northwest Indiana for a long time, how many were headed to lake houses or lakes or parks or beaches for recreation and relaxation

But then I found my thoughts directed towards cemeteries or town squares that tomorrow will be the site of memorial observances for those who have fallen in the cause of freedom.  One of my strongest childhood memories growing up in a small town in Ohio where that morning began with a parade, a service in the park, prayers and a honor guard that would issue a 21-gun salute followed by the solemn playing of “Taps.”  The place would be full regardless of what would happen the rest of the day–and this would occur rain or shine.

I wonder how many people will take the time tomorrow morning to join such an observance, or even pause to say a prayer of thanksgiving for these honored dead and express words of encouragement to those who grieve on Memorial Day, not barbecue.

I plan on being one of those.  There are too many men and women who have paid the ultimate price for my freedom to not do so.

Memorialday
© 2016 by Stephen L. Dunn. You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to www.drstevedunn.com. For all other uses, contact Steve at sdunnpastor@gmail.com

BY STEVE DUNN

Last week Chris Mercer walked onto the campus of Umpqua Community College in Oregon killing 10 persons and wounding at least nine others.  At this point, he appeared to actually be targeting Christians–for what reason we are still trying to unwrap.  It was the fourth mass shooting on a college campus in recent years.  It was the 45th reported school shooting this year in the United States.
 
I am about to make some friends angry.  They are persons who are avid sportsmen and passionate political conservatives. They own guns and are in fact, highly responsible gun owners.  For this reason and others, they believe that their ownership of guns are an inalienable right tied fundamentally to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  They believe that people kill people–guns don’t kill people.  Some of them are also convince that our government is fundamentally untrustworthy and that must retain their arms to keep from being victimized and tyrannized by that same government.  Others believe that their police forces our inept and ultimately it is up to them to protect their property and the lives of loved ones.
See how complicated this has become personally?
Nonetheless, I have reached the point that I must declare ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!
I cannot listen one more self-serving declaration from the NRA that instead of proposing realistic solutions chooses to stonewall with arguments that have become less and less tenable.  I am tired of politicians of both sides of the aisle politicizing this issue, including those on the left who utter no outcry when babies are killed in the name of reproductive rights.
What about the inalienable right to life?
 
My friends and neighbors, the collateral damage has become simply unacceptable.  Reducing school children dead and terrorized at the hand of a gunman to the callous categorization of collateral damage is absolutely offensive to one who believes in the sanctity of life–and I suspect to God, who is Life. My anti-gun control friends–the destruction of a human life in a womb is no less offensive than shooting that life in a classroom.
The passionate opposition to gun control when at the same time stripping the providers of mental health care of resources to bring some form of life management or even healing those with mental illnesses is selfish and self-serving.
The time has come to provide realistic control to the spread of arms in this land.  The time has come to identify those prone to violence in their mental illness and get them help that reduces the likelihood of their becoming mass murderers–and again institutionalizing those who cannot be helped.
The time has come to end our insane flirtation with violence in this society and the worship of the tools of that violence–video games, automatic weapons to name a few.
The time has come.
 
ENOUGH !!!!!!