It’s bad enough that churches are trying to goose attendance by giving away guns … now a New York church is giving away an assault rifle to some lucky loony. Yes — an assault rifle.
An independent Baptist pastor in upstate New York is offering a drawing for an AR-15 assault rifle on March 23, one-upping the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s controversial “Second Amendment Celebrations,” which give away shotguns and rifles to lure hunters to evangelistic events.
“Does the Bible defend my right to keep and bear arms?” Grace Baptist Church in Troy, N.Y., asks in a flyer promoting the giveaway that also quotes Jesus’ words in John 14:26, “My peace I give unto you.”
Because you never know, I guess, when your humble mom-and-pop florist shop might be flash-mobbed by wicked gays who want flowers.
The first freelance pieces I ever sold were to the old true crime tabloids, and I used Joe McGinniss’ Fatal Vision as a sort of model, studying the transitions from dialogue to narrative to scene. I learned, too, the importance of time spent in courthouse basements, reading every page of the record, and time spent talking to cops and neighbors and all the others who people a human tragedy.
He was one of the ‘new journalists’ — Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson — who participated in their stories, aiming to convey not merely the facts, but the real-time experience of living the events. For good or ill there is a serious argument for that approach, and McGinniss really did live his stories. He traveled with the inside circle of the Nixon campaign in ’68; he lived in a Raleigh, North Carolina fraternity house with Jeffrey MacDonald during MacDonald’s trial for murdering his wife; and, famously, he lived next door to Sarah Palin while researching The Rogue.
All along, the emphasis of his work was on the space between the public persona and the actual person.
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
So it’s no wonder he made so many enemies — most famously Janet Malcolm of The New Yorker, regarding McGinniss’ willingness to let MacDonald believe he thought him innocent, and Sarah Palin. Both of those stories are long and complicated, with many nuances; suffice it to say that I regard Malcolm as merely an upmarket version of Palin: Talented but empty. The real world is messy, and McGinniss’ subterfuges in the MacDonald case got a great story that could not have been told any other way. Well done.
Jerry Coyne reprises exactly my objection to the existence of the so-called ‘problem of evil.’
Before you can discuss the nature of God, however deep and nuanced your discussion, you have to provide rational arguments for the existence of a God. No theologian, however sophisticated, has done that to my satisfaction, and I’ve read a lot of them. Absent such convincing evidence, theology simply becomes academic speculation about the nature of an unevidenced being.
This is no small matter; theology simply doesn’t make the cut as an intellectually serious enterprise. It is recreational metaphysics.