Wicked Guns or Wicked Hearts?

JeffersonIt’s funny. Whenever there is a mass killing and the killer used a gun, all the mainstream media wants to talk about is the gun. Where did the gun come from? Was the gun an ‘assault weapon?’ Why wasn’t the gun kept locked up in some gun shop that shouldn’t be allowed to actually sell their guns?

No matter how many gun control laws there are, demands are made for more gun control. More classes of people are to be defined as unfit to own guns. Obama even wants to take gun rights away from some Social Security recipients. No more deer hunting for you, grandpa!

But wait a minute. Have you ever heard of a gun going on a shooting spree all by itself? No, there is always a person involved. It’s not the gun that is wicked, it’s the heart of the killer. And if that killer’s heart is wrong and he cannot buy, steal or make a gun, he will kill with other tools. Knives. Bombs. Poison. Chainsaws. Rope. Cars. Once I read of a killer who strangled a woman with her own bikini. Use a bikini, go to prison?

One thing has changed radically in the world during the course of my lifetime. Not the availability of guns, which is restricted in more places and for more people. But in my childhood in the early 1960s, the attitude on matters of right and wrong was far different.

People believed that right and wrong were distinct and ought to be know to everyone. People still believed that the Nuremberg Trials were right because the Nazi officials on trial knew in their hearts that killing Jews, Gypsies and disabled people was a moral wrong, no matter what the Nazi government said about it. And that people had a positive duty to do the morally right thing, even if the government had given the order.

It seemed that when I was a little girl, almost everyone who had children made a point to send their children to Sunday school or other religious education regularly. At the Presbyterian church I remember best, there was a religious education hour between the two church services. There were Sunday school classes for adults as well as children. Sunday school went on 52 weeks a year. Attendance was recorded, and if we went for 52 Sundays, we got a year pin. There were additional pins for additional years of perfect attendance. My family didn’t go every week, so it took me about two years to get my one-year pin.

Sunday school was serious. We memorized a Bible verse every Sunday. We were taught how to find a specific verse in the Bible. Sometimes the first child to find the requested verse got to read it out loud.

We were also asked to invite other children to our Sunday school. Most parents who would never take their kids to a Sunday school still permitted their children to attend a Sunday school with their friends.

Though there was an ill wind blowing and most of those kids, as teens, would learn to reject notions of right and wrong, there was still at the time of my childhood a consensus: some things are right, some things are wrong, and it is possible to tell the difference between the two. And even the irreligious people mostly approved of people following the teachings of the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.

Flash forward to today: in the Presbyterian church body that I went to as a child, it is no longer required to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God or the Savior of mankind. Abortion rights and marriage equality are the important beliefs at denomination headquarters these days.

Kids today are highly likely to come from broken homes of various types rather than the home of their married biological parents. And loud atheists are demanding that kids learn that religions are all bad and that the charities performed by religious bodies don’t exist, somehow.

You cannot say something is right or wrong these days without being loudly contradicted by someone who proposes a whole different scheme of right and wrong. Everyone to their own taste, even when it comes to moral views.

And so people who might be inclined to kill have a much easier time of it, when they decide to justify their murderous choices. After all, if respectable representatives of the more well-to-do political party can say it is OK to kill the unborn, the terminally ill, the people with brain damage such as Terri Schiavo and that stroke victim who begged for food and water, only to have a court rule she was not competent to make that request; well, how is some sociopath or person with mental illness to know it’s a big deal when the decide to kill the people they don’t consider really human?

The gun control advocates are just distracting us. The real problem is that our society is no longer together on following a set of rules about right and wrong and passing it on. And that just ensures that there are going to be more wicked hearts out there, set on doing wrong to others. The solution is not to punish guns, it is to educate people. And punish the ones who break the laws with imprisonment, even if prison cells cost money.


Should Catholics mock Mormons?/Birth of a Novel blog tour

Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS (Mormon) church.

Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS (Mormon) church.

This post contains an update in the Birth of a Novel blog tour— update is at bottom of post.

Recently I was reading an advance copy of a new vampire novel by a Catholic author I know from Facebook. In the novel, the main character, a Catholic, mocks Mormons, a famous Mormon author, and calls Mormon missionaries ‘creepy’. I devoutly hope the author put this in the novel to illustrate that his main character has moral flaws, as we all do.

But I do know of Catholics that make fun of Mormons and don’t think they are doing anything wrong. Some also mock Evangelical Christians, while others treat Evangelicals with more respect.

When I think of this, here is what comes in to my mind. Can any Catholic out there imagine Pope Saint John Paul the Great writing a mocking comment on a Mormon believer’s blog? Would Saint Thérèse of Lisieux call Mormon missionaries ‘creepy’ in a discussion with the other Sisters at her convent? Would Blessed Jacinta Marto, youngest of the Fatima visionary children, share an anti-Mormon joke with the other Fatima children— or with the Blessed Mother during one of the visions? I just can’t picture it.

Since Mormons follow Jesus Christ and read the New Testament to learn of Him, they have the truth. Like Evangelical Christians, they don’t have the ‘fullness of truth’ that we Catholics believe that our Church has. But then, how many Catholics are there that don’t have the ‘fullness of truth’ because they reject Church teachings they don’t care for? Or because they can’t be bothered to read their Bible and their Catechism?

I admire my Mormon brothers and sisters in Christ. OK, I kind of hope that they will become Catholics some day, but that’s God’s job to enlighten them if they need that. In the meantime, I love them.

When I look for other writers who are Christ-followers, I don’t turn up my nose at any because they are Mormon or Evangelical or Quaker or Episcopalian. There is one Christ that we follow. And we are all under similar pressures to hide our faith when we write so that we can fit in with an increasingly Christ-hostile secular writing community.

I hope that if any Catholic reads this blog post, they will consider their behavior towards Mormons and see if they have been acting in the way Jesus Christ and the saints would want them to act. If you haven’t, the confessionals of Catholic churches around the world are open— go to Reconciliation.

My writers group on Facebook, Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers, is open to Catholics, Evangelicals, LDS, Orthodox, Protestants, Quakers and any other flavor of Jesus follower. Please consider joining!

I found the Joseph Smith picture at the Westward Expansion web site. 


Birth of a Novel blog hop

birth of a novel

Forward progress on my writing has been minimal. I HAVE worked up the courage to ask a friend to read the first draft of my short story ‘The Skin Shirt’. It takes place in a land where people change their skin color by buying a new ‘skin shirt’.

I need to work harder on making my writing a priority and working on it DAILY. I tend to be very disorganized due to my Asperger’s Syndrome and so have a problem with making writing a daily habit. But I’ve been able to make watching General Hospital a daily habit for decades! I need to work on this, with God’s help.

Join the Birth of a Novel blog hop!

We update on Fridays on how our writing life is going. We don’t have many people participating yet. So maybe what this blog hop really needs is YOU! http://charitywrites.blogspot.com/2015/07/birth-of-novel-july-17th.html

What does ‘Clean Reads’ mean to you?

'Oliver Twist' dates from a time when all fiction made available to the public was expected to be 'clean'.

‘Oliver Twist’ dates from a time when all fiction made available to the public was expected to be ‘clean’.

There is a quiet revolution going on among readers. When they pick up a novel, if they find it full of f-bombs and sex scenes, they put it down and go in search of a ‘clean read’.

My mother, who is in her late eighties, is a long time reader of category romances— Harlequins and the like. She was certainly young enough when the ‘bodice ripper’ romance— romance with sex scenes— first became popular to learn to put up with sex scenes in her fiction, and even to enjoy it and expect it. But when she goes to the Saint Vincent de Paul thrift shop to pick up some romances, she chooses the Harlequin romance lines known for being ‘clean reads’ and avoids the other kind (some of which require three full sex scenes per novel).

I, being in my fifties and having spent many years of my life as a Neopagan who didn’t accept Christian values, got used to reading books without regard to whether they were ‘clean reads’ or not. As a teen, when I was a believing Christian, I read ‘bodice ripper’ romances out of curiosity about sex, though I knew it wasn’t morally right reading material. But as I’ve grown older I find that the bad elements of ‘dirty’ fiction have grown worse as the old level of badness has lost its power to shock. I find myself searching for clean reads as well— even if I have to start reading Louis L’Amour Westerns!

There are of course those who despise the idea of ‘clean reads’. I read a blog at the ‘School Library Journal’ which decries the term since it implies that sex scenes and foul language are dirty. The blogger also demands that books displaying ‘family values’ portray homosexual couples as normal families. The message seems to be that the large numbers of readers who want ‘clean reads’ should not be accommodated in any way— not even in public school libraries.

But for the rest of us, we want fiction that doesn’t violate our basic sense of right and wrong. We don’t want distorted fiction that makes it seem that life is all about committing immoral sex acts and uttering rude language that would make a 19th century army mule skinner blush. We want entertainment that entertains rather than shocks!

As an adult reader, I’m somewhat saddened that in order to get ‘clean reads’ I often need to read children’s books of the ‘young adult’ variety. I want to be able to read like a grown-up! Just not like a perverted grown-up. But sadly our society often views ‘dirty’ fiction as an issue only in connection with child readers or viewers.

In order to find clean fiction, and for authors to write it, we need to come up with some rules for defining clean fiction. They must be distinct from the rules for Christian fiction, because even though Christian fiction normally is ‘clean’, clean fiction is a broader category. It can include fiction that would fit in the secular fiction category, as well as works by authors of non-Christian faiths which express the religious values of those faiths. (Naturally, Christian clean fiction fans might not enjoy some clean fiction written by Jewish or Muslim authors that might portray Christians in a less than ideal light.)

Ben Crowder’s blog: Clean science fiction and fantasy

How do YOU feel about ‘clean fiction’? How would you define it? Can contemporary clean fiction rise to the high levels of the classic authors of the past (Charles Dickens, Jane Austin) who wrote when fiction was required to be  ‘clean’?