Denominations

Bible

I have never been much interested in churches. Christianity has returned the favor by not being very interested in me.  I think that I will live forever.  Heaven doesn’t want me, and Hell is afraid that I’ll take over.

My little home town had at least 6 different churches for 1800 citizens, unlike some small towns on the buckle of the American Bible-belt, where you’d better be Southern Baptist, or be ridden out of town on a rail. It began as a fur-trading outpost, and soon became known as a center for lake-fishing. With a protective off-shore island, it developed into a lake-port and railway terminus. These all brought to the town, people of many varied ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Three churches occupied an intersection a block above the highway, wisely called ‘The Church Corner.’ At one apex stood the United Church.   It (the sect, not the building) was formed in 1925 through the union of Canadian Methodists, Congregationalists, 70% of Canadian Presbyterians, and an odd bunch of other religious malcontents.  It seems that, ever since Martin Luther showed them that they could, all most Christians want to do is ‘protest’ and establish their own independence.

A girlfriend dragged me to her United Church one Sunday. In long-bygone days when poor factory workers put change in the offering plate, the preacher announced that, “Today, there will be a silent offering.” meaning no coins!  Bills only!  It was probably a pure coincidence that, on Tuesday, he was driving a new car.

Across the street was ‘my’ Baptist Church. My Scottish mother had left the Presbyterian Church when she married my ‘Baptist’ father, and got a twice-a-year – at Christmas and Easter (maybe?) attendee.  It has gone into decline, and is now the site of an artisanal restaurant, attracting mainly tourists.

Unlike our Southern brethren, there was no hellfire and brimstone, but our next-door neighbor sang in the choir, and her daughter was ‘a missionary in India,’ (the arrogance!) so any empty liquor bottles were carefully concealed in the trash.

These two were the main depots for the blue-color factory workers. On the third corner was the Anglican Church, and the fourth side housed the rectory for its minister.  This seemed to be where most of the town’s merchants, lawyers and real-estate agents prayed for (or preyed on) more customers.

Directly beside the highway stood the Presbyterian Church, larger, richer, and more ornate than either the Anglican, or the little Catholic. It was attended, in all pomp and circumstance, by the descendants of the powerful Scottish traders and minor nobility immigrants and their attendants.

This church had a large bell tower, rather than the simple steeple my Baptist, or the Anglican Church had. It had a set of chimes, and an amplifier, and speakers in the tower to carry the music to its worshippers.

With my Mother’s connections, we were the caretakers for several years – dusting pews, mopping floors and firing two coal-burning furnaces in the basement early enough on wintery Sunday mornings to warm the gentry parishioners.

Right beside the bank at the main intersection was a narrow little storefront Pentecostal Church(?) Its members were reputed to ‘speak in tongues’, and handle snakes.  Immediately above was a small apartment intended for the pastor and family.  When she was an impressionable teenager, my friend’s mother had listened to a pastor’s forked tongue, and handled his snake….and the Church had to house and support them there.

If not for a couple of stained-glass windows, the tiny Catholic Church might have been mistaken for a small storage warehouse. There weren’t too many Catholics in town – except in the tourist season.  The rest of the churches might get the occasional summer visitor….but the Catholic Church??!

During the off-season, there was an 11:00 AM Mass. During the invasion, the gullible guilty faithful Catholic tourists packed it all day.  There was an 8AM mass, a 9AM Mass, one at 10, one at 11, and one at noon – and probably evening services as well.  No long sermons.  The priest kept it short and sweet, 45/50 minutes, instant salvation.  After each service, as the faithful filed out the front door, the priest scuttled out the back, and scurried a half a block to the bank with a deposit bag bulging with cash.

There were probably some Jews in town. Two schoolmate brothers, named Oscar and Myron, and a girlfriend’s friend named Leah, indicate the likelihood.  Too small a group to warrant a synagogue, they probably met in someone’s home.

Other than seeing someone coming or going, I didn’t really know who attended what church – and didn’t care – and didn’t know anyone who did. With our already pureed population, and the vastly varied, and often foreign, summer invasion, the town was used to a wide range of opinions and actions.  Such tiny details as whether or not someone attended Church, and if so which one, were minute and insignificant.

Advertisements

More Thoughts On Gun Control

Colt 1911

GUN CONTROL?? WHAT ABOUT ABSENT FATHERS?

Do we want to solve gun violence, or do we just want to engage in useless bluster?

Whenever a terrible shooting takes place, in Toronto, or an American city, the gun control enthusiasts rush to the podium to bang their fist and display their anger.

Recently, US President, Barack Obama reacting to the mass shooting in Oregon that left nine people dead, said: “I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up.

He meant gun laws.

But another display of emotion won’t make gun control work.

The guns are not the problem, but they are an easy target, and politicians, like water, seek the easy course.

If gun control worked, Chicago would not experience the violence that it does. If gun control worked, the Toronto Sun would not have reported, in mid-July, that “The 227 shooting victims so far this year are 31 more than the total for all of 2014.””

Toronto and Chicago have gun control. Murder is also ‘controlled’.  It is illegal!  The problem is deeper and more complicated than the tool that is used.  But it is politically correct to blame the gun.  It is less so, and therefore fraught with political danger, to talk about family breakdown.

An article in The Federalist by Peter Hasson notes: “Violence?  There’s a direct correlation between fatherless children and teen violence.  Suicide?  Fatherless children are more than twice as likely to commit suicide.  Dropping out of school?  71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless families.  Drug use?  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.”

How about guns? Two of the strongest correlations with gun homicides are, growing up in a fatherless household and dropping out of school, which is itself directly related to lack of an active or present father.

So what can we do to encourage young people to avoid single parenthood and to encourage responsible fatherhood? How do we keep young men from having to search for belonging and acceptance from other young men in a gang?

We should be as critical of the choices that lead to kids having babies as we are of guns, but politicians mostly recoil in horror when anyone suggests that they try this approach.

What about mental health? Are we willing to address that issue?  In theory the people are, but are politicians willing to make the necessary choices in priorities, and are we willing to stop putting money into parties like the Pan Am Games, and instead, adequately fund mental health programs?

Apparently not!

Too many things have already gone wrong before a young man picks up a gun and attacks his fellow human beings with the intent to kill. It’s a good thing to talk about fathers, mental health, conflict resolution, employment, mentoring, or whatever anyone can come up with towards achieving the common goal of ending gun violence.

The people whose first, and often only ‘solution’, is more gun control, when it clearly doesn’t work, are not to be taken seriously. Murder is illegal, and most guns used in shootings are illegally held under present gun laws.  We want young people to grow up, so let’s be grown-up about real solutions.

***

With many thanks to Gerry Agar, a Toronto Sun columnist and radio talk-show host, for some interesting and lucid thoughts about guns and social violence.