Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Pastor Phil's First Rifle
Eight years ago, I met the pastor of my brother's church in Northern Wisconsin. Pastor Phil and his wife, Kathy, had answered the call when the church had entered some hard times. His career had started in Chicago. His parents were called to the ministry; his father had been a Marine. The streets that he grew up on in Chicago had an international flavor. There were Greek, Polish, and Germans, and they generally got along. His family did not have any guns, and his lone experience with firearms was an informal couple of shots with a .22 at twilight, in of all places, Maryland. The relative who supplied the rifle was also a Marine. Phil and Kathy were new to the North Woods, and the church was starting with very little.
My mother lived on the land that my parents had purchased before I was born, a couple of miles from Pastor Phil's Church. She required someone to be with her 24/7, and I was one of those who stayed with her, in her home, cooked, helped her in and out of bed, and did all the necessary things that children do for elderly parents.
People who have been in this position will tell you that any assistance can make a large difference. Pastor Phil, and his wife, Kathy, went far beyond what could be expected. They cheered my mother, brought over food, spend considerable time with her and me. There presence was always appreciated, a bright spot in my mother's life. They have said that she was a bright spot in theirs.
They may have spent more time with my mother than I did during those years. They were there all year. I only helped intermittently a month or two at a time. They were rich in spirit, but materially, not much better off than, well, church mice.
They taught me about Christian charity.
I would take a little time while my mother was sleeping to sharpen my shooting skills. I shot from the deck of her house, with a monitor nearby or in my pocket. A long barrelled .22 with standard velocity ammunition is pretty quiet.
Pastor Phil and Kathy had a garden at their new Wisconsin home, and the rabbits would raid it. I arranged to give Phil an old Remington 550. It was old enough to not have or need a serial number. It worked well, and my brother soon had the factory sights dialed in. I supplied a few hundred rounds of .22 ammunition. This was before the great Obama .22 shortage. At some point, a member of the church donated a brick of .22 to pastor Phil.
Phil and Kathy took to the gun culture as if they were born to it. My mother died a couple of years ago, but my friendship with Pastor Phil and Kathy has remained. Their material position has improved as the little church has grown and thrived. On an ordinary Sunday, a few dozen will be in attendance. Phil has taken a toll on the rabbit and squirrel population. At last count, he had stopped the garden predations of 35 of them.
As their modest income increased, Phil purchased a Ruger American rifle and put a scope on it. They acquired two carry handguns and Wisconsin concealed carry licenses. The class for the carry licenses was given at the Church by my brother. 21 people attended. Kathy has been as enthusiastic about their entry into the gun culture as Phil has.
Pastor Phil and Kathy are part of that great surge in gun ownership that has happened during the Obama regime. Neither had owned a gun before; now they both do. It is far less likely that they will need to use their pistols for defense of self or others, than Phil's use of the rifle to defend their vegetables. The centers of the gun culture tend to be more peaceful than the urban centers whose political leadership wishes to disarm the rest of us.
I am not sure the guns themselves cause this difference. I suspect the attitude that goes with owning guns is a more important part of the picture. In the gun culture, there is a strong belief in the necessity of personal responsibility. The ownership of guns gives the knowledge of increased power. The belief that self control is necessary and desirable has always been a strong component. The active nurturing of community without coercion, and faith in God, tend to be associated with gun ownership and peaceful communities in American life.
Phil was happy to have the address of the Calvary Baptist Church included in this story. It is 13713 W. Thannum Fire Ln, Hayward, Wisconsin, 54843. If you are in the area, feel free to stop by. Services are from 10 to 11 a.m. on Sundays.
Pastor Phil's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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