A Farewell to Gun Memes: “Swords–>Plows” Means Something

Stop posting stupid memes.  Especially ones about guns.

I’ve previously established the need for Christians to actually make alive the kind of kingdom that beats swords into ploughshares.  This is what Isaiah prophesied (2:3-4),  and which Micah prophesied (4:3).

Think about what this means: Taking swords and beating them into scythes, taking spears and beating them into pruning hooks.

In prophecy, this imagery is mainly applied to countries ending warmongering and focusing on healing and nurturing the land and the economy in a natural, beneficial way.  War helps the economy tremendously.  For private contractors and mercenaries.  But for people who matter, it only hurts them.

We see many examples of this kind of thing actually applied to other weapons:
*Roman roads originally meant for transporting violent troops became roads of trade, and more importantly, of spreading the Gospel. (some have argued that God chose to send Christ in a time when the Roman soldiers and “Pax Romana” would protect law-abiding Christians and help spread the Gospel.  They have no grounds for such a ludicrous claim.  These soldiers killed Jesus and persecuted Christians.  The Gospel flourished just as well when the Romans killed Christians as it did when Romans “protected” Christians.  Underneath, this argument is merely an excuse to worship the American military-industrial machine.)
*Sonar technology used to pioneer sonographs.
*WD-40 was originally used in missiles.
*Jet engines used to barry bombs became the engines that carried people and goods.

But this also applies to individuals and communities, not just nations.  Peacemaking should be applied everywhere, not just on a national scale.  So the prophets looked forward to a kingdom in which people are destroying their weapons in order to turn them into instruments of growth.

Think about what that means.  Becuase I see these memes trying to remind me that since blunt objects and knives caused more murderous deaths in America than guns, that we might as well ban those tools too.  Except it misses the point.  Not the point that I think the government should be in the business of banning guns, but that Christians should not be in the business of perpetuating a cult of guns, even if in response to absurd laws being set in place.  Why?

Because guns are an argument.  Everything you do, make, and celebrate is an argument.  You can kill a man with a ploughshare or a pruning hook.  So why would it make sense to take your sword and spear and fashion them into scythes?  Because of the argument, that is the statement, implicit in the very act.  A hammer can kill a man, but it was not made to do so.  A gun not designed for hunting purposes is designed to kill a man.  It’s not about mere practicality.  It’s about symbol.  Symbol affects society more than we may realize.  Under the surface ours is a culture that celebrates violence, because of the symbols and messages we choose to endorse.

The designing, selling, using and celebrating the use of a gun is an argument, just as the designing, selling, using and celebrating of a hammer is an argument.  When you take a sword and refashion it into a ploughshare, you’re not saying “look, I can’t hurt anyone now.”  What you’re saying is “look, I am now redirecting my capability of violence into the capability for peace and growth and prosperity.  I am showing those around me what I would rather be doing with my resources, and what I value more than solving problems through violence.”  Isaiah and Micah didn’t prophecy about sheathing swords.  They prophesied about effectively destroying them.  Yes, the tools they became could also do harm.  But it’s the principle, the symbolic value that it represents.  When you pick up a pruning hook that used to be a spear, it affects how you think.  The very reshaping of the tool stirs something in you, something that can, I believe, actually curb violence.

So this is why I am sick of seeing these pointless posts about how you want so desperately to cling to your guns because you’re afraid the government will take them.  But, in case you misunderstand me, this is also why I am sick of the US government being the one who seems to be stepping in.  Because a government known for its pursuit of peace through superior firepower has no right to tell its citizens how to disarm themselves.

It’s not that I hate that the government is “taking our guns away” (which is an exaggeration.  You should have no fear of losing that glock of yours.)  It’s that I hate that not enough Christians have demonstrated transforming from a culture of obsession with arms into a culture of obsession with tending to helping the world heal.  I don’t want the government cracking down on us in order to disarm us.  Rather, we should be disarming ourselves.  I do not mean by destroying every weapon we have, but by making efforts that work more towards these ends than the other way around.  Really?  You’re going to go buy a rifle on Christmas just because you might not get to buy it in the future?  Why not spend next Christmas taking apart a rifle and using the pieces for something better?

Take a hint from Shane Claiborne, who took up welding in order to find creative ways of deconstructing rifles for other purposes.

Our response to a government’s gun restriction legislation shouldn’t be “if you try to take my guns I’ll shoot you.”  Maybe for once it should be “you can’t take my gun.  I’ll turn it into a _____(fill in the blank with something creative)______ before you can try.”  It’ll really throw ’em for a loop.

Here’s how some artists turneg guns into a giant ploughshare.

Here.  How’s this for a gun meme?  Yes, I know Ghandi didn’t overthrow the entire British empire, and yes, guns were used on his people, and ultimately on him, but once again, look to Ghandi as a symbol.  Or better yet, look to Jesus.

2 responses to “A Farewell to Gun Memes: “Swords–>Plows” Means Something

  1. Pingback: Monday’s Links To Go | Tim Archer's Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts

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