Five years back, when writing a blog with a very small following (two…I hadtwo followers) named The Root Down, I put together a little mix to celebrate the 20th anniversary of 3 Feet High and Rising. It only made sense that, in the 25th anniversary of the release, I would re-up the mix for the re-enjoyment of any new followers of Son of Byford. It times in at just under two hours in length and…
Get this mix. It’s excellent.
25 years of De La Soul. Come check out what j3 & Dirty Deacon have to say about 3 Feet High and Rising on its birthday.
There’s a point with me and records that the familiarity with a record defeats objectivity in your listening. Stage 1 is the excitement of a new record. Provided it’s enjoyable, you immerse yourself in the experience. Stage 2 is the maturation of that excitement. You start to listen at a lower volume. Less jumping around between tracks.…
Man, I need to dig deeper into the subject of sanctification. I am becoming more unsatisfied with the prominent, strict Calvinist understanding of it. The recent spate of books on holiness and being holy is annoying, at best, and an utter catch-22, at worst.
Prepare for the worst, y’all. I may be becoming more Lutheran.
(To all my Calvinist (which I still consider myself!) followers: feel free to unfollow me. I know TULIP must be followed at all cost. [yes, that was sarcasm])
Here is why I’m a badass … Garble garble garble. And here is why you should give me $ garble garble garble.
And all the broke-and-lost-grad-applicants said…Amen.
I was born, raised and currently live in the Texas Panhandle. Amarillo lies on the westerly fringes of the so-called “Bible Belt,” however I would say there is more “belt” and less “Bible” contained within its borders. It is my guess that being on the fringes of the Bible Belt makes for a more obsessive attempt at proving our continued existence within its borders. The results of this: a much tighter alliance between self-identifying evangelicals and Republican political adherence. Guns, God and Glory; and in that order, at least that is how it often plays out.
My dad, as long as I can remember, had guns and enjoyed shooting them and going hunting. It is something that he deeply enjoyed and, though he was unsuccessful in making a hunter out of me, he was able to give me a healthy respect for guns. I don’t even mind going to a range or shooting clay pigeons. The smell of gun smoke is a pleasant smell. But if I never touched or heard about a gun again, I wouldn’t miss it at all.
When I was younger, up until my time in grad school, my indifference to guns and gun culture was nothing more than apathy and a lack of interest in the subject. It just didn’t excite anything in me. To this day, if I am around people discussing guns for an extended period of time, my eyes still glaze over. Now, the “practical pacifism” of my youth—what I used to call it—has given away to the principled belief that nonviolence is what I am supposed to hold to, conscientiously.
As I look back on my life and try to piece together the elements that may have played a part in my beliefs now, I don’t find much that would have really pushed me in that direction. It was a slow process; a stomach wound leading to the final death, if you will. Apathy, by itself, does not breed principle. Nor does mere disinterest in a subject matter. The best reasoning for how I got from point A to point B hinges on two things: gun shows and the impersonal nature of modern warfare.
In college, I would go to gun shows with my father and my best friend at various times. It was something they enjoyed and I enjoyed hanging out with them, so I went even though it wasn’t something that really interested me. Over a period of time, I got to where I found the ease of acquiring guns at shows and the type of personalities that would most likely purchase guns at shows to be troubling. It is easier to acquire guns “under the radar” at gun shows and the ability to do business off the books seemed a lot more likely. The people that often would purchase guns at these shows were the types that would perhaps fully identify with the description of “gun nut.” An unchecked nationalistic flair mixed with a fear of the invasion of “others.” These were the people that were possibly more willing to believe email forwards about a Muslim President Obama wanting to become a dictator for life without digging a little deeper to see if the facts actually matched the rumor.
This is not, at all, to say there were not responsible and knowledgeable people who just enjoyed looking at guns and purchasing them through the proper channels and processes, however I was often concerned that they were the minority in general. Go to a gun show and experience it for yourself and see if you get the same feeling; don’t take my word for it. Hell, my best friend has said on several occasions that I did have a point when it came to much of gun culture. Fear of real or imagined enemies & guns do not often mix with a proper balance of reason and respect for life.
Technology, especially beginning with World War I, has changed the shape of warfare in the world. Though I think some of the technology was developed for a good reason—to save human life in battle and to lower casualty numbers—the shape it has taken has, I think, actually created a lack of weight when it comes to the act of taking life in battle. In the land of drones and missiles and nuclear weapons, death can be dealt from a distance. It is not as often when those in the heat of battle are staring their enemy in the face: human vs. human. There is a significant psychological difference between jamming a bayonet into the gut of a person and pressing a detonation button miles away. The life-draining look of someone being killed in front of you, by your weapon will be much more meaningful than hearing a reported number of casualties after a series of carpet-bombing missions. Mere numbers reported have seldom led to PTSD, but up-front-and-personal acts of killing have in almost every case.
A strangely dark and humorous anecdote from my life might illuminate my point a little better. A few years ago, and several times since, someone asked me if I had a gun and what kind I had. I politely said I didn’t have a gun and then, being the smart-ass I am, I followed that up with a response that went something like this: “I have two baseball bats that I use as protection. I prefer my junior-league sized Louisville Slugger because it has a much more personal touch when I am beating the intruder to a pulp.” I have never beat someone with my Louisville Slugger nor do I intend to. But there is a truth behind my statement, no matter how tongue-in-cheek it may be. When the act of killing is more personal, whether by gun, bat or whatever, the weight of that act is felt much more than sending drones over to another country to take out a target that may or may not have civilians present in its death radius. No matter who the person is and how justifiable the death might have been, that act will remain with the person who took the life.
Modern technology is allowing for a real loss of that weight. People are no longer unique human lives, but mere statistical information used to weigh the pros and cons of a strategy of war or conflict. Having the blood of a person on our hands is personal. A drone is impersonal. Unfortunately, the trajectory of war tends to be heading towards the latter, more impersonal, means of settling conflicts. The weight of taking life will become less and less, I fear. Human life will become nothing more than one among many in a statistical report. That is a frightening concept to me. Something that hasn’t and will continue to not set well with me. The older forms of battle may have been more brutal and ugly to the modern sensibilities, but, at least, there was no doubt about the moral and human cost at stake.
These are the types of things that wear me down. These are the things that have slowly played into my change of perspective when it comes to the use of violence and weapons in the world today. I know I am in the minority perspective where I live and, probably, in general. That is fine. It’s my conscience, not yours, as much as I wish it was everyone’s. You are free to buy and shoot guns and go hunting and carry a concealed handgun and whatever else. But I, for one, don’t care if you have a piece on you. And I never have really cared. God never gave me a passion for guns and gun culture and I think it was for a reason.
My only questions, to leave you with, to think on are these:
1. Why are guns, or other weapons, really important to you?
2. What drives you to need or want guns, especially a concealed weapon?
3. Are you keeping the weight of what guns, or anything used as a weapon, can do to human life at the center of your reasoning or are you allowing your fears of what could happen drive your actions?