It’s sad when you only find out what your colleagues across campus are doing when you get a pingback on your blog. Yesterday I was alerted to the fact that my colleague in Wake Forest University’s philosophy department, Patrick Toner, has been writing regularly about guns on the Crisis Magazine website.
(N.B.: In the Catholic world, Crisis represents an orthodox, conservative, or traditional perspective, in contrast to something like Commonweal which represents the dissenting, liberal, or progressive perspective of the laity.)
He began with a piece provocatively titled “Chesterton: Patron Saint of Handgunners” and has most recently considered the question, “Should the New U.S. Cardinals Push Gun Control.” Oh, and he threw in a piece about “Catholics, Chesteron, and Concealed Carry” for good measure.
There are alot of simple perspectives on religion, guns, and self-defense out there. I have even posted about the Catholic view of lethal force in self-defense myself. Toner’s pieces are anything but simplistic, and while they don’t represent THE Catholic view (which does not exist, IMO), they do consider A highly considered Catholic view. And that in itself is something.
Toner also provides excellent links to other sites (beyond this one!), such as a link to an essay (on the Catholic apologetics site catholic.com) on the Catholic Church’s views on gun control.
Reading that essay and the comments, I came across a passage attributed to St. Augustine:
Though defensive violence will always be ‘a sad necessity’ in the eyes of men of principle, it would be still more unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men.
I find the language of “sad necessity” very profound. In the cheapened and coarsened online world I spend too much time in, I don’t always see the SAD modifier attached to the necessity of defensive violence.
In his essay on “Catholics, Chesterton, and Concealed Carry,” Toner invokes Massad Ayoob, and appropriately so, I think. When I took Ayoob’s MAG-40 class, there was no sense of celebration of the use of lethal force in self-defense, or even any sense that someone who must do this does anything other than survive. At the time I called it a humanitarian approach to armed citizenship. Maybe it is also a Catholic approach. Or, since Ayoob is of Syrian descent and most Syrian Christians are members of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, maybe it is a Orthodox approach. In which case I would say, same difference.