Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Reading About Firearms is OFF LIMITS to Me

I love reading about firearms and ammunition and related topics. I have even made at least one blog post about the HiPoint 4595 carbine as an alternative to the shotgun as a home defense weapon. And yesterday, as the warm-up to my blog, I reviewed an excellent documentary by former footballer, current actor Vinnie Jones, and mildly lambasted him for an egregious firearms error.
And in doing so, I skated dangerously close to the edge of a promise I had made.

Background: My family and I are members of Liberty Church in Marietta, an independent evangelical church with a strong emphasis on racial reconciliation. It's the first TRULY multi-cultural civilian church I've been a member of in my life (I'm 63), although as far as I know I have never been to a church that had segregation as a formal position.
Interjection: I said 'civilian church.' When I was in the Army, (1972-1975) both the military chapel services and the off-base mission churches I attended were fully integrated. Being a Christian in the military sets one apart, and privates can converse with colonels with no problem. It's just different, and you have to experience it yourself to understand; or at least have some other similar context.
At any rate, ours is a high-commitment church. Nobody FORCES anyone to do anything, but the message of the church is that our beliefs are the center of our lives. It's not weird; we don't do snakes or have a dress code or restrict women. We have seven services on the weekend, and you pick the service that fits best with your schedule: Friday 6 PM. Saturday 5 PM & 7 PM, Sunday 8 AM, 10 AM, 12 Noon, and 6 PM. Within each service, you have the opportunity to join any of several different 'home groups,' reminiscent of the old Wesleyan 'class meetings,' where we eat, share, and study some topic we have chosen.

And it's a church where I feel utterly at home with my family. That's significant, because I am an old fat crippled redneck biker, and I am married to a black church lady, my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA. Nobody looks twice at us; I can hope that would be the case in any church I attended, but I'm not about to find out; I'm happy where we are.

So: high commitment church.

And, twice each year, the church observes a fast. In January, the fast is 21 days; In August, it's 7 days. The concept of fasting is not new to me; I used to observe the Lenten fast when I was in liturgical churches, but the method is new. In prior fasts, I would give up a particular food item, such as meat or sweets. The fasts at Liberty can include that, but most people observe some sort of media fast. Lots of people have found that Facebook can eat up all their free time, and they choose to give that up. Others give up TV, or all TV except football, or complaining; you get to pick what you want to give up.
And this is where I encountered a problem: I don't do anything. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs. I don't indulge in food (although you wouldn't know it to look at me). Since I am disabled and retired, I spend my day reading (and reviewing) and from time to time, I do watch something on Netflix, mostly documentaries, but I lapse into movies every once in a while. Until this past week, I didn't have transportation, so I wasn't going anywhere, either.
So, the time came around to make my choice, and I couldn't think of anything, therefore I asked Vanessa. To her, the answer was easy: give up guns.
Give up guns? Are you CRAZY? That's not even SAFE!
We negotiated. And I realized I had just been through an intense period of research, looking for a self-defense round suitable for a handgun, and I had spent several hours every day for at least a week, reading, watching testing videos, and contacting people in the industry, and I really enjoyed every second of it. It was an EASY trap for me to fall into.
You see, as far as I can tell, I have been given this period in my life to be a reader and reviewer. At one point, I thought I was going to apply myself to writing stories and books, but after a while, I realized that writing good reviews would have more impact than writing good books. So, that's what I do. EXCEPT that when I am happily and furiously consulting ballistic gel tests, and flipping through 'Cartridges of the World,' and reading promotional material, I'm NOT reading and reviewing books.
So I said: "Hmmm."
And here's what we came up with: I can still carry for self-defense, I can still go to the range and take people with me, I can still teach people who are learning (which is my daughters at this point). I can watch documentaries (or movies) that include some gun content, as long as the show's primary focus is on something else (like tough cops in the Vinnie Jones documentary).
I CAN'T read my gun magazines, research ammo, or watch Yankee Marshall videos. I can't drool over the catalogs and sales flyers, whether they are emailed or come in paper form. I can't follow up on guns for sale featured on the single Facebook page I follow that lists offerings.
I CAN (and have) ask my youngest son, who is also subscribed to the Aim Surplus offerings, to notify me if something astounding comes up. Since my wall is pretty full, it would have to be a spectacular offering, like a Sig for $200, but it could happen.
And that's something i can live with. I am voluntarily removing myself from something I enjoy, so as to have more time to do something I am called to do, which is read books and write reviews.
Except so many of my friends, bless them all, are also firearms accumulators and they will write a post, and without really thinking about it, I start to click on a link. GACK! I was reading Peter Grant's blog, Bayou Renaissance Man, so I could make a comment about "Stoke The Flames Higher":

(I haven't reviewed it yet) and I discover a link to an article about teachers and shotguns, and before I know it's treff, I click it. Several minutes later, agreeing with every point he has made, I realize I am off the reservation. GACK!

So, there is good news. Since I've been on the fast, I have been able to crank out several reviews that were owed since November. And, with 11 days to go, I'll be able to do several more.
But the bad news is, I won't be commenting on SHOT show, or any new toys, until it's old news. It's a self-imposed discipline, and I truly do hope to grow spiritually through the process, because I'd hate to think all this deprivation is wasted.


  1. Silly wife. Give up guns. No ma'am. Not today. Not in this house. Glad to know the reason for the new rule

  2. So hard to give up habits we don't even know we have, isn't it?

    That's why I use Freedom on the Mac - I block the internet when I'm going to write, because otherwise I WILL surf, and get pulled into reading SOMETHING interesting.

    Even if I have a perfectly good excuse (no energy), it still means I didn't use my time on Earth as wisely as I would have like to.

    I hope you will go back more moderately - when your fast is over.

  3. Interesting spiritual concept. I have a friend who gave up (reading) fiction last week. God grant you the gift you need as a result.