Lexapro dosage

Dear NRA, Part II:

Oh, my … I am so disappointed in you, the leadership of the National Rifle Association.

I. Am. SO. Disappointed.

The NRA's Wayne LaPierre at Friday's news conference. (Photo via NBCNews.com)

You had a chance to take the lead in making this country a safer place.

You had a chance to say, “Yes, there are reasonable limits to be had.”

You had a chance to say, “Yes, we agree … private ownership of weapons created solely to kill other human beings do not belong in the hands of private citizens. And no, there is no reason for private citizens to have large-capacity magazines.”

You had a chance to do so much.

Instead, you sent out Wayne LaPierre, who blamed everyone and everything but the culprits – those who think that every gun is a good gun – and who called for a cop in every school – and then had the audacity to ask the federal government to pay for that.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Mr. LaPierre said at your news conference on Friday morning in Washington.

Laws that established gun-free schools zones have, your man said, told “every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

Your man claimed that “20,000 other laws have failed,” so why pass any more? (Talk about giving up … or is that a diversion to keep us from doing the right thing …?)

And oh, it’s all the fault of the media, the movies, the video games … (as if you, the NRA, doesn’t support the ownership of these weapons that glorify death and destruction) …

That’s the best you can do?!?!

As the leading organization for guns and gun safety, the best you can do is dig in your heels and pretend that you’ve done nothing wrong? And that there’s nothing good you can do

May I say, again, how disappointed I am in you?

Please do not tell me, once again, that “guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Well, no duh, nimrod!

I’m well aware that guns don’t load themselves, point themselves, pull the triggers themselves. I know people do that.

I also know that having guns around people who are upset, who are arguing, who are depressed, who suffer from mental illness, makes it far more likely that someone will be shot.

That is, after all, what happened at Columbine High School. At Virginia Tech. In Tucson. And that may be the reason that 28 people lost their lives in Newtown, CT.

Someone who really should never have been near a gun got a gun – and a spit-load of ammunition, and large-capacity magazines – and shattered the lives of so many. No, he didn’t buy them. His mother did. And then Adam Lanza killed her. With her own weapon(s). Do you not see that this in and of itself is a good reason for people not to own these guns? Don’t you see this?????

Radio 104.1 WMRQ

Do you not see, NRA, why so many of us have had it? Why so many of us are saying, “Please help us stop this violence”?

We don’t want an OK Corral set up at every single school. We don’t want the next disturbed person to decide that shooting up a school with police protection would be a pretty cool way to prove that cops can’t stop bullets any better than 6-year-olds, and that shooting up a school protected by cops will make the shooter’s name live in infamy.

What we want is some sanity.

What we want is some safety.

We want it to be harder to get a gun license than it is to get a driver’s license. (I mean, really … there are no tests necessary to get a license to own an item that’s sole purpose is to take a life, human or otherwise?)

We want mandated instruction … you know, just like for driver’s licenses.

We want every loophole closed. And no grandfathering of guns already owned.

BAN those bloody assault weapons! BAN the large-capacity magazines! REQUIRE safety courses! REQUIRE testing before licensing!

And hear me clearly, NRA:

I AM NOT SAYING AMERICANS CANNOT HAVE GUNS.

So don’t you dare come out and attack me as a lily-livered liberal who hates guns!

Do. Not. Go. There.

I want sanity. I want safety.

I want there to be fewer places to buy guns than there are McDonald’s or Starbucks.

I want a sane approach to gun ownership.

And I want assault weapons gone.

Period.

Hunting rifles? Fine.

Guns used for target shooting? Fine.

Shotguns? Fine.

But why …why … does anyone need a 9mm handgun? Or a weapon developed for the military? Why?

Oh, my dear NRA:

I had such high hopes for you.

But since you are choosing to ignore the calls for sanity in gun laws, we will move forward without you. We will not give in to your bullying and your threats. We will not attempt to accommodate you.

We will, instead, do what God is calling us to do: To care for each other. To look at what the community needs. To set aside our desires for the good of all of God’s children.

I do hope that at some point – preferably sooner rather than later – you join us in this effort.

Really.

There is so much good that we can do together.

As Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said at the National Religious Leaders Press Conference in Remembrance of the Newtown tragedy: “The indiscriminate distribution of guns is an offense against God and humanity. Our gun-flooded, violence-prone society has turned weapons into idols. And the appropriate religious response to idolatry is sustained moral outrage.”

Which, whether you like it or not, we are going to show – moral outrgage, I mean – until we win this fight.

As The Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said on Friday, on the One-Week Anniversary of the Newtown Massacre, commemorated at the Washington National Cathedral, “It is only natural to wonder in our worst moments whether God has abandoned us. Yet the more compelling spiritual question isn’t where God was last Friday morning, but rather, where we were. For God has no body on earth but ours.”

That’s what you don’t seem to get, NRA. We are God’s body on this earth.

And we have had enough.

 

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Boldly and provocatively proclaiming God

A sermon preached on 2 Epiphany, Martin Luther King weekend, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Heathsville, Va.:

“Look, here is the Lamb of God.”

John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets, who has been preaching and teaching, calling the world to repent, to turn back to God … John, who baptized Jesus in the River Jordan and saw the Spirit descend like a dove … John the Baptist now boldly proclaims exactly who Jesus is, and exactly what Jesus is: The Lamb of God, the Son of God

This is John’s Epiphany proclamation, celebrating what Diana Butler Bass calls “God made manifest to the whole world.”[1]

And it was because John made this statement – not once, but twice, because sometimes, we all know, once is not enough – that Andrew and another of John’s disciples went off to spend time with Jesus, so that they, too, could see God made manifest in this world.

But first, Andrew, being Andrew — you know, the disciple who never quite understands what he is supposed to do, so he specializes in bringing others to Jesus? – first Andrew went to his brother Simon and made the same bold proclamation that John had made:

“We have found the Messiah.”

John had an epiphany – an aha! moment – and he boldly proclaimed that epiphany to the world.

The Spirit pointed him to Jesus, and he in turn pointed others to Jesus.

Andrew had an epiphany – an aha! moment – and he boldly proclaimed that epiphany to his brother.

The Spirit, through John, pointed Andrew to Jesus, and he in turn pointed Simon to Jesus.

That’s what Epiphany – the season of Epiphany – is all about, my friends.

God made manifest in the world is pointed out to us, and in turn, we point out God to others.

First we are told – and then we tell others – that, as Ms. Butler Bass says, “God (is) no longer a distant God or only the God of the ancient Israelites – but that God is, indeed, visible to all who open their eyes.”[2]

How have our eyes been opened?

And how are we opening the eyes of others?

• • •

Last Friday, I listened to a segment on NPR that focused on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we celebrate this weekend. The discussion centered on Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech of August 28, 1963, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. That speech, according to civil rights leader Julian Bond, was an eye-opener – it was an epiphany — for many Americans at that time, because, Mr. Bond said, it answered the question of why a civil rights movement was needed.

For many of us now, that question may seem like a no-brainer: Of course the civil rights movement         was necessary. In 1963, people of color were still treated as only five-eighths human in many parts of     this country! But, as Mr. Bond pointed out, most people in this country at that time were unaware of       just how bad life was for people of color. Dr. King’s speech, he said, was an epiphany for those who       were listening, because for many of them, it was the first time they heard the truth spoken, the first         time they learned that this nation needed fixing.

You know that what Mr. Bond says is true. You lived through those years. You remember what it was     like. And after Dr. King’s speech, which opened your eyes along with the eyes of many others, your         generation responded. I know this, because you have told me it. My generation says thank you. Thank   you for hearing and responding to Dr. King’s truth.

Speaking the truth – boldly, provocatively declaring that truth for all to hear … this is our call in the world today.

Just as John had to point out to his own disciples that the Messiah of whom they dreamed was already in their midst …

Just as Dr. King had to point out to his own countrymen that there were still dreams to be accomplished in this land …

… So we are called to point out to this broken world that God’s dreams can still be accomplished in this world.

This is our call in the world today: To make God manifest to all whom we encounter, to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

We are the ones who, like Andrew, are to call others to God, to show God to everyone, by our words and by our deeds.

Boldly and provocatively.

In all that we do and all that we say.

And right now, my friends, the world especially needs us.

Because right now, my friends, the world needs to see the light – it needs to bathe in the light that is God made manifest.

We all know about the tragic events that took place in Tucson eight days ago. We all know about the six people who were killed and the 14 others who were wounded.

And unless we’ve had our heads completely buried in the sand, we all know that within hours of the shootings, a vitriolic debate broke out in this country as to who was responsible, as to who and what caused a mentally ill young man to lose touch with reality – to lose touch with God’s reality of love – and to do great physical harm to innocent people standing outside a grocery store, and great psychological damage to the world.

Fingers were pointed, and blame was assessed.

Most of that blame centered on the tone of our public debate, and how it has become so caustic, so pain-filled, so damaging to our souls.

But that is not what lies behind the attack. The shooter himself is a mentally ill young man, suffering from his own delusions and in serious need of help.

What makes these tragic events an epiphany moment for us is that our eyes and our ears have been opened to the fact that somehow, somewhere, we have lost the ability to proclaim love in this country.

To know this is true, all you have to do is turn on your radio and listen to the screaming matches that masquerade as “talk shows.” Or switch on your TV and watch as people denigrate and attack each other, all in the name of “commentary.” Or, if you’re brave enough – which I am not, I must tell you – you can look at Twitter. But be forewarned: If you do so, you will need to bathe afterward, because Twitter is filled with filth.

Or take a look at Facebook: Just last week, on one of those days when 49 of the 50 states had snow in them, a woman on facebook proclaimed that she wanted to “castrate” public school officials for canceling school before a single snowflake had fallen. She wanted to castrate someone because he had inconvenienced her!? I have to tell you, my first thoughts were, Do you even know what you are saying? Do you know how to do this? Have you ever done this?!?!?

The tragedy in Tucson is our epiphany, our great Aha! moment, showing us that all of us – all of us – have participated in some way in harming each other’s souls with damaging, derisive, deragatory words.

Oh, we may not have said anything awful … I pray that not one of us here has ever said anything awful. … But … I also know we all drive on the roads around here! And we all sometimes say things that damage not only our souls, but the souls of others.

Even when we refrain from saying bad things, from making damaging comments, we still have allowed others to say those things – and to get away with them.

We haven’t stood up against the evil that all this represents. We haven’t called out those who spew hatred, we haven’t tried to turn those people to love.

But now, because of those shootings in Tucson, many of us are re-examining our lives, we are re-examining God’s call to us in our lives, and we are saying, “Enough! Basta! No more! This is not what God calls us to say or do!”

We have had our Epiphany.

Jesus has been pointed out to us again – because sometimes, you know, once really is not enough.

And now we are called to point out Jesus to others.

It is time for us to do as John the Baptist did, to proclaim, boldly and provocatively: “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”

We are the ones who are called to go out into the world – again and again – and proclaim, by word and deed, that the Lamb of God is in our midst.

We are the ones who are to proclaim God made manifest not just in our midst, but in the midst of all the world.

It’s Epiphany, people!

It’s time for us to make proclamations!

Bold ones!

Provocative ones!

We have to be like John the Baptist.

We have to be like Dr. King.

If we want to change the tenor of the debate in this country – and by God, we should want to do that – then we have to be the ones who do it! With our own lips first. With our own lives first.

But we can’t stop there.

We have to call others on their comments, when their comments go too far, when their statements serve only to divide and denigrate.

Whenever our souls are damaged, you had better believe the souls of others are being damaged as well.

And it is up to us to keep that from happening.

The love of God has been manifest in our lives.

How are we making God’s love manifest in the lives of others?

How are we proclaiming, boldly and provocatively, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”?

Amen.


[1] Diana Butler Bass, “Gabby opened her eyes, may we also open ours,” http://blog.beliefnet.com/christianityfortherestofus/2011/01/gabby-opened-her-eyes-may-we-also.html#ixzz1B1prID7o, 14 January 2011

[2] Ibid.

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Words of hatred, words of grace: We must choose

A column written for McClatchy-Tribune News Service

By Lauren R. Stanley

The other day, I received a phone call from the garage where I had had my car worked on twice in two weeks. I was already on the phone, so I couldn’t take the call. But as soon as possible, I listened to the message, fearing something else was wrong with my car.

“Hi, this is …,” the owner of the business said. “You had your car back for service last week. Just calling to say thank you for bringing it back. Thank you.”

That’s it: Just a quick message meant to build a relationship with a new customer.

That’s the level of discourse I would like to see in this country – a simple “thank you” – rather the diatribes that fill the airwaves and jam the social networks.

Especially right now, in the aftermath of the Tucson shootings, vitriol dominates our lives. Fingers are pointing and awful  words are being said about the shootings, about who said what that might have incited a mentally ill young man to kill  six and wound 14 others.

But our need to harm each other, to sear each other’s souls with words of hatred, isn’t limited to the shootings.

If you listen to the ubiquitous talk shows, you know what I mean. There, words of hatred are shouted hourly, threats are  made daily. Vitriol is the currency, and we have only ourselves to blame, for we are the ones who listen, who support, who participate.

Or look at Facebook, where seemingly innocuous events cause people to declare their desire to “castrate” someone (that was for a snow closing), to put others in the “cross-hairs” (those generally center on politics), to “get” yet another person who has somehow disappointed or displeased us.

And dip into – if you dare – Twitter, where people threaten each other daily. I pray that those who Tweet are not seriously considering acting upon their threats, but who knows these days?

If nothing else, the shootings in Arizona have shown that we have lost the ability to communicate with kindness.

In our rush to comment, we have forgotten how to set a guard over our mouths, how to keep our tongues for evil and our lips from speaking deceit, as the Psalmist warns us.

We have forgotten that as beloved children of God – which all of us are, whether we like it or not – the writer of Proverbs warns us that we must watch over our mouths and our tongues if we want to keep out of trouble. Rash words are like sword thrusts, Proverbs says, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

The writer of Ephesians follows up on that: “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.”

“Give grace to those who hear …”

Would that that were happening right now in this country particularly.

What has happened to us that we have forgotten how to give grace, how to speak words that build up? Why are we so eager to blame, to hurt, to disparage? And when … when? … did we stop teaching people to be careful with their words?

This is not a diatribe against anyone in particular on the left or the right. This is not about politics, or gun control, or even the appalling lack of care for those who are mentally ill.

This is a discussion – I hope, I pray – about how we can find our way to being decent to each other.

We spend an inordinate amount of time disparaging others and speaking words of violence (really, who in the world wants to castrate someone over a snow closing? Does the person who wrote that even know how to do that? Or what it means?). We curse, we threaten, we denigrate, we abuse, we attack. We use words to hurt, to injure, to wound.

Why?

What purpose does it serve? It might make us feel better in that moment, but when we look  at what we have wrought – an atmosphere of hatred – do we still feel better then?

St. James wrote, “With (the tongue) we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and curing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.”

St. Peter added, “Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit.”

Our words, our comments, have meaning and they have impact. When we choose to speak dark words, are we really surprised when darkness envelops us?

But when we speak words of grace, healing results. Isn’t that what we want in our own lives? And if so, isn’t that what we should want in the lives of others?

It really isn’t that hard to speak words of grace. A simple “thank you,” such as the message left for me by the business owner, can be so powerful.

If we want to improve our lives, and the lives of those around us, if we want to heal our ailing world, first, we need to guard our mouths.

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