Of Gods and Guns


“Prof. Scott Paeth’s talk on Of God & Guns was, or at least seemed to me, much more conceptual or intellectual, weaving a path that began with a recitation of Alan Ginsberg’s poem, Moloch (from his book Howl) & then progressing to a discussion of “Radical Monotheism”, including the differences between Polytheism & Henotheism–a belief in one God while retaining a respect for alternate forms of God. (I think of this as Panentheism though there may be a difference to theologians.) Paeth’s talk was very well-conceived & for me fascinating but it was also somewhat discursive, until he got to the point that “Religious Nationalism” embraces guns in a manner that is both symbolic and also tied to culture & the exclusion of others, hence “nationalism”, rather than embracing a world community. He mentioned Reinhold Niebuhr several times but it may be difficult for some to fully embrace what Prof. Paeth was saying in this context without more of a background on the Protestant theologian. Ultimately, Scott Paeth concluded with the notion that the idolatry of guns is not unlike the worship of “tribal gods” & Ginsberg’s Moloch but I feel that this involved a great deal more work, a much farther leap on the part of his audience.” – Bill Winschief

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