A Proposed Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

A proposed amendment to the Constitution, posted on February 14th,  in solidarity with the students speaking out against gun violence and the need to ban assault weapons. It is a way to stand with them. On Saturday the 24th I plan to march locally in solidarity with marchers all across the country.

I posted a longer article on thoughts on proposals for laws on gun control and if necessary a possible amendment to the Constitution at http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2018/02/a-call-to-arms-this-time-weapon-of-vote.html    

At the time I thought several laws limiting the use of assault and automatic weapons might do it, but I’m coming to think that what is needed is a corrective that would bind the Supreme Court to an interpretation of the Second Amendment that would make it clear that the right to bear arms is connected to the desire to have a well regulated militia.  So, here is first a propose amendment, and then two possible laws regarding the use of assault and automatic weapons.

Of course there are issues of precision in language that need to be addressed, but the concern here is to broadly state the sort of things such an amendment might need to address or such laws need to include. Thoughts?

A proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:

The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed, provided that bearing such arms is in defense of the security of a free state. The United States of America or the several states may license individuals, duly trained, to carry and use firearms for personal defense or for hunting,  sport or recreation.  The use of assault and automatic weapons is by this amendment reserved for use by members of Federal or State recognized militias in training for, or engaged in, combat or police action, and such weapons may not be bought or sold to individuals.


Two proposals for federal law:

Regarding the use of assault weapons and weapons that fire automatically:

Persons who are members of a well regulated militia recognized by state or federal law may be trained to use the classes of weapons designated as assault weapons or weapons that fire automatically, and may use them in the line of duty related to their service in such militias. Such weapons must be registered by the militia to which the person belongs and may be assigned to specific persons for their use as members of the militia. No other sale, purchase or use of such weapons shall be permitted.

Regarding all other firearms:

Individual citizens, provided such individuals are registered as members of an organized and well regulated militia recognized by state or federal law, or who have been trained by such militias and duly licensed, may own and retain firearms for individual and household protection, excluding those designated as assault weapons or those that fire automatically. The right to such permitted firearms is understood as an extension of powers granted to militia in defense of the security of a free state, and may be limited by law.

Individual citizens, including those not registered as members of an organized and well regulated militia, may be licensed to use such permitted weapons for sport or hunting, provided they receive training on the safe and proper use of such weapons.  


The House of Deputies Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation: A question.

The President of the House of Deputies has appointed a Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation. This was announced this past week (February 28th). The Committee will work in several sub-committees to draft legislation on sexual harassment and exploitation for consideration by the General Convention meeting this summer. 

The committee is quite large - 47 members. It is quite a remarkable list and will serve the church well. It will, I hope, provide important proposals to General Convention.

The committee will work in several sub-committees: on Theology and Language, Structural Equity, Title IV and Training, Truth and Reconciliation, and Social Justice for Women.  

There is no question in my mind that each of these areas of concern needs immediate and deep attention, and each will invite us all into a greater common effort  "so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-13)

As far as I can tell from an initial read, all 47 of the members of this special committee are women. There is a good mix of ordained and lay, and I presume a wide range of inclusion(s) - persons of color, indigenous peoples, sexual orientation, etc. But there seem to be no men.

Fair enough. The committee needs to be clear that its members are driven by "their determination to change our church for the better." That drive is without question a product of personal experience, and because the matter at hand has to do with sexual harassment and exploitation, women need to be at the center of this work. But is that sufficient reason to not include men in any of the committees? Perhaps it is, but if so it is a sad testament to the level of disunity, fracture and lack of maturity, that keeps us from the "full measure of the fullness of Christ."

The rules of order for the House of Deputies says very little about who may serve on Special Committees. There has been a laudable effort to include on all regular committees and commissions of the General Convention a broadly inclusive membership. This Special Committee has been appointed with the apparent, and if so, notable exclusion of men. 

Perhaps a rationale can be provided. 




The counter to the murderous outrages, the shootings, that have overwhelmed us all is not more firearms. What is needed is stronger weapons of the vote and the pen.  Emma Gonzalez and the others who spoke out at the demonstration rally in Fort Lauderdale after the killing rampage there have it right.   

What is needed is new laws, and those enforced. And should the current batch of lawmakers not provide them, or the current policing forces not protect us, then we need to exercise the vote and throw the current batch out and get people in who can make and enforce laws limiting gun availability and use.

I’ve been thinking about what sorts of laws might be useful, laws that both limit arms sales and use and still uphold the core values represented in the second amendment. I am hopeful that such laws can be written, adopted and enforced.

If it is determined that there is no way to limit sales and or use of arms within the purview of the current read of the second amendment, then I believe we need to augment the meaning of the amendment by further amendment. That approach of course is more difficult, since it involves an amendment to the constitution. We will look at that possibility later in this essay.

So lets begin with some laws that do make sense under at least some reading of the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution reads: 

“A well regulated Militia(,) being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms (,) shall not be infringed.” (The two comas are not part of the article as ratified by the States.)

The notion of a “well regulated Militia” and its value to the security of a free State, together constitute a prefatory clause to the statement, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms is related to the matter of having a well regulated Militia and a secure state. Whether it is exclusively so has been a matter of debate, but the wording of the amendment certainly suggests that a primary reason for this right is the matter of security and a regularized militia.

Nothing in this wording suggests that the right to bear arms supports insurrection, rebellion or revolution. Indeed it would be very odd if the constitution included in it the right to bear arms specifically as a protection against unwelcomed governance under the constitution. State and local militias in the South did indeed bear arms against the Federal government, and doing so constituted rebellion, not exercise of guaranteed rights.  The right to revolution and rebellion lies not in the constitution but in the success of the revolution itself. If the revolution prevails, the right prevails.Otherwise the so-called patriots are simply traitors.

So the romantic notion that “the State” in this instance does not mean the government under the Federal constitution, and that the right to bear arms is a guarantee of independence from federal government, is just that – romantic.

The amendment is then about a well regulated militia in support of the security of the State. “The people” whose right it is to bear arms, can most easily be understood as meaning “citizens” organized in some fashion as militias.  In our long history of such organization, a sheriff’s posse, local police forces,  a state militia or national guard all have been examples of a “well regulated militia.”  When local policing powers were not sufficient for protection, local militia groups had the right to exist and take on such authority as necessary. And, by extension, individuals could provide for their own protection in situations where they felt adequate protection from larger organized militia was lacking or not immediately present.

A beginning point for limiting arms use might be, then, to specify that certain arms are limited in production, license and use, to “well regulated militia,” and that individuals, unless they could show cause why their recourse to such militia for protection was inhibited or inadequate,  could not posses or use such weapons. 

Several sample laws:

Regarding use of assault weapons or automatic weapons.

(A)   No person, except those members of a well regulated militia recognized by state or federal law, may purchase, own or use classes of weapons determined to be designed for assault, or that fire multiple projectiles automatically.. Or

(B)   Persons who are members of a well regulated militia recognized by state or federal law may be trained to use the classes of weapons designated as assault weapons or weapons that fire multiple projectiles automatically, and may use them in the line of duty related to their service in such militias. Such weapons must be registered by the militia to which the person belongs and may be assigned to specific persons for their use. No other sale, purchase or use of such weapons shall be permitted.

Regarding all other firearms:

(A)   Individual citizens, provided such individuals are registered as members of an organized and well regulated militias recognized by state or federal law, and have been trained in the use of such weapons, may own and retain firearms not part of a militia armory and not excluded as assault or automatic weapons. The use of such weapons for individual and household protection is to be understood as an extension of powers granted to militia in defense of the “security of a free state.” 

Individual citizens not registered as members of an organized and well regulated militia may be licensed to use such weapons for sport or hunting, provided they receive training from a recognized militia on the safe and proper use of such weapons. Such license does not include the use of these weapons “in defense of the security of a free state,” except under extraordinary circumstances.

In every case these proposals emphasize the point that use of or ownership of firearms is an extension of the need to provide for a militia to defend the security of a free state.  A “militia” would include everything from the Federal Armed Forces, the National Guards of the several states, police and other law enforcement groups, recognized local security organizations (including security services and neighborhood watch groups) and any other organization the state deems able to provide both training and supervision of the use of assault and automatic weapons.

Under such laws no individual could legally own assault or automatic weapons and no individual not a part of an organized militia could be licensed to use such weapons. All other firearms could be owned and used by individuals provided they received training in their use from a “well regulated militia” and were licensed. It would be up to the states to set other limits on who may own or use allowed firearms.

What happens if some such laws are not enacted?  Could the Constitution be amended to make unambiguous the understanding of the limits of arms bearing considered to be the people’s right?  I think it could, but that would be even more difficult than enacting specific laws to cover allowed weapons use.

Here is an example of such an amendment:

On the right to bear arms:

The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed, provided that bearing such arms is in defense of the security of a free state. The State, and the several states, in order to provide for the security of its people,  may limit ownership, bearing and use of such arms to members of recognized militia or, in the case of arms for personal defense or use of firearms for sport or recreation, the state may license individuals duly trained for those purposes. The use of assault and automatic weapons is by this amendment reserved for active duty militia members in training for, or in, combat or police action.

Rapid fire weapons in the hands of individuals with personal agendas for action are a real and present danger to the security of a free State and to individuals deserving of the protection of that State. Not to limit the sale and use of such weapons is counter to the vision of a society that promotes life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.



Imaging the Bundling of Resentments

Printing and printmaking have always been a source of political and social commentary. The printing of texts (type setting) was from the beginning accompanied by the printing of images (wood blocks, etchings, engravings) and those parings made both the written text and the image take on more nuanced meanings.  

The notion that images themselves, accompanied sometimes by text, and charged with socially relevant content could be mass produced and widely distributed has been a major part of the attraction of printmaking as an art form. Posters, broadsides, leaflets, banners, and even limited edition works of fine art printing later reproduced in larger quantities, all contributed to the ongoing tradition of multi-copy politically charged art images. Cartoons, editorial and otherwise, play a particular role in the printing arts because of their entertainment value, a perfect cover for political commentary.
In these rather odd political times, and in my own creation of block prints, I have found occasion to contribute to this tradition of image making.
For many years I have been interested in the political life of Haiti. Several of my works have been images related to political and social concerns in Haiti. 
Francois Duvalier
 Francois Duvalier continues to be present, long after his death, in the complex political life of Haiti. This image, as a stand alone, and as part of a larger monoprint, is of Duvalier, President for Life and dictator. It is a reminder that the enduring presence of the dictator is a fact of Haitian political life. Until a way is found to truly bury the Dictator it will be difficult to move on.

Duvalier and the banner

Here, Duvalier is imprinted on a back drop of red, white and black, the red and black the colors of the Haitian flag under Duvalier, the white the continuing presence of colonial and white agendas regarding Haiti. The receding moon signals the long night of oppression.

His eye is on the sparrow

And, as signaled by this small linocut, there was (and is) the sense that the omnipresent Dictator sees everything and that no wrong to either him or to the state that he alone represents goes unnoticed. 
The dictator is not our friend.

The dictatorship spawned the Tonton Macoute which concerned itself with state security, which is to say, the security of the leader of the State, namely the dictator himself. In the police state the policeman, the executioner and the President were one and the same. Thus the poster, "bouro pa zanmi nou." The dictator is not our friend.

 In the last year and a half I have printed a number of political themed linocuts and etchings. They each concern some aspect of the rise of a peculiar form of populism which builds on the desires of those who feel left behind or put down by the elites of our social structures. It is not so much a movement as it is a rumbling devoid of concern for anything but acquisitions and self-promotion with little or no regard for the civil or social constructs that help us maintain some institutional life as a nation. This rumbling has led to a bundling of resentments that together mimic the gathering of syndicates or guilds into a united bond, in other words a fascism. It is, of course, a mimic only. The bundling here is more raw, more sensual, more terrifying for its lack of any coherence. This bundling is a gathering of resentments, and the unity is one that is at its core a gathering of anger.

I have been working to express some aspects of my perception of this rumbling in the hopes to illustrate some of the angers that give rise to and arise out of these political expressions and to name the demons that reside in those angers.

This bookplate, a combination of type and linocut, is its own call to arms: the scythe to cut away the weeds, the ax to cut down the dead wood, the moon to accompany with its light the rising of the people. The tools are those of those who reap and fell. It is of course a parallel to the hammer and sickle, the union of workers and farmers. It is the antithesis of the coalition of capitalists and owners who are the core of the move to the right. It represents a call to action which I believe is necessary in these times.

Marianne of France
In November 2015 there was an attach in Paris France. 130 people were killed. I carved this woodblock to remember. It is of Marianne, the image of France, looking wrecked. She is wearing the liberty cap, but she is not at all victorious. Rather she is determined.


In so much that has transpired in the past several years "grasping" has been a major motivator. The political processes that would involve compromise, cooperation or even civil discourse, have been replaced by "me and mine."  So the linocut on the left, in which hands of monsters reach out to grasp whatever can be grasped.

In mid 2016 I went to Austria. At the time the election cycle was underway in both Austria and the US. The worry in both countries was about the rise of right wing violence, carried out under the flag of national sovereignty and security. From that a number of images have come:

The first of these was this: " The unwelcome visitor," based on a painting I did while in Austria, in which the swastika is superimposed on a face, and elements of a swastika can be found in the body as well. The face reflects something of candidates from the right in both countries.

In the late summer of 2016 my sense of despair increased by personal information that I was dealing with cancer and the emerging reality that we were, in the US, likely to elect someone who played on our fears but who otherwise had little or no abilities to deal with the problems of the US in constructive ways. Here was my estimation of that despair.

The Charlottesville rally of nationalists and supremacists in August 2017 introduced the frightening reality of an anger that bundled fears and resentments into a political force for a new fascism. The march by torchlight mimicked both rallies Nazi Germany and lynch mobs. The surface order of the marchers belied the chaos just beneath the surface.

The October 2017 shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 killed was violence without apparent political motive, the work of a single gunman. It was however a major event in the unfolding reality of the dangers of automatic weapons in the hands of the deranged, and the seeming inability of this country to deal with the glut of arms and the matter of gun ownership. Here the souls of the dead in Las Vegas rise from the madness, but the madness is still there.

The politics that draws on people's fears has led more and more to a kind of selfishness that overwhelms any need to care for one another. The political right avoids the poor or the incapacitated, suggesting that their plight is somehow caused by themselves. And, as has happened again after the killings in Parkland Florida, the victims are blamed for either not being careful enough or armed themselves, or worse the source of the problem. Here the two on the ground, somehow incapacitated, are unnoticed by those who pass by. 

 And yet, I saw in Florida, following the shooting, some sense that from the ashes of the violence arises new life and possibilities.  I made this block on Ash Wednesday not knowing that by the end of the day it would be, for me, a sign related to both the shooting and the hope, held very tentatively, for some way forward.

Not until later did the students and their protest and anguish come, and with it some hope that a new movement to end the carnage might be raised.

In the mean time I made this monoprint / linocut of what the chalk outlines of 17 students and teachers might look like, all together with the shadow outlines of the dead from past killings.  This was completed on Sunday, February 18th.

We live in a time where there is a huge range of responses to the political situation in which we in the US find ourselves, words on top of words.
What I am attempting to do is present at least some commentary that is nearly word free. These images, I hope, are evocative of some of the more primary elements in the fascist populism that has sprung up in America. And I hope too the images also are reminders of the horrors that are there as well.


Turning the Lights On: Anticipation in a Dark Time.

Turning the Lights on.

This is a sermon about An-ti-ci-----------pation.
“An-ti-ci----------pation”  is a single word quote from the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”  Maybe the first sermon ever to quote that wonderful picture. There is another reference to the Rocky Horror Picture Show in the sermon. I trust you will find it. This is the only lighthearted moment in this sermon. Enjoy it.

We Christians are a people of Anticipation.

When we tell the story of the journey of the Magi to the place of Jesus’ birth we are telling a story of anticipation. The Magi were filled with anticipation, with a sense of wonder. 

In our day living in that anticipation, in small ways, is a bit like being ready to turn on the lights. Remember what that’s like in a darkened room? Just the moment that you are about to switch on the lights there is a moment of anticipation. What will we see?  Will we discover that the dogs did indeed get into the garbage and with quiet abandon scattered coffee grounds and vegie leavings all over the floor?  Will we find that coffee left on last night is now a thick goo in the bottom of the coffee pot? Or more happily, will we discover that the kitchen feels warm and inviting, the dog was fine and the coffee ready to go. There is anticipation in those moments between when we rouse ourselves to be ready to deal with what the light reveals and when the light comes on.  We could sit in the dark, of course, and delay the coming of light, but usually we are more eager than we are afraid of the light.

Turning the Light on is, well, like becoming free, free of the dark and things unknown, able to see and deal with the realities of the day. 

God is known primarily when our anticipation is met with the Light. And that is the source of epiphanies, of moments of insights where we know God is at work in our lives.

I want to look at two texts, one from the first letter of John. The second is from a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt

From 1 John 4:18  :  “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with or leads to punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.” The operant phrase here is, “perfect love casts out fear.”

And FDR in his 1941 State of the Union address the list of four freedoms:
            Freedom of speech
            Freedom of worship
            Freedom from want
            Freedom from fear

FDR said these words at a time of great peril, when Fascist and extreme nationalists were everywhere on the march, and where freedom of speech and worship were in great jeopardy, and where fear was rampant. These four freedoms stated much of our hopes in a time of shadows and darkness. The anticipation of the reestablishment of these freedoms for the whole world was part of the hope that led to the post war development of the UN.

We also live in anticipatory times:  I believe we are pretty much in the dark, waiting with anticipation for the moment when we can turn the lights on and see clearly. And to do so we must be willing to throw the switch, light the candle, wait for the coming of dawn. We must do whatever it takes, including waiting, for what the hymn calls “the bright morning star arising in our hearts.”

While we are living in anticipation we are encouraged by the words, “Perfect love casts out fear,” and the vision of a world where there is freedom of speech and worship, and freedom from want and fear.

I have, however, become convinced that in these days, while we are waiting in anticipation, the four freedoms are under extreme attack and we are made to feel afraid of all sorts of enemies.  And hate, the product of such fear, as become palpable. Freedoms are being limited, and fear drives those limitations. Perfect love, (and even imperfect love,) is mostly missing. Only hate remains as a constant.

So:   what is to be done?  I think the way is clear: Turn on the lights, open up the doors, bring the fears into the light. Take courage. “Be Just and Fear Not.”

Jonah, the reluctant prophet, and the psalmist who knows that God alone is the source of freedom from fear, and Paul who believes that time is short and anticipation high, and Jesus our Lord who says the time is fulfilled…. They all encourage us to turn the lights on.

There is a great word of encouragement also to be found in the poetry of Walt Whitman who wrote, “Unscrew the locks from the doors!  Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs ! ” I love those words. They urge us to break out from the dark and enclosed place of fear, they encourage us to new epiphanies. New experience of knowing God’s love, present in the world.

These are the things then that must be done: break down the walls, unscrew the doors from the jambs, practice the freedoms, live into perfect love, cast out fear.

There can be difficult consequences, I know.

Speaking can be costly, prayers will be troubling, overcoming fears will be itself fearful. Freedom?  We will sometimes doubt its value when safety is at stake. Well, remember the words from the song “Me and Bobby MaGee.” “Freedom’s just another word for nothing less to lose, Freedom ain’t worth nothing but it’s Free.” 

I have sometimes held back in these days in fear…fear that I might lose good friends or the respect or love from others, and God knows I need them all. Everyone here has been a major support during my times of weakness and illness, for which I am immensely thankful.  I’d hate to lose the comfort that has come to me from friends in my dark times.

But here it is: It is time to speak up, speak out, and turn on the lights. It is time to be just and fear not.

I believe that fear mongering has become a national pastime, and its end will be our destruction as a people unless we collectively repent from living in fear and in the darkness.

Much of this is what the Women’s Marches are about – speaking up, speaking out, turning on the lights, living courageously, casting out fear. I say, let us join these women and the prophets who preach that Perfect Love casts out fear.   I’m up for it, I hope you will too.

There is no question we have real problems. What those are and how we are to deal with them will require real epiphanies – real occasions for looking at them in the full light and working hard to solve them.  But so long as we are driven by fear there will be no epiphanies, there will only be more to fear. Darkness produces only darkness.  The fear mongering of these days is no help at all.

So, let us take heart, dear friends. There are forces that want us to be afraid, and that in our fear we will give up our freedoms for safety, that we will believe in the survival of the fittest, we will believe in the virtue of strength and wealth and power.

If we give in to such forces we will lose the Epiphany of knowing ourselves to be cast in the image of the One who came among us FREE of all earthly powers to reveal the power of God’s perfect love, and who cast out fear.

Better that we join the Magi in seeking the Light, the bright morning star arising. Better that we turn on the lights, and join the marches for freedom.  Amen.