: HER maneutics :: Packing Heat Trusting Providence: I Own a handgun

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Michael James Stone
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 Packing Heat Trusting Providence: I Own a handgun 
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Packing Heat and Trusting Providence: Why I Own a Handgun
Being a pro-life woman means protecting my life, too.
Karen Swallow Prior


It's not every Christmas morning you wake up with a Bersa .380 in your Christmas stocking.

The story started on an isolated stretch of road, escalated into flagging down a police car, and resolved with more calls to the police and their surprise visit at the home of a very dirty old man. The handgun was the epilogue.

But this post isn’t about guns as much as it is about how Christian women should think and act in matters of self-defense given the realities of today. For the record, I’m for gun control, but that term includes greatly divergent types of control that are not the purpose of this post to address.

I run 35 to 40 miles a week. Living as I do in a rural area, those miles are on roads of varying degrees of inhabitation. I live in a low crime area—but all the more reason to resist the lull of a false sense of security, especially when being a woman alone is enough to make one vulnerable, always. So I spend a fair amount of time during those miles being wary, vigilant, and proactive with self-defense strategies.

The first trouble I had, years ago when I lived in another state with more crime, was a flasher who parked on my road in the early mornings, awaiting my daily runs. He would keep far away, face me to, um, service himself, then get in his car and speed off before I was close enough to read his license plate. Teamwork with a neighbor, however, resulted in identification, a house call by the police, and an end to his shenanigans.

The incident that birthed the Bersa started with a truck pulling up beside me and the driver asking me if I “wanted a ride.” It’s surprising how many such offers one encounters when one is out running. (Note: if you see me running along the road in running shoes and running shorts, rest assured, I do not want a ride. Besides, I’m dying to know: has anyone ever really gotten lucky with such an offer?) When the truck turned around and passed me again, I successfully used what was then the first strategy of my self-defense plan (which I can’t disclose publicly without rendering it useless).This was before I was in the habit of taking a cell phone with me (the purpose of such runs being, after all, the sense of lightness and disconnectivity), but miraculously, when I got out on the main road, a police car drove by and I flagged it down. Even so, it took one more encounter with the man before the police were able to put an end to it.

That’s when my husband bought me the handgun.

So I wasn’t surprised to read in my local newspaper that a new shooting range in my area is attracting a significant portion of female clients. Locations around the country reflect similar patterns. A poll conducted by Gallup in October 2011 reported that 43 percent of women surveyed reported having a gun in their house, a record high since 1993, and 23 percent of women polled said they own a gun. Interestingly, in Texas, the fastest-growing group of concealed handgun owners in the state is black women. Also not surprising is the spike in firearms sales immediately after the Colorado movie theater shootings.

I know that Christians in favor of tighter gun control laws argue that as Christians, particularly ones like me who strongly identify as pro-life, we, of all people, should “love our enemies” and “turn the other cheek.” But while as a Christian I try to cultivate my willingness to lay down my life for the sake of the gospel or for the life of another, I don’t believe I’m supposed to risk my life for a would-be rapist. To me, being pro-life means protecting my own life, too.

Some might say I should simply give up my love of the outdoors and running (which I’ve enjoyed since I began running cross-country in Junior High), join a gym, maybe, or drive 20 miles one way into the city to run in a more populous area. But surrendering my freedom and giving in to evil so willingly doesn’t seem like the call of the Christian either. Matters of stewardship play into the equation, too: stewardship of my time, talents and my physical and mental health. More than anything else, running meets these needs in my life.

Besides, the handgun is a self-defense strategy of last resort. I now run with a phone. I pay attention to my surroundings at all times. I text the plate numbers of any suspicious vehicles (or those whose drivers offer me a ride) to my husband’s phone, and call immediately if I am alone on a long stretch and encounter an unfamiliar, parked, or slow-moving vehicle. And I gave up running on the beautifully forested road where the man in the truck accosted me the first and second time (the final time was on my own road).

Ultimately, in my running, as in all things, I must put my trust in the Lord, yet without testing him.

I was reminded of God’s sovereign protection in yet another incident. I was running uphill on a two-mile stretch of a private, uninhabited dirt road when I saw an older model car with an out-of-state plate parked up ahead. A man was leaning against the car smoking a cigarette. Quickly, I pulled my phone from the pack that holds all my necessaries and called my mother, whom I knew to be home. I stayed on the phone with her as I ran a wide berth around the man and his car. As I crested the hill, I saw a police car sitting at the top. Unbeknownst to me, the officer, from his elevated position at the crossroads, had been able to see us the entire time and waited for me to arrive safely.

Yes, God is watching over me. Yet, I am still called to wisdom and good stewardship of all the gifts he’s given me, including my life and health.

What about you? What self-defense strategies do you or the women in your life employ?

posted by Sarah Pulliam Bailey | Comments (109)
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HER maneutics :: Listen Up, People: Remember Chick-fil-A

"Last Generation Forums" :: WOMEN'S STUDIES (enjoyed by Men) :: HER maneutics :: Listen Up, People: Remember Chick-fil-A 
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Michael James Stone
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 Listen Up, People: Remember Chick-fil-A 
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Listen Up, People: Remember Chick-fil-A Next Time You See Any Bullying
We must speak up. For everyone.
Caryn Rivadeneira

I picked a heck of a week to eat my first (and second) Chick-fil-A. The first was eaten innocently enough: I found a free coupon that expired that same day. Though I am not a huge fan of chicken sandwiches, I am a huge fan of free things.

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But by the time I got back home and began munching away, I noticed a stream thick with anti-Chick-fil-A sentiment running through my Twitter feed. Chick-fil-A controversy had re-erupted: an old story about Chick-fil-A’s CEO, Dan Cathy, and his donations to and verbal support of organizations advocating for legal marriage between a man and a woman got a fresh coat of ink. People like Billy Graham, Mike Huckabee, and Antoine Dodson (video above) released statements in support of the fast-food chain.

And according to what I read, I had not simply eaten a sandwich. I had made a huge statement: I hated gay people.

Since I do not in fact hate gay people and since I understood why people would be upset with Cathy’s words and donations, I wondered if the crispy, pickle-y yumminess of the sandwich was worth it. Boycotts will be boycotts—they rage and tumble and then wear themselves out—but sometimes they do really matter.

But then it all got messier than a pit bull stepping in spilled Chick-fil-A sauce (not that I know). No sooner had my sandwich digested, it seemed, than the controversy became more than boycott or a “kiss-in.” It became about free speech and totalitarian aldermen and mayors and Rutgers-esque bully-bloggers. And my libertarian streak got twitchy.

Of Cathy’s traditional-marriage stance, Chicago Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st Ward) wrote in the Chicago Tribune, “There are consequences for one's actions, statements and beliefs. Because of this man's ignorance, I will deny Chick-fil-A a permit to open a restaurant in my ward.” Moreno actually says, his decision is “me taking a stand.” It’s a stand that shows Moreno’s frightening ignorance of the Constitution.

I’d love to have written this off as another shining example of idiot Illinois politics, but then the mayor of Boston got into the game, writing a letter to Cathy saying, “I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston... There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.” Well, no place for certain types of discrimination, at least.

And I would love for this to have been a purely political problem but after evangelical writer and speaker Jonathan Merritt publicly defended Chick-fil-A, his friend (or, once-friend) Azariah Southworth—a former evangelical, now agnostic—“outed” Merritt as a gay man based on “the importance of living an authentic and honest life.”

I happen to agree with Southworth on the importance of an authentic and honest life. But I also believe in the importance of living a respectful and kind one, one Southworth apparently does not.

So suddenly eating that chicken sandwich was very much worth it. So the second time I ate Chick-fil-A this week, I knew I was making a huge statement: that I support free speech and the right for anyone to say or not say anything without fear of government reprisal or of attacks for the sake of “honesty.”

And this goes for all of us.

So those who might be cheering on my decision to “eat mor chikin” would do well to Remember the Chick-fil-A, but not as an anti-culture battle cry. Instead, we can harness it as a cry of cross-cultural solidarity and community.

Certainly, we need to Remember the Chick-fil-A whenever anyone’s religious liberties are threatened—whether it’s Christians taking controversial stands on marriage, or whether it’s Catholic institutions defending their right to not provide services they deem contrary to their faith, or whether it’s Muslims seeking building permits from nervous city councils.

But beyond that, we need to Remember the Chick-fil-A when we’re ready to jump on bandwagon-y boycotts or seek to silence or shut down those who offend us or whose beliefs run counter to ours. Remember the Chick-fil-A before refusing to shop stores that say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Remember the Chick-fil-A before asking the Gay Pride Parade to reroute so it doesn’t disrupt church services. Remember the Chick-fil-A before you demand books be removed from high school syllabi. Remember the Chick-fil-A before “outing” another person for whatever through gossip or rumor or prayer request.

Remember Chick-fil-A whether or not you agree with Dan Cathy.

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn writes, “But to paraphrase the words of Voltaire that are literally carved in stone at Tribune Tower, I’d say this to [Chick-fil-A] owners: I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to sell chicken sandwiches in order to make money to help you say it.”

And I think that’s what Remember the Chick-fil-A is all about, because in many ways, that’s what Jesus’ words about loving our enemies is all about. Enemies aren’t always people who want to kill us or harm us or keep us from marrying or who trample our rights. Sometimes, our enemies are simply people who see the world—or the Bible—differently. So, we Remember the Chick-fil-A as whenever we have opportunities to love our enemies or our neighbors and whenever we discuss our beliefs and differences.

We Remember the Chick-fil-A and give one another some breaks, cut each other some slack, show one another some mercy.

posted by Sarah Pulliam Bailey | Comments (39)
Related Tags: bullying, money and business, religious freedom, samesexmarriage

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