Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Let us celebrate the falling bodies . . . as a demonstration of our fealty, our bondage, to the great god Gun" (Garry Wills)

>

"I have often thought that we should raise a statue of [Charlton] Heston at each of the many sites of multiple murders around our land. We would soon have armies of statues, whole droves of Heston acolytes standing sentry at the shrines of Moloch dotting the landscape."


"That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him."
-- Garry Wills, in a NYRB blogpost, "Our Moloch"

Moloch‬

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [links and footnotes onsite]

Moloch (representing Semitic מלך m-l-, a Semitic root meaning "king") -- also rendered as Molech, Molekh, Molok, Molek, Molock, Moloc, Melech, Milcom or Molcom -- is the name of an ancient Ammonite god. Moloch worship was practiced by the Canaanites, Phoenician and related cultures in North Africa and the Levant.

As a god worshipped by the Phoenicians and Canaanites, Moloch had associations with a particular kind of propitiatory child sacrifice by parents. Moloch figures in the Book of Deuteronomy and in the Book of Leviticus as a form of idolatry (Leviticus 18:21: "And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Moloch"). In the Hebrew Bible, Gehenna was a valley by Jerusalem, where apostate Israelites and followers of various Baalim and Caananite gods, including Moloch, sacrificed their children by fire (2 Chr. 28:3, 33:6; Jer. 7:31, 19:2–6).

Moloch has been used figuratively in English literature from John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667) to Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" (1955), to refer to a person or thing demanding or requiring a very costly sacrifice.

by Ken

I had a feeling Garry Wills might be weighing in. Did he ever!

As I've noted previously, I have a hard time imagining a more futile or counterproductive exercise than trying to abridge or paraphrase Garry W, and so I'm not going to try. I'm also not going to "highlight" the text itself. However, there are some phrases that ring out so powerfully, I can't help calling attention to them -- noting that you'll find them all in proper context just below.

* "We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily -- sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children's lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector."

* "The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. . . . [To its acolytes] its power to do good is matched by its incapacity to do anything wrong. It cannot kill. Thwarting the god is what kills. . . . The answer to problems caused by guns is more guns, millions of guns, guns everywhere . . . . Only the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence." (Garry Wills)

* "We are required to deny that there is any connection between the fact that we have the greatest number of guns in private hands and the greatest number of deaths from them. Denial on this scale always comes from or is protected by religious fundamentalism. Thus do we deny global warming, or evolution, or biblical errancy. Reason is helpless before such abject faith."

* "[The gun] has the power to turn all our politicians as a class into invertebrate and mute attendants at the shrine. . . . Better that the children die or their lives be blasted than that a politician should risk an election against the dread sentence of NRA excommunication."

* "Even the Supreme Court has been cowed, reversing its own long history of recognizing that the Second Amendment applied to militias. Now the court feels bound to guarantee that any every madman can indulge his 'religion' of slaughter. Moloch brooks no dissent, even from the highest court in the land."

* "Molochism is the one religion that can never be separated from the state. The state itself bows down to Moloch, and protects the sacrifices made to him. So let us celebrate the falling bodies and rising statues as a demonstration of our fealty, our bondage, to the great god Gun."

You'll also find links in the Web-posted version.

Our Moloch

Garry Wills
December 15, 2012, 5:25 p.m.


Few crimes are more harshly forbidden in the Old Testament than sacrifice to the god Moloch (for which see Leviticus 18.21, 20.1-5). The sacrifice referred to was of living children consumed in the fires of offering to Moloch. Ever since then, worship of Moloch has been the sign of a deeply degraded culture. Ancient Romans justified the destruction of Carthage by noting that children were sacrificed to Moloch there. Milton represented Moloch as the first pagan god who joined Satan's war on humankind:
First Moloch, horrid king, besmear'd with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears,
Though for the noise of Drums and Timbrels loud
Their children's cries unheard, that pass'd through fire
To his grim idol. (Paradise Lost 1.392-96)
Read again those lines, with recent images seared into our brains -- "besmeared with blood" and "parents' tears." They give the real meaning of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning. That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily -- sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children's lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Its power to do good is matched by its incapacity to do anything wrong. It cannot kill. Thwarting the god is what kills. If it seems to kill, that is only because the god's bottomless appetite for death has not been adequately fed. The answer to problems caused by guns is more guns, millions of guns, guns everywhere, carried openly, carried secretly, in bars, in churches, in offices, in government buildings. Only the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence.

Adoration of Moloch permeates the country, imposing a hushed silence as he works his will. One cannot question his rites, even as the blood is gushing through the idol's teeth. The White House spokesman invokes the silence of traditional in religious ceremony. "It is not the time" to question Moloch. No time is right for showing disrespect for Moloch.

The fact that the gun is a reverenced god can be seen in its manifold and apparently resistless powers. How do we worship it? Let us count the ways:
1. It has the power to destroy the reasoning process. It forbids making logical connections. We are required to deny that there is any connection between the fact that we have the greatest number of guns in private hands and the greatest number of deaths from them. Denial on this scale always comes from or is protected by religious fundamentalism. Thus do we deny global warming, or evolution, or biblical errancy. Reason is helpless before such abject faith.

2. It has the power to turn all our politicians as a class into invertebrate and mute attendants at the shrine. None dare suggest that Moloch can in any way be reined in without being denounced by the pope of this religion, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, as trying to destroy Moloch, to take away all guns. They whimper and say they never entertained such heresy. Many flourish their guns while campaigning, or boast that they have themselves hunted "vermin." Better that the children die or their lives be blasted than that a politician should risk an election against the dread sentence of NRA excommunication.

3. It has the power to distort our constitutional thinking. It says that the right to "bear arms," a military term, gives anyone, anywhere in our country, the power to mow down civilians with military weapons. Even the Supreme Court has been cowed, reversing its own long history of recognizing that the Second Amendment applied to militias. Now the court feels bound to guarantee that any every madman can indulge his "religion" of slaughter. Moloch brooks no dissent, even from the highest court in the land.
Though LaPierre is the pope of this religion, its most successful Peter the Hermit, preaching the crusade for Moloch, was Charlton Heston, a symbol of the Americanism of loving guns. I have often thought that we should raise a statue of Heston at each of the many sites of multiple murders around our land. We would soon have armies of statues, whole droves of Heston acolytes standing sentry at the shrines of Moloch dotting the landscape. Molochism is the one religion that can never be separated from the state. The state itself bows down to Moloch, and protects the sacrifices made to him. So let us celebrate the falling bodies and rising statues as a demonstration of our fealty, our bondage, to the great god Gun.
#

Labels: , , , ,

5 Comments:

At 6:38 PM, Blogger Dennis Jernberg said...

Or maybe our Moloch is (I can't get this thought out of my head) Zardoz? "The gun is good, the penis is evil... Go forth and kill." That would probably have to be revised to "The gun is your penis, go forth and kill." (summary of various weapons ads I've seen on the internet)

Oh, and it seems the NRA (the Cult of Zardoz?) has taken down its Facebook page...

Just sayin'...

 
At 8:03 PM, Anonymous Bil said...

I think that IS interesting Dennis, as I always had this weird image of GeorgeWBush, a non-counseled alcoholic with a distant "deer-in-theHeadlightWife", AS president watching war movies late at night, projecting his little thing into Iraq...Because "they tried to kill his daddy",
help me Oedipus, because of course HE could not. His daddy was COMPETENT, and a "GOOD SPY", H/t PUtin

 
At 8:20 AM, Blogger Pats said...

The people who keep saying, "Let's not talk about gun control right now because we shouldn't politicize this!" Those are the ones I want to punch.

Really? How would you feel if it was YOUR child, grandchild, student? Oh, but we must never talk about gun control when we're upset about what guns do.

You're right, the magical thinking that the guns must not be argued with, or our punishment will be swift and severe, it does sound like a cult.

 
At 9:05 AM, Blogger V. R. Savage said...

To say that guns are our 'Molech' is Theologically illiterate at best. None of those grieving parents sent their children off to school to be sacrificed.

Abortion, on the other hand, is a much more accurate similarity... but this debate is about gun control, not the daily slaughter of thousands of children.

It couldn't possibly be the thousands of killings that have filled this young man's mind with movies and television and video games as he grew up had any influence on him.

Or our societies acceptance of broken homes, and fractured families as normal. Or trying to remove God from our public discourse, Or the possibility of the young man's mental illness... the list goes on.

What if we did ban guns, then what? We are foolish to think that people will suddenly become more civil, because we are still feeding our corrupt minds with the same garbage that results in hostility, and yes, sin. Cain, still killed Abel. Perhaps with a Rock, rather than a Glock.

We ban guns, yet legalize drugs.
Politically, we cling to the sins of Romans 1, and wonder why we are having such difficulties.

No amount of gun legislation will bring them back. And, unfortunately, a month from now, most of those grieving parents will be forgotten, as a new tragedy will hit the airwaves.

If you don't believe me, how often do you think about the Haiti earthquake victims, the Japanese Tsunami victims, or the Virginia Tech shooting victims, or the Fort Hood shooting victims, etc?

Until we open our eyes and recognize our need for God back in our society, and turn from our sin, these headlines will continue.

God help us all.

 
At 5:40 PM, Blogger Dennis Jernberg said...

Uh-oh, yet another Christian Rightist blaming the massacre on America not being right with God... *yawn*

Anyway, when I typed "The gun is your penis, go forth and kill", I had specifically the ads put out by Bushmaster, the company that made Adam Lanza's gun. Oh, it gets even better than that. Salon has a new article on... Bushmaster "Man Cards".

 

Post a Comment

<< Home