America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose

America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, by James E. Atwood ($23.51)

Amazon:   James Atwood contends that the thirty thousand gun deaths America suffers every year cannot be understood apart from our national myth that God has appointed America as “the trustee of the civilization of the world” and even “Christ’s light to the nations.” Because these purposes are noble, and we are supposedly a good and trustworthy people, violence is sometimes “required” and gives license to individuals to carry open or concealed weapons, which “save lives” and can even be “redemptive.”

Atwood, an avid hunter, cautions that an absolute trust in guns and violence morphs easily into idolatry. Having spent thirty-six years as a Presbyterian pastor fighting against the easy access to firearms, one of which took the life of a friend, he uses his unique experience and his biblical and theological understanding to graphically portray the impact guns have on our society. He documents how Americans have been deceived into believing that the tools of violence, whether they take the form of advanced military technology or a handgun in the bedside stand, will provide security. He closes with a wake-up call to the faith community, which he says is America’s best hope to unmask the extremism of the Gun Empire.

“Atwood knows that guns are not just weapons, but symbols, and not only symbols, but idols that demand enormous sacrifice in American lives. This book gets at both the depth and meaning of this on-going tragedy. As a gifted organizer and thinker, Atwood then unveils the inspiring theological bases of an awakening to gun violence [prevention] that has already begun in some cities and congregations.”
–Christian Iosso, Coordinator of Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy

“When it comes to tackling the plague of gun violence in the U.S., no one ‘walks the walk’ with more integrity than Atwood. He has devoted his life to saving lives from gun violence by increasing awareness and challenging popular myths about guns. He now gives us a much needed theological undergirding for our work to end the violence.”
–John W. Wimberly Jr., Pastor of Western Presbyterian Church

“Gun violence destroys families everyday in America. Atwood presciently shows how our weak gun laws result from treating guns as if they were religious idols. By unpacking the theological significance of policies that allow for unfettered access to firearms, he makes a compelling argument that people of faith have a religious and moral duty to fight for stronger gun laws.”
–Joshua Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

“Atwood’s fervent account of the multiple costs of gun violence and the need to restrain it is of urgent and timely importance. This book is a challenge to Christians to lead the way in unmasking the peculiar American obsession with guns. It illuminates the origins of that obsession and recounts a distressing record of statistics and broken laws, all in a compelling theological framework.”
–David Little, Harvard Divinity School

“This is the book I’ve been waiting for. Atwood’s analysis is deeply theological, and I hope it will bring conversations in our churches about idolatry, faithfulness, and the violence that has become so interwoven into our culture. Read this book for an exploration of your own acquiescence to the gun culture, and then study it with your book club or church group to begin planning the revolution that will stand up to the gun industry.”
–Rick Ufford-Chase, Executive Director of Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

“Atwood writes with righteous purpose and theological wisdom. All people of faith should read and embrace his admonition to the American faith community to heed God’s call to save the lives of our sisters, brothers, and children by renouncing the idolatry of guns and joining together in a faith-based movement to end the uniquely and devastatingly American regime of gun violence.”
–Bryan Miller, Executive Director of Heeding God’s Call

“With searing insight, prophetic passion, and deep wisdom, Jim Atwood challenges our country’s relationship with guns, which he rightly describes as idolatry. Americans have come to accept unacceptable numbers of gun deaths–far higher than those of other democratic societies. Atwood explores the reasons creating the grim statistics, from economic and cultural, to theological and spiritual. Written with piercing clarity, this book troubles the soul and moves us to cry, ‘Enough!'”
–Katie Day, Charles A. Schieren Professor of Church and Society, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia –Wipf and Stock Publishers

About the Author

James E. Atwood is Pastor Emeritus of the Trinity Presbyterian Church of Arlington, Virginia, from which he retired in 1999. He lives in Springfield, Virginia. He is presently the Chairperson of Heeding God’s Call of Greater Washington, a faith-based ecumenical movement that encourages gun shops to adopt a code of conduct that deters illegal purchasing and the trafficking of handguns.

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