Sunday, January 24, 2010

Unwitting crusaders

If you're thinking about using a gun to commit a murder, and you need some inspirational words to accompany the deed, you only have to dig around in the Bible and you'll surely find everything you need. The cultivated killer played superbly by Samuel L Jackson in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction had the habit of calling upon the godly exclamations of the prophet Ezekiel (submerged in a sauce of f-words) to preface his executions.

US soldiers in Afghanistan were surprised to learn that mysterious letters and numbers inscribed on the gunsights of their personal combat weapons were in fact references to passages of the Bible.

In the above photo, for example, the reference JN 8:12 guides the soldier to the gospel of John, chapter 8, verse 12, in which Jesus says: "I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." An observer must imagine, of course, that the light of life is reserved for the guy squeezing the trigger, not for the unfortunate fellow at the other end of the bullet's trajectory. Besides, you get a certain idea of the sense of the biblical quote if you replace the word "light" by "sight" (short for gunsight), and "walk" by "fire". And maybe the final expression, "light of life", should be replaced by "sight of death".

These gunsights, manufactured by a family company named Trijicon [click the logo to visit their website] based in Michigan, were supplied to US, British, Australian and New Zealand troops fighting in Afghanistan. Funnily enough, not even their superiors seemed to be aware (so they say) that these soldiers were unwitting latter-day crusaders, whose arms were protected symbolically by the fighting words of a Christian god.

Journalists are already referring to weapons bearing such references as "Jesus guns". One US official even compared this affair with the trivial but notorious phenomenon I mentioned in my article of 28 December 2009 entitled In God we don't trust [display].

Why can't Americans leave God alone (along with the ungodly) and get on with their business?

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