Happy hope and humor 2016

December 31st, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

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Happy New Year!

I’ll be “celebrating” this New Year’s Eve at The Heritage assisted living home in Battle Creek, Michigan, after a full day of helping clean out Mom’s house, so . . .

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I hope your celebration is a bit more exciting. Here are some New Year’s columns from years past:

More than lighted balls drop on New Year’s Eve
New York City has the Tiffany glass ball, but Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, drops a 30-pound carp. That’s just the beginning of truly strange New Year’s Eve “droppings.”

jimshortsdesignatedpartier

Don’t look back!
The Bible urges us to look forward: “Do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18) and “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13b). There are real dangers in looking back.

My predictions for new year
All my predictions come with a 100 percent, money-back guarantee!

God has a plan for new year
According to the story of Christ’s birth in the gospel of Matthew, God has a plan for our relationships, schedule, location—and even tragedies—in the new year.

A verse for the new year
Everyone seems to have a word, a saying or a Bible verse for the new year. In 2014, I facetiously noted that my word for the year was “platypus.” I actually had a verse for last year . . .

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Top ten posts from 2015

I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today’s category: Top ten posts from the year 2015

10. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

9. Who is the supreme super hero?

8. God is never late, but he sure is slow

7. Does DNA disprove evolution?

6. Hope and humor cartoons

5. Cure for common cold: sex

4. Children who marry their parents: the psychology of courtship

3. What was Paul thinking when he wrote 1 Timothy 2:12?

2. Were U.S. founding fathers Christian?

And, the number one post in 2015 . . .

1. “It Is Well with My Soul”: the rest of the stories

(See list at right for the latest posts.)

Have a God-directed new year! And if you found any of this helpful or hopeful, please share on your social netowrks. Thanks!

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I am so pumped up about the new year. Lois has an exciting new opportunity looming—please pray—and I have a brand new book launching in just over two weeks.

As I’ve mentioned, Thomas à Kempis’ book, The Imitation of Christ has changed my life—I have mentioned it, right? While I had a degree in theology, and had been writing Christian books and articles most of my professional life, à Kempis had a close, deep relationship with Jesus Christ that I didn’t. I knew Christ, but I didn’t know Christ. I have read through à Kempis’ book at least ten times now, and each time, I find myself knowing Christ in closer and deeper ways.

This past spring, I woke up one morning thinking, Someone needs to put The Imitation of Christ into modern language and organize it into devotional readings. (Whenever you think Someone ought to do something, it’s often God saying, “Yep! And that someone is you.” On a lark, I pitched the idea to my agent.

It’s been one miracle after another as the book has raced toward publication in less than nine months. I sincerely believe this book can change lives. Over the past 500 years, it has done just that, so this could be the edition for the 21st century.

To reach as many people as possible with this life-changing message, I need your help. Would you be willing to share with your friends through social media, emails, newsletters, in your conversations with others, etc., about The Imitation of Christ? Below I have provided you with some prewritten tweets, Facebook posts, links, and images that you can use to help us spread the word. It’s as easy as copying and pasting one or more into your social media networks:

Facebook posts

      Thomas à Kempis’ IMITATION OF CHRIST has been a best-seller for over 500 years! Now it’s updated in today’s language and organized into 90 devotional readings by James Watkins. Available January 12th! http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

      If you want to know Christ in deeper way, consider reading James Watkins updated version of Thomas à Kempis’ IMITATION OF CHRIST. It’s available January 12th. Click to read a sample chapter: http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

      Read a sample chapter of James Watkins’ updated version of Thomas à Kempis’ IMITATION OF CHRIST. It’s available January 12t. Click to read a sample chapter: http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

      Join millions of readers who, over the past five hundred years, have become more like Christ through Thomas à Kempis’ amazing book IMITATION OF CHRIST. James Watkins’ updated version is available January 12th. Click for more info: http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

Or feel free to create your own post!

Twitter posts

      James Watkins updated version of Thomas à Kempis’ #TheImitationofChrist is available 1/12. Click for info: http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

      Know #Christ in deeper way. Read James Watkins updated version of Thomas à Kempis’ #TheImitationofChrist: http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

      Read a sample chapter of James Watkins’ updated version of Thomas à Kempis’ #TheImitationofChrist Available 1/12: http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

Or feel free to create your own tweet!

Share a photo from one of these sites (Just click SHARE in the program. Graphics are shared and retweeted many more times than simple text.)

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Instagram
Twitter

But wait there’s more . . .

About the book
About Thomas à Kempis
Read an excerpt
My exclusive interview with Thomas à Kempis
• Daily quotations: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
The story behind this book

Available January 12, 2016. Pre-order today!
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
• Christianbook hardcover eBook

I have so appreciated your prayers and encouragement as I’ve worked on this book. You’re an important part of the ministry this amazing book will have! Thanks.
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Wishing you a meaningful Christmas and a God-directed New Year from the Watkins family!

We are grateful for a good 2015:

• We both thoroughly enjoyed time with family this past year. We watch Faith’s girls after school once a week, and get to see Paul and Amy’s three kiddos about once a month. Love it! Love them!

Today is Lois and my traditional Chinese lunch (“Fra ra ra ra ra!”), then “Star Wars,” Christmas Eve service and finally driving around looking at Christmas lights with Faith and girls. Christmas dinner with Mom at my brother’s. And Dececember 26, since Mom is in an assisted living home, we’ve booked a hotel for the entire Watkins kin gift exchange and then swim party (much better suited venue for five grands who are “lively and quick.”)

• I signed a book contract for a thoroughly modernized and organized Imitation of Christ devotional. It’s been filled with miracles well before its release January 12. I also enjoyed speaking at 10 writers’ conferences. (Here’s my 2016 schedule.)

• Lois continued working with the physically and mentally challenged.

• Mom moved into a beautiful assisted living facility and put her immaculate house with acreage and woods up for sale. She has found new purpose in ministering to the residents including sneaking a Christmas tree into the apartment of the resident “Grinch.”

• And I’m once again running for president as an independent with The Tupperware Party: Putting a Lid on Government. Thanks for your vote!

• We’re looking forward to what God is going to bring about in our lives and yours in 2016!

Do have a meaningful Christmas and God-directed New Year!
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Related posts
God has plan for New Year
How Christmas saved a “grinch”
The Twelve Sites of Christmas

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‘Peace on earth’ in pieces?

December 21st, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

ISIS

The promise of “peace on earth” seems to be in pieces this Christmas season with news of increased terrorist attacks by Islamic radicals. Pope Francis told churchgoers that Christmas this year is going to be a “charade” because “the whole world is at war.” The earth was at peace on Christ first arrival on earth, but only because the pax romana—the peace of Rome—had completely crushed its enemies and set up harsh military rule in the Holy Land.

However, the hope the prophet Isaiah offered nearly 3,000 years ago is still our hope today!

      The people who walk in darkness
         will see a great light.
      For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
         a light will shine (9:1-2).

      For you will break the yoke of their slavery
         and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
      You will break the oppressor’s rod,
         just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
      The boots of the warrior
         and the uniforms bloodstained by war
      will all be burned.
         They will be fuel for the fire.
      For a child is born to us,
         a son is given to us.
      The government will rest on his shoulders.

         And he will be called:
      Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
         Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
      His government and its peace
         will never end.

      He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
         for all eternity.
      The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
         will make this happen! (9:4-7).

Our world was dark in 700 BC, again at the time of Christ and now in today’s world of terrorists attacks throughout the world. But we are promised that Christ will return as the “Wonderful Counselor” to heal all our anxieties and brokenness, a “Mighty God” to restore fairness and justice, an “Everlasting Father” to love and provide for us, and the “Prince of Peace” to cause all wars and conflicts to cease.

That’s the hope of Christmas. It’s not a “charade.” Jesus came as a baby to restore our relationship with God—and is coming a second time to restore our world with “peace on earth.”

Have a very meaningful Christmas celebration!
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Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

Related post

Are Islam, Christianity “peaceful” religions?
“There is no peace on earth” I said
“Threat level” solidly “green”
Why does “Grinch” Laden hate the U’s


IOC WordPress

Imitation of Christ releases in 22 days!

The Imitation of Christ is one of the great spiritual works of the Church. More than five hundred years later, it remains not just a classic, but a road map to the life the Lord wants each of us to live.”
Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan: Archbishop of New York

“This book makes me angry. Not only because I didn’t think of it, but also because I could never have done the thorough, sensitive, beautiful job James N. Watkins has done in updating Thomas à Kempis’s, The Imitation of Christ, into a modern classic of ninety riveting readings. I need this book. And so does everyone I know.”
Bob Hostetler, best-selling author of Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door

“This influential book is an incredible gift to this century. James Watkins has stayed true to the original text but in language that continues to speak from the soul of Thomas à Kempis to the soul of a twenty-first century seeker. A message for which our world has deep hunger. This is literally a soul-changing, ultimately world changing book; a must for every person serious about being a Christ-follower.”
Jo Anne Lyon: White House adviser on faith, general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church

The Imitation of Christ devotional is truly a gift to the church. Watkins provides timeless, profound truths in everyday language, introducing modern Christians to the power of Thomas à Kempis’ words and life’s work. A deeply moving, wholly convicting, and truly life-altering book.”
Mary DeMuth: author of Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love for You Changes Everything

About the book
About Thomas à Kempis
Read an excerpt
My exclusive interview with Thomas à Kempis
• Daily quotations: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
The story behind this book

Available January 12, 2016. Pre-order today!
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
• Christianbook hardcover eBook

If you found this post helpful, please share it on your social networks. Thanks!

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May the force be with you

December 17th, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

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Just 24 hours until the brand new Star Wars blasts into a galaxy near you! So here are some of my favorite columns, cartoons and top ten lists.


Columns from a galaxy far, far away

The Force Awakens universal questions
How does George Lucas come up with character’s names? A drunken game of Scrabble? How do light sabers work? Where do space royalty go for their hair and makeup? Do we all have a light and dark side? [Continue reading]

Star Wars III: modern morality play
Revenge of the Sith is a modern-day morality play where we witness a powerful struggle not only between good and evil, but the temptation to use evil for anticipated good; the end justifying the means. [Continue reading]

This Force never sleeps
In Episode VII, “The Force Awakens.” Has it been taking a nap? Has it been frozen in carbonite? Did it pass out at the Mos Eisley Cantina? I’m glad the real Force never sleeps! [Continue reading]


Top ten lists from Tatooine

Top ten signs Han Solo has turned 70
10. Forgets to turn off directional light on Millennium Falcon [Continue reading]

Top ten surprises in Episode VII
Disney has purchased Lucas Films and is planning to relaunch the Star Wars franchise with a new episodes opening in 2015. So, I have in my right bionic hand, direct from the Rebel base, tonight’s category. [Continue reading]


Cartoons from rebel base

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Be sure to visit my James Watkins for President page

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If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your social networks. And if you’d like to post cartoons, just SAVE by right clicking on them. Thanks! May the force be with you

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ShockTheClock

If you have a friend who has everything—except time to do everything—Shock The Clock: Time Management for Writers and Other Creatives is the perfect Christmas gift.

I found time—using her practical tips—to interview my witty and wise friend, Jeanette Levellie.

Let’s not waste time. Give me the gist of your book in 15 seconds or less.

If you got an A+ in procrastination, can’t find your car keys, and might need a lifetime pass to Clutterbugs Anonymous, you can benefit from this lighthearted approach to managing your time and getting more writing done.

That was just 8 seconds. So, in the 7 remaining seconds, what will readers learn?

I hope writers and other creatives—from artists to musicians to movie producers to Play-Doh sculptors—will be encouraged by God and my words that you can learn to manage your time, even if you were born disorganized and discombobulated like me.

So let’s reset the timer and ask, What sparked your interest in this topic?

I have learned over the years how to say no when I need to, how to manage small and large chunks of time, and how to pack the most into a day, but also how to relax and play. Some I learned from books, some from emulating organized people, and some from the Holy Spirit konkin’ me on the head.

What person or thing has been most beneficial to your writing career? Fifteen seconds start now.

God, since he’s the one who gave me a brain and all these zany ideas that turn into articles and books, but my biggest cheerleader is you. You published tons of my humor columns in the magazine Vista. Those columns morphed into my second book, The Heart of Humor: Sixty Helpings of Hilarity to Nourish Your Soul. Just having one person who knows the writing industry believe in your work makes the difference between barely hanging on and believing in yourself.

Well, thank you. Discovering new, talented writers is the best thing about being an editor. You are one of my favorite humorists, but enough about me. What advice would you give to beginning authors?

Don’t take rejections personally. I used to be crushed by rejection slips, but now I just move on. It’s not even about me as a person; it’s about what that editor likes, or his or her audience reads. But I do listen to corrections, so I can improve. I’ve also learned to cull out the passive verbs and write tighter, to keep the readers’ interest. I’d encourage new writers that it’s not always gonna be this hard. Just hang on awhile longer.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule of working as a church administrative assistant, writing a weekly newspaper column and authoring books. And thanks for letting me endorse your latest book:

      I’ve never believed in “time management,” but I’ve always believed in self management. So, I’m taking time to recommend Shock the Clock, Jeanette’s warm, wise, and witty book on managing yourself while carving out chunks of time to be creative. And it’s short, so you do have time to read it!

The Internet gods will be angered if I don’t reveal that I have not been paid, blackmailed or in any other way coerced to endorse this book. I’m doing it willingly and with a sound mind. (Okay, maybe not the last part.)

• Buy Jeanette’s Shock the Clock as well as her delightful The Heart of Humor and Two Scoops of Grace with Sprinkles on Top.

• And if you have time, read my post: Managing your time . . . and sanity

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Christmas smells like ****

December 14th, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

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Evergreen boughs. Gingerbread. Wassail. Fresh-baked cookies. Frosty winter air. Bayberry candles. The festive fragrances reminded our family that this was Christmas Eve as we visited my wife’s mother in Wisconsin.

“Dad, can we go down to the barn and see the kittens?” Faith and Paul asked. We bundled up and trudged through the snow to the barn.

As we opened the door, the smell of urine burned our eyes and nostrils. Steam from the cattle’s body heat carried the scent of fresh manure throughout the barn.

“Let’s see the kittens and then get out of here,” my teen-aged daughter urged. “My hair is going to smell just terrible after being here!”

We did carry the odor of the barn’s manure, old wooden beams, grain, and fresh straw back to the house with us.

“This smells better,” Paul announced as the aroma of roasting turkey greeted us at the door.

But the true scent of the season clung to our clothes. The holy and pure God had chosen to arrive on earth, not between scented candles in a tabernacle of cedar paneling, but in the stench and filth of livestock.* And in his sacrificial acts, he offered us the “fragrance of life” (2 Corinthians 2:16).

Copyright © 1988 James N. Watkins

Related posts
The Twelve Sites of Christmas

*The word translated “inn” (kataluma) is actually a term for upper room—the same word used for the location of the Last Supper. First century houses used the first floor for housing animals, while the upstairs was the sleeping area. Thus Jesus was indeed cradled in a manger (feed trough) but not in a “stable.”

Photo from MorgueFile.com

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The good news about bad news

December 9th, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


December 2015

You know, after reading a few “Hope and Humor” posts, that my mind is slightly twisted, and sometimes completely warped. I see things differently than the average person. For instance, when I see bad news on TV or online, I think I am so glad that made the news! Let me try to explain that for you normal people.

The past seven days, the media has bombarded us with continuous coverage of the horrific terrorist killings in San Bernardino. That event bumped from the front page, a Chicago police officer being charged with murder in the killing of a knife-weilding teen—complete with the graphic video. And Sunday, President Barack Obama made a rare primetime speech to the nation trying to assure the public that citizens are safe from terrorists. There’s no doubt, it has been a bad news week. But . . .

The good news is that these events are considered news!

“Why?” you ask shaking your head in disbelief and reaching for the BACK button. Newsworthiness is determined by events that are out of the ordinary, rare and downright bizarre. “Dog bites man” is not news, but “Man bites dog” is news. People being killed is not news. Every day in the United States, 117 people are killed in vehicle crashes. And that same day, 77 people are killed in bathroom accidents. But when just 14 people are slaughtered by domestic terrorists, that is not normal! And so, it’s news. And it’s so unusual, that the national networks devote the entire evening and the next week covering the event!

Take government corruption. Please! It’s big news in most developed countries, but it wouldn’t make the last page of Section D in many Third World countries. While traveling to an African country to speak, I was told I would need to present the customs agent with a brand new $100 bill to enter the country. And to get out, I had to give the customs agent a brand new $50 bill. The missionary who picked me up at the airport explained that this is just business as usual in his country, as was paying ten-year-old extortionists to guard his vehicle when he parked anywhere in the downtown area. So in that country, political corruption is not news.

And while Americans were shocked at child sexual assault charges brought against Subway pitchman, Jared Fogle, it would not be news in Afghanistan. There young boys are regularly used to gratify older men. One missionary told me, “In this country, boys are for pleasure; women are for babies.” Sex trafficking, particularly of women and young children is rampant in countries such as Cambodia, India, countries in Africa and Eastern Asia.

And while a gun shot fired at the White House made it to the top of the nightly news back in 2011, violence against government leaders is not unusual in many countries. In Mexico alone, drug cartels have claimed the lives of 174 government officials including 83 police chiefs and 32 mayors in just six years.

The good news is that these recent crimes are considered “news” in the United States! Yes, we have terrorist attacks, but only 14 people have died in domestic terrorism since September 11, 2001. Yes, we have political corruption, but nothing on the scale of African, Asian or South American countries. Yes, we have cops shooting unarmed suspects, but they are a newsworthy few. Yes, we have a lengthy list of sex offenders, but it’s still considered an “offense”—contrary to countries where sex with children is the cultural norm.

And that’s good news!

Copyright © 2011, 2015 James N. Watkins Adapted from a column that originally appeared in Presidential Prayer Team newsletter, November 2011.

Related post
• My snarky response to new terror warning system: “Threat level” solidly “green”
Reponding to terrorist attacks

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I love children’s paraphrases of Scripture. During Advent season, one children’s church boy announced, concerning the events of Christ’s birth, “Mary pounded them in her heart.” I like that!

Daily, the world pounds us with its philosophy and its fears:

      “Look out for number one.”

      “Claw your way up the ladder of success.”

      “Buy the latest ego-enhancing luxury item.”

      “Be vigilant as the terror-level is elevated.”

      “The world’s economy is falling apart.”

I have to admit that I’m a news junky: morning news shows, the evening news, and in between checking news sites and Twitter feeds. If I’m not careful, I can get pounded by the all the crime, corruption, political unrest and seemingly hopeless situations locally, nationally and internationally.

But the psalmist reminds us:

      Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them (Psalm 111:2).

Verse 4 reminds us to remember the “wonders” of our “gracious and compassionate” Lord. Verse 5 assures us that “He provides food for those who fear him.”

That’s why I have to balance all the world’s bad news with the Word’s Good News; to pound it into my heart. That’s why St. Paul urges us to . . .

      Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).

How about you? When your mind isn’t occupied with work or family responsibilities, what do you ponder? The world or the Word? The greatness of God or the wretchedness of humankind? What are you pounding into your heart?

Copyright © 2011 James N. Watkins

Photo from The Nativity Story


IOC WordPress

Imitation of Christ releases in 36 days!

The classic devotional by Thomas à Kempis arranged and organized into 90 devotional readings.

The Imitation of Christ is one of the great spiritual works of the Church. More than five hundred years later, it remains not just a classic, but a road map to the life the Lord wants each of us to live.”
Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan: Archbishop of New York

“This book makes me angry. Not only because I didn’t think of it, but also because I could never have done the thorough, sensitive, beautiful job James N. Watkins has done in updating Thomas à Kempis’s, The Imitation of Christ, into a modern classic of ninety riveting readings. I need this book. And so does everyone I know.”
Bob Hostetler, best-selling author of Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door

“This influential book is an incredible gift to this century. James Watkins has stayed true to the original text but in language that continues to speak from the soul of Thomas à Kempis to the soul of a twenty-first century seeker. A message for which our world has deep hunger. This is literally a soul-changing, ultimately world changing book; a must for every person serious about being a Christ-follower.”
Jo Anne Lyon: White House adviser on faith, general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church

The Imitation of Christ devotional is truly a gift to the church. Watkins provides timeless, profound truths in everyday language, introducing modern Christians to the power of Thomas à Kempis’ words and life’s work. A deeply moving, wholly convicting, and truly life-altering book.”
Mary DeMuth: author of Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love for You Changes Everything

About the book
About Thomas à Kempis
Read an excerpt
My exclusive interview with Thomas à Kempis
• Daily quotations: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
The story behind this book

Available January 12, 2016. Pre-order today!
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
• Christianbook hardcover eBook

If you found this post helpful, please share it on your social networks. Thanks!

Share

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My heart is broken for the loss of life in San Bernardino “terrorist” attack. My mind is also baffled! The president and his like-minded supporters promise that “gun control” will eliminate—or reduce—these mass killings.

But Mr. President, California—where this latest gun violence exploded—has exactly what you’re demanding as the solution: background checks, registration, waiting periods, gun bans, magazine bans and an expansion of prohibited gun categories.

The same is true in Chicago, which has some of the toughest gun control laws—and out-of-control gun violence.

And The Washington Post just headlined: “Gun Violence Declining, Except in Gun-Free Zones.”

Finally, Mr. President, U.S. gun crimes are not uniquely “American”, despite your claim they have “no parallel anywhere else in world.” Have you already forgotten two major attacks in Paris? Or Norway, where Anders Behring Breivik used a gun to kill 67 people and wound 110 others? And do you know that three of the worst K-12 shooting occurred in Europe—which has some of the strictest gun control laws?

My heart is broken. My mind is baffled at the naiveté of those who believe public laws can prevent personal evil.

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

Note
I am not advocating no control over gun sales, however California has some of the strictest gun laws, but the murderous couple got them illegally. Laws will not stop violent sociopaths, because violent sociopaths have no regard for laws of God and man. However, laws do articulate what a society values and believes and do have a positive peer-pressure effect. That’s why I find states legalizing marijuana so disturbing: it’s social acceptance of a drug with perhaps some medical benefits (we need to scientifically study that) but with well-documented dangerous side-effects. I am not zealous about gun ownership, but I am adamant about truth.

Related site
Dealing with terrorist attacks

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