The phrase, “Don’t mix politics with religion” is a shopworn fantasy. It’s usually trotted out when the left finds it suitable to their needs, yet they turn around and use religion as a convenient tool when targeting the right.
It is hunting season and as a radio talk-show host I like to remind people that they have a right to self-defense and the right to kill animals for food. This is not a difficult topic for Alaskans, yet perhaps we need to assess the issue in light of the fact that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has seen fit to weigh in on the issue of “gun control.”
This increasingly political and discredited group of prelates are seldom taken seriously when they produce policy documents, but their imprimatur on a particular issue, like illegal immigration or poverty, is used by leftist politicians: “If you’re a Catholic, your own bishops call for an end to the death penalty and more gun control, so don’t throw abortion at me!”
For some historical perspective, let us analyze the patron saint of handgun owners, Saint Gabriel Possenti of Isola, Italy. He might well instruct the U.S. bishops. In 1860 a group of lawless soldiers from the army of Giuseppe Garibaldi entered Isola with rape, pillage and plunder on their mind. The fact that they belonged to an anti-papal army is not the point of the story, for all armies possess immoral soldiers who use their collective power to perform vile misdeeds on innocent civilians.
The soldiers entered homes at will to steal, drink, eat and search for likely women. As a protesting young female was dragged across the town square Possenti, suffering from tuberculosis, presented an emaciated and harmless visage as he approached the offending soldier. Catching him off guard, Possenti quickly grabbed what was likely a percussion cap revolver from the soldier, and as a second soldier approached to assist, snatched his away as well.
John Wayne would have approved.
But rather than blasting away at now disarmed men, Possenti spotted a lizard crossing the town square and fired a bull’s eye. Was he a practiced dead-eye, lucky or the recipient of a miracle? Take your pick, perhaps all three, but the soldiers were sufficiently impressed. Yes, they could have done him in, but evil is cowardly when confronted unexpectedly, and they all knew that if they took Possenti down, any number of them would be transported to their own judgment along with him.
Now the one giving orders, Possenti told the soldiers to leave the town and make what reparation might still be possible before they made their exit.
Or perhaps we could turn for wisdom to Saint Hubert of Jägermeister liqueur fame. You know, that anise-flavored bottle that has an antlered buck with a cross over its head?
In seventh century France, Hubert was a member of the landed aristocracy and obsessed – unhealthily so – with hunting. Hunting was not relegated to the fall season in the early medieval era. He was after spring stags and other game on Good Friday. Lining up his quarry as an archer, the vision of a cross between the buck’s antlers appeared, with a heavenly warning as well: “Repent, return to church, or hell awaits.”
Sufficiently impressed, Hubert did all those things, becoming a priest and then a bishop, but never lost his love of the hunt. Instead, he began a marvelous tradition that Europeans still exercise today: hunting as a religious experience.
You may have seen in a movie where large banquet halls have mounted heads of boar, stags, bears, etc. It is no myth. A Saint Hubert Hunt would have begun with a pre-dawn Mass at the local chapel, thanksgiving to God for what he freely provides, and a respect not only for animals but for the unity of a community, whether peasant or noble.
The hunt began as the peasantry drove the game, beating the fields and forests to flush game into the sites of the aristocracy. In later years firearms were used. Germans even developed a unique three-barreled gun, which included both rifle and shotgun capability in order to adjust to big game or grouse.
Perhaps a few days later after suitable preparations, that big banquet hall included the peasants as well. No doubt flagons of beer, wine and other spirits made for a memorable day. Stories were traded, the local monks and priests invited, and future crops were protected from animal destruction.
Finally, in France’s provincial region of the Vendeè, the peasants came to their beloved and trusted nobility to raise an army against the godless Jacobins during the Reign of Terror in the 1790s. The peasants were familiar with firearms, and understood their need for the nobility’s leadership, wealth and knowledge of military science to defend their homes, faith and families.
In this hunting season, let us keep God – and his godly saints – in mind.
The writer host of The Bird’s Eye View radio show in Kenai. He ran for U.S. Senate in 2008 as member of the Alaskan Independence Party and is the former president of Alaska Right to Life.