Avid hunter and noted author James Atwood presents a free public address on "America's Trust in Violence," Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Presbyterian Meeting House, 100 W. Washington St., Shepherdstown. Atwood will lead a workshop on "Transforming Our Culture of Violence" Saturday morning from 9 a.m.-12 noon. Admission is free.
In his book, "America and its Guns: A Theological Expos," Atwood contends that the 30,000 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 has spent 36 years as a 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 is Pastor Emeritus of the Trinity Presbyterian Church of Arlington, Va., from which he retired in 1999. He lives in Springfield, Va. 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.