The St. Louis AR-15 Couple and Other Signs of Hope

By John Zmirak Published on June 30, 2020

The past few weeks have been almost unremittingly depressing. Students of history know how the French and Russian revolutions started — and what they led to. We’ve had few reasons for comfort. Instead we’ve seen one domino fall after the other.

  • Rioters seizing neighborhoods, led by weapon-wielding warlords.
  • Exquisite statues of soldiers and statesmen, saints and sinners alike, pulled down by ignorant mobs.
  • Billion-dollar corporations tripping over themselves to pledge support and cash to a Marxist cult, Black Lives Matter.
  • National Guardsmen taking a knee to the protesters they were supposed to keep under control.
  • Mayors ordering police to stand down, letting terrorists burn public buildings.

The Treason of the Clergy

The worst thing of all? Watching churchmen scramble, as many did in 1789 and 1917, to rush to the head of the roiling mob, and pretend that they were leading it. Listening as they twist the Gospel to pander to the latest outrage mob. Or lie through their teeth, as Washington, D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory did, just to help the pro-abortion left. I’m waiting for them to cave to the “inevitable” and start ripping out pictures of Jesus and the saints — because some ignorant vandals insist that they’re “too white.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury controls an exquisite heritage of Christian religious art made by better, braver men than he’ll ever be. He has already poured blood in the water, opening the door for the image-smashers. The crocodiles are coming, for every image of Jesus that doesn’t look some Black Liberation messiah from Jim Jones’s People’s Temple.

Flickers of Hope, in Grace and Nature

But I’ve also seen signs of hope, on two complementary levels, the supernatural and the natural. And we need them both. Grace usually builds on nature, instead of replacing it. God chose as His spokesman Moses, who stammered. But he wasn’t a deaf-mute.

The impulse to defend ourselves, our families, and our justly earned private property is one that God planted in us.

We must use the healthy elements of our God-given nature in carrying out God’s will, which we mostly know via the reason He planted in our souls. Good laws derive from the natural law, which He wrote upon our hearts, and which we learned via human institutions, like the Common Law and honest judges.

We do God’s will in countless areas by following the desires he built into us. We don’t get up each morning and think, “It’s my duty to the Creator to maintain this human frame, so I think I’ll … eat some breakfast. And use the restroom after.” No, he made us to hunger, so we eat. Apart from sinful habits like gluttony, that’s a safe way to proceed. If sometimes we’re called to fast, then we must for a time resist and restrain these natural drives. But never stomp them out.

Self-Defense Is Sacred

Just so, the impulse to defend ourselves, our families, and our justly earned private property is one that God planted in us. Like every animal He wished to see live and thrive, we’re driven to do those things. If Christ had come to revoke such impulses, He wouldn’t have been our savior, but the enemy of creation, and hence of the Creator. A Christ who demanded passive submission to evil would indeed have been a rebel against the God of Genesis, as Marcionite heretics insisted that He was.

Likewise, a Christ who denounced all private property and insisted we starve in common. If someone could prove that pacifism or socialism were the message of Christianity, it would be time to find a nice orthodox synagogue.

Happily, nothing like that is true. A desire for social order, just laws that apply to all equally, and protection of private property are all in perfect accord with Christian faith. The same human dignity we see in an unborn baby, or a Chinese political prisoner, or other endangered innocents, demands it in fact.

Thieves Make Their Victims Slaves

While an angry, destructive looter might see in a beautifully restored historic home only targets for payback, or accumulated “privilege,” what the sober Christian sees is different. He sees the concrete fruit of thousands of hours of hard human work. To steal it or smash it is to turn those hours from free labor into slavery, forced and unrewarded toil. And slavery is evil. That’s why theft is, too. Because it transforms whatever labor the victim put into earning whatever was stolen into slave labor, too.

A Courageous Pastor

Now that I’ve finished that thumbnail “Christian Political Philosophy 101,” let me turn to those signs of hope. In the supernatural realm, I saw hope in the form of Rev. Stephen Schumacher. He’s the man who alone and unarmed faced down a mob of angry protesters, who called for the destruction of the statue of … Saint Louis. He patiently explained, despite catcalls and threats, the real life and mission of St. Louis IX of France.

No, Louis wasn’t perfect. He shared some of the fallen habits and ideas of his times. (It’s good thing none of us do today, now do we?) But the king for whom French explorers named the city was overall noble and holy. He made his name serving the poor, promoting the Gospel, and defending Christians against aggressive, slave-trading Muslims. Father Schumacher kept his cool, lived out his calling, and deserves our profound respect for explaining that to the mob. I pray that the Diocese of St. Louis doesn’t punish him for his virtue. That’s what all too many bishops do to actual … Christians.

Grace Needs Nature, Too

But the supernatural won’t get you far if the natural has collapsed. A few brave clergy won’t accomplish much if ordinary people won’t even defend themselves and their families. The same people who won’t protect their own homes won’t stir themselves to defend cathedrals, either. Then the thugs, looters, and warlords take over power, as in revolutionary France and Russia. They’ll behead the priests, shoot down the nuns, and send the property owners to re-education camps — or else just leave them to starve.

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So while Father Schumacher’s actions inspired me, I was equally encouraged by something more ordinary, which in normal times would hardly attract our notice at all. But in times when madness runs riot in the streets, a display of spontaneous sanity and straightforward human courage can stiffen our hearts.

Two Citizens Defending Their Home

By that I mean the moment when Mark and Patricia McCloskey stood up with weapons to protect their home from the mob. A crowd of unruly protestors had broken the gate of a private neighborhood, and were marching across the McCloskey’s property. The McCloskeys didn’t just cower, or vainly call the same police that have been standing down nationwide, as mobs trashed entire cities. They showed up and stood tall, displaying the weapons our Second Amendment entitles them to own, as free American citizens and images of God with the right to defend themselves.

(The tweet says they were pointing guns at protestors. This is false. They only held the guns at ready; they never pointed them at anyone.)

And guess what? The exquisite home, an historic landmark which this hard-working pair of attorneys have spent decades gently restoring, didn’t get trashed or burned. Mark didn’t get beaten, Patricia wasn’t raped — as many were beaten or raped in the CHAZ enclave of Seattle, where anarchy prevailed.

The couple — who support police reform and even volunteer to help victims of police brutality — used minimal, requisite force to prevent a mob from roiling out of control. And they’re not apologizing for it. Watch this interview with Mr. McCloskey. Put yourself in his shoes.

God bless the McCloskeys, and keep them, along with Father Schumacher. As long as Americans stand tall, the thugs won’t win.


John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism.

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