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Carrying beads instead of guns

Carrying beads instead of guns

The Rev. David W. Peters, Episcopal Priest and Army Reserve Chaplain, writes in the Huffington Post:

I started to Open Carry–beads not bullets. I found the box with the old stuff from my Army days as a deployed chaplain. I pulled out a set of Anglican rosary beads. They were made for me by parishioners of Trinity Episcopal Church, in Mount Vernon, Illinois. I’d only used them a few times.

Even though I was an Episcopal priest, I had little training with the beads. I had used them in Mount Vernon on the night they were given to me and twice in Texas at a contemplative service at a church next to the Fort Hood Army base. In my entire life, I’ve spent more times holding guns than prayer beads. I was an enlisted Marine, after all.

Peters reflects on why he as a former Marine no longer chooses guns as a way to safety.

In my experience, people carrying guns openly are communicating some pretty serious messages. One of them is that they can easily kill you. Immediately, the presence of open weapons creates an asymmetrical power relationship where you’re never quite sure how people feel about you–if you’re the one with the gun. Most people are nice to people who are carrying guns. In Iraq at least, most people were rarely completely honest to people who were carrying guns. The handshake–one of the oldest signs of peace–is a way of showing that you are unarmed. Can human relationships flourish in a world where no one can truly shake hands?

Now I’m a parish priest in the Episcopal Church and I think about an active shooter stomping into my church’s school or worship service constantly. So I do sprints. I do pushups. I wonder if I’ll be able to tackle the guy in time. What if there are two of them?

Read it all here.




Image: “AnglicanPrayerBeads” at the English language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.


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Cynthia Katsarelis

Great article by Father David. I can relate to the end. When each of parents started declining, I started doing push ups so that I would have the strength to participate in their care.

I note that in the instances where a potential mass shooter was stopped, it has been in cases where someone tackled the shooter, often a principle or teacher.

It could be that the next class of peace study majors should be trained in Akido, or some marshal art focused on avoiding conflict and disarming people if need be. Sad.

I pray the Anglican Rosary. It’s a great contemplative prayer for those of us who need something more tactile than a centering prayer word.

Rod Gillis

Thanks so much for this article. I was hooked by the teaser here and had to read the whole thing via the link. Fascinating. I do not live in the United States so I have no comment on the gun issue. Prayer beads, no matter which particular prayers one uses with them, can aid meditation.

The connections between this article by David Peters and the earlier article on Healing by George Clifford are especially interesting.

David Peters writes, “Part of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can feel like the loss of the illusion of safety. Coming face to face with raw violence changes a person’s vision of the world. ” And again, he writes, “Now I’m a parish priest in the Episcopal Church and I think about an active shooter stomping into my church’s school or worship service constantly. So I do sprints. I do pushups. I wonder if I’ll be able to tackle the guy in time. What if there are two of them?”

A number of years ago I was at a clergy meeting where in the course of conversation we discovered that just about everyone of us in the room had at one time or another had been called to minister in a domestic disturbance where fire arms were involved.

David Peters is writing about ministry and prayer from the perspective of some one contending with trauma. I find his perspective incredibly engaging.

Kurt Hill

The twentieth century saw the development of this distinctive Anglican rosary, a free-form model of prayer which has no set formularies so individuals can develop prayers for use with the Rosary that reflect their own spiritual journey.

It’s interesting to note, though, that the Western (Dominical) rosary has long been a part of American High Church practice. The “Interim Report” on the excavations at Jamestown lists rosary beads among the objects recovered. Although the use of the rosary was officially proscribed by Queen Elizabeth I, in practice some Anglicans, particularly in the north of England, continued to discreetly pray the rosary.
In certain places, such as Coventry and Lichfield, the use of the rosary among Anglicans was apparently so common that the ordinary, Bishop Thomas Bentham (1560-1579), publicly pleaded with parishioners in his diocese to break with this habit.

The use of the rosary, as well as other traditional devotional survivals in the Church of England, attracted Calvinist wrath. As Prof. Alison Findlay notes: “From the 1560s to the 1630s complaints were raised [by Puritans] against parishes for celebrating saints’ days and for using holy water, prayers for the dead and rosary beads in their services…Under [Archbishop William] Laud’s regime, such activities were legitimized while the…principles of the Puritan sects were discredited.”

Puritans were also furious that the Rev. John Cosin, Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge and later Bishop of Durham, allegedly turned a blind eye around 1640 to the sale of rosaries to Anglican college students. Because of his High Church pro the Mastership of Peterhouse.

The use of the rosary by some Anglicans continued into the eighteenth century. The High Church priest John Wesley, for example, is said to have used a rosary, and his beads are among the historical treasures cared for by The Leys School in Cambridge, England.

A more widespread revival of the use of the Western rosary within Anglicanism occurred in the context of the Oxford Movement after 1850.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

JoS. S. Laughon

I hope a revival of prayer ropes/prayer beads/rosaries will become more popular among the Communion myself.

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