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Kirby: Prayer — hearing what you want

By Robert Kirby

| Tribune Columnist

First Published Aug 08 2014 07:55 pm • Last Updated Aug 11 2014 12:40 pm

I didn’t pay much attention to Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s confrontation with the Bureau of Land Management. But then God got involved.

Previously I only knew what was forced on me by the evening news. If I wanted to see breaking news about a dog that could parallel park, I had to hear first all about the federal government trying to seize Cliven’s cows in lieu of a million bucks in back fees.

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Things kept heating up. Eventually there was some confrontation in which the government backed down, Cliven kept his cows, and he became a grass-roots hero to similarly minded people.

Personally, I thought the picture in The Salt Lake Tribune of him speaking next to the county sheriff with camo-clad militia members at the ready in front looked more like a Klan rally than a lecture over public land.

But I really didn’t care about any of that. And I still wouldn’t if Cliven hadn’t started noising it around now that he was acting for God, that the Lord of Hosts had directly influenced him to spare us from another civil war.

Cliven told "RadioWest" host Doug Fabrizio that he prayed and the Lord inspired him to defy the government and that if the BLM didn’t back down and disarm, there would be a civil war in which law-abiding people such as himself would have to face those weapons.

He summed it up by saying, "If I’m breaking laws of the land, then I would think the Lord wouldn’t be with us for one thing."

That got my attention. There’s two ways to look at that statement. Either Cliven is in tight with the Lord, or he’s spent too much time riding the sunny public range without his hat.

Hey, I’m not on the BLM’s side here. I’m not on Cliven’s either. I’m on the side of reformer and suffragist Susan B. Anthony, who said, "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

If I owed someone a million bucks and didn’t feel like paying it, you can be damn sure that I would find a way so that God didn’t want me to pay it, either.


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God’s advice is always so relative to the person claiming to receive it. If you’re homophobic, clearly God hates homosexuals. If you really admire someone else’s land, God will inspire you to just take it even if you have to kill to get it.

And if you think the BLM agents have too much firepower (meaning that they can actually outgun you when you want to forcibly resist) then God wants them to disarm as well.

Maybe I should adopt this "God wants me to do it" attitude in regard to my own recent clash with the BLM.

OK, "clash" probably isn’t the best word. It was more like "please" and "thank you." It was boring really. Nobody got shot. No armed militia showed up. It was just BLM Ranger Randal Griffin, Sonny and me.

On Saturday, we were shooting our bowling ball cannon near the Bonneville Speedway when Randal rolled up and asked us to stop doing it. At least until we got the necessary permit.

I love shooting cannons on public land every bit as much as Cliven loves grazing his cows on it. But apparently I don’t love it enough because it never occurred to me to get down on my knees and ask God to back my play.

If I had prayed about it, I’m betting God would have not answered at all, or told me to listen to the ranger. But then I didn’t have a million bucks riding on the answer.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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