Consecrated Oil in 7.62x39mm Vials or Mormons Missing the Mark

AK-47_gunshot_wound_to_abdomen_in_Vietnam

A 7.62×39mm bullet fulfilling the measure of its creation (Source)

I don’t know that I’m eminently qualified to address a topic related to Mormons and guns. But as a Mormon and very likely the only BCC blogger who owns and enjoys shooting guns, well, let’s just say you go to war with the army you have.

Anyway, growing up in rural California offered great opportunities with plenty of wide open spaces and ranges in which to plink and shoot at targets. My dad devoted a career to developing weapons systems and all residents owed their livelihoods to a military installation that has been designing, testing and evaluating more effective ways to kill the enemy since World War II. Guns were in the air, and I still have fond memories of the family tradition of getting together after Christmas dinner to go shooting. So feel free to dismiss what I’m about to say, just not on the grounds that I’m a liberal snowflake who hates guns.  

Growing up it didn’t seem like there was a Mormon angle to America’s gun culture, just that American Mormons brought their gun culture to church with them. For example, once we had an elders quorum discussion on the relative merits of handguns vs. shotguns in home defense scenarios; I don’t recall a sense that guns were helping us perform a priesthood duty or anything, it was just a discussion that I imagine any group of 20 to 40 year old men might have had in that area on any given Sunday.

But that was then. Today I discovered that there is a Mormon angle to America’s gun culture: the “Liberty Oil Vial” (note: I’m not going to link to the website in this post; you’ll have to operate your preferred search engine yourself). It is marketed as

a symbol of a priesthood holder’s responsibility to protect their families. On the side are engraved the words from the title of liberty: “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children” and on the other side the scripture reference: “Alma 46:12”.

With no hint of irony, the purveyor of the Liberty Oil Vial chose the cartridge developed by the Soviets in the 1940s for military use to serve as a vial for oil set apart for anointing and blessing the sick and afflicted. The only hint of sheepishness concerns the foreign  design and manufacture of the cartridge: “We really would have liked to use an American round like the .223 or NATO 5.56 but unfortunately the bullet was too small” (note: what about venerable American rounds like the .30-30 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Savage or .308 Winchester?).

What’s more, the product apparently owes its life to some focus group testing at BYU Hawaii last fall:

I was amazed how big the demand was for the product so I got it back on track and here we are today. Liberty is something I have always been passionate about so I am excited to share products that promote religious liberty with the world!

Is the demand among temple-recommend-holding Mormons—presumably a characteristic of BYU Hawaii students, staff and faculty—really that high, or can we attribute the product’s purported popularity to overzealous salesmanship?

In either case, someone has missed the mark. Even as someone who doesn’t consider guns to be inherently outrageous, I still have a hard time grasping the attraction of this product. In fact, this whole business idea is so off-putting that I’m tempted to mount my rameumpton and declare that it is not possible for a priesthood holder to carry consecrated oil in a repurposed military round and have any expectation that a blessing performed with it will be efficacious. I mean, talk about new wine in old bottles.

But maybe I’m missing something—Pax Americana wasn’t exactly established by carrots, after all, yet it (eventually) blessed (some of) those under its wings, which I guess is kind of like the gift of healing by the power of God. So why not combine tangible tokens of earthly and godly power and sell it to Mormons as “a symbol of a priesthood holder’s responsibility to protect their families”? Any opposed?

 

Comments

  1. Dapple says:

    You’re not the only gun-owning BCC denizen who thinks this is a bit bonkers. But I have two uncles and a half dozen cousins who would honestly think this was the greatest gift they ever received. And they would indeed be a bit offended it was a Soviet round and not an American one. I remain skeptical that the primary market for this is in Hawaii, but I think it’ll sell in Utah and Idaho.

  2. How in this world does this promote “religious liberty”? This is sick and wrong. Truly deranged. All decent Mormons should reject this forcefully.

    Thank you for bringing this up. This is sickening.

  3. My guess is the people who find this meaningful would also think the only improvement other than using an American and not a commie shell (seriously — crazy, so much for Reagan’s GOP; oh, and also for Ezra Taft Benson’s denigration of Soviet arms, as in when he expressed his opinion that at the “battle of Armageddon” all the weapons used would be either US or Soviet) would be if it were dipped in pig’s blood.

  4. I mean how about a 7.62×51? US military round. Case is even longer hence more oil.

    Dont get me wrong. I own two rifles in 7.62×39. They are fantastic on wild hogs. But a Soviet round?

    There is a huge market for this idea. Just sayin.

  5. As a non-priesthood holder, I don’t know that I am qualified to have an opinion, but I was pleased by this suggestion from my clever, pacifist, Canadian husband:

    Do you think the manufacturers would approve of replacing the inscription with Isaiah 2:4?

    And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

  6. A healing oil from a vessel designed to kill? Nope. That’s a big fail, and a fundamental misunderstanding of anything Jesus said, lived, or taught.

  7. Aussie Mormon says:

    There’s also a 2 minute youtube video advertising them.

  8. jaxjensen says:

    As Isaiah 2:4 reads… isn’t this taking the proverbial sword and turning it into a plowshare? Taking an armament and turning into a tool of the Prince of Peace?

    If we were to literally take swords and make the tools I can imagine the angst…”sick and deranged. I wouldn’t expect crops to grow were those former weapons were used.” “A big fundamental fail… how could I ever cut the earth with metal that once cut men?”

    I won’t be buying or using one, but it isn’t a denial of the faith for others to do so. This is only a “misunderstanding of anything Jesus ever said” if you ignore everything he said about war, fighting, or armor. There is quite a lot he said/taught about those things.

  9. Loursat says:

    The moneychangers have figured out that they don’t actually have to be in the temple to defile it; they just need the BYU Bookstore’s help in finding plump suckers for their sales pitch. There probably are some chumps out there who can be persuaded that buying this junk will “promote religious liberty” and help them “preside.”

    Thanks for this post. For any who might be wondering about this type of thing, it’s useful to have a place where its true nature is affirmed.

  10. We are truly a warlike people.

  11. Come on, you guys. Jesus is the Prince of Piece. Oh… wait… that was Peace? Uh oh.

  12. Anon for this says:

    I’m trying to find words. I just can’t. We have a number of guns in our home and I know how to shoot and clean all of them, but I just can’t imagine that a bullet is appropriate. Sigh.

  13. kevinf says:

    I don’t begrudge the true sporting use of guns. I’m a former gun owner, and used to go hunting quite a bit. I gave it all up about 25 years ago when I began to have second thoughts about having guns in the house at all. The change to an obsession with self defense turned me off to the idea of gun ownership, and so this just makes me want to throw up. This just brings shame on the concept of a priesthood blessing. That being said, I probably have a few nephews who would want one, and not find anything wrong with it.

  14. Left Field says:

    My father did metalwork in the army during WWII. After the war, he converted some artillery pieces (Sorry, I don’t really know what they are, much less the correct terminology. Shaped like a rocket, and about 6-7 inches high, the diameter of your thumb at the base.) into some nice looking silver-plated salt and pepper shakers. Pretty cool looking, actually. Salt and pepper seems like a better thing to put in it than consecrated oil.

  15. Instead of making idols out of precious metals, now we make them out of steel and polycarbonate. We used to speak of God-given rights; now we say that our rights flow from the barrels of our guns.

    BTW, I know a decent number of people who definitely would buy one of these for the intended purpose. Every single one of them is a mouthbreather. Every single one.

  16. Michelle says:

    BYU-H students come up with some wacky ideas for the entrepreneurship program & competitions.

    My favorite program at BYU-H is the Peacebuilding program through the McKay Center for Intercultural Understanding: https://davidomckaycenter.com/ or https://davidomckaycenter.byuh.edu/

  17. I agree that sacred oil should probably not be in rifle brass. That being said there is a lot of looking down on people who are different than upscale educated leftists.

  18. John Mansfield says:

    This has me thinking of the various WWII sacrament sets that LDS sailors and soldiers fashioned from spent gun casings. (Here’s a link to someone recalling one crafted for the Intrepid.) Handcrafting from available materials tickles hearts in a way that marketing usually doesn’t.

  19. there is a lot of looking down on people who are different than upscale educated leftists

    Man, I spent two paragraphs of a short post trying to head that criticism off at the pass, or did you mean in the comments?

    John, thanks for linking that story. Turning 20 millimeter casings into sacrament cups strikes me as consistent with the imagery of beating swords into plowshares in ways that turning oil vials into ammunition doesn’t.

  20. Marian says:

    I enjoy shooting and go to a range with my dad every so often. This definitely strikes me as a swing and a big miss. Not just because of the intended use of the object, although that is part of it, but also because I would feel weird about consecrated oil being sold in repurposed golf balls, or hobby object of your choice. I just have some weird cognitive dissonance there for some reason.

  21. Good point, Marian. It seems at best distracting to put the bearer’s lifestyle front and center like that.

  22. I think a real man would be satisfied by nothing less than a 2000+ pound shell from a battleship gun (e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armament_of_the_Iowa-class_battleship) full of consecrated oil, even if it means he needs a special truck to drive it around with him everywhere he goes. Big blessings require big oil containers.

  23. From time to time, I’ve heard Mormons give a folksy, apocryphal explanation for the church’s aversion to the cross as a symbol of our religion, whether on buildings, jewelry, or whatever, by claiming that it’s offensive to adopt as a symbol of Christ the instrument of his murder – that it’s like putting a gun on a church or a necklace if he had been shot, rather than crucified, and that it means you shouldn’t use the cross as a symbol for the living Christ. Setting aside the question of whether that’s sound logic (it’s not) or the actual reason for LDS practice (I doubt it), I guess the target market for this product probably isn’t the one that would be averse to wearing a necklace with a gun on it as a symbol of their Christian faith.

  24. Waiting for millennialstar.org to post a response as to why this is actually a GREAT idea. 3 … 2 … 1 …

  25. Jack Hughes says:

    Gun owner/military veteran here. This product is disgusting and wrong. Using an item expressly designed for the taking of human lives to administer symbolic religious blessings of healing in the name of Jesus Christ, while maintaining its destructive symbolism as a round of ammunition (without the least amount of irony) is the height of hypocrisy.

    This morning I was informed of a distant family member in Utah who used a handgun to take his own life last night. This young man had lots of personal problems, including mental health issues (he was sent home early from his mission last year). I’m not blaming guns or their manufacturers for causing his death, but I can’t ignore the culture in which he lived that encouraged him to proudly own one as an expression of his constitutional rights–or the lack of a control system that would have made it more difficult for him to acquire one, perhaps giving him pause to reevaluate his final plan. This is a culture in which many believing church members include guns and ammunition in their food storage plan, and assert that the divinely inspired origin of the U.S. Constitution included the 2nd amendment. This is the same culture that would undoubtedly embrace oil vials made from assault rifle cartridges. Very sad indeed.

  26. Kristine says:

    Ziff ftw.

  27. Only in the U S and A. Dis-bloody-gusting.

  28. People, remain calm. This has “troll” written all over it.
    The tag line on the packaging says “PRESIDE, PROVIDE, PROTECT”
    The advertisement shows an army guy first repelling a burglar who’s armed with a shotgun with his pistol and shortly after giving his son a blessing for his cough.
    The gun and the ammunition, sorry: the vial, are lying right next to each other in his night stand drawer.
    And in the end there’s a audio clip of Gordon B. Hinckley talking about protecting family.
    Especially the last bit is a giveaway that this is some guy just wanting to make waves in the church community.

  29. I don’t have a crystal ball, of course, but I did have a look at the product’s social media presence, and if he is a troll he’s got his family in on the caper too.

  30. olihlt has clearly never been to Eastern Idaho.

  31. huffkw says:

    I do agree that it is in poor taste to link blessings and bullets as tightly as to use a shell casing as a vial for oil. But I am concerned about some of the thoughts on pacifism expressed here and elsewhere. In my view, pacifism ideologies of every kind, including military, spiritual, and ethical, have mostly bad consequences. This attitude seems to imply “preemptive surrender” where the good guys surrender to the bad guys before the bad guys even make a move. At least the pretense of likely resistance might keep away the predators, maybe something like the Maori Haka dance.

    I think there is a bit of irony going on here where so many commentators in the Mormon blogosphere come from the left side of the political spectrum, meaning they are drawn to pacifist attitudes, but then they complain about the overreach of the patriarchy, which is an inevitable long-term consequence of a retreat from masculinity, individualism, and a defense of freedom, into dependency (in our church as well as in the nation). I believe the only way to fix this problem in the long term, while keeping the church relatively intact, is to have the membership take back about 90% of the power (and resources) they have given church headquarters, doing so in a responsible and disciplined manner, to reestablish the much freer and much more successful condition, involving more personal responsibility, which seemed to prevail right after Christ restored the church in the Old World and in our day through Joseph Smith in New York. If anyone wants to explore my personal grand explanation and solution to all the big problems experienced by the church, and caused by the church and its members, they can check out my musings at mormonaudit dot blogspot dot com. If my comments are considered a rude intrusion here, I’m sorry, but I do think I have something to offer the world — more grist for the blogosphere.

  32. Mary Roberts says:

    “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and ammo.”

  33. Rachael says:

    That was funny. Thanks for the laugh, Mary!

  34. The question of do we need guns and everything flowing from them is obvious. How about the other question, do we need oil to give a blessing?

    Personal story. I was on a hiking trip with the ward boy scouts many years ago.The scoutmaster was a wack job, the hike was poorly planned as usual. I was the only dad willing to go on the trip. Among other less memorable developments, he managed to get us down in a ravine in late afternoon when it was 110 F, high humidity, high pollen count. Ok, its not fun until it hurts; so far, so good.

    One of the scouts, aside from weighing 160 pounds at age 12, had an asthma attack and didn’t bring his inhaler. He was a new convert, lived in government housing and got his health care at the county hospital. If the scout leaders had inquired after even a scantly medical history, they would have found that he was hospitalized multiple times the previous year for asthma and had no business going on that hike.

    His condition deteriorated to where he could not complete sentences and his lips were turning blue, he could not walk up hill any further. The scoutmaster directed that we give him a blessing but we had no oil and he was so rattled that he couldn’t remember how to do it. I was terrified too but determined to remain calm even though I had it in the back of my mind that he was going to die right before our eyes if we didn’t do something.

    I had some coconut oil suntan lotion.I consecrated it and anointed him and sealed it with a very short blessing. The only inspiration I felt was a voice in my head screaming, get him the hell out of here. My son, then only a 14 year old lanky lad, but who would grow in size and strength enough to play college football, hoisted the asthmatic scout on his back. I have a bad back and the scoutmaster was so overweight he was going to have trouble hauling his own carcass out of there.

    I have never witnessed such determination as my son covered the 4 miles and 2000 foot elevation gain in a little over an hour. I could barely keep up and I was carrying less than 10 pounds. At the car we put the semi-conscious asthmatic scout in the air conditioning and he seemed to improve a little. In another 15 minutes when we reached cell phone coverage (honest officer, I was not breaking any speed limits), we were within a couple miles of a small town hospital and got him there alive. He was improving but they still put him on a heliocopter. Not fun telling the mother of a scout that you managed to put their son in the hospital. They stopped coming to church.

    The scoutmaster told the bishop what I did with the coconut oil and the bishop told me that was a form of mocking the priesthood and he suspended my privilege of giving blessings for 6 months.

    I learned much from this experience, that perhaps we don’t need to use oil. But more important, if we do the things the BSA suggests (actually requires) that make sense, like knowing the medical problems of the scouts and having them take their medications, one might not need to rely on God to give a lanky lad near miraculous strength.

    Needless to say, I won’t be needing one of these Liberty Oil Vials. Give me a stack of medical forms or other such sensible measures to be prepared to keep the potential sick healthy and safe. Give me many big, strong, sensible people. Or when the sick do need blessing, good old-fashion prayer works just as well as far as I can tell.

    Anyone know of a reason why we need oil to bless people? (Other than that is what we are taught to do.)

  35. Anon for this says:

    I have never used oil to give blessings. Of course, I’m a woman, so the fact that I give blessings would scandalized many current members of the church. While I am not active in the church anymore, I still follow the prompting to give a blessing when it comes.

  36. I imagine that this would be super effective if fired at those Mormon werewolves Stephenie Meyer was always writing about.

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