1946, Athens, Tennessee. Large numbers of GIs have returned home from Europe and Japan after WWII. Their small, southern town is corrupt as so many of them were (and still are). A Southern Democrat political machine controlled the county through the corrupt sheriff. The sheriff’s office made money based on their arrests, which lead to frequent and fraudulent arrests. The US DOJ investigated election fraud, yet did nothing.
The entire county was under the control of the political control. The deputies who replaced the men who went to fight, were in some cases, convicts. Every level of employment and government was under the control of the cronies. The GIs returning home were arrested and robbed of their pay when they mustered out.
In the 1946 election, the anti-corruption candidates stood for election. A black farmer who came to vote was beaten, then shot, after trying to flee the beating. A poll watcher was arrested for inspecting the ballot box. A man was savagely beaten when he objected to an unregistered, underage woman voting. When the counting began and the anti-corruption candidates were in the lead, the deputies stole the ballot boxes and took them to jail.
Knowing that by dawn, the corrupt cronies would receive reinforcement, the GIs decided to act. With the corrupt politicians “certifying” their own election in secret, the only way to stop the fraud was through violence. The GIs broke into the National Guard armory and armed themselves with rifles and submachine guns.
The GIs assaulted the barricaded jail. Shots were fired. Under the guise of evacuating wounded, an ambulance was used to allow the corrupt sheriff and former sheriff to escape. The GIs then used dynamite to break into the jail. The deputies surrendered and the ballots recovered. No one was killed (in the battle). The GIs won the election fairly and took over the government.
The GIs acted quicky and decisively before the fraud could be perpetrated. They acted resolutely and fearlessly. These were men who risked their lives and lost friends in the fight for the preservation of the free world (I argue that the Second World War was a battle for global freedom). The GIs had suffered a long train of abuses and usurpations of a design that reduced them under absolute despotism.
Unfortunately the intrepid GIs of Athens were a lone beacon of hope in a dark, corrupt place. Sadly, the GI’s victory was not to last. The old ways of complacent people voting for the same party allowed the machine to take over again, except this time the leaders were a bit more careful not to force the pot to boil over (or lose) again.. Eventually Tennessee changed, but it took decades and the Civil Rights Act, which caused problems of its own. As Benjamin Franklin once said “A republic, if you can keep it.”
There’s even a movie on YouTube about it.
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Why I Hate Church and Don’t Go
Note: Like my mom saying “You need to find a church” in order to find a good Christian wife, or my Mormon grandma suggesting that I go to the single’s ward, I’m here because A-10 pilot extraordinaire Dale Stark suggested men go to church to find a good woman. I’ll get around to that in a bit. THIS IS NOT BAD ADVICE.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m incredibly serious about my Christian beliefs and take the Bible literally. Yes, I know that I could go to a bunch of churches and find what I’d like. Thank you for your suggestions now. This is my list of reasons for why I don't go, which may or may not apply to you.
Praise and worship sucks
Church shouldn’t be a rock concert; one megachurch near me advertised a laser show. That might do it for some people but not me. I’ll defer
We know that half of the church just stands there during praise and worship anyway, maybe moving their lips. A lot of people can’t sing and I think a lot of the modern church music is too biased towards worship teams and not the congregation. Hence, I like old fashioned hymns. Everyone can at least drone them out if only by “singing” in a slightly more melodious speaking voice.
Worship teams should lead worship, not monopolize it for their own worship. What I’m talking about is best explained by listening to someone who can sing well, stretch out the same refrain like a famous singer showing off while singing the National Anthem at a ballgame. In church it’s less showy, but it annoys me to see worship conducted the same way a concert might go.
Yeah, I want to hear my favorite singer repeat the chorus to their most popular song three times in a row or for their awesome lead vocalist to really hit the notes, but not in church. Worship needs to be participatory. Worship leaders should not be zoning out to their own music.
Pardon the language, but listening the worship leader get lost in the music while having a “spiritual orgasm” having his or her private moment of rapture isn’t cool. It’s the equivalent of listening to a way-too-long drum or guitar solo that just goes on and on because the guitarist/drummer thinks it sounds cool.
Worship isn’t singing or participating. It’s about a moment of profound personal spiritual connection to God; in the church I grew up in this could include people waving flags or banners around while dancing (Pentecostal-lite). For me, these moments come listening to hymns, other songs, and even classical music that remind me of the majesty or grace of God or whatever. I do have these moments when I’m all alone and listening to particularly classical music and it’s every bit as profound to me as the people with their eyes closed, hands in the air, and swaying back and forth.
Some dude talks
After praise and worship comes the announcements and offerings. My Mormon relatives have a time for giving testimonies. Then somebody gets up front and talks for half an hour to an hour.
Personally, I can find a better sermon that I can listen to at my convenience online. I frequently read the equivalent all the time and watch edifying videos all the time. Listening to what amounts to “some guy” who’s qualification is that the church likes him talk doesn’t do much for me. I know this will sound incredibly harsh to some pastors but honestly not everyone is as engaging as we’d like them to be.
Sermons do have their place. I realize that not everyone is like me and reads or listens on their own. That hour on Sunday might be the only time average people hear anything about Jesus, God, and the Bible. This and Sunday school is their only religious education, so I will give sermons a pass. However, in my case, they don’t do a lot for me.
Sermons, homilies, and the reading of scripture are somewhat of a historical carryover from the days before mass media. When Bibles were expensive and people illiterate, church was important for learning because it all had to be done orally. So yeah, I get it. Again, we’re talking about me here.
Where is the fellowship?
The typical American church service goes like this: shuffle in, warm greeting from the door usher you don’t know, sit down, hope no one talks to you, endure praise and worship, toss money in the bucket or basket, listen to Front of the Room Talking Guy, and then leave quickly because sportsball is on.
People do hang around and talk, but it’s like an afterthought. Just pleasantries and all that or friends talking to friends. The “fellowship” is mostly killing time before the service and being marginally sociable after. This is a human failing in large part because we like “our” friend and family groups versus those of strangers, plus we’ve been programmed that after the service, you go home. Besides, the church might need to cram in another service or three.
The fellowship events tend to be ancillary to church. Just like in The Simpsons, too many of us scurry home once the weekly ritual is complete. I vehemently disagree with LDS doctrine, but the structure of their services that include after the Sacrament meeting (“church” to everybody else) that include Sunday School and the priesthood, etc. meetings are more sociable than what you might find in a Protestant church. Of course when you’re a kid all you want to do is go home after the first hour anyway, but…
Fellowship in the form of human companionship is what many lonely people, romantic or otherwise, seek from church. I didn’t join my fraternal order because I like the work parties or think the business portions of the meeting are fun. No, we get together in groups because we want to talk, to joke, and have shared experiences with familiar faces.
The best times I had in a Christian context were Bible studies and prayer groups. Real conversations, face to face. Individual prayers. People who cared about you from week to week. There was time for questions and discussions. You also got to chat and do all the normal human personal interaction stuff too. Woulda been a great way to meet a nice young lady but I guess there wasn’t enough Instagram (if it existed then) or whatever for them.
Churches do have a lot of ancillary programs like men’s groups and Bible studies but that’s all extracurricular. They are also segmented into different interests and demographics so it isn’t an all congregation type thing. Showing up for the Sunday service is mandatory, but then everybody tends to go home as much as possible. There’s not much chance to interact with other people or the fairer sex.
It doesn’t meet my needs
None of this makes me, an introvert, to want to church hopping much less hang around a church hoping I meet new people there. I also feel that the formulaic approach fails to meet the needs of individual people who need Jesus and other Christians so they stay home.
So if I find church annoying and unable to fulfill what I'm looking for, why should I go? Will Jesus love me less because I stay home on Sunday? We're told to gather together for our own spiritual edification, which I find lacking.
Bottom line, church as it is structured today does not meet my needs which is primarily a desire to interact with other Christians. I don’t want a sermon, I don’t want praise and worship. I want to sit around with fellow Christians and just be people with them. Sure, we can study the Bible and pray but I really want to be with others who share my worldview even if that means just talking.
What’s the solution? It’s at the individual level. We need to replace secular stuff in our lives with more spiritual ones. That means it’s up to us to organize these things. If we want masculine, Christian fellowship we need to create those groups instead.
Second, church needs to migrate its focus away from a performance type thing to a more social gathering. Our whole formula of worship-prayer-sermon turns the gathering together into an attendance checkmark and let’s go home. When I went to youth services in college, there was much socializing before and after. People didn’t just leave because it was over; each other was as much of the attraction as was the service.
To conclude, I realize that a lot of this is about my tastes and preferences, but I do believe there are many that share some of these opinions as well. American church has fallen into a pattern that doesn’t fit our times or our needs and has left many of us wanting. I don’t have any good answers or solutions but I’d ask that we consider some of these points.
Gun Fighting in and Around a Car
Fighting in and around a car is a bad idea. Situational awareness should be primary so that things never progress to the gun stage on either side. Never put yourself in a position where the fight begins when a criminal or carjacker raises a gun at your side window. Your best defense in a gunfight once things have gone sideways in or near a vehicle is to drive away or use the vehicle itself as a weapon. From there you can assess and fight from a more advantageous position or flee.
Holster your gun on your body so you have it in the same place you would expect it if you fight on foot. This helps you with muscle memory and allows you to retain the gun after a crash or if you have to get out. In 1986, Special Agent John Hanlon lost his gun after it slid off the seat in the collision that began the infamous FBI Miami Shootout. Rifles and long guns should be wedged between the seat and the center console on the inner side of the vehicle.
Avoiding obstructions, roadblocks, and bad parking places is key to surviving an ambush. Park away from people and cars, nose facing out. Watch your surroundings and mirrors. Stop in traffic where you can see the rear tires of the car in front of you and try to choose lanes and routes where you aren’t hemmed in by solid barriers. Look far ahead down the roadway and avoid any potential protests/riots, checkpoints/roadblocks, and traffic jams.
If attacked, drive the vehicle out of the target area whenever possible. Use the vehicle’s speed, size, and weight to your advantage. Use unpredictable escape routes that may include driving on sidewalks, lawns, or sideswiping other cars if necessary. Even consider slamming on the brakes while driving if a mobile shooter pulls up next to you.
Should you be unable to drive away or run away, fight outside the vehicle. It may be appropriate to engage the target while still in the vehicle, before getting out, such as a few shots through the glass at a very close assailant, but avoid treating the vehicle like a little fort. Keep fighting as you exit the vehicle. Move to actual cover if you can. Put the maximum amount of automobile between you and the bad guy.
Stay low, crouch, and do not fully stand up when fighting around a vehicle. Do not hug the body panels of the vehicle. Stay back a few feet. Resist the urge to rest your arms and weapon on the hood. This will expose too much of your body and bullets can skip across the hood. Take a knee and get low; shoot through the windows if you have to but don’t stand up and expose yourself through the glass like a naked person in a hotel window who thinks they’re invisible.
If you have to shoot inside a car you may suffer irreversible hearing loss as gunshots are magnified by confined spaces. Be mentally prepared for tinnitus and eardrum pain. Dust, gun gases, and bits of glass will be stirred up. If you have occupants, be sure not to shoot them and remember that they could be hit while you choose to fight vs. flee.
Shooting through a windshield
You can easily shoot through a windshield. There will be some deflection, but at near distances. not enough to matter.
The first round through a windshield will likely have the most trouble penetrating; this can be true of any shots that go through undamaged glass. Make your first shot a good one, well placed on the target without consideration to the deflection the glass may cause. Returning fire is more important than trying to dope the glass.
Don’t try to adjust your aim based on the bullet holes/impacts on the glass. Pick an aimpoint on the target, keep your aim steady, and fire at that spot. Your intent should be to saturate your target with bullets to get a hit. Even if your shots are less than square range accurate, they may provide a suppressing effect on the bad guy if he isn’t expecting to be shot at.
For rifles in particular, if you have the ammo, blow out a large enough area of glass to shoot through the resulting hole. This is called “porting” and it typically takes three to four shots to make a hole large enough to shoot well out of. Put the muzzle up to or through the hole. Shoot out of the hole you made and each bullet will fly to the target true to your aim because it will not contact the glass. (You shouldn’t be shooting from inside if you can help it).
Don’t just “aim low” when shooting through the windshield “because the first round will go high.” The first shot (going out) will likely deflect high, but your subsequent shots, unless you are shooting through undamaged glass, will generally not behave the same way. Shots will behave randomly depending on different variables—did the bullet catch the edge of the glass, etc.?—but will land within center of mass if that’s where you’re aiming.
The effect windshield glass has on bullets
Note: Much of this is academic. Bullet deflection is a problem when precise shots are made, but at close distances, say a few yards, it does not practically matter. Don’t worry about up/down, inside/out deflection. Returning fire, suppressing the threat, and getting out of the car or away from the kill zone is primary.
Copper jackets will separate from the lead in a bullet almost always when hitting glass. Jacket fragments may impact the target, passengers, or bystanders. Bullets may be deformed and have reduced performance on target, including keyholing. This is where contact with the glass causes the bullet to yaw in flight impacting the target sideways at lower velocity, producing a hole that looks like a keyhole.
Windshield glass is laminated and side/rear window glass is tempered. Windshield glass tends to hang together rather than breaking apart. Side window safety glass breaks into chunks instead of shards. These chunks are difficult to get cut with even on purpose. Windshields are the most resistant to damage and are more likely to spiderweb than shatter. Holes will form and bits will come off, but they almost never will shatter in your lap.
Windshields are angled to deflect the wind. The degree of slope varies between vehicles. This slope affects bullets because when the bullet enters, it will make first contact either high or low. That is, the “top” of the bullet will impact the windshield first going out, since the slope makes the high side closer to the “top” of the bullet. Going into a vehicle, the “bottom” of the bullet will make contact with the bottom of the glass first. This is what causes deflection.
Shooting out from inside, the bullet will go high because of this effect. Conversely, when shooting into a vehicle through the windshield, the bullet will go down and strike low. This is why some trainers tell students “Aim low when shooting out and aim high when shooting in.” In practical terms this doesn’t matter.
Note: this an adaptation from my non-fiction book Suburban Warfare: A cop's guide to surviving a civil war, SHTF, or modern urban combat, available on Amazon. Don Shift is a veteran of the Ventura County (CA) Sheriff’s Office and is a student of emergency response, disasters, and history. He is the author of several post-apocalyptic survival novels about nuclear war, EMP, and the non-fiction Nuclear Survival in the Suburbs, and the Suburban Defense/Warfare guides. His website is www.donshift.com.
 Top and bottom are relative because a bullet is spinning.
Have you ever wanted to train with a world-class law enforcement officer? So have I! Here is your opportunity to attend some classes with author Don Shift. Please read the schedule in its entirety. Sign up soon. Classes fill up early. Be sure to send me an email to join!
Basic SHTF Radio
March 2023, Honolulu, HI
Writing a Sequel to Your Novel
November 2022, (Mark Sibley residence) Bumpass, VA
Driving Around Your Town While I Point Out Stuff You’re Totally Oblivious To
It’s like a ride along where you do nothing and an area study for free where I tell you you’ve obviously driven into the bad neighborhood and why that Walmart is a two-gun Walmart.
Tri-Tip 101: Santa Maria Style BBQ
Every other Sunday, at my home (livestream)
Press Hard, Four Copies: How to Lose Friends and Infuriate People With Traffic Citations
December 2022, Ventura, CA
Tactical Beach Lecture Series #1: Avila Beach
July 2023, Avila Beach, CA
I-75 between Naples and Fort Myers, FL
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Lateral Vascular Pool Noodle Restraint
January 2023, Barrow, Alaska
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Tactical Beach Lecture Series #2: Malibu
August 2023, Malibu, CA
Invite your attractive female relatives
SHTF Lessons From Rhodesia: Who Likes Short Shorts?
March 2023, Salisbury Harare, Zimbabwe (also livestream)
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Tactical Beach Lecture Series #3: Santa Barbara
August 2023, Santa Barbara, CA
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September 2023, Dana Point, CA
Drone Operator’s Course
June 2023, that famous nude beach in Florida
Nuclear Survival Course
February 2023, on the side of the highway near Mercury, NV
Tactical Beach Lecture Series #5: La Jolla
April 2023, La Jolla, CA
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Introductions to Quick Draws in the Locker Room Mirror
January 2023, Powell, Michigan
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Tactical Beach Lecture Series #6: Corpus Christi
Spring Break 2023
CQB: Go Inside and Shoot the Bad Guy Dumbass
June 2023, Uvalde, TX
July 2023, Parkland, FL
Tactical Beach Lecture Series #7: Galveston
Spring Break 2024
Less-Lethal Weapons Course (but only the ineffective ones)
April 2023, Burke, Nebraska
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Tactical Beach Lecture Series #8: Panama Beach
Spring Break 2025
Shotgun Door Breaching Course
Fall 2023, at a student’s house in New England (I haven’t traveled there yet)
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May 2023 & October 2023 (if there isn’t a hurricane)
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Author Don Shift
Don Shift is a veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office and avid fan of post-apocalyptic literature and film who has pushed a black and white for a mile or two. He is a student of disasters, history, and current events.