I take some comfort in the ability of the BBC to give equal time to "news of the weird" coming from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. However, without trying to play up any nationalistic pride, when it comes to weirdness, I am willing to bet that Fundamentalist Christianity will always win over British eccentricity hands down. Consider the following report, which BBC NEWS filed last night based on a few of their American sources:
A pastor in the US state of Kentucky told his flock to bring handguns to church in what he said was an effort to promote safe gun ownership.
Pastor Ken Pagano told parishioners to bring their unloaded guns to New Bethel Church in Louisville for a service celebrating the right to bear arms.
He said he acted after church members voiced fears the Obama administration could tighten gun control laws.
When the service began, some 200 people were present, AP news agency said.
"We are wanting to send a message that there are legal, civil, intelligent and law-abiding citizens who also own guns," Mr Pagano told the congregation.
"If it were not for a deep-seated belief in the right to bear arms, this country would not be here today," he said.
The pastor also held a handgun raffle, as well as providing information on gun safety.
"I wish more churches did this, I wish more people did this," the Louisville Courier-Journal quoted one attendee, Doreen Rogers, as saying.
"For some reason, most people think that carrying guns is sinful. It's not. I think my life is worth protecting."
About 10 members of a private local militia also attended, the Courier-Journal said.
As the Jews who joined the melting pot of immigration during the turn from the nineteenth to the twentieth century were fond of saying, "Only in America!"
From my own philosophical point of view, I can only wonder what text Pagano chose for his sermon at that particular service. I doubt that it had anything to do with beating swords into ploughshares. Similarly, anything about turning the other cheek would probably have been out of place. Perhaps he preached that the handgun was the latter-day slingshot with which his congregation of Davids would prevail over any threat of new Goliaths. I suppose the Lord really does work in mysterious ways!