Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why does this man look so smug?

Look at this smirk:

He looks like he's just accomplished something wonderful, doesn't he?  Something that's left him giddy and proud. He might have just given the winning answer in a spelling bee. He might have just won a scholarship to a prestigious university. His girl might have just accepted his proposal of marriage. He might have just shaved his head on a lost bet with his buddies.

But no, none of those is the case. This is the smirking, smug grin of Jared Loughner, whose achievement in life is that he just murdered six innocent people, and wounded thirteen others.

Why so smug? Why the smirk?

Of course, it could be that we're looking into the eyes of insanity — whatever that is. We are surely looking into the eyes of an evil man, one who boasted "No! I won't trust in God!", and who lived out that creed by assaulting the image of God in a score of his betters. He couldn't get his hands on God, so he did next-best. If we call that "insanity," we mustn't do so in a way that removes the moral responsibility for this rebellious subject of the holy King.

So why the smirk?

In a just country, assuming that there were at least two witnesses to his murder of even one (let alone six) of the victims, Jared Loughner's remaining days would be very few. Guilt would be established, he would be offered a last opportunity to hear the Gospel, and he would be put to death — in a just country (Genesis 9:6; Acts 25:11; Romans 13:4; 1 Peter 2:14, etc.).

However, sadly, Jared Loughner does not live in a just country. Jared Loughner lives in a country that has left its roots in justice and truth far behind. Already Jared Loughner — who as far as we know accomplished not one praiseworthy, noble act in his entire life — has seized the nation's attention. He has temporarily thwarted the will of voters who elected Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (whose physical and spiritual health should be in all our prayers). In fact, Loughner temporarily thwarted the will of the entire nation, as Congress decided not to pursue the undoing of legislative tyranny for a week, in unwitting honor of this disgraceful man. Further, our liberal overlords are doing what they always do, exploiting sin as a reason to rob the law-abiding of yet more rights.

But that is not all.

The odds favor that Loughner can expect his victims to pay for his room, board, and healthcare for the rest of his long life. He can expect to remain a subject of interest and attention by our depraved media. He can expect proposals of marriage, books, perhaps even a movie.

Not justice.

And what's worse, this reality not only sullies the innocent dead and the innocent wounded, not only wounds their families — it harms the society Jared Loughner has already harmed (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

Well might he smirk.

And all the more should we pray, speak, and act. We should pray for Loughner's conversion, and we should pray for justice.

Only in the Cross, and as explained in God's Word, can both meet.

84 comments:

Andrew said...

Wow, powerful stuff Dan. Coming from the UK I tend to think of the USA as being much tougher on law and order than we are here (the death penalty has been off the menu for decades) but this is eye opening stuff.

How sad to see days where the Lord is denigrated, the law is downgraded, life is disregarded, and evil is deified - but the solution surely lies further out than the likes of Loughner's personal salvation or for justice. Crimes like these should move us to pray for our national life (be it British or American) and for Spirit sent revival among God's people which would impact homes, communities, cities and nations with the Gospel of Christ.

Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

Andrew: unreserved "Amen." Absolutely right, every word.

David Kjos said...

If we call that "insanity," we mustn't do so in a way that removes the moral responsibility for this rebellious subject of the holy King.

Would you apply that to all evil acts committed by mentally unbalanced individuals? In other words, are you denying that anyone can ever be relieved of responsibility due to mental illness?

DJP said...

David, I want to read a pro/con on that by Biblically-responsible thinkers (i.e. smarter than I... which is a broad field), but that's the way I lean.

The M'Naughton Rule, letting murderers off by reason of insanity, is a relatively recent invention. The Law of Moses required the stoning of an ox who killed a man (Exodus 21:28). There can be no question of the ox's moral consciousness; the focus instead is on the nature of the act. The "insanity defense" moves the act from the realm of objective justice to the trackless wasteland of internal human consciousness, and I think that's done far more harm than good.

David Kjos said...

Me, too. Thanks.

Fred Butler said...

He looks smug because Sarah Palin used her mind-control powers on him. You know she is like Dr. Xavier.

DJP said...

No Fred, what's why I look smug.

Robert said...

I think that mental disorders are just a way of describing people who do things that we can not comprehend because of our conscience. This guy was pursuing what he wanted without regard for any other person, let alone for God. I am not saying their are not genuine mental disorders, but rather that we excuse much poor behavior and heart attitudes because of them.

He made that choice. I have two sons, one with Asperger's and the other is autistic (high-functioning). We still hold them responsible for poor choices that they make, but we try to help them identify areas that are problematic for them and help them to find ways to handle certain situations. We also teach them, just as Jesus taught Nicodemus, that they must be born again of the Spirit if they want to go to heaven. Otherwise, they will follow their natural heart's desire to sin. And we pray because we know that only God can bring about that change in their hearts.

Kaa said...

Let's ignore Loughner for a moment. You're saying that if two people swear they saw a thing happen, that's just cause to put a man to death?

What if those two people were mistaken? Or lying? Or taking advantage of a corrupt system?

We know for a fact (scientific fact) that memory is not trustworthy. That just because someone SWEARS they saw something doesn't mean they actually did. People are being exonerated now who have been on death row for decades because of things like this. Innocent people, who did not do the crime for which they were convicted.

Is that biblical?

DJP said...

You're asking whether it is Biblical to put to death on the basis of two or three witnesses? Of course it is, and in so many words (e.g. Deuteronomy 17:6).

You didn't know that?

Yikes.

Kaa said...

Oh, I have no question in my mind that it's in the bible; so many horrible things are. I just find myself aghast that anyone would actually espouse adopting it as law.

DJP said...

You did see the title of the blog? So I take it that your issue is that you feel yourself to be purer and wiser than God?

Andrew said...

I imagine that the number of wrongly convicted people who have gone to death row might be far outweighed by the vast numbers who have evaded justice, either by not being detected, or being pandered to/pampered when the proof is more than adequate of their guilt.

Re the use of witnesses one would assume that Dan's view of the law stretches as far as the interrogation of witness testimony.

Scripture is nuanced on these matters, not neanderthal, as Kaa's comment would seem to suggest. Deuteronomy 19:15-21 gives a great example of what to do with those whose testimony is proven to be false: a principle which many of the Western world's courts would do well to uphold.

Its fascinating that Western culture, made great by the adoption of many of the elements of biblical jurisprudence, now seeks to bite the hand which has fed it: left aghast by the proposal of justice, but apparently with little to say about the truly 'horrible' part of us as human beings which perpetrates crime and then seeks to dodge consequence.

Eric said...

Kaa,

Do you recognize this quote:

"Now, when you have a list of people who all believe in X and you introduce someone who believes in !X, it will inevitably cause some conflict. The sane response for the X people is to ignore the !X person, and eventually the !X person will get bored and go away.

Right?

Well, actually, no one has ever tested this hypothesis, nor are they ever likely to. Because, like the question of how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, no one has ever gotten past three. :) People are constitutionally unable to ignore a troll. Trolls, knowing this, gleefully stay where they are clearly not wanted, because their sole purpose in life is to stir up trouble."

In case you have forgotten, you posted it on your blog in January of 2009.

Given that you are an athiest and are posting questions on a blog called "Biblical Christianity", would you classify yourself as a troll whose sole purpose in life is to stir up trouble?

s.driesner said...

I think it's pretty clear from Kaa's profile that he is not coming from a perspective which treats the Bible as God's inerrant Word ... methinks that is a core point of disagreement betwixt he and thee.

Jon said...

I would guess Kaa's point is that we should never put anyone to death no matter how much evidence we have since at some point in the future they could be found innocent.

What I don't understand, since Kaa's profile states that he is a skeptic and visits atheist sites, why he would even care since we're all a product of random happenstance.

College Jay said...

Kaa, I seriously doubt DJP was actually saying we should overhaul our justice system so that only two witnesses are required to condemn a man to death (especially since in this day and age, two people can conspire to frame a person for a crime with relative ease.)

I don't think he ever overlooked the fact that innocent people are sometimes incarcerated -- and even executed -- for crimes they didn't commit. That's a tragedy and we should guard against it in our justice system. I seriously doubt he would want anything but the most protection against that type of situation as possible. No one wants to see the innocent suffer (that was kind of already stated in the post.)

But I think making the criminal justice system more efficient in general would be a plus in this, and any, situation.

Kaa said...

What College Jay said. I only posted because I question heavy-handed all-or-nothing proposals of swift justice that seemingly leave no recourse for true justice. I ask the same questions of atheists who want to abolish all religion. Not ALL religion is negative, nor are all religious people.

I find myself frustrated by how we frequently coddle people who are so clearly guilty of crimes--such as Mr. Loughner.

My point was NOT that we should never punish people but that merely trusting the word of others is not a good idea in light of what we know about the untrustworthiness of memory (and therefore eyewitness reports). Even good people who are trying to do the right thing are often very, very wrong.

Not trying to "stir up trouble," but just to question what I saw as a rather strict adherence to ancient thinking. If that's not what was intended, then I stand corrected.

I followed a link from a friend on FB to this blog, lest you think I'm "trolling."

Barbara said...

Just from a nurse who's worked in emergency care and especially with the acutely and chronically psychotic for a couple of decades plus...just my $.02 here, but...

I have no doubt that schizophrenia of any type, including the paranoid delusional type - is a product of the Fall - just as is cancer and the flu and any other myriad of illnesses. The chemicals in the brain can be just as imbalanced as can the chemicals in the rest of the body. I'm the first on the bandwagon that decries overdiagnosis of behavior and personality "disorders" when people are being just plain mean and rebellious.

But there is a difference between
"Narcissistic or Antisocial Personality Disorder" (typically used for sociopaths and psychopaths) that shows a clear searing of the conscience, and active psychosis. This is true medically, legally, and spiritually. Not to say that he doesn't need Jesus - He most certainly does. What he did is evil. His affect (emotional display) is clearly inapproriate. But we can't blame political rhetoric for the actions of those who have no real touch with reality from the start. Is he dangerous? Clearly. Should he be locked away for the protection of himself and others? Without a doubt. But let's not hate him because of our own ignorance as relates to his smirk. Let's instead pray that God will have mercy on him and open his eyes and heart to the Gospel - and that someone will love sinners enough to preach it to him.

The Squirrel said...

Funny. Who'd have thunk it. It seems that the Bible addresses the issue Kaa raises about false witnesses.

"If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing, then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days. And the judges shall investigate thoroughly; and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. And the rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you."
(Deuteronomy 19:16-20)

So, witnesses are to be examined, and, if found to be false, given the sentence that the falsely accused person would have received if convicted. In a murder case, the false witness would be put to death for what amounts to attempted murder.

Works for me.

Squirrel

Eric said...

Kaa,

Two quotes from you:

"Not trying to "stir up trouble,""

"Oh, I have no question in my mind that it's in the bible; so many horrible things are. I just find myself aghast that anyone would actually espouse adopting it as law."

So, as an athiest you knowingly come to a site dedicated to Biblical Christianity and you proceed to say that there are "many horrible things" in the Bible and that you are "aghast" at someone else's belief and you expect us to believe that you are not a troll and are not attempting to stir up trouble? I still fail to see how your characterization of others as trolls does not fit you.

Robert said...

Kaa,

There are many horrible things in the Bible because mankind is totally depraved. In fact, the fact that the Bible shows all of the horrendous things that people have done should prove that it is not just something man came up with. Books by men don't usually paint the "ggod guys" in such a bad light.

Solameanie said...

When I saw the shaved head, I couldn't help wondering if Jared would have that smug look while being strapped into an electric chair. Somehow I doubt it.

Solameanie said...

Kaa, be careful not to "argue by the clock." An idea or principle is not invalid just because it has some age on it. Some principles are timeless, especially biblical principles.

As for people lying about someone's guilt, there were pretty severe penalties in the OT for being a false witness.

thenightskyonline.com said...

Dan-
Great post, every word of it. I'm currently living in AZ and the event has rocked the state, and rightly so. It has made me think through law and justice in a very real way.

Lynda O said...

As bad as our society is in regards to upholding justice, I wonder if it's that unusual. Sure, some people have been blessed to live in good times when law and order was upheld, but I suspect that, for the majority of time throughout the last 6,000 years, justice has often not been properly carried out -- due to the nature of sinful, corrupt man. The dispensation of human government is also destined to fail, and we will really only see true justice and government carried out when Jesus himself rules on the Earth during the Kingdom.

Even in biblical times they often did not uphold their own standard from the law -- as in 1 Kings 21, where they used the law to bring forth malicious witnesses to kill Naboth; or the New Testament case of Stephen. (Not to mention the crucifixion of our Lord, the ultimate case of injustice.) But the Bible also tells us that we should expect to see an increase in wickedness and general lawlessness, as the end time approaches. So we must patiently endure and hold fast to the end as we eagerly await His coming again.

JackW said...

He almost looks … possessed.

I was able to watch the Sarah Palin response video over lunch. More class in her little pinky then …

Fred Butler said...

Jon notes,
What I don't understand, since Kaa's profile states that he is a skeptic and visits atheist sites, why he would even care since we're all a product of random happenstance.

Is our atheist just gonna run off and ignore this obvious problem with his worldview?

s.driesner said...

Kaa,

I'll take it at face value that you are not trying to "stir up trouble", but in my initial comment regarding your profile, I was merely pointing out that there will likely be sharp disagreement between you and most regular readers of this blog.

Full disclosure: Most of the aforementioned regulars believe that the Bible, from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, is God's special revelation of Himself to all of humanity for the purpose of their instruction, training, rebuke and correction in righteousness so that they may be equipped for every good work (II Timothy 3:16,17), and, as such, is both authoritative and morally binding on all people. Therefore, if the Bible says that God's standard for the number of witnesses required to sentence anyone to death is at least two or three, then that standard is a good and right standard, of course assuming that those witnesses tell the truth, and that their testimony is adequately consistent and trustworthy, there is no evidence of collusion. The Bible is clear enough about how evil lies and deception are (see Acts 5 for how God dealt with liars in the early church) that it should not have to be explicitly stated in the verse Dan cited regarding the witness standard that those witnesses are expected to tell the truth, because if they don't, and an innocent person is condemned to death, they will be accountable to God for their lies and for the blood of the innocent person.

An underlying assumption regarding all things Biblical is that God is going to accomplish justice, either in this life, or ultimately in eternity. God will not ultimately be mocked (Galatians 6:7), even by false witnesses.

If your viewpoint excludes this basic assumption, then it would be easy to ask the questions you pose, because your concern is whether justice will be served in this life. This is a valid concern that Christians share, but we do not let this concern override our trust in God's providence or cause us to reject God's word merely due to the fallibility of man.

Man will sin, and is incapable of following God's law perfectly (Romans 3:23), but this is why we need a Saviour, and his name is Jesus, who is called Christ. I pray He will open your eyes to behold wonderful things in His law (Psalm 119:18).

s.driesner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aztexan said...

>>Something that's left him giddy and proud. He might have just given the winning answer in a spelling bee. He might have just won a scholarship to a prestigious university. His girl might have just accepted his proposal of marriage. He might have just shaved his head on a lost bet with his buddies.<<

Or like a constipated infant, he might have, with considerable exertion, relieved himself at last. Sorry, but I really couldn't resist; the dude looks like the product of a science experiment gone horribly awry.

Barring a miracle we can all look forward to feeding and clothing this waste of skin in perpetuity. God will judge this nation not only for its excesses, but also for its perversion of justice. Scripture is clear that Loughner should be swiftly and cheaply executed. That we don't dispatch refuse of this sort is not only its own judgment against us (in the form of clogged courts, taxpayer expense, higher crime, etc.) but another provocation of God's righteous anger.

Eric said...

aztexan,

I take exception to your characterization of this person created in the image of God as a "science experiment gone horribly awry", "waste of skin" and "refuse". Tell me, if you will, who wasted the skin. Did God not create this person? Are you not accusing God of "wasting skin" and creating a worthless life?

I see no Biblical warrant for the way you have referred to this person.

Also, nice junior high potty humor - it really adorns your point.

The Pauper said...

I must say I am with The Squirrel (and DJP) on this one.

Barbara said...

I second Eric, and add the following:

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”And they cast lots to divide his garments.
Luke 23:34

aztexan said...

Eric: >>I take exception to your characterization... <<

Duly noted.

>>...of this person created in the image of God as a "science experiment gone horribly awry",... <<

Never said he is an experiment; I said he looks like an experiment. If you can't read charitably, at least read carefully.

>>... "waste of skin" and "refuse". Tell me, if you will, who wasted the skin.<<

He has wasted his own skin, Eric, along with his entire life. Clearly.

>>... Are you not accusing God of "wasting skin" and creating a worthless life?<<

I am not. Clearly.

>>I see no Biblical warrant for the way you have referred to this person.<<

What Bible are you reading, Eric? And do you read it any more carefully and thoughtfully than you read my comment?

Kaa said...

"Is our atheist just gonna run off and ignore this obvious problem with his worldview?"

When stated in such a blatant straw-man manner, I see no point. I can argue till I'm blue in the face, and it will only strengthen your negative opinion of me. I don't believe in something you find central to your worldview, and some people (I'm not claiming all, but a good number) take that fact alone as a direct insult. I can't change that.

Barbara said...

...and just as an addendum to aztexan:

All sin is worthy of death. Praise be to God that Christ paid my penalty on the Cross and gave me His heart so that I am no longer storing up wrath for myself. Can you honestly say that given the standard of God, you have not deserved to have been taken out and stoned a long time ago? I can assure you that I cannot. I know my guilt. By Grace I have been shown it, and by Grace I have been saved.

The Squirrel said...

The Pauper said...
"I must say I am with The Squirrel (and DJP) on this one."

I think you got that backwards. I bow to Dan's scholarship always. He's smarter and much better educated. (I am cuter, however... or so Mrs. Squirrel tells me...)

Squirrel

Fred Butler said...

Kaa says,
When stated in such a blatant straw-man manner, I see no point. I can argue till I'm blue in the face, and it will only strengthen your negative opinion of me. I don't believe in something you find central to your worldview, and some people (I'm not claiming all, but a good number) take that fact alone as a direct insult. I can't change that.

Strawman? You do know what that word means, right? Lookit. When you came here you made a remark complaining about how the Bible is a bad book. But as a person who frequents atheist websites - a "free thinker" - how do you justify such a moral criticism with the Bible when we all are a product of random happenstance? You may not like the Bible, but so, what?

Eric said...

aztexan,

Do you know what the word characterize means? You in fact did characterize him as a science experiment gone awry, your protestations notwithstanding.

I have no respect for your attempts to dodge the blatant unloving and unchristian way in which you referred to this person.

I did read your comments carefully and thoughtfully, and found them repulsive. I am sorry that you feel so justified in your malevolence.

DJP said...

Eric, I appreciate your contributions to this thread. But I wonder whether you might do to rethink at least some of what texan's saying.

What do you make of these, for instance?

1 Samuel 2:12 — "Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD."

2 Samuel 20:1 — "Now there happened to be there a worthless man, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjaminite. And he blew the trumpet and said, 'We have no portion in David, and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel!'"

Proverbs 16:27 — "A worthless man plots evil, and his speech[1] is like a scorching fire."

Romans 3:12 — "All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

You ask who made the murderer worthless. Good question; wouldn't you say he did, in the sense of the passages above, by his choices? AZtexan didn't say God made a mistake in creating him; but Jared Loughner surely made a mistake in what he did with God's creation.

Wouldn't you agree?

Eric said...

Dan,

A few points to begin:

1) All of those are God speaking of his own creation, not creature describing creature.

2) I am not fully prepared to respond to the use of the word "worthless" in those passages as I am unaware of the original word and the essence of what it was conveying. An initial look makes me tend to believe that the worthlessness was referring to moral value as to salvation. I am not sure I could equate those uses with calling a murderer a "waste of skin" or "refuse". Are you comfortable doing so?

The usual use of a phrase such as "waste of skin" is to communicate that you do not feel that someone is worthy of having been alive. I do not disagree that the person "wasted his life" as it were by his decisions.

As like Jared, we all have "made a mistake in what [we] did with God's creation", but I hardly think that justifies us publicly referring to each other as a "waste of skin" or "refuse" or describing each others appearances as as science experiment gone awry.

Eric said...

In sum, Dan, I find it hard to see how aztexan's original comment can be seen as anything but malevolent. I can't see that malevolence as a Proverb-ially commendable quality.

I've made my point, I'll leave it alone unless asked other questions. Thanks.

aztexan said...

Eric: >>Do you know what the word characterize means? You in fact did characterize him as a science experiment gone awry... <<<

Yes, I do. And no, I didn't. I characterized his face as ugly and deranged, not in so many words. If you disagree (beauty is, after all, subjective), then fine, but distortion of words is objectively ugly, Eric.

>>... your protestations notwithstanding.<<

You are the one protesting; I have protested nothing. While I lament the decline of our justice system, I've never been much of a protester/complainer. Plenty of anonymous whiners on the internet to fill that niche.

>>I have no respect for your attempts to dodge the blatant unloving and unchristian way in which you referred to this person. I did read your comments carefully and thoughtfully, and found them repulsive. I am sorry that you feel so justified in your malevolence.<<

You're awfully certain of your own judgment in this matter. Does it make you proud, your ability to search hearts and rebuke brothers with magisterial authority? I would counsel discretion, brother. But what does an unloving, unchristian brute like me know?

Also, is it possible for a brother to express support for swift justice (capital punishment in this case) and disdain for heinous criminality without "malevolent" intentions? I'm sure all here are eager for you to hand down your proclamation.

Eric said...

Dan,

Another quick word on the use of worthless in the passages that you listed. A quick check of some other translations shows the word "worthless" rendered variable as "ungodly", "scoundrel", and "wicked", lending some credibility to the idea that the original language was communicating moral value as to salvation. But, you're the language guy, so I'll let you decipher that.

aztexan,

I think you have an anger problem. I'll let the reader judge for themselves. You certainly don't take any suggestion of correction well.

DJP said...

Not Paul's word in Romans 3.

Sitting where I am, I think both of you have flared up at each other more than necessary, and had hopes of bringing you to meet somewhere in the midlands.

Halcyon said...

DJP:

I contemplated derailing the meta, but I think it's been sufficiently derailed multiple times already.

Good times!

Eric said...

Well, Dan, you used all of the verses. Do you find the Biblical use of that word in those passages equal to or even analogous to a Christian derogatorily referring to another person as a "waste of skin" or "refuse"?

There is no doubt that I was (and am) somewhat flared up against aztexan's choice of words. I'm also surprised to find you defending them.

aztexan said...

Eric, I'm not angry at all. If I gave a false impression of anger, then for that I sincerely apologize.

DJP said...

Yep: in that I took aztexan to mean (and he can correct me if I'm wrong) that, assuming him to be guilty of murder, Jared has invalidated his right-to-keep-breathing card, his continued existence is a waste of human skin. I have prayed for his conversion, but as I think of his smug grin and the murdered 9 year old girl who was born on 9/11, I'm not filled with fluttery feelings of affection for him. Nor am I required to. Given the chance, I would point him to Christ with all my heart. I would not turn my back, as Jonah. If he converted, I would rejoice.

And if called on, I would pull the switch.

Clear enough?

Written without discernible anger, but with a little impatience for this discussion, for whatever difference that makes.

Kaa said...

"Strawman? You do know what that word means, right? Lookit. When you came here you made a remark complaining about how the Bible is a bad book. But as a person who frequents atheist websites - a "free thinker" - how do you justify such a moral criticism with the Bible when we all are a product of random happenstance? You may not like the Bible, but so, what?"

I used the word straw-man correctly. A straw-man argument is one in which someone constructs a superficial representation of his opponent's point, then use their own argument to demolish that straw man.

What I said was "Oh, I have no question in my mind that [saying a person can be put to death on the say of two witnesses is] in the bible; so many horrible things are." And I stand by that and so should anyone who has read it. There are horrible things in the Bible. Stoning children, genocide, slavery--it's all there. And silly things, too, like not eating shellfish or wearing two kinds of fabric.

I did not say--ever--that it was a bad book. And there are good things in it.

If you want to know what I consider a "bad book," go read Dan Brown (HORRIBLY written) or anything by Deepak Chopra or Sylvia Browne (ludicrous premises).

It was pointed out to me that I misunderstood DJP's point. I reread the original post and conceded that. Any continued flogging of that point I'm just going to ignore.

I "justify" moral criticism of anything I see as immoral--as do most people. I will NOT debate whether atheists have morals. Nothing I say or do will convince anyone out of their already held opinion.

So let’s just move on from that.

Now, to address the tone of my initial comment: Yes, I admit that I was aghast at what I thought the author was saying. And as any person can do, I responded in the heat of that and perhaps was a bit obnoxious.

But I am quite passionate about certain topics, and this happened to press one of my buttons. I have a friend who was in prison for several years for something he did NOT do, and he was put in there by two people who swore in a court of law that he did it. There was no other evidence. As a result, several years of his life were taken away from him. Is that justice? No. By no convolution of the word 'justice' can that be deemed so.

I have another friend who is about to become a lawyer in Atlanta, and she has told me stories of blatant injustice throughout our legal system that makes my blood boil. The rate that people are being thrown in prison for things they more than likely didn't do is higher than you might think. She changed her focus in the law to criminal defense because she was so outraged by what she saw. Alas, I fear that it will burn her out. :(

Oh, and to address another point someone made, somewhere: Not everyone who "bears false witness" does so on purpose. Some people are honestly trying to do the right thing, but are simply mistaken in what they saw or how they interpreted it. People IN GENERAL are basically good and try to do the right thing. Being repeatedly questioned by the police or lawyers (or psychologists) can make you remember things differently. That's why we're supposed to have real physical evidence that the person committed the crime, and not just another person's (or two or ten people's) say-so. The law is slowly coming around to this based on scientific evidence that shows the fallibility of our perception and memory, with the emphasis on "slowly."

So if I sounded harsh, I apologize to Dan and others. I hope I moderated my tone in later responses.

Does this do a better job of explaining why I commented on this blog in the first place? I'm not going to be a regular commenter. I just saw this posted on FB by a cousin who usually posts thoughtful things, read it, and responded in the heat of the moment. I likely won't be back.

No offense, of course, Dan. :) We probably agree on 80% of topics, but that last 20% is a pretty big gap. :)

DJP said...

I "justify" moral criticism of anything I see as immoral....

Talk about "a rather strict adherence to ancient thinking" (Genesis 3:4-5).

Eric said...

Dan,

Sorry to try your patience. If you would indulge me one last question or series, as it were), I'll let sleeping dog's lie (I know I already said as much, but this time I really mean it :)). Feel free to disregard me if you find my inquiries unworthy of discussion.

One thing confuses me: What level of sin, exactly, authorizes the Christian to publicly make fun of the sinner's appearance and derogatorily refer to the sinner as a "waste of skin" or "refuse"? Should we refer to all unrepentant adulturers as such, since adultery was considered worthy of death in the Bible? How about the young gang member who has "wasted his life" gang-banging - should we refer to him publicly as a "waste of skin" or "refuse"? Is that the type of language that Christians should be known for?

DJP said...

I've said nothing about whether he's ugly-looking or handsome-looking; just about his smug smile. HSAT, I'm done with this sidetrail.

Paula said...

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary"(Federalist #51).

We see both sides of this equation at work in this tragedy. We see a man who appears to have flagrantly abused the liberty afforded to him as an American citizen and a government that will now surely abuse the power granted to it by the citizens. As you said Dan, this should be an open and shut case. However, the fancy-pants lawyer defending this man will now spend millions of taxpayer dollars and several years trying to get his sentence reduced to life in prison rather than the death penalty. I heard an "expert" on the news saying that part of the defense strategy will be to put as much time as possible between the crime and the trial so the emotions can die down.

HSAT, I have to echo Barbara's words of caution and sympathy toward those suffering from severe mental illness. It is a horrific result of the fall and a result of our sin nature and straight from the father of lies. I have a friend in her 70's who has suffered with bipolar (and lately, paranoia) for most of her life. I have seen her have complete breaks with reality. She is, at those times, absolutely convinced that her phone is bugged and that the nurses are plotting to kill her. No amount of reasoning can convince her otherwise or snap her out of it. I have also seen her in the depths of despair so overwhelming I could almost not bear it. I can't imagine how she has endured it over and over again over so many years. Compounding it, she is Jewish/agnostic, with no hope beyond this life.

While I have no doubt that mental disorders are WAY overdiagnosed, there are some that are very real and very dangerous. In some cases, those people may not be consciously making choices to do evil. They're living in a world that exists only in their heads.

I'm not saying this is the case with Loughner - we will probably never know because the dueling lawyers and psychiatrists will muddy the waters - but we have to recognize that there are people out there in this situation and as a society, we must figure out what to do with them.

**************************

Fred Butler said, "He looks smug because Sarah Palin used her mind-control powers on him."

Obama:"I think all of us need to make sure that we’re offering our thoughts and prayers to those concerned.”

Don't you know that that odd moment of silence Obama presided over was some kind of thought-sending collective mind control technique?

The Squirrel said...

Kaa said...
"Is that justice? No. By no convolution of the word 'justice' can that be deemed so."

Kaa,

Granting your allegation that your friend was not guilty of the crime for which he was convicted, than his conviction was a miscarriage of justice & the legal system failed in its God-given responsibility to see justice done.

However, if you consider that, according to the Bible, your friend, like all of us, is a sinner, guilty of rebellion against a holy God, and deserving of eternity in hell, than anything short of being cast into that deserved damnation is a gift of God's grace.

Just something to think about.

Squirrel

Eric said...

Dan,

FWIW, I was not referring to anything you said about his appearance, but rather the "science experiment gone awry" comment. I have not expressed disapproval to anything you said in the blog.

candy said...

On another note, please let's pray for Loughner's parents too. They have been slammed by the media as well, and I can't imagine being a parent in the same circumstances.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

What a mess. I lament, with Dan, the lack of justice we now have here in America.

My compassion lies with the victims, not the criminal. His mental state is impossible to determine and completely irrelevant.

Worse, his actions, the media attention to him, and our judicial system's pitiful wimpyness (spelling?) will contribute to more of the same in the future.

When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong. Ecclesiastes 8:11

God help us all.

Fred Butler said...

Kaa writes,
I used the word straw-man correctly. A straw-man argument is one in which someone constructs a superficial representation of his opponent's point, then use their own argument to demolish that straw man.

Your definition would be correct IF I had done what you allege here. I didn't. You stated, "there are horrible things in the Bible" and then you went on to tell us how ghastly it would be if people adopted any of these things as law. Simply translated, the Bible is a bad book because it contains horrible things like stoning children and condemning the eating of shell fish and it would be a terrible day in the world if people were forced to live according to such laws.

The question still remains that atheism, according to its stated beliefs about reality, really has no justification to condemn the Bible for horrible things. Just a fact no matter how much you don't want to debate the point.

Robert said...

Springboarding off of from what Herding Grasshoppers said, let us not forget that some of those killed might not have been Christians and this guy took away a chance they might have had of hearing the true gospel. That doesn't mean I condone the people from Westboro planning to protest the funerals, though. Those people must skip over entire sections of the Bible, especially Ephesians 4:29 - "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." I'd like to hear how they feel that their protests are in line with this verse.

Rachael Starke said...

I also am most sorry for the victims. I have a nine year old girl, and if our congresswoman was anything like who Giffords seems to be, she would have been there. It makes me ill just thinking about it.

And because I also have some family background with mental illness, I'm also slightly leery of categorizing him in the same way as a "garden variety" sociopath. His condition in no way shape or form excuses him from having earned the death penalty. But it is also an expression of what a mind given over both physically and spiritually to sin and the ravages of the Fall will produce. I didn't see smugness. I saw the expression of a profoundly broken soul and mind. The signs were there for anyone with a modicum of experience with these things. That man should never have been permitted to be anywhere near a gun, or people, for that matter.

That being said, Barack Obama seems to be relatively sane. If you wanted to call him out for the murderous violence he just did to Scripture at the memorial service, bring it on.

Pierre Saikaley said...

I see this insolent visage and the Lake of Fire makes more and more sense to me...and how amazing...utterly amazing that Jesus condensended to the likes of such worthless wretch to save us from the wrath to come.

Amazing to that God stayed this evil, so that it wasn't far worse.

Sobering stuff.

Paula said...

Rachael said, "That being said, Barack Obama seems to be relatively sane. If you wanted to call him out for the murderous violence he just did to Scripture at the memorial service, bring it on.

That was a massacre indeed. I was waiting for either the trumpet to sound or lightening to strike that man. For those who missed it, he quoted Psalm 46:

"There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day."


And then launched into a tribute to Gabrielle Giffords, as if that passage was written about her, rather than the dwelling place of the Almighty. And the raucous, cheering pep rally atmosphere didn't help.

Susan said...

I was listening to Frank Pastore's show on the way home tonight and the topic was on mental illness (brought on, of course, by the Loughner atrocity). Earlier during the day I was reading WSJ online, and an article discussed about Loughner's online postings and chats with his online gaming community. From these 2 sources it can be concluded that Loughner is clearly not right in the head...hence that disturbing expression on his face.

I'm not excusing him for his crimes. Rachael is right in pointing out about the effects of the Fall (I think Barbara said that, too) and the results of a mind given over to sin. It reminds me of Cain's hatred toward his brother and how the Lord warned him about sin crouching at the door. Giving into sin only makes a bad thing worse. (I speak from experience, sadly.)

candy said...

I didn't watch the memorial, but all I can think about is the movie Wag the Dog. The movie portrays the complete contrived and manipulative ways the media sways the masses. You can bet that the memorial was directed in such a way to take full advantage in order to make this Obama's defining moment and bring up his popularity. They passed out t-shirts for goodness sakes. I was also disgusted with the statement Obama made concerning Christina Green..."If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today.” That had to be Obama's "precious moment" moment. I'll bet the speechwriters worked hard to come up with the cutest images they could muster. Oh...and scriptures sure come in handy at a time like this too. Loughner's smug smile might just reflect the same smug smile the media and many politicians can't quite hide about this unexpected opportunity that came their way. Sad all the way around.

JR said...

Kaa,

I like that you have come here to "look" around and interact a bit. And I hope you understand that nobody is saying you aren't welcome. Trolls need love too.

The point EVERYONE is trying to make is your worldview gives you no ground to make statements about morality, justice, right or wrong...even describing the Biblical record as horrible is a luxurious contradiction for you. Painting with these kind of brushstrokes REQUIRES a standard, and being an atheist you cannot point us to any sort of transcending standard.

Until you understand that you will be difficult to interact with.

Kaa said...

"your worldview gives you no ground to make statements about morality, justice, right or wrong"

And that statement is pretty much why there can't be any meaningful dialogue. You make statements like this knowing nothing about me other than one thing: I don't believe in the same thing you believe in. Therefore my views have no worth. I could try to help you understand, but I frankly don't see the point.

aztexan said...

Kaa: >>And that statement is pretty much why there can't be any meaningful dialogue. You make statements like this knowing nothing about me other than one thing: I don't believe in the same thing you believe in. Therefore my views have no worth.<<

I don't think that's exactly what most of us Christians are getting at, Kaa. It's not that your opinions are worthless but, rather, inconsistent. Rhoblogy and Triablogue are two Christian apologetics sites I follow who regularly interact with atheists in depth, and this very topic comes up a lot. Have a look around these sites if you're interested; just reading past comment threads will keep you busy for quite a while, and will no doubt give you plenty of food for thought.

RealityCheck said...

Well, well, well… I’m certainly late to this party but have enjoyed it none the less.

Excellent post Dan and some great comments as well. I really do learn a lot from all of you.

I pretty much agree with everything you said in the post Dan… although… I do think there is a real chance that Loughner could find himself at the lethal end of a lethal injection (and sooner rather than later) instead of life in prison.

Of course efforts will be made to get him a life sentence instead of death because he’s either “insane” or we should save the country the expense or anguish of a trial but I think there’s a real chance those efforts will fail.

Here’s why. I think this may be one of those times when the perpetrator has not just managed to hurt a few but to enrage an entire nation. I’m thinking along the lines of Timothy McViegh who was put to death about six years after his crime. Not that six years wasn’t too long but it beat life in prison or 20 years of appeals. Now McViegh did kill many more than Loughner did but Loughner killed, not only a Judge, but a nine year old girl and, perhaps more importantly, left a very visible person fighting for her life. I think that might just equal the “trifecta of death” for him, not to mention the others he killed and hurt as well. We’ll see… time will tell.

Oh, and if you need help pulling that switch, I’ll grit my teeth and pray for him between now and then, but on that day… I’ll close my eyes and picture the face of that nine year old girl and we’ll pull it together.

Rupert said...

I kept telling myself I wouldn't get into this one because I was so absolutely gobsmacked by most of the stuff I read here. All the way from DJP's words right down the list of comments. And here comes DJP telling me I should have stuck to my first thought in 3, 2, 1...

The man is obviously insane. A full on wackjob. Did Palin or Beck make him do what he did? No. This guy would have done something like this at some stage no matter what.

A couple of factors though. If he hadn't been allowed to carry a concealed weapon with an oversized clip, what damage would he have done? Maybe stabbed one or two people, strangled someone? The gun culture does exacerbate the outcome of events like these.
Also, my observation is that the sheer volume and day after day repeating of threatening vitriol from the Becks, Sharron (2nd amendment) Angles and Sarah (reload) Palins of this world far exceed the cited threatening vitriol delivered by the 'liberals'. This contributed to the madman targetting such a high profile situation.

The death penalty. Really? I have read your reasons why you state this but doesn't your God and your Bible also mention forgiveness, turning the other cheek etc? You're anti-choice yet you support state sponsored murder.

aztexan said...

Brilliant, Rupert. Because unborn babies are never aborted unless they have, in utero, massacred innocents, and never before a fair trial by jury and countless appeals.

Pssst. It's not murder when it's done in self-defense or in response to capital crime, Einstein. *eyeroll*

Susan said...

Rupert said: The death penalty. Really? I have read your reasons why you state this but doesn't your God and your Bible also mention forgiveness, turning the other cheek etc? You're anti-choice yet you support state sponsored murder.

Rupert--executing a murderer for his crimes is not murder. He opened fire on people with malice and forethought (even if he is crazy)--they, in contrast, did him no harm. There is indeed place for forgiveness (individually), but forgiveness does not equate the relief of his just punishment.

Furthermore, to connect capital punishment with abortion is simply absurd. Since when has a fetus ever opened fired on anyone? (Ridiculous answer, of course...but you kinda asked for this one, I'm sorry to say.)

Susan said...

I see AZTexan has beat me to it. :)

Susan said...

(Sorry, Rupert, I don't mean to be harsh, but I do hope you see how incongruous the two ideas are [capital punishment vs. abortion])

DJP said...

Does a count of how many glaringly ignorant misstatements about Christianity Rupert has acknowledged and retracted so far?

Rupert said...

On another thread I was told quite clearly that every person who ever walks the face of the earth deserves to spend eternity in Hell. Anti-choice folk constantly claim there is no difference between pre and post birth babies. Ipso facto, the unborn are as deserving of eternity in Hell as the rest of us are they not? How can they claim innocence?

And how many people on death row have now been proven to be innocent?

aztexan, if I am a member of a state which has the death penalty for murder, why can't I kill someone who murders the one I love provided I can prove that they were the guilty party?

Yes, I know DJP. Hope it doesn't alarm you. Of course my thoughts and words are predicated on a wider plain than just Christianity. I'm also fairly ignorant of geocentric astronomy ;-)

Does waving a Bible in one hand and a gun (or lethal injection button) in the other not explain why some make reference to an 'American Taliban'?

Renee S. said...

Thank God for the grace that alone separates us from what this depraved man has become. Everything that is held together and even remotely dispays his glory does so because He has shown great mercy.

Had I gotten what I deserved, I would have been dead or imprisoned long ago. I am grateful for every minute I am allowed to breath His air. As a Christian, I assure you I murder constantly in my mind those who were created in His image and for whom He died by being angry with them. "You have heard it said to those of old, 'you shall not murder, and whoever murders will be liable to judgement.' But, I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council and whoever says, 'you fool' will be liable to the hell of fire."

As believers we should long for justice; I weep for it. The judgement seat of God will be an awesome place for His children. However, I believe we struggle greatly in our human form to balance grace and mercy with justice in a way that glorifies God. If Christ had demanded justice for what happened to him, all would have been lost. His humble, patient, long-suffering mercy overcame the IMMEDIATE need for justice. He trusted his Father in heaven and knew this world was not where he was to find his ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment.(Conversation with Satan during the temptation of Christ.)

We weep for the sin and depravity as it displays itself in this world because we were created for another world where those things do not belong. But I am very careful about demanding justice for other's sins (its all abhorent to God; mine, his, yours) since if I got what I deserved I would be in sick, sad shape. This is whats of uttmost importance. When injustice rears its head in my back yard, what do I do? How about the injustice of young boys discarded by the state system at a local boy's home. Any one of them could end up the next guy shooting the place up. How many Christians are lined up to get in places like that to tell them about Jesus before this kind of thing happens? Just a thought. Enjoyed all the discussion tremendously. Barbara, loved all your commments!

Susan said...

Rupert said: Anti-choice folk constantly claim there is no difference between pre and post birth babies. Ipso facto, the unborn are as deserving of eternity in Hell as the rest of us are they not? How can they claim innocence?

I'm afraid you've lumped all anti-choice folk into one convenient category, Rupert. I know there are plenty of pro-lifers out the(myself included) who believe that the souls of all infants and little ones return to the Lord (in heaven!) when they die. There are Scriptural evidences for this, and the issue of sin plaguing all mankind isn't being ignored. For details, I would suggest you read this by John MacArthur.

Lynda O said...

I think Rupert stated the Christian view that babies are inherently sinful and just as deserving of hell and judgment as the rest of us -- and that part is an accurate statement. Yet we recognize, as Susan mentioned, that God has mercy and sovereignly elects the little ones who die before the age of accountability.

Rupert, I don't know you other than your blogger ID and comments here, yet I am praying for you, that God would open your heart, to see and love the truths that we understand. For I was once just as you, hating the Bible and the Christian God, yet God has had mercy upon me (and other believers here), to change our hearts. You don't understand this, as the Bible itself says -- the natural man cannot understand the things of the spirit, for they are foolishness to him.

Yet it's also true that the more you understand of the truth -- and it's evident that you know at least some of the claims of Christianity, such as the point about our sinfulness even as infants in the womb -- the greater your punishment in hell will be if you continue to reject that light and die in your unbelief. That's just a warning, to take heed to your own soul. I pray that someday you will come to salvation, to love the truth you now hate.

Robert said...

Rupert,

Just because we all deserve hell doesn't mean that we get to play judge and executioner for God's standard. However, God did say that whoever spills man's blood will pay for it with his own...and that we should be the ones to make sure this happens after proving the person is guilty of the crime.

Rupert said...

I don't have hate for the Bible, God or 'the truth' Lynda O. Nor do I hold any fear of 'Hell'. I can't hate something which does not exist for me. What I do 'hate' is some of the acts and words perpetrated in the name of God or the Bible. I'm sure you feel the same about some of the things which are done in the name of God or the Bible too. Not to mention those done in the name of other peoples' Gods or Books.

Robert, how do you reconcile not being judge and executioner for God's standard with ensuring that the blood of a murderer is spilled? Unless God himself tells you who is guilty and what their punishment should be?

Sir Aaron said...

1.) Our justice system is a trajedy. I worked on a dealth penalty case (Federally in CA). The case took several years to go to trial, and now will take many years to reach the punishment (defendants found guilty and received death penalty).

2.) Anybody who is against the death penalty should be required to visit a prison where there are plenty of people like this guy and worse. They continue to kill, rape, and do other vicious crimes in prison.

3.) @Rupert - God tells us what is a crime and how to punish it. Several crimes deserve death. He also tells us how to handle other instances were humans lose their lives.

4.) @Rupert - the reason why you cannot take a life, even if you prove the person guilty, is because it is not your role to do so. A person is afforded a fair trial and then is to be executed by the authorities.

5.) To those who talk about innocents being released all the time, that's partially true. Occasionally, the system fails, in part, because we don't have witnesses to the crime and depend on circumstantial evidence. The other times, the person was released but that doesn't make them innocent.