When I See Pictures of Victims

To be sure, a cityscape is not made of flesh. Still, sheared-off buildings are almost as eloquent as bodies in the street.

-Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

A photograph of refugees streaming out of war-torn Yarmouk introduces an online article. A humanitarian advertisement displays a malnourished dog, mostly skin and bones, on the brink of death. A Facebook friend posts infrared photographs of helicopter pilots firing rounds into a group of footsoldiers.

Violent images inundate my daily world.

Which is disturbing. Infuriating. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve seen that I would rather not see. Maybe should not see. My gut reacts and screams these pictures should not exist!

But another part of me thinks that they should. Read more “When I See Pictures of Victims”

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What If The Guy Who Shot The Mid-Movie Texter Wasn’t Crazy?

This past week a retired police officer gunned down a man in a theater for texting during a movie.

He was texting his three-year-old daughter’s day care center.

Immediate reactions, including my own, supposed that the shooter was somehow mentally ill, or stressed out from a grueling career, or maybe fed up with systemic disrespect – the impoliteness of an in-theater text being the “straw that broke the camel’s back” in some sad parallel to Michael Douglas’ William Foster in Falling Down.

Falling Down Read more “What If The Guy Who Shot The Mid-Movie Texter Wasn’t Crazy?”

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It Isn’t Barbarism When We’re Giving Kudos

This week’s GOP presidential debate showcased an eruption of applause for Governor Rick Perry and his state’s track record of 234 more inmate executions than any other state, “more than any other governor in modern times.”  Barbaric? According to Perry, absolutely not.  Americans simply “understand justice.”

Fun Fact:

Between 1973 and 1995, the Senate Judiciary Committee found the “overall rate of serious reversible error in capital cases” to be 68 percent of almost 4,600 cases studied.1

But I can see how one wouldn’t lose any sleep at night over such problems; after all, the real Americans are clapping.

[1] Gushee, David P. and Glen H. Stassen. Kingdom Ethics. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003, p211

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Pin the Tail on the Death Penalty

blind_justice

Justice is blind,” or so the saying goes.  If justice were blind in the United States of America, why are blacks who kill whites twenty-two times more likely to face execution than blacks who kill blacks?[1]  Why does the jury selection process often succeed in selecting all white panels in areas where the majority of the population is African American?[2]  Why aren’t the affluent ever executed in our society?[3]  Why is it always the poor who face capital punishment?  I’ll tell you why; because Justice is a liar.  Her blindfolded act is a sham.  She clearly sees in terms of race and economic status. Read more “Pin the Tail on the Death Penalty”

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Growing Up Way Too Fast (Getting Age Wrong Part 1)

This is Part 1.  Click here for Part 2: “The Infantilization and a Theology of Aging.”

We are making men and women out of babies.  I know that’s eventually the point, but we’re doing it entirely too fast.  What is worse, our society rushes us out of childhood only to spend the rest of our lives convincing us that we’re too old.  Where’s the love?

GROWING UP WAY TOO FAST

This will be my brief attempt at justifying a lamentation of the loss of childhood in our culture. Read more “Growing Up Way Too Fast (Getting Age Wrong Part 1)”

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Anguished Coptics and Loving Muslims

[I wrote this article for my church’s publication, The Messenger.]

The shooting in Arizona this past week placed two things solidly in my mind; the fragility of life, and the veritable blessing it is to live in a place free from widespread violence.  For many of our brothers and sisters in different communities around the globe, however, reminders of life’s fragility are unneeded and freedom from violence is novelty.

The Coptic Christian Church in Egypt is one such community.  On New Years, a suicide bomber attacked a midnight mass, killing 21 worshipers and injuring 97 more.  This act of violence was the latest in a long history of Muslim/Christian hostility evidenced by shootings and riots.  Some Christians struck out in violent protest, others prayed, and all suffered at the hands of continuing atrocity.

(Photo Credit: abc)
(Photo Credit: abc)

Muslims in Egypt responded to the bombing and subsequent hostilities by attending Christmas Mass last Thursday, serving as human shields against the cruelty of a radical Muslim minority.  Thousands stood shoulder to shoulder with Christians in their services, even though the threat of death remained very real.  Their presence paid as much tribute to the Prince of Peace as the Christmas celebration itself; after all, it was the Prince that said “Greater Read more “Anguished Coptics and Loving Muslims”

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