Thursday, February 14, 2019

Parkland, Covington and what Jesus said

Today we remember 17 of the people killed a year ago by violence in our country.  Being in a school, it naturally has more 'umph' than your average violence between gangs or criminals or even random victims on the street.  Like a plane crash has more of a gut punch than a hundred car crashes with fatalities.

Since Parkland, however, we've seen the rise of activists who have an interesting blend of activism with 'in-your-face/we want our enemies destroyed' tactics.  Many appear to have no problem calling out those who disagree, dropping plenty of f-bombs and contempt aimed at anyone who disagrees, charging those on the other side with being baby killers and even musing over the idea of gun owners doing themselves with their own guns.  That's just the youngsters.  The rhetoric across the board is often no better, making it clear that failure to fall into line with one particular set of ideas or solutions means you deserve what you get, since you're beneath contempt anyway.

Of course many who have brains as well as hearts know that the problem isn't guns, or even school shootings.  Access to guns was far more liberal 40 years ago when we didn't have routine school shootings.  Oh, we can pass this or that law or restriction, but most people know there is something wrong behind the scenes in our society that is likely the real mischief.  The shootings, connected with the pandemic of drug addiction, drug dependency, rampant depression and off the scale suicide - especially among young people - says there is something grossly wrong with the heart and soul of our nation; a nation built for decades on endless theories, studies and self serving ethics.  Recognizing that is likely the hope for our nation, not more gun laws that could, as happened at Parkland, fall through the cracks.

On this same day, we also find out what anyone with a shred of common sense also knows, that the Covington kids - who were subjected to threats, mocked, received death threats and hopes for them to be physically beaten within an inch of their lives - were falsely accused.  Nothing they were accused of was true.  They were slandered and verbally attacked, their lives, futures, and physical well being all threatened, all while they were mocked, ridiculed, and their concerns dismissed - even by fellow student activists out pounding the pavement since having survived the Parkland shooting.

So that got me to thinking, as I am wont to do.  I notice my boys are correct about the Internet and Social Media.  The Internet can be really good, but can also be really bad.  Social Media, however, is mostly bad, with very little good.  And as I notice how people interact and behave on social media, as I notice how youngsters raised on social media conduct themselves beyond the digital world (think some of the Parkland activists), and as I watch and see how people deal with each other over issues like the Parkland shooting, I'm reminded of something Jesus said:
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.  Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.   Matt. 5:21-22.
Being pro-life isn't about protecting the physical health of biological life forms known as human beings.  It's about the whole person: mind, heart, body and soul.  On a practical level, Jesus merely points out the obvious: usually you have to get past raca and fool to get to the shootings.  As Parkland made clear, even by the testimony of some of the very activists pounding the pavement, the shooter had been ostracized, bullied and received his fair share of raca and fool.  Perhaps he returned those sentiments in kind long before reaching for a firearm.   

But on a Christian level, we care about the physical bodies because they house the spiritual bodies as well (not to mention being temples of the Holy Spirit).  That's what Jesus is getting at.  People are more than a hunk of cells, despite what our betters have been saying for the last 150 years or so.  We abhor murder because of all it takes away from a person.  But we abhor raca and fool because it does only slightly less, and is the logical step one must take before pulling the trigger. 

I think we're a culture that has become comfortable with raca and fool as our first method for dealing with others.  The much dismissed Golden Rule has long been removed from being our default standard for interpersonal relations.   And that counts for Christians, too.  As I remember looking at some Catholic sites following Covington, it wasn't hard to see the raca here, and the fool there, not only when dealing with the Covington students, but when dealing with anyone who disagreed with them on the Covington issue, or Parkland, or any one of a thousand (usually) political or social issues.

I think Jesus was right.  Not just because He's Jesus.  But because it's common sense.  Long before the trigger was pulled, there was plenty of hate to pass around - by the testimony of the very students out pushing for more gun laws.  Those laws won't help.  To think Jesus was so stupid as to think it's something like the heart and soul of our relations, rather than government policies based on limiting this or that gun purchase, suggests a certain lack of basic sense in our time.  Especially when we've been ditching those silly old notions of respect, Golden Rule behavior and thinking about people beyond objects of our convenience for some time, and the results don't appear to be encouraging.

I say this is a day to put the puzzle pieces together and look for the real problem with the shootings, violence, suicides, drug addiction and drug dependency that is sweeping our nation.  As I consider all who are sooooooo worried about school shootings and demand action, and yet how many of those same ripped into other [read: Covington] teenagers on cue, without remorse, and haven't apologized or try to make things right since we've found out those same teens were falsely accused, I can't help but think those individuals are closer to the problem of school shootings than all the guns they're trying to regulate.

BTW, none of this is to say you can't be passionate, or call out evil, or even call out those who are party to evil.  But given the high amount of raca and fool flying around, it makes you wonder if there are really that many people completely immersed in so much evil in so many different categories.  Or, could it be we've just become lazy and sloppy and see such tactics as a speedy way of shutting down debate?  Even if the end result is something we're so upset about?  Sort of like being upset about diabetes, but refusing to give up the donuts and the pastries and the candies.  Something has to give, and it isn't more regulations on bakeries.


  1. "The first and fatal charm of national repentance is, therefore, the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing but, first, of denouncing the conduct of others. If it were clear to the young that this is what he is doing, no doubt he would remember the law of charity. Unfortunately the very terms in which national repentance is recommended to him conceal its true nature. By a dangerous figure of speech, he calls the Government not ‘they’ but ‘we’. And since, as penitents, we are not encouraged to be charitable to our own sins, nor to give ourselves the benefit of any doubt, a Government which is called ‘we’ is ipso facto placed beyond the sphere of charity or even of justice. You can say anything you please about it. You can indulge in the popular vice of detraction without restraint, and yet feel all the time that you are practising contrition. A group of such young penitents will say, ‘Let us repent our national sins’; what they mean is, ‘Let us attribute to our neighbour (even our Christian neighbour) in the Cabinet. whenever we disagree with him, every abominable motive that Satan can suggest to our fancy.’" -CS Lewis, The Dangers of National Repentance

    "The effect on the givers is the creation of a state of spiritual pride. Insofar as the person offering the apology is doing what no one has done before him, he is likely to consider himself the moral superior of his predecessors. He alone has had the moral insight and courage to apologize.

    On the other hand, he knows full well that he has absolutely no personal moral responsibility for whatever it is that he is apologizing for. In other words, his apology brings him all kudos and no pain.

    This inevitably leads to the false supposition that the moral life can be lived without the pain of self-examination. The locus of moral concern becomes what others do or have done, not what one does oneself. And a good deed in the form of an apology in public for some heinous wrong in the distant past gives the person who makes it a kind of moral capital, at least in his own estimation, against which he can offset his expenditure of vice."-Theodore Dalrymple

    1. Yep. I thought of that when Dr. Mohler came out and repented the sins of Southern Seminary. I saw another news cast last night where some professor is going through the archives of old University (I think of Virginia) yearbooks, finding any and all cases of racist photos or blackface or anything. It's becoming quite the fad to look at all the sins of everybody back then. Not enough, IMHO, of looking at the boat load full of sins rampant in our nation today.


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