Friday, December 29, 2006

What would Jesus do?

What has been gained by the death of Saddam Hussein? Is life so easily taken…it bothers me that we call for the blood of another of God’s creation. Does this bring back those killed? I would have believed firmly in retribution in year’s gone bye. Today I mourn the loss and grow weary in concern for what we are becoming.

We report that he had fear in his face. Does hos death free Iraq? Does it rid the world of terror? I think it will only bring forth more terror and fear. Where is Hesus in this action? Was Jesus with Saddam in his fear? Was Jesus with the hangman? Was Jesus with the fair trial? I am not sure Jesus would call for death. Where is the doctrine of salvation in the demand for blood?

We kill hundreds of people here in the U.S. We have the largest prison population in the world. We criminalize childhood. We do not rehabilitate anyone. We shame, harass, torture, and exile anyone that breaks our rules. I am not asking for a world without rules. I am wondering where Jesus is and the command of loving our neighbor in any of this. Why can we not love in the midst of our hate? I do not see Jesus is this killing.

This is my prayer… Baba...Forgive our thirst for blood. Comfort the call for revenge and justice. Bring peace to our hearts. Bring wisdom to our minds. Bring your grace to our actions. Forgive us for using your name to enact pain, suffering, and bring hell to many. Have mercy on us. Thank you for loving us regardless of our love for you. Have mercy on your son Saddam. Bring peace to his country and comfort to his family. In the mighty, loving, Holy, and transforming name of Jesus Christ. Amen


Anonymous said...

Justice is never beautiful or sweet, Pappy. Saddam has paid for his crimes against humanity.

The Iraqi people now have an opportunity to live in a world without the fear of Saddam's tyranny.

180,000 Kurds who were gassed, mutilated, tortured and murdered by Saddam and his wicked regime have been given justice. As Dr. White, the vicar of the Anglican Church in Baghdad said, "The verdict is appropriate."

What would Jesus do? Weep that another child of God had become such a Satanic monster; however let's remember that He also said anyone who harms these little ones should have a millstone placed around their neck and be thrown into the ocean - that's capital punishment. For all the little ones who were murdered by Saddam - his punishment was hanging.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, Stushie, thanks for making Saddam's execution so tidy for us! I was worried for a while (like our host, Pappy) that I might have some conflicted or complicated feelings about the whole event.

John Shuck said...

Thank you, Pappy, for expressing my thoughts about this good ol' fashioned hangin'. The only thing missing was a revival and a potluck.

Anonymous said...

Is it every appropriate to judge as God judges? It is not our right to take life. I agree that Jesus is weeping but for our desire for blood and the death of another child. This has all kinds of suck around it Stushie.
I am very bothered that his death is being paraded around the media, the noose around his neck, his fear. This season is for looking towards the salvation of creation not retribution.

Stushie is it neat, justice? Does it fit in a pretty package with all the nutritional elements scribbled on the side? This is another reason why we need Jesus...we are finite, broken, scared, puffed up, misguided...we are no better than Saddam and are accountable for the same, we are all sinners.

Anonymous said...

John you made me hungry now. I love revivals and potlucks. Potluck is the "p" in my Presbyterian world view.

Anonymous said...

So, when Saddam Hussein shouts defiantly "Palestine is for Arabs" in order to incite hatred and make hismelf a martyr for Hamas and other despicable terrorists, it's okay with y'all?

He was as defiant as Timothy McVey. Saddam wasn't sorry for anything he did - uh oh, that means there's no forgivness...ouch!

Anonymous said...

I would personally like to invite Stushie to my house to hang me with a rope until I'm dead. I have sinned in ways I can't even begin to ennumerate, and I'm quite certain that I'm not sorry for all of them. Thus, since I'm not going to be forgiven for those sins, Stushie might as well take it upon himself to hasten my trip to hell.

While I'm no fan of Saddam, a dictator and murderer to be sure, I am less a fan of our feeble judgment in such matters.

P.S.--Palestine is for Arabs.

Anonymous said...

For an honest-to-goodness thoughtful meditation on the question of Saddam's lack of remorse, see:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Brett. Much appreciated. Universalism is such a sacred cow these days.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid in rural Arkansas, a very formative experience happened to me once while listening to a sermon. I would say that it was one of those experiences that led me to enter the ministry in this denomination (an office which I somehow share with Stushie). Our minister, an old man of the southern church, admitted from the pulpit that he didn't know what his fate would be after death. This was not the same as saying he wasn't "saved," since we didn't really speak in those terms. It was just a humble admission that he refused to claim as his own something that was to be left entirely up to God and God's just and merciful judgment. As you might imagine, this created quite a stir among the congregation; there was even some talk of forcing the minister out for not being able to declare publicly his obvious candidacy for heaven. It blew over, as such sermon controversies do, but it stuck with me and contiues to inform me today. I still do the best I can in my faith to leave heaven and hell to God--I can affirm with the minister of my youth that I don't know what will happen when I die, and I certainly don't know what will happen to Saddam now that he is dead. Those are God's things to know, not mine.

For your information, I am a Presbyterian, not a universalist. This means that first and foremost I believe in God's sovereignty. I would like to think that I fear God enough that I know better than to condone the killing of another human being created by God, no matter how despicable and horrendous a criminal that human being is.

Now, look, I'm sorry for making sarcastic comments and realize that they're not that helpful. But I am just flat out sickened by Stushie's insistence that some great event worthy of rejoicing has occurred.

Anonymous said...

Brett, the beauty of being called to ministry is that it is not about you and I. It has nothing to do with our perspective and everything to do about serving the Lord. Was the cheapshot at Stushie nessesary?

Stushie, I respect your perspective and still disagree with you. I cannot wield the power of justice from a broken and depraved stance. We are all in the same boat. We are all murderers, rapists, oppressors, heathens, cheaters, adulterers, and sinners. No one is better or worse. I remind you of the parable of the field workers. It does not matter when you began your work in the field or if you worked at all. The pay is up to God.
We need more love and less judgment. More peace and less brimstone. More tolerance and less persecution. We need Jesus!

Anonymous said...

papps- the sermon on the mount is a great place to start in the midst of this tragedy...blood for blood is only exact in one place- in the judge being made the judged...even in this people bicker about the exactness of it...

while i was home, i prayed for one single day where no one one murdered another person...if it happened one day, then maybe we could see the beauty of it and it wouldn't happen the next day...then maybe we could think about having one day where no one goes hungry...then, when we see no one dying of starvation, then i don't know what...i know, too idealistic- but it is this hope in which i wake up everyday...hoping and praying against all odds that humanity might actually fall in love with one another again...

Anonymous said...

Stushie, you wrote,
"He also said anyone who harms these little ones should have a millstone placed around their neck and be thrown into the ocean - that's capital punishment. "
But that is a really strange, and bothersome, paraphrasing of the texts (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2), which read:
"It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. (NRSV)."

I wish I could agree with you that it is as simple as being given "justice" by human endeavors. But my perspective of God is that His power and workings of justice are far more expansive and creative then our limited retributive forms of justice.
What could have been done? I don't know, but it does not matter because Saddam was hanged; the deed is done; the images populate the net (sadly, they are yahoos most emailed photos).

But in a culture that thirsts for blood and for retribution, I pray that we realize and proclaim that the good news of Christ extends even to those we deem the furthest person. So rather than rejoicing over a person's death, even "Satanic monsters," we can lament the death of yet another person, who never discovered the deep love of Christ.

Anonymous said...

I apologize for the cheapshot.

I do not apologize for writing publicly that Stushie is not only wrong, his viewpoint is deeply sickening to me. There's nothing cheap about this. Stushie's ideas about capital punishment are wrong, blood-thirsty, base, and creepy.

I'm not feeling all warm-and-fuzzy-this-is-one-big-church
and-we-all-love-Jesus about this. I don't respect his perspective at all. I think he needs to get called on this one over and over until he repents.

Anonymous said...

I find it appalling that people can get sickened about my idea of capital punishment, but not horrified about a beast of a man who murdered hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children on a mere whim.

I guess we should pull out passages in the Book of Acts like Judas' bloody death for his wickedness (Acts 1:18-20); Annanias & Sapphira - who were killed by the Holy Spirit for lying about their generosity (Acts 5:1-11), and how about the death of Herod the tyrant (Acts 5:21-23) for not giving God due praise?

Anonymous said...

Stushie, your skills at prooftexting are only going to carry you so far on this one. I also remember a certain woman who was on the brink of being stoned by an angry mob, I remember a soldier who had his ear put back on his head, I remember a criminal on the cross beside Jesus who joined him in paradise...

The Bible guides our lives, true. But it is not, as you seem to think, a screenplay that we are called to reproduce over and over again. However, it's your right to exegete how you wish, whether or not you stay grounded in the Reformed tradition. So, if you read in Acts or wherever that the monster Saddam must die, then I guess you better stick by that. You're own salvation might be at stake.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Brett. God bless you, too.

Anonymous said...

In case anyone in interested in what the
PC(USA) has to say on the issue of capital punishment. Stushie -- I notice you are a recent transfer to our denomination, so you may not be aware that the PC(USA) is anti-death penalty.

"Capital Punishment

Presbyterian General Assemblies have been concerned not only for the issue of capital punishment, but also for those imprisoned. The major policy statements of the past forty years have come in 1959, 1977, and 1978.

In 1959, the 171st General Assembly, "believing that capital punishment cannot be condoned by an interpretation of the Bible based upon the revelation of God's love in Jesus Christ," called on Christians to "seek the redemption of evil doers and not their death," and noted that "the use of the death penalty tends to brutalize the society that condones it."(1)

In 1977, the 189th General Assembly called upon its members to:

"a. Work to prevent the execution of persons now under sentence of death and further use of the death penalty;

b. Work against attempts to reinstate the death penalty in state and federal law, and where such laws exist, to work for their repeal;

c. Work for the improvement of the justice system to make less radical means available for dealing with persons who are a serious threat to themselves and to the safety and welfare of society."(2)

The next year, 1978, the General Assembly went on record as saying "Capital punishment is an expression of vengeance which contradicts the justice of God on the cross." (3)

The most recent statement was made in 1985 by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), reaffirming these positions and declaring "it's continuing opposition to capital punishment."(4)"

Peace and God's blessings,

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, I am the spouse of the blogger, Brett (aka Sheep Days), who is extremely passionate about human rights for all God's children. There was nothing like living in Texas during the GW Bush governorship to really convince you of the sinfulness of the death penalty!

Anonymous said...

"A recent transfer to our denomination" - (12 years ago)...but thank you for pointing out my non-PCUSA upbringing - that used to be called discrimination, but I guess it's okay to point out that my origins are different from your own. I'm used to being called a foreigner in unwelcoming ways, but I think this is the first time that I've encountered it in a theological debate.

I appreciate the history lesson, too. However, is it not the case that denominational decisions, that are made on non-essential matters of faith, are not binding on the conscience of any PCUSA believer?

Or are you now saying that all decisions by PC(USA) General Assemblies are treated as irrefutable and infallible dogma?

God bless you. I truly appreciate the dialogue. Without it, there are no meeting of minds, or the respecting of each other's differences.

John Shuck said...

Stushie is getting it from all angles today. I affirm what he says about our freedom of conscience. The 1978 GA was also famous for a major error regarding its views about homosexuality. I am glad I don't have to affirm that nonsense.

Nevertheless, position papers are good to consider. I am actually kind of surprised that the right hasn't watered down or changed completely our statements about capital punishment.

But now, since Saddam has been hanged and Bush has Saddam's pistol, can we ride off into the sunset now and leave Iraq?

Anonymous said...

"I am actually kind of surprised that the right hasn't watered down or changed completely our statements about capital punishment."

I am surprised by this, too.

Anonymous said...

A very sad result. Violence begets violence. May God have mercy on all of us...