Let the punishment fit the crime

This one comes with a disclaimer: this post deals with the difficult topic of rape, specifically as it is commited against children.

The Supreme Court decided recently to outlaw the executions of people who rape children.

Both presidential candidates are outraged and disagree with the decision.

The Supreme Court calls it cruel and unusual punishment to execute such people.

Two things.

If it’s cruel and unusual (and therefore violates the Constitution) to execute people who rape children, how is it not cruel and unusual to execute convicted murderers? Or anyone else on death row for whatever criminal act they may have commited? How do we all of a sudden get to pick and choose who we execute based on the crime? As far as I’m concerned, ANY crime commited against a child is inexcusable and…in my human desire for justice…unforgiveable. If there’s anything cruel and unusual, it’s that violent acts are commited against children everyday. (how ’bout the FBI sweeps of child prostitution rings in THIS country just this week?) There’s part of me that would happy carry out the execution myself for someone who raped a child.

But then the rational, Jesus part of my brain kicks in. I am opposed to the death penalty. I am. In spite of my statement at the end of the last paragraph. And here’s what I think about the aforementioned issue…there are natural consequences to many of our actions, and God (like a good parent) allows us to experiences those consequences, good or bad. While there really is no natural consequence for rape, there should be a significant consequence for those who commit such a heinous act, against ANYONE. I’ve said all along that I think any man who rapes anyone-child or woman-should be castrated. Period. Jail time is good, too. But let’s face it. If they don’t have a penis, it makes it more difficult to commit the violent act of rape. Granted, other objects have often been used, in addition to or apart from genetalia, and that may even make the crime worse for the victim. But I gotta think that castration may be a more appropriate punishment than execution.

I wonder what Jesus thinks about that. Or maybe it’s just that Jesus is on the side of the child (or woman or any victim) and works through the Spirit to bring healing and restoration. It’s an ethic even I don’t like sometimes when I hear about those situations and am out for blood, not reconciliation and forgiveness.

Oh, and the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) also ruled today that we can still own guns for self-defense and hunting. Anyone see any mixed messages anywhere?

Racing for coverage

I came across this a few minutes ago and think it relevant. Not only is it an indictment of “white media” (which I think needs a closer look anyway), it also raises (to an extent) the issue of the trajectory of many African American males in this country.


Yes, it’s about Don Imus and Pacman Jones. It’s also about the larger issues. Would that we start talking about that.

I think…therefore I’m liberal

I think I was the first person in my family of origin to become a flaming liberal (I have since sucked my dad to the dark side). Well, if being open to progress or reform (the true meaning of the word) means I’m liberal, I’m OK with that. Because I think we need it. Especially in politics and the church.

Most of the time, though, the liberal label gets attached to people who tend to think and question and, in many cases, are more educated. I have some extended family members who forward emails upholding Christianity in the political and social arenas. You’ve probably gotten them at some point…they deal with Harry Potter and The DaVinci Code and how Obama is a Muslim and the Republican party is right. Hell, maybe you’ve even pushed the Forward button on some of those. I stopped receiving such emails from these relatives when I responded to the one about the DaVinci Code, asking if they’d been able to read the book yet. But I digress.

The recent email centers on the fact that Obama and a few other senators (including Clinton) refused to sign the bill to make English the official language of the United States. Consequently, he is unpatriotic…and do we really want someone who sides with illegal immigrants to be the key leader of this country?


English is already unofficially the official language in this country. All of our federal and state documents, all of our legal documents, are written in English. We don’t do stuff in other languages when it has to go on the official books.

About the conclusions (?) drawn above about not signing the language bill, how do we logically get to that end? Has anyone who sent that really thought that through? In my mind, it makes us sound like pretentious, ethnocentric jackasses.

The bottom line here is that people forward crap to support a point or campaign that more than likely has very little validity. They either don’t read all of it or they don’t really think about what they are reading or sending. They take it at face value and think that it’s right. While there may be a grain of truth to some of these messages, when you draw these things out to their logical conclusions, chances are the truth of the message is distorted beyond reason. Sometimes I think we need to revoke the privilege of using the Forward button on our email service.

And it’s not limited to just emails. It’s about any message any of us sends, be it over email, in the media, in a blog or from the pulpit. Are we paying attention to what we’re saying? Are we paying attention to what’s being said? Are we thinking through all of the implications of the message? You don’t have to be liberal to do that. You just have to engage your brain.

Open to interpretation

James Dobson is criticizing Barack Obama’s interpretation of scripture as it relates to how it guides Obama’s politics. (Can I remind everyone that Dobson is a psychologist who has not been theologically trained?)

Obama raised a great question. Even if we got rid of every non-Christian in this country so that all that remained were Christians, whose Christianity would govern our country? Dobson’s or Al Sharpton’s? I would take it further to add Catholics or Protestants? Conservatives? Liberals? Fundamentalists? To govern this country strictly on Christian principles violates all kinds of religious liberties.

Obama also points out that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is “a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application.” And I have to wonder what would happen if our Defense Department didn’t survive. What would happen? We may open ourselves up to attack. We may put our freedom on the line. But I think, more than that, people are concerned with losing our status in the world. When it comes to our status, I’m kinda thinkin’ it dropped to the bottom of a body of water mafia-style last year.

“I think he’s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology,” Dobson said. Well, that may be. But don’t we all? Doesn’t he?

The bottom line is, and Obama pointed this out, none of us are really reading our Bibles.

But it’s open to intepretation.

Still Spinning

Today was the second Sunday in a row that we had a woman preach in the absence of our (male) pastor. (Bear in mind that last Sunday was Father’s Day) And they both brought incredible messages. And the world is still spinning.

And I only had to change the words to ONE song this morning to make divine references more gender neutral.

I could get used to this.

The prophet’s bard foretold

I’m reading A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving and, as with all other Irving books I’ve read, I love it. Irving deals with humanity, loss, love, relationships and the like, and occasionally has prophetic moments like this:

“What do Americans know about morality? They don’t want their presidents to have penises but they don’t mind if their presidents covertly arrange to support the Nicaraguan rebel forces after Congress has restricted such aid; they don’t want their presidents to deceive their wives but they don’t mind if their presidents deceive Congress–lie to the people and violate the people’s constitution!”

Note: this book was published nearly 20 years ago. History repeating itself? He has something to say about that as well…

“I believe that President Reagan can say these things only because he knows that the American people will never hold him accountable for what he says; it is history that holds you accountable, and I’ve already expressed my opinion that Americans are not big on history. How many of them remember their own, recent history? Was twenty years ago so long ago for Americans? Do they remember October 21, 1967? Fifty thousand antiwar demonstrators were in Washington; I was there; that was the ‘March on the Pentagon’–remember? And two years later–in October of ’69–there were fifty thousand people in Washington again; they were carrying flashlights, they were asking for peace. There were a hundred thousand asking for peace in Boston Common; there were two hundred fifty thousand in New York. Ronald Reagan had not yet numbed the United States, but he had succeeded in putting California to sleep; he described the Vietnam protests as ‘giving aid and comfort to the enemy.’ As president, he still didn’t know who the enemy was.”

I know many people hate history. I get that. I wish it weren’t so, but I get it. But Irving makes a good point. He’s not talking about 200 years worth of history; he’s talking about 20 years worth of history. Maybe even 30, but that seems to much to ask of people. Seriously folks. We can’t wait around for history to hold accountable our leaders and their flagrant, nefarious, egregious decisions and actions. But the bottom line is that we really are concerned more with morality and our president’s penis than we are about the decisions he (one day she) makes that impacts the entire world and everyone in it. And that’s just the last 10 years of history.

Ignorance is…not bliss

A couple of weeks ago, I was behind a car with an array of bumper stickers on the back. I was behind said car at a stop light and had the (un)fortunate opportunity of reading the stickers. In the top right corner was one that read, “I learned everything I need to know about Islam on 9/11”

There was a Blackwater sticker in the bottom right corner.

I know that people really think that way…but maybe I’m still an optimist because some days it really is kinda shocking. It’s always bothersome.

When will we get past ourselves and our ability to churn out materiel and mercenaries and move on to gathering around the table and having conversations?

Oh wait. Maybe that will happen when we find some other money making industry besides war. Of course, that assumes that the next big money maker won’t take advantage of the rest of the world.