May 28, 2008

Mercy For Monsters?

Warning: This entry addresses issues you may find very offensive.

I learned today that a man who molested his niece while visiting her family here pled guilty and received a sentence of 40 years in prison and will have to serve the first fifteen years with no possibility of parole. This sentence seems grossly inadequate for a man who repeatedly sodomized and raped his teenage niece. He then used the classic child molester defense and said she forced herself on him. According to him if she had not been so sexually aggressive none of this would have happened.

As bad as this guy sounds there are others who are much worse. In the county just north of hear a young boy was kidnapped and then molested by a man and his father while the mother/wife looked on and derived her own sexual pleasure. All this when the young boy has a plastic bag over his head. His body was found dumped not far from the scene of the crime. None of these monsters has gone to trial.

About five years ago a man who lived directly across the street from me pled guilty to 13 counts of child molestation and received an 80 year sentence on each charge. When caught he owned up to what he had done and made a full confession. This man was my neighbor. Hiding in plain sight. And there are always more. More horror stories. More very real monsters.

In cases like this I find it particularly hard to stick to my Christian beliefs. Having been on the receiving end of a great deal of abuse as a child I know my reaction is skewed, that it awakens demons in me best left alone. Part of me cries out with an eye for an eye, to make the punishment fit the crime. In fact many times I have said that if I discover that anyone has done anything like this to a member of my family I will settle the score myself and the courts be damned. I take no offense in knowing that while in prison child molesters often discover how it feels to be raped and sodomized. They stay on the lowest level of the inmate/prison hierarchy and find no peace, no solace.

Where is our God? Does the stench of this inhumanity not rise up to offend him? Is there really any shared humanity with these monsters? Are they really the likeness and image of our creator?

Or am I not asking the right questions? Perhaps I am not looking closely enough in the mirror. What does this rage, this cry for no mercy say about me? Is the stench of my sins any less offensive?

I have been many times been loved when I was all but unlovable. My actions shamed me and left me undeserving of mercy. But even during those times when the demons in me went unchecked I still found the hand of love extended to me. Even then I was not measured by my inhumanity but by my humanity, my potential for good.

It is easy for me to hate these men, yet we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. To judge not lest we be judged. Some say to hate the sin but love the sinner. Who does this hatred hurt? Not the monsters, they have no idea I even exist. It is an acid that eats away at the goodness in me, making room for even more hatred, less room for genuine compassion. Lord help me.

May 19, 2008

Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

Bob Dylan stopped by the house last night. I wish. Actually this is me playing with the camera and a borrowed flash. For this photo, following instructions from the photography class instructor, I had bubble wrap over the flash to see what if any effect it would have. That wasn't quite enough to satisfy my curiosity so I also put bubble wrap in front of the lens.

I am however wearing the Bob Dylan t-shirt I bought when my wife and I saw him and Willie Nelson on the same bill at Metropolitan Park in Jacksonville. The hat came from the Animal Kingdom at Disney World. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat is on Dylan's Blonde On Blonde album.

I think it is a good example of how photos can open more questions than they answer.

May 18, 2008

Dancing In The Dark

This is not my daughter but I took this photo last evening at her (my daughter's) annual dance recital. It's been interesting watching her grow and become a better dancer every year. As with most kids the first couple of years it was pretty much either lock up from stage fright or mimic what the dance instructor was doing off stage in the wings (which nevertheless makes your heart swell with pride). This year she looked so mature and confident. She is growing up much too fast.

I am in the middle of an eight week photography class and this photo is testament to a terrific instructor/photographer. I have really enjoyed learning more about the technical aspects of taking a decent photo. I am certainly nowhere near as proficient as I would like to be but prior to this class I would have shot a lot of photos (with and without flash) and just hoped for the best. Without the class I could never have taken this photo.

May 15, 2008

May 14, 2008

The Beginning of Sorrows

A few nights ago a major thunderstorm blew through. I took these standing on the front porch. The storms spared us but a tornado touched down in McIntosh County. What happened here pales in comparison to the earthquake in China and the storm that hit Myanmar. It seems the Chinese government seems to be trying to do the right thing. The Myanmar government on the other hand seemed to put the needs of its citizens at the bottom of their priority list. The victim total will be well over 100,000 dead. Lord, have mercy.

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Matthew 24

May 13, 2008

Daughter as Mother

After I dropped my daughter off at school yesterday morning this is what I found in the back seat, Buzzy Bee and Bunny. Bunny was a gift from her godmother and has been her boon companion, best friend and security blanket for most of her nine years (she just had a birthday). She is a wonderful beautiful child, loving, healthy, good natured and full of the energy of a third grader. The Lord has poured out tremendous blessings upon my family.

And yes Bunny desperately needs a bath.

May 9, 2008

The Soul's Lament

Sadly, this posting is not a work of fiction.
The staccato dirge of gunfire shattered the serenity of a quiet neighborhood early Monday morning as a husband and wife were shot and killed in their own home. On the 911 tape you can hear the woman screaming. Then, just before the last gunshot rang out you can hear her say, “But I still love you.” The killer then got on the line and very calmly told the dispatcher that he had just killed his parents. He told the dispatcher to make sure the responding deputies knew that he would be unarmed and waiting for them in the front yard.

This was no crime of passion, no uncontrolled fury, no blind rage. The 22-year-old son stole the murder weapon from the home of a friend the day before the killing and then bought ammunition for the .357 six-shot revolver.

Ironically the parents had just hours before filed a missing persons report on their son’s behalf. It seems they knew he had the gun. Perhaps they worried he might use it for suicide. Instead he committed patricide and matricide. Murdered in the place where they should be the safest. Dead in their home in a quiet affluent neighborhood on the marsh with a view of the river.

What could possibly explain how a son could plan and carry out the execution of his parents? Perhaps nothing. Unfortunately such crimes are not all that uncommon and this generation certainly has no monopoly on horrendous crimes and homicidal killers. It would appear as if murder is part of who we are. Cain, meet Abel.

Some hold that owning weapons is our inalienable right, that bearing arms is one of the pillars upon which our nation rests. In fact I was speaking just last week with a friend (born and raised on France) about weapons in our society. He said this aspect of American culture id difficult for him to grasp. Our is a culture of violent video games and violent television, a culture rich with killing both real and imagined. A society thoroughly imbued with the cult of the gun. A society where a young man can shoot and kill his loving and supportive parents in cold blood then calmly and with little emotion admit to the deed.

The victims’ married daughter (the killer’s sibling) lives directly across the street from her parents’ home and wanted to see them before they were removed from the scene. As the second body bag was loaded in the hearse she began wailing, crying “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” It still brings me to tears just thinking about it. I have heard that cry before but it has always been the cry of a parent losing a child. It is the sound of anguish, of grief unbearable, the soul’s lament. Pray you never hear it.