Tag Archives: death

What is the proper response to Bin Laden’s death?

Last night as the news media began telling of Bin Laden’s demise I began contemplating this question: What is a proper response to his death or, for that matter, the death of any oppressor, abuser or grossly unjust person? What is the right response?

Celebration? I heard one person say they were not celebrating death but were celebrating the end of a mass murderer. Glee? Wishing him well in hell? Praising justice or vengeance? Confidence? (immediately, news outlets were noting futures for markets and the US dollar were on the rise and oil futures were on the decline)

Or, should we merely mark it with somber reflection on all those who died at his hand or in the attempt to bring him to justice over the past ten years?

Is there a best response? Here are some words that come to mind:

  • Relief. Something undone has been completed. At least one era has come to an end. One person seeking harm to another can do no more.
  • Joy. Now this is a complex emotion. You will see at the bottom I do not think we ought to gloat. But joy is a proper emotion when right is defended and wrong is put away. Now, this emotion needs tempering because in this world, we can easily defend righteousness with wrong actions and motives. You damage me so I, in turn, take out my wrath on your family. So, our joy must be tempered by the knowledge that “they” are not always evil and “we” are not always good.
  • Satisfaction. Any time justice is served, there is a level of satisfaction or vindication. Never fully experienced in this life, but in bits and pieces. (Of course there will be ongoing conversation about whether this was carried out in a just manner)
  • Remembrance. Of those who died as victims to a tyrant (and their families), of those who died trying to bring a tyrant to justice.
  • Reflection. Several kinds of reflections are quite appropriate. First, it is good and right to reflect on justice as a key character of God. Such reflection ought to cause us also to reflect on our own need for mercy in light of our own failings. We can reflect on how we want to handle future tyrants and how we speak about those who are quite different from us.
  • Pray. We can pray for peace. We can pray for protection of those who still serve in harm’s way. Pray for an end to the training of malleable children into practices of war, whether a child suicide bomber in the Middle East or a child soldier in the Congo.  We can pray that we will not turn a blind eye to injustices within our own communities. It is deadly to think that injustice is only in other countries. Remember, turning a blind eye to injustice in our midst is being complicit with the actual act of injustice.

While joy is a proper response to justice (Prov 21:15), I would think we ought not celebrate or gloat. Proverbs 24:17 tells us not to gloat when our enemy stumbles. But later in the same chapter it does tell us that there will be blessing for those who convict the guilty. Let God be the author of that and let us not attempt to bless ourselves.

If we rejoice, we ought to rejoice that God is in heaven and that our names are written in the book of life (Luke 10:20). Rejoice that all things here will pass away and one day there will be no more need for armies and warfare.


Filed under Abuse, Christianity, news, News and politics, sin

The death of an old but lost friend

Last night I was cleaning out my nightstand and saw an email from an old friend which had his current address on it and a sarcastic note telling me that it was the second time he was sending me his snail-mail address and that I ought to put it somewhere safe. It made me laugh–and then want to connect with him again. So, I did what most of us might do, I googled him and found, sadly, that he had died 1 year ago!

You might be able to tell we weren’t that close of late. In fact, we were close only for a short time. I met him in college and we became instant friends. He had an intensity and sarcastic humor that I loved and dreaded. Time with him was never dull. He taught me about great food and about the downtrodden. I think when I met him he was fighting for the imprisoned pastors in Russia.

Actually, I had met him in the sandbox as a kid in Nova Scotia (those of you reading this blog for a while may remember the previous banner pic of an oceanview, practically taken from the sandbox). So, we hit it off well as college students–until I offended him 2 years later. I think he didn’t speak to me for at least a year (I kicked him out of my room at 2 am when he wanted to tell me all about a breakup). A year later we were both in Israel for school and so we tried, mildly successfully to rekindle our friendship. Another year later we were both in Philadelphia and had a few good times. He introduced me to my lovely wife.

But then our relationship soured as he became increasingly angry. He left the area, even the country and we had little contact. He was involved in underground work to elevate the plight of Palestinians to the American people. He came out of the closet. When he found out I married Kim without inviting him, he never really forgave me. I should have but I assumed we were on the outs and he wasn’t even in the country.

We tried to find a way to relate despite his complete rejection of Christianity and even antagonistic attack of everything he once stood for. I think we did alright at first but then it faded away.

This man was the brightest, most eloquent, critical thinker I’ve ever known. His bitterness had an impact during the time I knew him but I’m hoping he overcame that. But, I’m saddened at the loss of his fight for the downtrodden and his persistent belief that true Christianity was to be rejected as always and only fake. I think he was able to separate bad examples of Christianity from Christianity itself but I”m not sure.

I wish I could have just one more conversation and to enjoy a good laugh with him.


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On Funerals

I attended a funeral of a co-worker yesterday. Ken Rush served his church, denomination, and Christian higher education. At his funeral, he was lauded for living a life faithfully to Christ, from start to the end–even through his cancer. It was moving.

As a kid I didn’t attend many funerals. Not sure if that was because I didn’t like them (I didn’t) or because culturally kids were kept away. Anyway, some of the most memorable services I’ve attended have been funerals for beloved saints.

While the pain and grief are not good, the funeral affords me a time to reflect on our mortality, God’s goodness and message of hope in the life of the Christian. They are important since they remind us what IS important. We get so carried away with life that we forget how short and fragile it is, and that this life is not the main event.


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Don’t judge a book by its cover

Several years ago I sporadically attended an early morning prayer meeting at my church. While our pastor always seemed cheery and wide awake, most of us dragged ourselves in the door and to our seat. I noticed one man there. Bill was rather dumpily dressed, somewhat disheveled with white hair askew, usually unshaven, drooping eyelids with bushy brows, and very quiet. I had seen this man before but had never talked to him. Didn’t really know who he was or what his story was.  

He didn’t say much in the meeting but when he prayed out loud it was quickly evident that the waters ran deep in his soul. Two years ago, Bill lost his job and called me to see if he could take some counseling classes at Biblical. In those classes and in our discussions afterward, I learned several things about Bill: he loved to learn. In this way he was the perfect student. On breaks or during the week, he wanted to discuss what he was reading. And he wanted to know what else he should read. Not to argue, not to show his great wisdom, but just to engage the topic and to learn all that he could. He cared about his fellow students. I saw him practice counseling another student with significant pain in her life. He didn’t always know what to say but you could see the pain on his face. He wasn’t going to focus on his own personal pain but on the needs of others. He didn’t say alot about his own suffering, but it wasn’t hard to see it just the same. And yet, he quickly turned the subject back to the others in the conversation.

Yesterday, I attended Bill’s memorial service. He died after a brief bout with cancer. I was moved by the number of folks who got up to tell how Bill’s love for books, love for serving, and love for praying changed their lives. It took nearly an hour to get through them all. One man said it best, when you pray with a man over 800 times (he had calculated the number of times they had prayed together at bible studies, prayer meetings etc over the last few years), it starts to put grooves in you.

Who has put grooves in you? Who have you grooved with your care?

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